Thursday, April 26, 2007

Does This Sounds Like Your Church?

This happened to us at a recent Easter Sunday service. In the sermon we heard (and listened for, but didn't hear) the following:

1. We did not hear a clear connection made of the events of the Resurrection to the events of Good Friday, and in particular our Lord’s substitutionary atonement on the cross. We heard no mention of sin. Without making these connections, is it not difficult, or impossible, for hearers to understand the Resurrection as much more than a nice thing that happened to a nice man? Put another way, calling unbelievers to “embrace” Christ makes little sense unless the unbeliever clearly hears, and feels experientially by the operation of the Holy Spirit, that he or she is a sinner in need of salvation from the wrath of a just and holy God.

2. Sadly, the message as a whole, and in particular the illustrations given, seemed to bear little connection to the text of the Scripture.

3. Probably because of issues no. 1 and 2, what we heard was, to put it as charitably as possible, a less than clear presentation of the Gospel call. This was perhaps the most distressing of all. Why the Gospel call would not be clearly presented on an Easter Sunday -- Resurrection Sunday -- of all days, is very difficult to understand. Needless to say there were many present who desperately needed to hear the Gospel. What they heard instead, we fear, was essentially a pep talk urging them to embrace Christ because, the impression was left, they would be missing out if they wait. But why should they, if in all probability (as was suggested), Jesus will embrace them eventually? Why should they not conclude, “That’s great, I’m covered, now let me get back to my basketball game?”

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