Monday, May 4, 2009

My Own Op-ED--Cause and Cure

I respect Ed Lewis very much. Therefore, when I read his editorial, I found myself surprised at the level of disagreement with his diagnosis and cure for the condition of the local church today. I'm hoping these posts actually offer an opportunity to do something pretty rare these days in our circles (air differences in opinion in public) and could possibly serve as some refining for all of us.

I have already made it known that I did not really agree with the assessment of the church's current situation. There was something that was assumed through out it, but its absence created a tension for me. Then, as I scrolled down to some of the solutions, the same feeling returned. There's just something that is being assumed here, and its absence leaves these solutions in tension. I wasn't surprised that the nagging feeling was identical, for the object missing was identical too...

Where was the gospel?

[caveat] Now, before anyone throws a spear through the internet at me, let me affirm some things. Yes, Ed knows the gospel. Yes, Ed preaches the gospel. Yes, Ed believes in the power of the gospel. As I have mentioned before, these posts are not meant to be ad hominem. I'm conducting an experiment to see if it is still possible to disagree with a person's opinion without it having to create a rift in a relationship. I have no beef with Ed personally, I do not believe their was any ill intent in Ed's editorial. I did not say the gospel was distorted, denied or contradicted. I simply said it was assumed. [/caveat]

How does the gospel further instruct us in regard to the diagnosis?

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.--Philippians 1:6
God is the One who justifies, sanctifies and glorifies! This is not news for our Fellowship, for it has always affirmed eternal security. This is not a battle being fought within our ranks, so I understand why it is tempting to simply not address this fact. However, reminding ourselves of the gospel reminds us that it is God who began the work, it is God who will continue the work, and it is God who will complete the work. Now, if we have a massive number of people who appear to have the work begun, but we do not see God continuing the work in them, should we conclude the church is to blame? Is it the church who causes believers to be sanctified, or is it God who causes sanctification and uses the church in that process? You see, keeping the gospel front and center should cause us to ask a much more disturbing question: If they went out from us, were they really ever of us? (We'll explore this further in the next post.)

How does the gospel further instruct us in regard to solution?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.--Romans 1:16
Keeping the gospel before our eyes gives us renewed hope. It is He who builds the church. It is He who raises the dead to life. It is He who causes the blind to see. It is He who justifies. It is He who sanctifies. It is He who glorifies. It is He who speaks! The gospel is His power for salvation. Suddenly, the person is set free to serve God, for it is not really up to me and my strategies to create the results. It is God who is working and it is His gospel which is powerful. A gospel centrality is vital to the life of the church. (A point we will further unpack in a couple of posts.)

I have no doubt Ed believes those things to be true. I also have no doubt that expressing them in his editorial would have completely changed his tone to one of hope. For God is powerful!

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