Summary: This culture is longing for an authentic view of Christianity and God demands it. This series paints a picture of the Authentic Christian.
Authentic Christianity - #2 of 7
* Authentic Christianity! What comes to your mind when you hear that phrase? This week I prayed and thought about this question because I want to understand what it is that people think and believe is ‘Christianity that is authentic.’ I don’t think I figured it out and, in all likelihood, didn’t do it justice.
* For some, the answer to this query is seen in attendance, giving, service, leading, or in being nice to everyone. Certainly most of these will find their place in the life of an authentic Christian, but is this truly all it means to be authentic in our Christian walk?
* Does it simply mean that we walk an aisle, get baptized, and take our place on a pew 30 times or so during the year? (By the way without any extra services, this church body holds over 140 services each year, do really think this is why Jesus died?) I don’t
* The very reason which, I believe, the Lord has led me to this series of messages.
* Let me remind you of the first step toward Authentic Christianity, it is in followship. This means we respond to the very simple call from Jesus to “Follow Me.” Last week we noted, He calls us to follow Him in Salvation, Sanctification, and in Service.
* Today consider the second needed step toward authenticity: it is that of repentance. For most people, this is an ugly word, considered out of date. In fact, most people would rather the preacher not broach this subject because of its impact.
* Vance Havner is well known quoting Joseph Parker saying, “The man whose little sermon is ‘repent’ sets himself against his age, and will for the time being be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man -- ‘off with his head!’ You had better not try to preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven.” There is no more needed message for today than this. People do not drift toward holiness & righteousness, they must aim for it.
* Let’s get a handle on our culture: a few weeks ago my message was “America-an upside down nation.” This picture describes America. What the Bible teaches as wrong, America has determined to be right. This has resulted in 1.5 million dead babies each year, in suicide being the top contributor to teen death, in the development of an amoral society (moral, immoral, versus amoral), and now a leader who has no concept of God or conscious about God. We are a dying culture & don’t know it.
* Take a look around: According to Focus on the Family & the Barna research group:
* 1500 pastors leaven the ministry each month due to all kinds of conflict, 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce, 80% of seminary & Bible College grads who enter ministry will leave in the 1st 5 years. If this is not enough:
* NOW See the condition of the Church: Depending on who you read, between 70% & 90% of churches are in decline. Overall, church attendance is down to 17% of the population. Most denomination are ‘flat lined’ in baptism & new members. The majority of people reportedly are looking for God, but not looking in the church because the church possesses a horrible reputation. You don’t like this? Me either, but it changes nothing because this culture sees little in the church that reminds them of Christ. Judgment comes to God’s house.
* READ TEXT. That last question can be rephrased, “Why would you die, America or church?” The answer to this query can well be, “Because we refuse to repent.”
* The message of God, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and of the Bible for one and all is ‘repent.’ Vance Havner reminds us that this is Jesus’ first and last word to the church. This morning see the essence, the essentials, the evidence, & the effects of repentance.
1) The Essence – The first question we need to address is, “What does it mean to repent?” Think about it, In Matthew 3 John the Baptist burst on the scene with this message, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” When the church people came to check him out, he called them a ‘brood of vipers’ because he knew repentance was not a part of their lives. They based their righteousness (their rightness before God) on their lineage, which was Abraham. Here is the application today. “My daddy was a preacher-missionary-song leader-Sunday school teacher-etc so I’m okay.” “My parents were charter member of ‘such and such’ church so I’m good.” John pointedly challenged them to ‘produce fruits consistent with repentance’ and ended with ‘If the tree doesn’t produce good fruit, the tree will be cut down and thrown into the fire.’ His entire message was centered around repentance or the lack thereof.