“The Chosen” Fiction

JSTyler

Well-Known Member
Every Christmas play I have seen in the churches I have gone to used only the words of Scripture. I don't know what others do.
Anything that distracts from worshipful focus on God is a hot mess, and I've never seen a play (talking adult plays here) that doesn't fall into that category. Children's programs on the other hand seem to, in my experience turn my focus to God.

We're never-ever-never to touch that glory.
 

cheeky200386

Well-Known Member
Brother, I hear your frustration and annoyance and I want to assure you that I am positive that as a child Jesus had to "practice and learn things like walking, spelling, writing, learning to woodwork etc." No question, for He was fully human as well as fully God, and He would therefore have to learn to experience humanity at we do. But I do not believe in the least that as an adult, once He had begun His eternally fore-ordained ministry, that He needed to ask His disciples what He should say to people, or inquire of them what part of His message they thought touched His audiences effectively, or ask their advice as to what to include in His sermons and what to leave out. To suggest that He did would not only mean that did not have the knowledge of His Father but needed direction not just from men but uneducated and fallen men at that. It's the error The Chosen has fallen into: emphasizing Christ's humanity at the expense of His divinity.

The fact is that despite being in human form, Jesus Christ was perfect in all His ways. Once His ministry has begun, the fullness of the Divine anointing was upon Him. He was index Emmanuel: God with us. He knew what His disciples not only did not know but also did not understand. He knew the mind of every person He met. And He did not trust Himself to any of them, because He knew what was in their hearts. John 2:24-25 makes that plain.

Just as Risen created doubt in the resurrection by raising the possibility that the disciples had actually managed to steal Christ's body and did nothing to prove that was not possible, so The Chosen has created doubt in the omniscience and omnipotence of Christ. I was quite prepared to entertain all sorts of speculation about the character and the individual backgrounds of the disciples. Indeed, I enjoyed much of the early episodes. Yes, they are speculative; but they added richness to the stories. But when the speculation extended to Jesus --His person, His abilities, His knowledge-- we ceased having the Bible enriched and entered the realm of having the Bible diminished.

The fact is that Jesus was omnipotent and omniscient, and that is crucial to who He is. Anything that in any way creates doubt in the extent of those qualities surely presents a different Jesus from the Bible. And since Jesus is the ONLY way of salvation, we as Christians --never mind as ministers-- must ensure that He is always presented in the fullness of He is. The eternal destiny of souls demands it.
You wrote everything I've been thinking and struggling to say. Excellent review. I loved the show in Season 1 for the same reasons but how Jesus was projected in Season 2 upset me and I immediately saw it as disrespectful.
 

cheeky200386

Well-Known Member
Omnipotent and omniscient. Amen.

As for the show,I guess we are just interpreting it differently.
For example some take offence at the idea that in The Chosen it is depicted that the women around Jesus made decisions on the colour he would wear for the sermon on the mount and interpret that as he needed their help. In my thinking he probably didn't care what he wore. To me it was more a metaphor that while Jesus doesn't need our help, he graciously allows us to help (with the idea of 'help' being loosely applied). A bit like our monetary offerings or our ministries of services. Does he actually need our help to achieve his purposes? No. More than not we just get in the way! But as part of his adopted family in fellowship with him he allows us to partake and help. What a glorious privilege.

Anyway, all I can add is I have seen some non-Christians engage with The Chosen in a way no church or pastor could make them engage. I haven't seen anything in it that risks the eternal destiny of souls. Just my opinion. Maybe if some here are concerned about the intent and direction then they might see fit to contact Dallas Jenkins and pose him the questions directly.

And if the OP is worried in his essay about story-lines in The Chosen 'adding to the word', then I hope he takes a good hard look at whatever westernised Advent play they allow at their church this Christmas season. A vast majority is likely additive to the word.
These concerns were presented to Dallas, the director, and he created a YouTube video where he was quite defensive and upset. He pretty said, "you knew we were taking creative licenses so you have no grounds to be upset and concern", paraphrasing here.
 

JSTyler

Well-Known Member
These concerns were presented to Dallas, the director, and he created a YouTube video where he was quite defensive and upset. He pretty said, "you knew we were taking creative licenses so you have no grounds to be upset and concern", paraphrasing here.
And that is the response I tend to get every time I ask someone why they would use The Message translation as their bible.

Can you image come judgement day?

"Soooo, yeah God...we did alter your perfect Word to make my art, and yeah we did make a load of bank on it, but we gave a percentage to good causes, we even may have helped someone cast demons out in Jesus' name...we're square, right? I mean look at all the good feelings and happy thoughts we invoked. That should outweigh the consequences of editing Your changeless, sinner saving, eternal life giving Gospel! Come'on You understand, right..right? Be a buddy..."

Or maybe...

"This writer you gave me..."
 

cheeky200386

Well-Known Member
My mom just had on their Christmas Special and although the voices were beautiful in the singing, the concern I have is still there. The Gospel doesn't get proclaimed. The focus was on God loving us, Jesus coming to be with us, being the lamb and savior but no mention of sin or hell. It just always seems to fall short. They have such a huge platform now and I wish they would share the Gospel message clearly. Grrrrr!!

Did anyone else see it and hear the Gospel message?! I never hear it after any of the episodes and have always wondered why. That is the only message that saves, not the catchy phrases Dallas comes up with.
 

mattfivefour

Well-Known Member
My mom just had on their Christmas Special and although the voices were beautiful in the singing, the concern I have is still there. The Gospel doesn't get proclaimed. The focus was on God loving us, Jesus coming to be with us, being the lamb and savior but no mention of sin or hell. It just always seems to fall short. They have such a huge platform now and I wish they would share the Gospel message clearly. Grrrrr!!

Did anyone else see it and hear the Gospel message?! I never hear it after any of the episodes and have always wondered why. That is the only message that saves, not the catchy phrases Dallas comes up with.
That's the problem with the gospel today. It's not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not God-centered, but man-centered. It says, "God saved us for our sake, not His; and the purpose of salvation is our good, not His glory." And that, my friends, is not Christianity, but humanism.

To quote Paris Reidhead in his piercingly powerful sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt: "Christianity says, 'The end of all being is the glory of God.' Humanism says, 'The end of all being is the happiness of man.'"

With which of those statements does today's gospel line up?
 

cheeky200386

Well-Known Member
That's the problem with the gospel today. It's not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not God-centered, but man-centered. It says, "God saved us for our sake, not His; and the purpose of salvation is our good, not His glory." And that, my friends, is not Christianity, but humanism.

To quote Paris Reidhead in his piercingly powerful sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt: "Christianity says, 'The end of all being is the glory of God.' Humanism says, 'The end of all being is the happiness of man.'"

With which of those statements does today's gospel line up?
That sums it up perfectly! I'm going to use this when explaining the concerns I have with many of the feel good sermons and churches I hear about.
 

Psalm37v4

Hated and laughed at by the world but loved by God
Can you image come judgement day?

"Soooo, yeah God...we did alter your perfect Word to make my art, and yeah we did make a load of bank on it, but we gave a percentage to good causes, we even may have helped someone cast demons out in Jesus' name...we're square, right? I mean look at all the good feelings and happy thoughts we invoked. That should outweigh the consequences of editing Your changeless, sinner saving, eternal life giving Gospel! Come'on You understand, right..right? Be a buddy..."

Or maybe...

"This writer you gave me..."
And I can hear Jesus saying, "Depart from Me, I NEVER KNEW YOU..."
 

JSTyler

Well-Known Member
And I can hear Jesus saying, "Depart from Me, I NEVER KNEW YOU..."
So sad.

And I find that it's easier to witness and evangelize the old bikers I knew, the old nasty-secular gamer buddies, the old crusty drunks and the other hoods I still love so much than it is to convince so many of the religious I know about the eternal truth of what you just quoted.
 

Wings Like Eagles

Well-Known Member
That's the problem with the gospel today. It's not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not God-centered, but man-centered. It says, "God saved us for our sake, not His; and the purpose of salvation is our good, not His glory." And that, my friends, is not Christianity, but humanism.

To quote Paris Reidhead in his piercingly powerful sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt: "Christianity says, 'The end of all being is the glory of God.' Humanism says, 'The end of all being is the happiness of man.'"

With which of those statements does today's gospel line up?
Amen. A man-centered gospel is no gospel at all.
 

Amethyst

Angie ... †
It says, "God saved us for our sake, not His; and the purpose of salvation is our good, not His glory." And that, my friends, is not Christianity, but humanism.

To quote Paris Reidhead in his piercingly powerful sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt: "Christianity says, 'The end of all being is the glory of God.' Humanism says, 'The end of all being is the happiness of man.'"
Interesting. I have never heard it put quite like that. :woah
Anyone you would recommend me to read more about this perspective?

Ive probably fallen into that trap of thinking a time or two myself!
 

Salluz

Aspiring Man of God
That's the problem with the gospel today. It's not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not God-centered, but man-centered. It says, "God saved us for our sake, not His; and the purpose of salvation is our good, not His glory." And that, my friends, is not Christianity, but humanism.

To quote Paris Reidhead in his piercingly powerful sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt: "Christianity says, 'The end of all being is the glory of God.' Humanism says, 'The end of all being is the happiness of man.'"

With which of those statements does today's gospel line up?

Thinking about this a bit, need it be one or the other? Because of our nature as created beings, won't we be at our greatest possible happiness in eternity when we can finally have the glory of God be our chief end? I'm thinking in the vein of Matt 16:25 "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

I feel like over and over again we see these promises where if we put God first everything else will be supplied, and our eternal state would be the ultimate expression of that. And then it will be to God's further glory that we experience such happiness/joy/pleasure in His presence. And we could only ever experience that by finally having God be the end-all be-all of our existence without self in the way since we were created to worship and have a relationship with God.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think the only way the ultimate happiness of man could ever be achieved is by having our chief end be the glory of God.

And when Jesus died for us, wasn't it for both our good and His glory? It's to His glory that He loved us so much when we were still sinners and died for us. And Matt. 9:36-28 says

36 Seeing the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

So I can't think it's wrong to share the Gospel out of a place of compassion for the lost when Jesus expressed it Himself. But the Gospel always brings glory to God when it's shared because the concept of us not supplying anything for our salvation, God supplying everything as a free gift out of His great love toward sinners so undeserving, it's just such a glorious thing He did for us.

Just thinking out loud a bit after having listened to the sermon a couple times now. It's not like all compassion for the lost is humanism, because Jesus felt compassion for the lost and is not willing that any should perish. But I do also find myself quoting mentally that quote from the Moravian ministers, "May the Lamb that was slain recieve the reward of His suffering." Because it's also true that on the cross Jesus paid for every person and very well deserves to get every person that He paid for
 

mattfivefour

Well-Known Member
Thinking about this a bit, need it be one or the other? Because of our nature as created beings, won't we be at our greatest possible happiness in eternity when we can finally have the glory of God be our chief end? I'm thinking in the vein of Matt 16:25 "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

I feel like over and over again we see these promises where if we put God first everything else will be supplied, and our eternal state would be the ultimate expression of that. And then it will be to God's further glory that we experience such happiness/joy/pleasure in His presence. And we could only ever experience that by finally having God be the end-all be-all of our existence without self in the way since we were created to worship and have a relationship with God.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think the only way the ultimate happiness of man could ever be achieved is by having our chief end be the glory of God.

And when Jesus died for us, wasn't it for both our good and His glory? It's to His glory that He loved us so much when we were still sinners and died for us. And Matt. 9:36-28 says

36 Seeing the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

So I can't think it's wrong to share the Gospel out of a place of compassion for the lost when Jesus expressed it Himself. But the Gospel always brings glory to God when it's shared because the concept of us not supplying anything for our salvation, God supplying everything as a free gift out of His great love toward sinners so undeserving, it's just such a glorious thing He did for us.

Just thinking out loud a bit after having listened to the sermon a couple times now. It's not like all compassion for the lost is humanism, because Jesus felt compassion for the lost and is not willing that any should perish. But I do also find myself quoting mentally that quote from the Moravian ministers, "May the Lamb that was slain recieve the reward of His suffering." Because it's also true that on the cross Jesus paid for every person and very well deserves to get every person that He paid for
Absolutely, brother. After all, is not love the first fruit and the highest end? Are not love for God above all else and love for one's fellow man above one's own self the greatest commandments and, thus, the greatest goals? So, you are quite correct that the two positions I discussed in my own post --the glory of God and the good of humankind-- are indeed not opposite ends of a spectrum but, rather, two parts of an intricate whole.

The problem arises when we make the chief end of life the happiness of man rather than the glory of God. That puts our focus on us, on the created instead of on the Creator and leads to a view of God as being mainly an enabler of our wants and dreams, a supplier of whatever provisions we decide we need in order to be happy and fulfilled. And if He does not produce what it is we think we need, then we become angry or resentful and disillusioned with Him. We pull away, or even turn away completely, deciding that He does not really exist, or if He does then He doesn't care.

Life becomes a lot easier when we realize who He is … and what we are. He does not exist for us; we exist for Him. Now, His purpose in all of Creation is --as is clear from studying scripture-- our good ... not just temporally but eternally. He truly loves us … not just as a species, but individually. And He desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with each single one of us. Therefore it is not just by illustration that He gives us marriage as an example of love and relationship.

Let me ask: what relationship, what marriage, lasts if the focus of the two individuals is on self? If the husband's goal is for the wife to serve him and meet his needs, how long will that marriage last? Or if the wife's chief goal is to have the husband provide for her needs, how long will that relationship last? And how happy will it be? The truly happy marriages are where each person exists to serve the other before self. And the truly happy communities are where its members seek to help one another rather than self. Jesus taught us to seek to serve, and not seek to be served. It is selfless love that is at the very core of God's being, and displayed in all He has done for us. And it is through that love that God is glorified.

The symbiosis of this love relationship is very hard to describe because God is self-existent; He does not NEED us (although some preachers and theologians have wrongly posited that He created us because He needed something to love, something to complete Himself: a silly idea to consider a perfect Being as somehow imperfect and needing completion.) But we most certainly need Him. Yes, it is possible to live this life without Him and, for some fortunate few, to live very well in the physical realm. But once this brief life is over, they then --like every person-- have to face the God whom they rejected. Still, some say, they lived very well on this earth. No. If you read the stories of those fortunate ones, they were not happy people. Fame and fortune did not bring them happiness, despite their wealth or power.

So what does this have to do with the Gospel and with our lives?

First of all, it has everything to do with the Gospel. When we tell people that God loves them and simply wants to help them live happy lives we are not proclaiming the Gospel. The "good news" begins with the foundation that human beings are flawed and sinful creatures who deserve Hell because they have offended, by their very natures, the perfection of a holy and righteous God who created them and everything else. They are so lost that there was no hope for them, for no person could ever live perfectly enough to pay the price for their own sin and thereby become acceptable to God. The good part of the news is that God so loved us—despite the reality that we were in ourselves unlovable and, indeed, His enemies—that He Himself took care of the sin that separated us from Him, so that if we wanted it we might be lifted out of the sphere of anti-God darkness and placed into His Kingdom of Light. This was no light thing but cost God more than we can ever imagine ... that cost involving the One who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God. The entire focus of this salvation is God, in Jesus Christ. When we tell people that the gospel is God simply wanting to give people better lives and eternal happiness in Heaven we are placing the focus on the well-being of the people, not pointing them to the incredible grace and mercy of God. This robs God of the glory that is due Him and elevates the fallen individuals of lost humanity to places of status worthy of what they are given. It makes God into a spiritual bellhop or genie who will grant our wishes, and Christianity into a cosmic vending machine where if you put in the correct payment (prayer, or tithes, or good deeds, or faithful acts) you will receive what it is you want. It's entire focus is on us, on our wants, our plans, our happiness, our lives. God is just a means to the end.

And it has everything to do with our lives, because when we hold to our selves as being the reason for God offering salvation; when we point to our well-being as being the basis for our claim on the blessings of God; when we continue to view ourselves as being the center of our existence; then we have reduced God simply to a means to an end. And if and when He does not deliver as we believe He should, then we become questioning, demanding of answers, bitter in our attitudes, disbelieving in His goodness and His Word. And so do those to whom we give a gospel that has them at its center. We make ourselves—and them—judges of the Creator of the universe. Yes we do. We elevate man to a position of judging God. And we set people up for terrible disillusionment. In fact we set people up for failure and a falling away from faith in God.

It may seem that I am overstating the case. But I do not think that I am. We are called to proclaim the gospel and to make disciples, that is to say followers of Christ. To make a disciple, we need to reveal the true Christ to them, teaching them the nature of God, encouraging them into obedience, and helping them to develop that intimate, one-on-one relationship with God that He desires. But I do not believe you can truly entice a person into the Kingdom with the idea that God exists to meet their needs and desperately wants to do so if they would only give Him the chance, and then afterward try to teach them that actually they need to bow before Him, obey His will rather than their own because they are now His, bought with a price and no longer have any right over their own life. That is bait and switch. And it never works. At least not for long. You wind up with disillusioned people who, it will turn out, were never truly converted because their "acceptance" of God and salvation was rooted in what God could do for them rather than in what they owe God. There was no real repentance, no surrender, no humble gratitude for God's inexpressibly precious and undeserved gift.

So, yes, like Jesus we must love the lost and have compassion on them, deeply desiring to see them receive the same precious gift of grace that we received. But that desire must flow from our realization that just as we did not deserve salvation, neither do they; but yet God made a way. And that love we have must want FIRST to see God glorified. Therefore, when we love those around us as Jesus loved them, we will desperately desire to ensure that we draw a true picture of God and man for them and thereby enable them to appreciate the magnitude of the gift of salvation that God has made available to all who desire to receive it. Our appeal should not be to their self-worth but to God's amazing grace. Their self-worth (like ours) must grow out of God's valuing of us … as demonstrated in His efforts on our behalf, His provision for us, and His view of us. Such a focus will draw us deeper into a real appreciation of God, resulting in a real and ever more precious relationship with Him. Self-worth that grows out of our own view of our self necessarily results in our focus being on the satisfaction of our wants and needs and the achieving of our goals. The former elevates God; the latter elevates ourselves. Only the former will result in true peace in this life and the assurance of the Holy Spirit that we are sealed for eternity.

In my calling I am constantly meeting people in church who have no assurance of salvation and people who were once in church who feel God just doesn't care (or, in some cases, doesn't exist.) The focus of the first group is always on their efforts, rather than on Christ's finished work. And their belief is that God has not answered their various prayers because He has rejected them because somehow they have failed Him. Their horizon is their own earthly existence and they have no real personal relationship with God. They talk about it but they do not experience it. And that is because the "gospel" they were given was flawed from the beginning. Because the focus was on them and what God would do for them, they have no understanding of their God-ordained position in Christ or upon what that is based. They are focused on their own performance and failures. The latter group say they gave Christianity a try but it just doesn't "work". The gospel they had been given was also flawed from the beginning. They were taught their good was the ultimate reason for salvation and that God—existing to do good for those who believe—would give them all that they needed to be healthy and happy: they just had to ask. And when that did not happen, they concluded that God (at least the God of Christianity) was a fiction.

We need to truly understand that this is of crucial importance to the building of the Kingdom of God. When the focus is placed on God and His glory rather than on us and our well-being, then those with whom we share the words of life have the proper foundation to truly grasp the issues of sin and salvation and make an informed decision that will lead to a proper perspective that will inevitably result in a healthy, growing, vibrant life in Christ.

Anyway, I have spun this out a lot longer than I intended. It is a huge topic and I wish I had done it better justice in this post. I pray the Holy Spirit takes what is written and uses it in some way to help you by giving you some ideas to consider as you debate this issue in your mind.
 

Belle of Grace

Longing for Home
Anyway, I have spun this out a lot longer than I intended. It is a huge topic and I wish I had done it better justice in this post. I pray the Holy Spirit takes what is written and uses it in some way to help you by giving you some ideas to consider as you debate this issue in your mind.
Well done, Sir! I agree with everything that you said, though I would not have been able to express these truths as well as you have done. Thank you.
Another of our members who would particularly enjoy this @soundingthealarm
 

soundingthealarm

Fleethewrath2come
Absolutely, brother. After all, is not love the first fruit and the highest end? Are not love for God above all else and love for one's fellow man above one's own self the greatest commandments and, thus, the greatest goals? So, you are quite correct that the two positions I discussed in my own post --the glory of God and the good of humankind-- are indeed not opposite ends of a spectrum but, rather, two parts of an intricate whole.

The problem arises when we make the chief end of life the happiness of man rather than the glory of God. That puts our focus on us, on the created instead of on the Creator and leads to a view of God as being mainly an enabler of our wants and dreams, a supplier of whatever provisions we decide we need in order to be happy and fulfilled. And if He does not produce what it is we think we need, then we become angry or resentful and disillusioned with Him. We pull away, or even turn away completely, deciding that He does not really exist, or if He does then He doesn't care.

Life becomes a lot easier when we realize who He is … and what we are. He does not exist for us; we exist for Him. Now, His purpose in all of Creation is --as is clear from studying scripture-- our good ... not just temporally but eternally. He truly loves us … not just as a species, but individually. And He desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with each single one of us. Therefore it is not just by illustration that He gives us marriage as an example of love and relationship.

Let me ask: what relationship, what marriage, lasts if the focus of the two individuals is on self? If the husband's goal is for the wife to serve him and meet his needs, how long will that marriage last? Or if the wife's chief goal is to have the husband provide for her needs, how long will that relationship last? And how happy will it be? The truly happy marriages are where each person exists to serve the other before self. And the truly happy communities are where its members seek to help one another rather than self. Jesus taught us to seek to serve, and not seek to be served. It is selfless love that is at the very core of God's being, and displayed in all He has done for us. And it is through that love that God is glorified.

The symbiosis of this love relationship is very hard to describe because God is self-existent; He does not NEED us (although some preachers and theologians have wrongly posited that He created us because He needed something to love, something to complete Himself: a silly idea to consider a perfect Being as somehow imperfect and needing completion.) But we most certainly need Him. Yes, it is possible to live this life without Him and, for some fortunate few, to live very well in the physical realm. But once this brief life is over, they then --like every person-- have to face the God whom they rejected. Still, some say, they lived very well on this earth. No. If you read the stories of those fortunate ones, they were not happy people. Fame and fortune did not bring them happiness, despite their wealth or power.

So what does this have to do with the Gospel and with our lives?

First of all, it has everything to do with the Gospel. When we tell people that God loves them and simply wants to help them live happy lives we are not proclaiming the Gospel. The "good news" begins with the foundation that human beings are flawed and sinful creatures who deserve Hell because they have offended, by their very natures, the perfection of a holy and righteous God who created them and everything else. They are so lost that there was no hope for them, for no person could ever live perfectly enough to pay the price for their own sin and thereby become acceptable to God. The good part of the news is that God so loved us—despite the reality that we were in ourselves unlovable and, indeed, His enemies—that He Himself took care of the sin that separated us from Him, so that if we wanted it we might be lifted out of the sphere of anti-God darkness and placed into His Kingdom of Light. This was no light thing but cost God more than we can ever imagine ... that cost involving the One who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God. The entire focus of this salvation is God, in Jesus Christ. When we tell people that the gospel is God simply wanting to give people better lives and eternal happiness in Heaven we are placing the focus on the well-being of the people, not pointing them to the incredible grace and mercy of God. This robs God of the glory that is due Him and elevates the fallen individuals of lost humanity to places of status worthy of what they are given. It makes God into a spiritual bellhop or genie who will grant our wishes, and Christianity into a cosmic vending machine where if you put in the correct payment (prayer, or tithes, or good deeds, or faithful acts) you will receive what it is you want. It's entire focus is on us, on our wants, our plans, our happiness, our lives. God is just a means to the end.

And it has everything to do with our lives, because when we hold to our selves as being the reason for God offering salvation; when we point to our well-being as being the basis for our claim on the blessings of God; when we continue to view ourselves as being the center of our existence; then we have reduced God simply to a means to an end. And if and when He does not deliver as we believe He should, then we become questioning, demanding of answers, bitter in our attitudes, disbelieving in His goodness and His Word. And so do those to whom we give a gospel that has them at its center. We make ourselves—and them—judges of the Creator of the universe. Yes we do. We elevate man to a position of judging God. And we set people up for terrible disillusionment. In fact we set people up for failure and a falling away from faith in God.

It may seem that I am overstating the case. But I do not think that I am. We are called to proclaim the gospel and to make disciples, that is to say followers of Christ. To make a disciple, we need to reveal the true Christ to them, teaching them the nature of God, encouraging them into obedience, and helping them to develop that intimate, one-on-one relationship with God that He desires. But I do not believe you can truly entice a person into the Kingdom with the idea that God exists to meet their needs and desperately wants to do so if they would only give Him the chance, and then afterward try to teach them that actually they need to bow before Him, obey His will rather than their own because they are now His, bought with a price and no longer have any right over their own life. That is bait and switch. And it never works. At least not for long. You wind up with disillusioned people who, it will turn out, were never truly converted because their "acceptance" of God and salvation was rooted in what God could do for them rather than in what they owe God. There was no real repentance, no surrender, no humble gratitude for God's inexpressibly precious and undeserved gift.

So, yes, like Jesus we must love the lost and have compassion on them, deeply desiring to see them receive the same precious gift of grace that we received. But that desire must flow from our realization that just as we did not deserve salvation, neither do they; but yet God made a way. And that love we have must want FIRST to see God glorified. Therefore, when we love those around us as Jesus loved them, we will desperately desire to ensure that we draw a true picture of God and man for them and thereby enable them to appreciate the magnitude of the gift of salvation that God has made available to all who desire to receive it. Our appeal should not be to their self-worth but to God's amazing grace. Their self-worth (like ours) must grow out of God's valuing of us … as demonstrated in His efforts on our behalf, His provision for us, and His view of us. Such a focus will draw us deeper into a real appreciation of God, resulting in a real and ever more precious relationship with Him. Self-worth that grows out of our own view of our self necessarily results in our focus being on the satisfaction of our wants and needs and the achieving of our goals. The former elevates God; the latter elevates ourselves. Only the former will result in true peace in this life and the assurance of the Holy Spirit that we are sealed for eternity.

In my calling I am constantly meeting people in church who have no assurance of salvation and people who were once in church who feel God just doesn't care (or, in some cases, doesn't exist.) The focus of the first group is always on their efforts, rather than on Christ's finished work. And their belief is that God has not answered their various prayers because He has rejected them because somehow they have failed Him. Their horizon is their own earthly existence and they have no real personal relationship with God. They talk about it but they do not experience it. And that is because the "gospel" they were given was flawed from the beginning. Because the focus was on them and what God would do for them, they have no understanding of their God-ordained position in Christ or upon what that is based. They are focused on their own performance and failures. The latter group say they gave Christianity a try but it just doesn't "work". The gospel they had been given was also flawed from the beginning. They were taught their good was the ultimate reason for salvation and that God—existing to do good for those who believe—would give them all that they needed to be healthy and happy: they just had to ask. And when that did not happen, they concluded that God (at least the God of Christianity) was a fiction.

We need to truly understand that this is of crucial importance to the building of the Kingdom of God. When the focus is placed on God and His glory rather than on us and our well-being, then those with whom we share the words of life have the proper foundation to truly grasp the issues of sin and salvation and make an informed decision that will lead to a proper perspective that will inevitably result in a healthy, growing, vibrant life in Christ.

Anyway, I have spun this out a lot longer than I intended. It is a huge topic and I wish I had done it better justice in this post. I pray the Holy Spirit takes what is written and uses it in some way to help you by giving you some ideas to consider as you debate this issue in your mind.
Lynn and Adrian I NEEDED to hear this today, I've been dealing with discouragement in regards to this very topic as so many close to me have been sucked into the seeker friendly movement even after personal pleadings through tears and heartfelt/truth filled discussions.

I so love when the spotlight/focus is Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and by "grace through faith and not of works lest anyone should boast" ..that JESUS Himself is ETERNAL LIFE that HE is our reward that He came to seek and to save US (that which was lost) and its all about HIM and what HE has DONE for us!!

The Holy Spirit was sent to testify of JESUS and NOT of Himself and its so awesome to witness that!

The cross has been demoted, trendy modern symbols have come promoting a BRAND of "christianity" where the name on the building/website/app are exalted and the man on the stage is using Jesus to prop up themSELVES and its become every bit the global pandemic that Covid is.

Its so encouraging to witness voices proclaiming The Way, The Truth and The Life!!!

"I decided to know nothing amongst you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified" - Apostle Paul

Esau only cared about taking care of his carnal needs, Jacob was willing to do whatever it took to acquire God and His favor.

Jesus asked His disciples this question after many people stopped following Jesus "aren't you going to leave me to?" Peter answered "where else can we go, you alone have the words of eternal life."

Awesome post Adrian, very well said and for me timely.
 

cheeky200386

Well-Known Member
Absolutely, brother. After all, is not love the first fruit and the highest end? Are not love for God above all else and love for one's fellow man above one's own self the greatest commandments and, thus, the greatest goals? So, you are quite correct that the two positions I discussed in my own post --the glory of God and the good of humankind-- are indeed not opposite ends of a spectrum but, rather, two parts of an intricate whole.

The problem arises when we make the chief end of life the happiness of man rather than the glory of God. That puts our focus on us, on the created instead of on the Creator and leads to a view of God as being mainly an enabler of our wants and dreams, a supplier of whatever provisions we decide we need in order to be happy and fulfilled. And if He does not produce what it is we think we need, then we become angry or resentful and disillusioned with Him. We pull away, or even turn away completely, deciding that He does not really exist, or if He does then He doesn't care.

Life becomes a lot easier when we realize who He is … and what we are. He does not exist for us; we exist for Him. Now, His purpose in all of Creation is --as is clear from studying scripture-- our good ... not just temporally but eternally. He truly loves us … not just as a species, but individually. And He desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with each single one of us. Therefore it is not just by illustration that He gives us marriage as an example of love and relationship.

Let me ask: what relationship, what marriage, lasts if the focus of the two individuals is on self? If the husband's goal is for the wife to serve him and meet his needs, how long will that marriage last? Or if the wife's chief goal is to have the husband provide for her needs, how long will that relationship last? And how happy will it be? The truly happy marriages are where each person exists to serve the other before self. And the truly happy communities are where its members seek to help one another rather than self. Jesus taught us to seek to serve, and not seek to be served. It is selfless love that is at the very core of God's being, and displayed in all He has done for us. And it is through that love that God is glorified.

The symbiosis of this love relationship is very hard to describe because God is self-existent; He does not NEED us (although some preachers and theologians have wrongly posited that He created us because He needed something to love, something to complete Himself: a silly idea to consider a perfect Being as somehow imperfect and needing completion.) But we most certainly need Him. Yes, it is possible to live this life without Him and, for some fortunate few, to live very well in the physical realm. But once this brief life is over, they then --like every person-- have to face the God whom they rejected. Still, some say, they lived very well on this earth. No. If you read the stories of those fortunate ones, they were not happy people. Fame and fortune did not bring them happiness, despite their wealth or power.

So what does this have to do with the Gospel and with our lives?

First of all, it has everything to do with the Gospel. When we tell people that God loves them and simply wants to help them live happy lives we are not proclaiming the Gospel. The "good news" begins with the foundation that human beings are flawed and sinful creatures who deserve Hell because they have offended, by their very natures, the perfection of a holy and righteous God who created them and everything else. They are so lost that there was no hope for them, for no person could ever live perfectly enough to pay the price for their own sin and thereby become acceptable to God. The good part of the news is that God so loved us—despite the reality that we were in ourselves unlovable and, indeed, His enemies—that He Himself took care of the sin that separated us from Him, so that if we wanted it we might be lifted out of the sphere of anti-God darkness and placed into His Kingdom of Light. This was no light thing but cost God more than we can ever imagine ... that cost involving the One who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God. The entire focus of this salvation is God, in Jesus Christ. When we tell people that the gospel is God simply wanting to give people better lives and eternal happiness in Heaven we are placing the focus on the well-being of the people, not pointing them to the incredible grace and mercy of God. This robs God of the glory that is due Him and elevates the fallen individuals of lost humanity to places of status worthy of what they are given. It makes God into a spiritual bellhop or genie who will grant our wishes, and Christianity into a cosmic vending machine where if you put in the correct payment (prayer, or tithes, or good deeds, or faithful acts) you will receive what it is you want. It's entire focus is on us, on our wants, our plans, our happiness, our lives. God is just a means to the end.

And it has everything to do with our lives, because when we hold to our selves as being the reason for God offering salvation; when we point to our well-being as being the basis for our claim on the blessings of God; when we continue to view ourselves as being the center of our existence; then we have reduced God simply to a means to an end. And if and when He does not deliver as we believe He should, then we become questioning, demanding of answers, bitter in our attitudes, disbelieving in His goodness and His Word. And so do those to whom we give a gospel that has them at its center. We make ourselves—and them—judges of the Creator of the universe. Yes we do. We elevate man to a position of judging God. And we set people up for terrible disillusionment. In fact we set people up for failure and a falling away from faith in God.

It may seem that I am overstating the case. But I do not think that I am. We are called to proclaim the gospel and to make disciples, that is to say followers of Christ. To make a disciple, we need to reveal the true Christ to them, teaching them the nature of God, encouraging them into obedience, and helping them to develop that intimate, one-on-one relationship with God that He desires. But I do not believe you can truly entice a person into the Kingdom with the idea that God exists to meet their needs and desperately wants to do so if they would only give Him the chance, and then afterward try to teach them that actually they need to bow before Him, obey His will rather than their own because they are now His, bought with a price and no longer have any right over their own life. That is bait and switch. And it never works. At least not for long. You wind up with disillusioned people who, it will turn out, were never truly converted because their "acceptance" of God and salvation was rooted in what God could do for them rather than in what they owe God. There was no real repentance, no surrender, no humble gratitude for God's inexpressibly precious and undeserved gift.

So, yes, like Jesus we must love the lost and have compassion on them, deeply desiring to see them receive the same precious gift of grace that we received. But that desire must flow from our realization that just as we did not deserve salvation, neither do they; but yet God made a way. And that love we have must want FIRST to see God glorified. Therefore, when we love those around us as Jesus loved them, we will desperately desire to ensure that we draw a true picture of God and man for them and thereby enable them to appreciate the magnitude of the gift of salvation that God has made available to all who desire to receive it. Our appeal should not be to their self-worth but to God's amazing grace. Their self-worth (like ours) must grow out of God's valuing of us … as demonstrated in His efforts on our behalf, His provision for us, and His view of us. Such a focus will draw us deeper into a real appreciation of God, resulting in a real and ever more precious relationship with Him. Self-worth that grows out of our own view of our self necessarily results in our focus being on the satisfaction of our wants and needs and the achieving of our goals. The former elevates God; the latter elevates ourselves. Only the former will result in true peace in this life and the assurance of the Holy Spirit that we are sealed for eternity.

In my calling I am constantly meeting people in church who have no assurance of salvation and people who were once in church who feel God just doesn't care (or, in some cases, doesn't exist.) The focus of the first group is always on their efforts, rather than on Christ's finished work. And their belief is that God has not answered their various prayers because He has rejected them because somehow they have failed Him. Their horizon is their own earthly existence and they have no real personal relationship with God. They talk about it but they do not experience it. And that is because the "gospel" they were given was flawed from the beginning. Because the focus was on them and what God would do for them, they have no understanding of their God-ordained position in Christ or upon what that is based. They are focused on their own performance and failures. The latter group say they gave Christianity a try but it just doesn't "work". The gospel they had been given was also flawed from the beginning. They were taught their good was the ultimate reason for salvation and that God—existing to do good for those who believe—would give them all that they needed to be healthy and happy: they just had to ask. And when that did not happen, they concluded that God (at least the God of Christianity) was a fiction.

We need to truly understand that this is of crucial importance to the building of the Kingdom of God. When the focus is placed on God and His glory rather than on us and our well-being, then those with whom we share the words of life have the proper foundation to truly grasp the issues of sin and salvation and make an informed decision that will lead to a proper perspective that will inevitably result in a healthy, growing, vibrant life in Christ.

Anyway, I have spun this out a lot longer than I intended. It is a huge topic and I wish I had done it better justice in this post. I pray the Holy Spirit takes what is written and uses it in some way to help you by giving you some ideas to consider as you debate this issue in your mind.
Wow thank you for posting this! I'm going to remember this to help me explain this same concept to others that are in those two groups. God bless you, you surely blessed me.
 
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