The following was a sermon preached at Crossings Community Church on July 7, 2013.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again this week. If you’re looking for a church with a pastor who’s incredibly political, who rides these political waves up and down, that’s not me. You’re at the wrong place if that’s what you’re looking for. However, you do have to live under a rock to not be aware that marriage is flooding our media right now.
Everything, whether you get on the Internet or watch the news, because of Supreme Court decisions and discussions it’s there in front of you, regardless of where you are. I don’t even watch the news, and I’m well aware of this discussion that’s taking place. I think it demands of us, for those of us who follow Jesus, those of us who look for truth in this Book above all else, a re-centering, or a re-grounding, on what this Book says.
What can happen to us through life, as there are other people making definitions on biblical terms, it can get very confusing for us. We can quickly sort of seep away from the definitions of what we see in the Bible, and we can become desensitized to the definitions we see in our culture at large. So I think it is incredibly important for us to come back and re-center, re-ground ourselves in what the Bible says.
So rather than sharing with you any of my opinion on any of the political or news or Supreme Court decisions this week, what I want to share with you this morning is why I believe strongly that we are in a day, because of what has happened, that is ready for spiritual revival. We have an opportunity, because of what’s going on in our culture and in our government, to be able to exalt and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that will be radically life-transforming to other people in ways our culture and society have not seen before.
Amidst that, if you want to call it a silver lining, that’s fine, but I want to share with you this morning why I’m excited about the opportunities all of this brings. If you look back and study and think about the big picture of history for a minute, if you look back at the apostle Paul and all of the apostles and what happened with the church and how the church exploded… Most historians believe around five million Christians existed by the year AD 300. That is pretty amazing.
You have Paul and all of the apostles who are taking this message of Christianity out, and why it was able to take fire, literally, amidst the culture are two things. First was their method, the way they lived life and engaged in conversations. We’ve talked about this many times. Paul in Acts 17, going and having conversations with people and speaking the language of the culture and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. That’s a big part of it.
The other part of it was they were completing a story that the culture, by and large, was already aware of. See, most people they were communicating the gospel to, whether Jew or not, were aware of the Jewish story, the nation of Israel. So what they came doing was giving the rest of the story, which many already knew. That added fire and flame to the gospel effectiveness of the apostles and of Paul.
Then, in AD 300, something very interesting happens. Constantine, a political ruler, is impacted by the message of Christianity. In that personal impact of Constantine, he adopts Christianity and makes it a state religion. What happens then, as we look at history, is because Christianity became a state religion in AD 300, everyone begins to believe they’re Christians.
So there’s this watering down of the life-changing message of the gospel. It becomes just a religion. Christianity becomes a cultural and social system of dos and don’ts. It’s the way everybody lived. “Because we are a part of this state, this political system, therefore, we’re Christians; therefore, we live in this way.” When you begin to walk in life that way, you are taking out and removing the life-changing power of the gospel, the relational blessing of living a life knowing Jesus.
That still exists today in many places around the world: cultural faith. Catholicism is huge. There are many cultural Catholics who live in a certain region, and everybody believes because they live in that region they are Catholic, just because they live there. Really, the birth of this cultural Christianity happened back then in AD 300.
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