CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Will He Find Faith? A Tough Gospel for Tough Times

Dec 28, 2017

One very startling verse found in the gospels is Luke 18:8: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Good question! Let me offer some quick context to it. Luke 18:1-8 is the parable of the persistent widow. It deals with perseverance in prayer as we await God’s justice.

The question is, will we be found faithful when Christ returns? This is a fitting question to ask as it follows on from Luke 17:20-37 which has Jesus speaking about his return. As the days get darker and the faith gets weaker – certainly in the West – such a question is well worth asking.

It is looking pretty grim indeed in so much of the West with an anaemic, compromised and craven church. Much of the problem can be found in our pulpits where the gospel is no longer being preached. Everything else is getting a good run however: entertainment, feel-good pep talks, celebrities, rock concerts, men-pleasing sermons, smoke machines and strobe lights, etc.

No wonder the faith of many is growing cold or disappearing altogether. Our church leaders have a lot to answer for. And it is just going to get worse as we have snowflakes in the pulpits preaching to snowflakes in the pews. Or as Sir Weary Dunlop is reputed to have put it, “The problem with Australia is that we have wimps in the pulpits and cowards in the pews.”

That is so true all throughout the West, and we are paying a great price as a result. We have one of the weakest, most ineffective, and non-salty churches in ages, and it shows no signs of getting any better soon. I am not alone in lamenting all this.

A recent piece by one of my favourite Christian commentators is worth highlighting here. Douglas Wilson has recently written about a “Gospel for Snowflakes”. His opening line nails it: “The irony is this. The only way for us to declare a gospel for snowflakes is by seeing that there is no way for the gospel to be preached by snowflakes.”

He unpacks this as follows:

In Scripture, the gospel is the objective good news of salvation. It is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That message is declared to mankind in a way that summons us all to do two things—repent and believe. This repentance and belief are all the same fundamental and entirely fluid motion. Repentance is turning away from all that is not Christ, and belief is turning toward all that is. Repentance turns away from sin, and faith embraces Christ. This is the way it is by definition, and so it is not possible to turn to Christ actually without turning away from not Christ actually. This means true and real repentance.

He reminds us that the biblical good news “presupposes some awareness of antecedent bad news”. Salvation from sin is only good news if we first realise that we are dirty rotten scoundrels, to use the title of a Hollywood film – or lost sinners, to use the biblical parlance.

But in this snowflake generation of ours, we have outlawed any real communication of the bad news. This means that the good news (as it is found in Scripture) becomes contextually nonsensical. We are found peddling cures in a world without diseases, offering pardons in a world without justice, and preaching resurrections in a world without death. One is reminded of Niebuhr’s great summary of liberalism: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” And in this shrewd summary, we see just how far the leprosy of liberalism has already advanced in ostensibly evangelical circles. So we need to look to our message, and in addition urge all the messengers to look to their hearts. We need to start proclaiming a message that will not only get evangelicals saved, but which will also get a number of evangelists saved as well.

Amen to that. Wilson goes on to look at the prophets, at the Apostle Paul, and at John the Baptist. What a contrast they offer to most preachers and evangelists today. He concludes:

Those who wear soft clothing and who speak soft words are found in king’s palaces . . . and in the mouth of modern evangelicalism. And so it is that a gospel preached by snowflakes is incapable of offering snowflakes what they so desperately need—which is to get over themselves. This is because the best way to get over yourself is to see your ramshackle self hauled off in shame and disgrace to be nailed to the same cross where Jesus died. The promised glory comes later.
But to talk to this way is to be considered mean. And because narcissistic preachers would rather the whole tribe of narcissists go to Hell than to be ever considered mean by them, their whole sorry enterprise continues to stagger down the road.
“If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!” (Micah 2:11, ESV).
But we don’t just want the wine and beer. We want some of the wind and lies too.

Unless we start getting biblical men in our pulpits preaching the biblical gospel, we will not find many real believers in our pews. Unless things change substantially, the question asked by Jesus 2000 years ago will not get a good answer.

dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/gospel-for-snowflakes.html

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10 Responses to Will He Find Faith? A Tough Gospel for Tough Times

  • Thanks, Bill. I read that Chinese Christians are praying for persecution on the church in the West that the Western church may be purified. Of course, those who prefer the way of ‘liberal theology’ can still turn on those who forsake all for Christ as being bigoted fundamentalists and religious extremists. But the crown comes after the cross, and dying to self and taking up one’s cross was never meant to be a return trip. That is the choice that will increasingly challenge many ‘snowflake’ Christians. Indeed, all of us.

  • When we read the 4 Gospels Jesus talk a lot about the kingdom of God. When we read about repentance and salvation, we admit that they can only be because of God’s amazing grace that make them alive from their dead condition. Let us, like the widow, pray that God will grant many people amazing grace to give a lot of people new life in Christ Jesus and eternal life/know the Father (John 17:3).

  • Hi Bill, thanks again for “dishing it out” . Right from the time of the O.T. Prophets, history has shown that there is a personal price to be paid for Preaching the Whole Counsel of God. And Bill over the years you’ve certainly copped more than your share for speaking out. Jesus stated; ” you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” unquote. If the the whole truth of the Gospel is not being preached from our pulpits then it stands to reason that our Western populations will remain enslaved to weird theologies, false doctrines, and outright heresies. Maybe we should be praying that those in ministry receive a Divine Implantation of Back Bone from the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts records that on more than one occasion The Holy Spirit strengthened whole congregations. That is what we need now. Keep at it Bill, blessings, Kel.

  • This article is so right Bill about the Snowflakes in Pulpit and Pew. I like the Weary Dunlop statement for it’s more powerful view. I am a retired Clergy and am sick of all the politicized trash I hear and feel good presentations without any real Gospel message and challenge. Keep up the good work.

  • What can one say to refute any of the above? The short answer? NOTHING!

  • Thank you for this post. It is one that provokes some thinking.
    Now comes the hard part, actually doing something about it.
    Will God find faith in the Earth when He returns?
    I suppose the answer to that partially is in how I choose to respond, how we personally choose to respond. That’s the half way mark. How I believe is within my power.
    The second part, well that will be a little tougher. Preachers have dumbed it down a bit, sad really.
    I am hopeful that believers will at the very least take responsibility for themselves first.
    I live in faith.

  • We all including preachers & evangelists must be Broken & Convicted before God can even begin to put us back together again.
    Problem is these days that most professing Christians purposely skip the ‘B’ & ‘C’ to go straight to ‘A’!

  • Amen to that. We do need Christ preached from our pulpits.

  • That passage of scripture would have to be one of the most sobering in all of the bible. I think Paul Washer summed it up nicely when he equates pastors to doctors, and just how doctors would get kicked out of their practice for lulling a cancer patient, so too such pastors should be kicked out of the pulpit for not properly preaching the Word of God, and telling it how it should be told. Unfortunately i know of some people like that. Lest to say, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes…

  • Generally speaking people feel ashamed and uncomfortable speaking about Jesus, salvation, God the Father and the concept of eternal life in a way that they do not feel when siding with Lucifer the Adversary and Counterfeiter. If you truly believe and obey it is possible to speak with authority in a humble way about things which we cannot see directly but can perceive through many ways that are connected in our life. You have to be in the right mode.

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