As I sit here
today writing this letter, my mind is flooded with issues concerning the
church. This year, 2004, may well go down in history as the year of
homosexuality. The issue is everywhere, from news media to religious
magazines. This is just the newest item for the church to struggle with
and decide how it will react. Sadly though “the church” reacts in
different ways. In my evangelism-training program called REACH, I have
this statement, which I once heard as a reason for denominations:
In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in everything charity.
that I would have for the church today is whether sin is an essential
issue or a non-essential issue?
lighten up! I have been told that too many times. Sin is too heavy of an
issue. When I am told this, it makes me wonder if sin has always been a
heavy issue for the church or is this something new. It seemed to me that
Jesus and His disciples had no issue in calling sin “sin.” Therefore, I
looked into what has changed over the past 2000 plus years and found
something very interesting.
turn of the twentieth century, many in the church turned away from
teaching the “heavy” items such as sin, hell, and repentance. They
moved to the easier, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your
life” teachings. Easier because people smile when they hear it and
so called conversions are increased. You can see this change by simply reading
Christian books written before 1900 or transcripts of sermons by the great
Preachers of the past.
I believe you
would agree that for its first 1900 years the church was growing and
it influenced the world for God. Statistics prove that over the past 100
plus years the church has been in decline in its growth and influence.
Have you ever heard that the church is no longer relevant in this post
would be incorrect to simply point to one item for the ills of the church,
I believe the change of our message is at the core. This is demonstrated
when someone prays a prayer with the belief that his or her life will
become better. Only one thing can happen. That person will become
disappointed in Christianity because at some point they will have to face sin
in their life that they must stop. Since we have told that person that God
loves them and wants them to be happy, they become confused when told to stop
doing something they like. How has the church dealt with such issues over
the past 100 years?
stayed firm to the Word of God and called sin “sin.” Sadly, many more have
changed their doctrine based on the false premise that God loves us and
wants us to be happy. Yes, God loves us but no where in the Bible is there
evidence that God's primary purpose is our happiness. He showed His love
for us through His Son when Jesus Christ died a terrible death on a Roman
cross for our sins (See John 3:16). As God states in Ephesians 2:10 “For
we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This may be hard for
some to read but we are here for God and His purposes. God is not here for our
We can see
this rationalization of God's Word today in many ways. In an effort to show
God's love we are allowing what God calls sin to permeate His church. God
is very clear that He expects us to repent from our sins if we are to be
saved. It seems that the church today is repenting from the truth and
turning away from it. Homosexuality, for instance, is clearly sin but when
viewed through the rationalization that God wants us happy then it can be
acceptable if managed correctly. Is the church truly doing these people a
favor by helping them live happy lives?
think so but that is because they came into the church believing that they
are also promised to be happy. They did not come to Christ to be saved
from Hell. They came to be happy and most likely will be for the few
years they are here on earth but what about eternity? If we truly love
and have compassion for people, we would tell them that un-repented sin
would send them to an eternity in Hell. Not change our doctrine to keep
church growth and make people happy in the short term. Please never
forget that they will stand before Jesus some day to answer for this sin.
They will be held accountable for the sin and will curse the church for
all of eternity for lying to them.
You may say
lighten up but I say to you Light’n up and be God’s light to the world.
Shine His truth as hard as it may seem. Do not compromise simply to win a
conversion because it is not a true conversion if there is no repentance.
God does love us and that is why he wants us to be saved. Not saved for
our happiness here on earth but saved from Hell. Teach the complete gospel
which includes being saved from Hell (Good news) and repentance (Turn from
sin even if it will make them unhappy for a while).
Please feel free to send the URL of this letter to anyone who may benefit from
it. I am interested to know your
options on this issue.
Your friend in Christ,
Rick F. Kohnenkamp