Letter-Light’n up

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Dear Friend,


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.


The question that I would have for the church today is whether sin is an essential issue or a non-essential issue?


I know 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.


Around the 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 Christian culture?


Although it 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? 


Some have 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 purposes.


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?


Many may 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