I have been working on this post in my head and my heart for over a week now, so I’ll apologize in advance for its getting a little bit heavy. I won’t make any apologies for my boldness, though, because… well, Paul never did!
For the most part, I am absolutely loving this DVD that Lindsay picked out for our girls while she was here. It is a live worship service aimed at kids, and the music is wonderful. Pippa can sing a few of the choruses already and almost every word of Rainbow, the song Linz introduced us to while she was here. The slower songs are incredibly worshipful, and when I watch it with the girls, I find myself singing along and even getting a little tearful (always a good sign for me).
Between the songs, the worship leaders take turns sharing a Bible verse that is relevant to the song they are about to sing. Great again! I love that they keep the music grounded in Scripture, even if some of the lyrics to get a smidge off-topic.
But. (You knew there would be a “but”, didn’t you?)
After one of the slower, more thoughtful songs, one of the worship leaders gives a “gospel” talk and an invitation for the kids to become Christians. I was so, so disappointed with the “gospel” that was being presented to these kids (and to mine, right in my living room!)
I want to qualify what I’m about to say with a million disclaimers because I have no intention here of being critical of or villanizing these people in any way. I believe they have hearts for the Lord; I simply do not believe they have chosen their words very carefully or understood the gospel accurately enough. I also believe that the way they presented the gospel is the way it is presented by a lot of children’s ministries, and possibly by a lot of churches as well, but I do not believe it is a gospel that saves.
Several great Christian authors, among them the girltalkers, have written of the importance of preaching the gospel to oneself daily. Not only are we apt to forget, if not constantly reminded, how much we are in need of saving, but we are also quick to lose sight of exactly what took place in the moment of our salvation.
There were two main phrases used in this DVD to describe what one must do to be saved: “ask Jesus to be your friend” and “ask Jesus into your heart”. These phrases are as familiar to the average churched person as the words “Jesus” and “Christian”, and yet neither one is found anywhere in the Bible. There is certainly a kernel of truth in each of them: God does earnestly desire our friendship, in a sense, and through the Holy Spirit, we do have Christ in our hearts once we are saved. But neither of these is the means of our salvation. I waited and hoped for something to be said about recognizing our own sin, or about Jesus’s death on the cross in our place, but it simply wasn’t there.
Scripture speaks for itself as to what the true “good news” is about Christ:
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes this:
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (emphasis mine).
We may feel as though our greatest need is for a true friend, or for someone or something to fill the great void in our hearts, and I believe that is what some ministries might be appealing to. But in fact, we have a much greater need, whether we realize it or not: we need to be saved.
Romans 3 says this:
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (my emphasis again)
Scripture is clear and my own heart testifies that I am a sinner. That all of us are sinners. We must understand and believe that we suffer from this illness before we are in a position to joyfully accept its cure, but, *praise God*, through Christ there is a cure!
Christ, who lived a perfect, sinless life, died in my place so that I don’t have to. I can only be made right with God by faith in that truth, by God’s grace and nothing that I can do myself. I guess for some, this is a tough pill to swallow, but I think it is the sweetest news I have ever heard. It is heavy and deep, yet simple enough for a child to understand and believe, and there is no need to water it down. In fact, we are in grave danger of preaching a gospel that does not save if we do.
I intend to make it a habit to rehearse this truth to myself, not only so that I will be clear about it when I have the opportunity to share it with others, but also so that I am reminded each day to live my life in praise to the One who saved me.
And just so you believe me that I really do love *almost* everything about my new DVD, I will end with one of our favorite songs. Pippa calls it ‘the sleepiest one’!