I fear that many churches have gone astray. Instead of following Christ and seeking to build Christ’s church Christ’s way, they seek to build earthly churches the world’s way.
What do I mean? Instead of preaching the message Christ Jesus commanded His church to proclaim in this lost and dying world, so many churches proclaim themselves and seek to appeal to the masses by their entertaining programs, their contemporary music, their community service projects and their giveaways — all things which people can find outside the church as well. And though, sometimes, people flock through the doors, such churches fail to meet the greatest needs of the people: forgiveness for their sins and fellowship with their God and Maker.
What did Jesus command His disciples, His church, to proclaim? The church is to disciple the nations by going out into the world with the message of salvation in Christ Jesus, baptizing in the name of the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and teaching them all that Christ commanded and taught. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus commanded His church to preach to all the need to repent of their sins and look to Jesus and His cross in faith for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Jesus told His disciples that “thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). Jesus told His disciples, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23).
So, where is the preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name? Where are pastors and churches proclaiming God’s forgiveness to those who repent of their sins and look to Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world? Where are pastors telling those who are impenitent and continuing on in their sinful ways that their sins are not forgiven and that they will be condemned to the eternal torments of hell if they do not repent and look to Christ Jesus for mercy and pardon?
It is as Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24)! Those who do not repent and look in faith to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), will die in their sins and suffer the eternal consequences (cf. John 3:18,36). It won’t matter if they were church members, active in church programs or serving the earthly needs of their communities.
If churches seek to do what Christ called them to do, their first and primary work will be to call sinners to repentance, proclaim Christ Jesus as the Savior of the world, announce God’s forgiveness for Christ’s sake to penitent sinners and warn the impenitent of God’s judgment upon them unless and until they repent.
Only by doing things Christ’s way and doing what Christ commanded will churches build Christ’s church and His eternal kingdom!
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]