Communion with God – Essential
The Christian has been redeemed and regenerated not only to commune with Christ, but also to communicate Christ to others. Such communion with and communication of the Lord are two things that God has joined together and that no man should tear asunder. The one issues from the other. If we do not have vital union with Christ we cannot have anything about Christ to communicate to others. If we are not devoted to Christ in loving gratitude for the great and loving things He has done for us, then we cannot declare Him to others, nor would we ever desire to do so. True, vital, and right communion with Christ leads to a desire to communicate the Savior with greatest fidelity. Whether such communication is fruitful, in terms of others bowing to the claims of Christ, is rightly deemed as being a matter more of God’s doing than our own. This is not to say that we should be indifferent to the response our sharing Christ begets. We should pray fervently to God and speak faithfully to men with a zealous and sincere desire to see others embrace the Lord we love and serve. Yet, we should ever recognize that all of our best spiritual efforts are not sufficient to convert a single soul. Here, as with every other thing, without Christ we can do nothing.
Many Christians in our day note and lament the lack of response to the gospel, especially in our materialistic western culture. This has led many to re-examine methods of evangelism, and to adopt ways considered to be more effective in reaching the lost. Therefore, it has become a widespread assumption that if we want to see more gratifying results, then we must change with the times or die. This assumption has spawned a host of innovations in how churches seek to communicate Christ, not only to the lost, but also to those within the family of faith. Thus, mature saints must endure, in most typical Sunday services, such things as almost incessant music, amplified and varied by its instrumentation, tunes, and wording, all because it is this boisterous type of celebration that we are told people are conditioned to expect and even demand. Therefore, if we want to see many people in our churches, we must meet this expectation. I recently saw a large banner covering the side of a local church. The banner read: “Live Music Each Sunday.” Smaller letters told of a band and worship team that would lift the worshippers to great heights. What would such advertisers call our Sunday music? Is ours not live because we make melody with our hearts and voices rather than rely on a few experts pumping out amplified soft rock tunes that drown out the words of the worshippers?
Those experimenting with innovations in communicating Christ have largely torn asunder their communications from their communion with Christ. A shift has taken place in many quarters, wherein numbers of apparently happy people gathered in an impressive building that is ever expanding to accommodate its multiplying masses has replaced a concern to see people truly converted to Christ. Increasingly, pastors are coming to believe and pastoral candidates are being taught that the method of gospel presentation will prevail in our spiritually dying society. Hence, we find a growing emphasis on technique and a diminished emphasis on theology. The message of salvation is subdued under a plethora of things that are considered to be culturally relevant, and thus calculated to win hordes to the cause.
This growing obsession with evangelistic and ministerial technique, embedded in a matrix of sentimental and carnally entertaining fluff, is very different from the charge that Paul gave to Timothy. The apostle told his son in the faith to preach the Word, whether in or out of season. He specifically charged him not to adapt the message to the fickle tastes of men (2 Tim. 4:1-4).
How can the loud music, the entertaining sermonettes, and the carnal circuses offered by some give life to the dead? We are witnessing in our day a growing embarrassment over the gospel and a growing esteem for gimmicks. But it is the gospel alone that is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Our knowing and respecting this truth should lead us to communicate neither in arcane nor in culturally hip fashion. Rather, we should be so absorbed in wonder, love, and praise for our saving God that we, with increasing naturalness and aptness, live, speak, and do the things that make others know with certainty that there is a gracious, saving God. Others will know, too, that by His doing we are not of this world, even though we are in it, and that they can share the same blessed and glorious deliverance in which we rejoice.
If we commune with the true and living God, we enjoy loving union with a glorious, heavenly King whose mercies are great and whose salvation is only and ever worthy of praise and thanksgiving. From such communion will flow not a nervous obsession with the ever-changing fads of men, but a vital grasp and loving, generous giving of the ever relevant and vital truth that alone sets men free.
Spurgeon said, “The world has put a little letter before the word musing and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing . . . Our fathers loved the quiet hour, and loved it well, that they cherished those times which they could spend in musing as the most happy, because the most peaceful seasons of their life. We drag such time off to execution in a moment, and only ask men to tell us how we may kill it.”
Pastor, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Norfolk, Virginia
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