My wife and I traveled from our home in northeast Florida to celebrate Christmas with our son near Sacramento, California. We had the opportunity to visit a church nearby called the “Experience Church”.
From Scripture fragments lifted utterly out of context was created a sugar-coated, warm and fuzzy message that had no relevance to the texts from which the verses were extracted. But how the congregation did love the message!!
At the end of the service was an “alter-call” that invited unbelievers to become “children of the light” by the promise that, if one would believe, one can become “light” just like Jesus is “light”. A video was shown of the testimony of a man who was once a wild, partying “biker” who “came to Jesus”, and Jesus “changed his life” and he no longer does wild partying!!
The central message seemed to be that “Jesus died to make people children of light!”
Let us take a look at Ephesians 5 from which the pastor extracted the “fragment”, that says, “…now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Paul is writing to a congregation who, in part, that is living lives no differently than the unsaved world from which the work of Jesus saved them. Consider Ephesians starting at 4:17. “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk… in the futility of their mind…having their understanding darkened…being alienated from the life of God….”. Consider Paul’s exhortations beginning with 5:1 through 8. Paul is speaking to a congregation that, in part, professes Jesus, but hasn’t yet begun living Jesus!! They are, in part, living as “children of darkness” and Paul is telling them that they have not changed to living as “children of light”.
This is the message of the text of Ephesians 4-5. The message that I heard at this church was NOT the message of the text, but was a message that demonstrates the fulfillment of Timothy’s prophecy: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
Friends, Jesus Christ did NOT die on the cross to make men “children of light”! Jesus Christ died on the cross because of men like me, so that men like me who was dead in my trespasses and sins, far off from God, an alien and stranger from the Covenant, having no hope and without God.
Jesus Christ Christ had to die because of men like ME!!
We don’t hear much of that “gospel” anymore! I sure didn’t hear ANY of it in California!! It seems there that Jesus died to make people happy!