Christianity Without Christ
A Christian music network of radio stations is challenging Christians to make a difference. They encourage Christians to pay for the food for the car behind them at the drive-through of fast food restaurants. They announce their goal is to brighten someone’s day. Nowhere in this daring plan – at least as told on the radio – is there any attempt to tell anyone about Jesus. (A handout at the website only advertises the radio station.) Should we put a smile on people’s faces to ease their ride on the fast lane to hell?
If we asked the people running this Christian music radio network why they don’t tell people about Jesus, they wouldn’t understand. To them, making someone smile is Jesus. That’s the only Jesus they know. They also had a pledge drive to help save Detroit. Through evangelism? No, of course not. They were very excited about building an “Imaginarium Creative Center” for Detroit youth to hang out after school and discover creative arts. Sure, that kind of thinking will save Detroit.
Most of the so-called “Christianity” in our world today is Christianity without Christ. It is not Christianity at all. The Apostle Paul warned of those “5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3).
Here is a simple test: If a church or an allegedly Christian activity or movement would be basically the same if you removed Jesus entirely from it, in what way can you call it Christian? If a congregation or institution or project or activity would continue on pretty much the same without Jesus, is it Christianity?
Unfortunately, we slowly realize that the vast majority of people immediately around us and all over the world have never been offered the slightest clue of who Jesus really is, what the gospel actually is, or what Christianity truly means. We can say the words. But those words don’t register with the overwhelming majority of society. Those words have no meaning. If we don’t recognize that our words have a different interpretation to our listener, we will fail to communicate successfully.
Each year, counterfeiters sell an estimated $1.7 trillion of imitation products that are knock-offs of the real thing. Notice that no one counterfeits low-price items. It is the highly-valuable, prestigious, and desired trademark items, software, movies, and video games that forgers want to copy. Should we be surprised that “trademark infringement” touches the most valuable thing in the universe as well – Christianity as the only way to God and to heaven?
In recent political debates, we heard Christian leaders describe charity for the poor as “the gospel.” While charity is a teaching of Christianity and assuredly a natural outgrowth of God’s love working in us, the gospel is salvation from sin.
This is the gospel: “15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
The gospel or literally “good news” is: (a) We have all sinned and are all going to hell. (b) Yes, your sin really does count. It is deadly and fatal. (c) The penalty for sin is eternal damnation. (d) There is absolutely nothing you can do about your sin to save yourself. (e) No one else can help you, since they are also sinners. (f) But praise be to God, God loved us enough to send a Savior, who willingly, voluntarily, intentionally, and knowingly chose to die in our place to pay for our sins. (g) Only because Jesus (being God Himself) paid for our sins by His own death our sins are wiped away and we are set free.
And yet we live in a culture that has been completely hijacked by the social gospel – a socialist political philosophy – and the idea that Christianity is nothing but a system of social activities and programs.
A song by Jason Gray that is being beaten to death on all Christian radio stations includes the refrain “Oh, we bring the kingdom come, with every act of love…” The hell you don’t!
But our acts of love have no power to save. If you could bring the kingdom of Jesus by an act of a person’s love, why did God need to die on the cross? Why did God Himself in the body of a Man named Jesus (“He Saves”) spill his blood as His heart burst, nailed to the wooden cross?
But is this just nitpicking? What’s wrong with poetic license in a song? Clearly, an act of love might attract the attention needed to break the ice, open up a dialogue, and eventually share salvation. Yet many such current Christian songs overwhelmingly portray Christianity as nothing but a soup kitchen. There is no repentance from sin, no remorse or guilt for sin, no salvation from sin at the cross. Most of all, there is no Savior. And there is no power.
In other words, if every Christian completely implemented this pop philosophy – and remember this is one of the top hits in the nation on Christian radio – would anyone make it to heaven? No. There would be a lot of cheered-up people riding the express train to the lake of fire.
One cannot be a Christian by good works. Galatians 3: “10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’” And further “14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
The blood of Jesus and the power of God bring the kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus conquered Satan. Jesus opened the door for all of us to leave the kingdom of darkness and walk into heaven, which is God’s presence. At the moment that Jesus died on the cross, he cried out and the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. See Matthew 27:50-53, Mark 15:37-39, Luke 23:44-46. The “holy of holies” is no longer closed to us, but is now wide open. Because the blood of Jesus soaks the Mercy Seat in heaven, we can enter the intense presence of God now at any time.
But Satan urgently wants to distract and confuse. He creates organizations and movements to point people in the wrong direction, so they will not discover the power of Jesus and the wide-open door standing before them beckoning them to a personal relationship with God though Jesus Christ.
When this author was first born again, I felt the urgent pressure of the overly-eager Church I then belonged in to work (that is be employed) in “full time ministry” in the Christian church. I was a little baffled (as well as intimidated) because I wondered “Doesn’t everyone already know about Jesus?” I knew I had not made a decision on what I knew for many years. But I couldn’t imagine that very many people didn’t already know all about Jesus.
Now, the longer I live and learn, I am confronted with the reality: Almost nobody knows about the real Jesus or the real gospel of Christianity. Most of what the world thinks it knows about Jesus is a Christianity where Jesus Christ plays no genuine role.
Let me indulge the reader with one of my father’s jokes: Jesus appeared in bodily form to a homeless man feeling discouraged by the side of the road, near a big church. Jesus inquired. The homeless man responded that he had tried to reach out to the church for help, but they threw him out because he was untidy and unattractive. Jesus answered him “Don’t feel bad. I have been trying to get into that church for years. They keep throwing me out, too.”
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