by Ted KyleSin and Redemption-the Heart of Our Message
There is a veritable ocean of topics preachers can choose to expound upon. Some subjects are "warm fuzzies," designed only to make the congregation feel good about themselves. Others are patriotic; still others are to help people live better-spiritually, physically, or both. Many are based in the Bible; many are not. And many are fine topics, in their place.
But in the midst of all this welter of how-to teaching, I fear that what should be the central message of all preaching often sits by the side of the road, waiting in vain for a ride.
Consider the case of the boys and girls in so many churches-perhaps your own: They grow up in Christian families. They learn the duty of saying grace before meals and all the matters of decency and (hopefully) modesty. They progress dutifully through the Sunday school ranks. They are good kids and they show promise of being good citizens, good church-goers and, in time, good parents themselves.
This is the story of tens of thousands of our church children. It was even my story….until the fall I entered college, when a professor in a Western Civilization class stripped my ill-fitting suit of "Christianity" from me in just a few short weeks. It took me twenty years to find my way back-but that is another story.
I'm fairly sure we're all agreed that "God has no grandchildren"-that is, being raised in a Christian environment does not automatically produce Christians. The decision to commit one's life to Christ is highly individual-possibly the most individual choice a person ever makes. (Let me hasten to add that training our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is terribly important. It creates the proper seedbed for the gospel message to take root and grow.)
But-and this is the biggie-if these young people are not brought to conviction for their sins, they will never give more than lip-service to the vicarious death of Jesus Christ! They've heard about it countless times. They've been steeped in it. But it won't seep into their hearts until they are faced with the knowledge that they absolutely must find a Savior.
The message of sin and redemption may seem old-fashioned, and it is. The great truths of man's sinfulness and God's power to redeem never change. The presentation may need adapting to our audiences, but without the core of the gospel, we're cheating the church. Those kids don't deserve that, and the church needs those kids.