I’ve always had a problem with the idea of coming to God just so that one can escape the fires of hell. But this is how many have sold Christianity over the years. God exists for little more than fire insurance. This approach has always made me want to cringe. But I was not sure why. All I knew was that there had to be more to it than that.
And it wasn’t until I heard the sermon “Ten Shekels & A Shirt” preached by Paris Reidhead that I understood the spiritual and psychological forces that have crept in and seduced modern Christianity. We have boiled God’s love down to simply a means to an end. Salvation exists to make man happy, a giant retirement plan for all who claim to believe a few key doctrines.
Brother Reidhead is an old time preacher. And his message struck right to the core of my beliefs and challenged what I knew about God and why I should repent and serve Him.
Brother Reidhead re-told a story about a mission’s trip to Africa where God challenged his motives and world view. Initially, Paris went to “give poor sinners a chance to go to heaven.” And when he went to Africa, he discovered that they knew about God, and most of them did not want anything to do with Him. They enjoyed their sin and did not want to repent. He felt that God had tricked him by sending him to Africa.
Brother Reidhead said, “It was there in Africa that God began to tear through the overlay of humanism…There alone in my bedroom as I faced God honestly with what my heart felt. It seemed to me that I heard Him say, ‘I didn’t send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen. I sent you to Africa for my sake. They deserve hell. But I love them. And I endured the agonies of hell for them…Do I not deserve the reward of my suffering? Don’t I deserve those for whom I died?’”
The heart of missions is not the need of the world but the glory of God. I was looking at evangelism from the wrong perspective. Everything we do should be motivated by a love for God and acknowledgement of who He is. God alone is worthy of our love, obedience, adoration and service.
Brother Reidhead explained it this way, “Christianity says that the end of all beings is the glory of God. Humanism says that the end of all beings is the happiness of man. One was born in hell, the divination of man. And the other was born in heaven, the glorification of God…If the only reason a sinner repents is so that he will go to heaven that is nothing more than trying to make a deal or bargain with God.”
God is truly looking for people who will live for Him regardless of the fringe benefits. God wants people to recognize their sinful state compared to God’s glory. He wants people to awaken to the awesome revelation that is the glory of God.
All these years I had been raised to sell God and heaven like a trip to Disney World. I had tried to appeal to whatever selfish motive would get somebody to say “Yes” to the question, “Do you want to accept Jesus in your heart?” But a person can’t truly come to God until God draws Him. The individual must have a revelation of God’s holiness. He must see his sin and depravity compared to the Light of Jesus’ righteousness. He must come to the state where he realizes that he has no place else to turn. God alone holds the key to eternal life. He alone is worthy. Nothing else matters apart from God and His glory.
Brother Reidhead unearthed the problem of bad motives. For many years, I had been content to do “good” things with bad motives. But now I see the folly in it. If you dare to see how you may have abused God instead of truly worship Him as He deserves, I encourage you to listen to the sermon on MP3. It can be downloaded from http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?lid=282