I really appreciated this video featuring D.A. Carson on what he believes the church in America needs. It’s a message that I believe we would all be wise to pay close attention to. Agree? Disagree?
What the Church in America needs is what the Church of the living God in every age and culture always needs. It can be put a lot of different ways. To make the first things the first things—that is to focus on what the Bible makes central.
It needs to preach Christ, but not as a cipher, but Christ as the incarnation of the Living God, who has come amongst us not only to teach us, but also to introduce this dramatic, life-transforming saving reign, all grounded in His death on our behalf, bearing our sins in his own body on the tree so the righteous wrath of God is turned away because of God’s own decisive love for us. He gives His own Son so that we may be reconciled to Him, reconciled to each other in anticipation of the climactic new heaven and new earth, resurrection life still to come, and already that transforms everything and makes us a new community of men and women who are already borne along by the Holy Spirit, living in the power of the age to come.
That’s what it needs always. Always!
Those are central things because we see them to be central in the Word of God. Well what this is the preaching and teaching of the Word of God in the power of the Spirit to see men and women transformed.
And whether people believe it or not—whether the proclamation of this message is, as Paul puts it, an aroma to some of life, of sweetness, or an aroma to others of the stench of death… In one sense, that doesn’t matter nearly so much as being faithful.
In Isaiah’s day, according to chapter six of that prophecy, he was called to preach—and preach in such a way that in fact people would be blinded and deafened. This, you find also in the teaching of Jesus in John chapter eight. There, Jesus says, “Because I tell you the truth, you do not believe.”
That is stunning, it is horribly shocking.
It’s not a concessive. “Although I tell you the truth you do not believe.” It’s causal. “Because I tell you the truth.”
So there are times and places and history, there are always people in every generation in history for whom the truth is so offensive that it guarantees unbelief. In other words, the truth itself is so offensive that articulating the truth is going to harden their hearts.
And if that’s the case, then you don’t start asking, “Well, I guess I’d better preach some untruth, shouldn’t I?”
Rather you remain faithful, and you leave the results with God, and it will draw some, because it will be an aroma of life to some, even if turns out to be an aroma of death to others.
So what we always need then is faithfulness, and understanding the Bible, teaching the Bible, preaching the Bible, living out the Bible for the glory of God, for the good of his blood-bought people, living in the light of eternity.
And that also teaches us how to live in our day-to-day existence.