Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our Common Temptation

Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY recently delivered an outstanding chapel message that needs to be heard. The message I link to in this post is the third in a series of messages dealing with Jesus' wilderness temptation. It deals with Satan's offer to hand over to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. It is a temptation to possess power in a way that God has not intended.

Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

The temptation is, "I will give you power," and usually the issue is using that power for good. That is always what you will say to yourself, and what will be said to you: if you can build a power base and work it to where you can have the means to do what you want to do then you will be successful.

That is why we have a denomination where we say we have 16 million Southern Baptists. There are not 16 million Southern Baptists. So why do we claim this? Because it gives us a sense of power. But it is not the kind of power that only comes to the powerful.

Satan says, "Lust after this power, quest after this power: I will give you the kingdoms of the earth." Why is Satan willing to give up his power over all the kingdoms of the earth? Because Satan does not fear Christianity. Satan's authority is in the power to accuse. The power to hold humanity captive to the fear of death and judgment.

Satan is not scared by external conformity to moral values. Satan does not mind family values as long as your ultimate goal is a focus on the family. Satan does not mind social justice, as long as you see justice as primarily social. Satan is willing to give up the kingdoms of the world, apart from the shedding of blood on the cross. If Satan can just bypass the cross, then he will have everything that he wants.

Pastor, Satan does not mind if you preach the decrees of God, if you do not preach the Gospel of the cross. Homeschooling mom, Satan does not mind if you thoroughly catechize your children, if you never teach them about a bloody cross.

Satan will give orphan care, environmental protection, or whatever such issue is important to you provided you do not preach and proclaim and live the power of a cross that cancels his power of condemnation.
Read more of Moore HERE.


case.jess said...

Moore to the point!


Have you received an email from a Clint here in Louisville? He told me he had sent you an email in regards to a church plant in Philadelphia...just curious.

Grace and peace.

Andi said...

This is so relevant. There are so many voices/teachers/authors out there right now urging us to follow Christ by meeting the physical needs of our needy world, but who see no need to mention the name of Christ or the cross. To them, all that is needed is the compassion. That is NOT the gospel.
It expresses much of the heart of Christ, but not the core of the gospel.
I think it is a message people (especially young people) are attracted to because it does give us personally a false sense of power over our own position before God, our own salvation. If I sacrifice all for the poor God will be so pleased with me...we keep trying to keep a hand in our own salvation.

Todd Pruitt said...


It comes out of the mistaken notion that what we believe holds little relevance. Rather it is the ehics of Jesus that matter whether you are a Bhuddist, Muslim, Hindu, etc. We must remember that Jesus said in John 3 that if we do not believe we are condemned.

In the book "Total Church" the authors point out that if we perform good works without clearly proclaiming the Gospel message then rather than pointing people to Christ we will merely be pointing them to our good works. The consequences to this are spiritually devestating.

Christians must be for the poor and marginalized just as Jesus was. However these things, as you have written, are NOT the gospel. The Gospel is the message of the doing, dying, and rising of Christ. Our good works are vital but they are not the Gospel. The Gospel is a message that must be proclaimed. Evangelism and mission ought to be accompanied by works of mercy, service, and compassion. But without the evangel we are not doing evangelism. Without the Gospel we are not truly engaging in mission.