Thursday, November 01, 2007
The Valley of Dry Bones - Blackness the Resurrection
So where do we go from here? Blackness is dead and no amount of denial, willful blindness or intentional deafness will bring it back again. Culturally, politically and spiritually our goal, hope and focus as a people is on success and the good life. And the pied pipers leading the charge are the so-called ministers of the new black Laodicean churches. They’ve convinced us that it’s not only God’s will for us to be wealthy but that wealth, fame and success are the substance, point, purpose and goal of existence and redemption. Meanwhile the hood crumbles under the weight of anger, grief, frustration and despair even as our new super-apostles drive to their distant suburban homes in Bentleys bought with the pennies of the poor.
I may have said this before but it is important to say it again. In my view (and yes I’m only one man and a fallible man at that) the deviant, destructive, non-biblical poison known as word of faith theology (and don’t be fooled folks it is a theology) is the greatest challenge and obstacle to the resurrection of blackness and the restoration of our churches and communities today. It is a greater threat than the growing presence of the Nation of Islam, a greater threat than our increasing secularism and yes a greater threat than continued white racism.
Once we give credence to, believe, accept, promote and begin to practice a theology that radically changes the objective scriptural view of God, scripture, mankind, sin, salvation, Jesus Christ and the Spirit we’re on the path to an idolatry that will only lead to the eternal destruction of our souls even as we sing about the blessing of Abraham in our cavernous cathedrals.
So where do we go from here: We’ll begin with the ‘five solas’: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, To God Be the Glory Alone. These were the substantive issues that framed the Reformation and pitted the theology of the reformers against the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. It is my view that these are still the salient theological issues of our time and the ones that will contrast our theology and the churches born of that theology with the new theological heretics of the Black church. Moreover, these great theological themes along with the doctrines of grace must be the theology that forms the basis of our unity with other Reformed believers burdened with impacting the black church and community with biblical theology whether they are Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran or Pentecostal/Charismatic.
Consequently we must meet the enemy at the point of attack by stating and reasserting the solas as the foundation of our theology. Functionally, we must preach, teach, promote and plant churches that stress that Scripture and Scripture Alone forms the basis of our thought, belief and practice. Scripture, not our impression or supposed visions, dreams or new revelations dictate what we believe and how we practice our beliefs. Standing on Scripture alone will mean that we reject any notion that God is communicating any kind of new, authoritative truth that is in any way binding on His people. We are not called to get a ‘new word’ from God, but to be faithful to the word already given in Scripture. We must train, pray for and support pastors who stress our conviction of Scripture alone by faithfully preaching through Scripture in a systematic, expository manner. They will allow the themes and form of a particular passage determine of the theme and form of their sermons. Additionally, they will focus on preaching through books of the Bible which will give them ample opportunity to highlight God’s character and nature even as they emphasize the centrality of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
Emphasizing Christ Alone will enable new and revived churches to place the weight of our eternal salvation and our people’s only hope on the shoulders of our sovereign, sinless Savior Jesus Christ. Preaching Christ and His cross will bring us into direct conflict with deviant, perverse heretical theology. For the Christ of Scripture is the historical Jesus, the eternal Son of God who was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified, dead and buried. On the third day He physically rose from the dead with the same body in which He was buried. His sinless life, vicarious death and powerful resurrection have achieved and secured a salvation from sin for His people. He is the Head of the church and we are bound to follow His agenda, not co-opt Him into following ours. We categorically and vigorously reject any notion that salvation is primarily a deliverance from poverty, sickness or the pathway to a trouble free ‘victorious’ life. Furthermore we declare emphatically and preach intentionally that Christ and Christ alone is mankind’s only hope for a permanent right relationship with God the Father.
Scripture declares that Jesus saves His people by Grace Alone. Salvation is completely a work of the triune God. God the Father chose a people to save before the creation of the world. God the Son lived a perfect life and died a substitutionary death for those people and God the Spirit applies this great salvation to God’s people by giving them new life and bringing them to faith in the finished work of Christ, (see 2 Thes. 2:13-14). Preaching salvation by grace alone frees our churches to put our trust fully in the work of God’s Spirit through the proclamation of the word of God. We are thus liberated from using manmade gimmicks and techniques like altar calls to assure ourselves that God is at work in the hearts of His people. Proclaiming salvation by grace alone also liberates God’s people from captivity to manipulators who deceive them into believing that there is something they can do to assure God’s favor and grace. We stand on, preach and believe that we are rescued from God’s wrath and given a permanent right standing in Him by grace alone.
This salvation by grace alone, grounded in Christ alone is obtained by Faith Alone. It doesn’t depend on our family values or the fact that we’ve been born as apart of a historically oppressed minority. Considering our present context it is important to emphasize that Biblical faith is not a special magical or supernatural force that changes our present reality. Nor is the issue how much faith we have or the quality of our faith. Biblical faith for salvation is a conviction of certain eternal realities concerning our sin, God’s holiness, Christ’s perfect work and God’s response to that work. By declaring that salvation is through faith alone we are affirming that people are justified (i.e. declared to be in a permanent right relationship with God) by believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone. There is nothing to be added nor is our faith a manifestation of our spiritual power, but God’s gift to us.
Finally, our new Biblically driven Reformed churches will promote and proclaim that all of life and salvation is to and for God’s Glory Alone. God’s glory and not our selfish quest for wealth, comfort, convenience, prestige and power is the point, aim and pursuit of our lives. Our churches must highlight God’s glory alone by featuring worship services that focus on praising, adoring, reflecting on and stressing His character and nature as expressed fully in the Person, work and supremacy of Jesus Christ. Instead of appealing and catering to the interest of religious consumers these churches will look to make active followers of Jesus Christ. These are disciples who follow our Lord through passionate worship, a diligent holy walk and consistent bold witness. Moreover, they make major and minor life decisions based on how they further the witness of the gospel.
Please join me in praying that our Lord will raise up a generation of disciples willing to plant and convert churches whose chief desire is to see the glory of our Lord cover our communities as the waters cover the sea.
Related sermon: A Theology For The City
To Him Who Loves Us…