There once was a church that was totally centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Above the entrance to their meeting place hung a sign that read, “We Preach Christ Crucified” (cf. 1 Cor 1:23). Everyone in that church knew what their purpose was in this world.
Over the years, ivy began to grow up and around the entrance, and it obscured the last word of the sign. Soon it simply read: “We Preach Christ.” The members of the church never really noticed the change because the sign accurately reflected what was going on inside. Rather than preaching the crucified Savior as they had in the past, they were now just preaching Jesus as a loving man—an example of how to live—but no death on the cross to atone for our sins.
As the years passed, the ivy continued crawling over the sign, which now read, “We Preach.” Again, the parishioners hardly noticed the change, as the message of the church had become more of a lecture about morality than a proclamation of the good news—that God gave his Son for us that we might have life in his death and resurrection.
Sometime later, the ivy crawled even further and covered more of the sign, to the point where it simply read, “We.” Again, church folks hardly noticed because they had become inwardly focused and only interested in themselves. Finally, the ivy covered the entire sign, and the church died. Such is the fate of any church that minimizes the central truths about Jesus Christ and fails to carry out its mission in this world.
In 1 Timothy 3:15, the Apostle Paul called the church of the living God “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” In other words, the mission of the church is to preserve and promote the central truths of the living Christ. The problem, of course, is that a vast majority of people today no longer believe in the concept of truth. Specific objections to the Christian faith include the following:
- “All religions are equally valid and basically teach the same truths.”
- “Each religion sees part of the spiritual truth, but none sees the whole truth.”
- “Religious belief is too culturally and historically conditioned to be universally true.”
- “It is arrogant to insist that your religious truth is right and try to convert others to it.”
- “We will never have peace on earth as long as religions make exclusive truth claims.”
This message tackles each one of these objections, seeking to demonstrate that “what I am saying is true and reasonable” (Acts 26:25). It then presents the simple message of the person and work of Jesus Christ, who reveals the Father, as Paul outlines in this passage:
- Incarnation: “He appeared in a body . . . .”
- Resurrection: “. . . was vindicated by the Spirit . . . .”
- Verification: “. . . was seen by angels . . . .”
- Proclamation: “. . . was preached among the nations . . . .”
- Salvation: “. . . was believed on in the world . . . .”
- Exaltation: “. . . was taken up in glory.”
The doctrines represented in the lines of this early hymn quoted by Paul are true. To surrender them is to let the ivy obscure the church’s message.
Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.