Categories
Discipleship Faith Stuff I've Been Writing

The Gospel & Social Media

I learned a long time ago that you need to have a good hook in your writing and that, sometimes, a quote is a real attention-getter. My first thought was to go with a good Winston Churchill quote like, “Kites rise high against the wind, not with it.” But it was a little too abstract. I found a few more that would work for what I was looking for and decided to go with a tried-and-true idiom: “don’t shoot the messenger”.

Social media platforms are mainstays in our current culture. There are few who do not partake, and its uses vary widely. When Facebook first reached this area, it was used predominantly by college students to reconnect with people from their earlier school years. It has branched out quite a bit from that point and is used to connect with old friends, share pictures and life events with distant family, be a political platform, and everything in between. It leaves me wondering, for the believer, what our social media presence should be like.

As I sit here typing these thoughts, I must admit that I am afraid. Over the last twenty-four hours, I have watched self-proclaimed believers eviscerate other believers for warning against a cult-leader spouting medical knowledge in a viral post. I have seen self-proclaimed believers copy and paste rhetoric to support their stance against mask wearing that came from a basis of support in pro-choice abortion in contrast to their former pro-life stances. I have seen enough to scare me to the point where I vastly overanalyze everything that I consider posting to the point that I rarely post more than a few Bible verses and the devotions I send out weekly. Where is the gospel in all of this?

The word translated gospel can literally be translated good news, and good news is hard to come by on social media these days. In Romans 1:16, Paul tells us something about how our attitudes and lives should be shaped by the gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Paul exhibited this in his life by having the sharing of the gospel as a defining characteristic in his life. His calling was to be a missionary to the Gentiles, and Scripture tells us that he consistently shared the gospel message wherever he went. He was clearly not ashamed of its message or the Christ he proclaimed. But, most importantly, his continual sharing of the gospel showed that he genuinely believed that it was “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.

I believe that we should allow the Bible to define the gospel message a little bit more. If one were to look to individual passages of Scripture to concisely define the Gospel, I have laid out a few that are more commonly known:

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “For I delivered unto you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures….” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
  • “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Each of these passages very clearly present Jesus Christ. One might argue that more context is needed for any of them, and I would wholeheartedly agree – that is what sharing the gospel truly is, opening the Scriptures and pointing to Jesus! This information is extremely important. Furthermore, it should be a part of our life, our speech, and our conduct (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Before we go any farther in this discussion, we must ask ourselves the following questions: (1) do I truly believe the gospel of Jesus has the power to save people, (2) do I truly believe that Jesus has the power to change the lives of the people He saves, and (3) am I presenting other solutions for peoples’ salvation instead of the gospel?

Now, as I have discussed this with people recently, I have heard these two counterarguments most commonly. The first counterargument is that there is nothing wrong with posting other, non-gospel things on social media, and, to that, I mostly agree. We can post whatever we want. I am not arguing that our social media platform should look like what people perceive the church to look like. I am not calling for a removal of all memes, articles, songs, etc. I am not advocating for anything more that for believers in Christ to look at the message we are presenting to the world. Rather than me try to define what I want for my life and the lives of other believers, it would serve us all better for God to do that as He already has in His Word. Colossians 3:17 tells us, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” This is a good admonition in Scripture that I fall short of quite often, but that does not change the fact that it is a good admonition for believers to strive to match up with – both in-person and virtually.

The second counterargument is that believers should be involved in politics. I do not disagree with this stance; however, I think we should define what being involved in politics is and is not. Firstly, I do not think that non-stop sharing of political memes and any article put out by members of your particular political party can be called being “involved” in politics. No political change is going to happen sitting on one’s couch. People often hail back to the founding fathers who were believers, and I think they set a good example. They did not merely write out the Declaration of Independence and sit back to watch others share it about in the villages and towns around them. The sharing of a document did not change the landscape of the new world. That would be ridiculous. They sent that declaration to King George, got off their rear-ends, and were active in their cause – not just on election days. Secondly, I find that little thought goes into much of what is viral in the present. I have seen people share articles from Snopes – a fact-checking website – because of their agreeing with the headline and ignore the fact that they are actually proving themselves wrong with the content of the article. We need to be discerning in what we say (James 3:1-12), whether with our physical mouths or through our thumbs via an app.

If we genuinely believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives, it should be present in our lives. And before it can ever impact anyone else, it has to have impacted us in our own hearts. This means that the lack of gospel in our social media presences will not be fixed by merely adding some Jesus-y content to our regimen of copying and pasting. It means that we have some repenting to do in how we interact with others. We need to ask ourselves if Jesus would be pleased with the content we put out. We need to examine whether or not Jesus would agree with the overall message that we are presenting. It means we should repent – as often as necessary – and spending more time in prayer to God and in His Word than we do on social media in the first place. Maybe you need to go over to the settings on your phone and look at the screen time percentage for social media. I just looked at mine, I and am ashamed. I had to stop writing and repent to the Lord and to my family. We have had screen time limits for our daughter and content restrictions on all of our phones, and, before finishing writing this, we now have screen time limitations across the board.

Not only should the gospel be present in our lives, but it should also show up in the content we put out. I would urge you to look back on your social media platforms and see whether or not there is any gospel content going out. Are you proclaiming anything that you believe people need to see and learn? Are you proclaiming solutions for people’s lives that come from worldly places more than from God’s Word? If so, you need to repent. It is something I have had to do myself. It is not easy, but it is absolutely vital.

I do not want this article to be a finger-pointing, judgment session, and I am afraid that it will be taken as such. My hope for you is the same as I have for myself – that we continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, Him bringing change in us. I have fought against the urge to write this for some time now, and, if you are reading this, I can assure you that I have prayed for you in your reading. But, rather than have me continue to type my own words, let me offer you some words from Scripture that I constantly try to bring to my mind when I get off-balance in my thinking and speech. Romans 12:1-2 are verses that I try to post on my desk at work and try to post in my mind as often as needed. I believe they have that gospel influence that I have been writing about and hope they help you on your way:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Categories
Discipleship Salvation Sermon Notes Stuff I've Been Writing

What the Grace of God Can Do for You

Titus 2:11-14

Introduction

Context is key when looking at the Bible. It is easy to take a verse out of its context and really mess it up.

Before we dive into our passage for tonight, let’s look a little bit at the context of Titus 2. Verse 1 helps a lot: But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Let me translate that verse a little simpler: But here’s what you need to be doing – teaching people (the Word) with correct, healthy instruction.

Paul goes on from there and tells Titus why this is important for various age groups in the church there in Crete where he pastored:

  • older men – (v. 2b) sound in faith, love, and in steadfastness
  • older and younger women – (v. 5b) that the Word of God may not be reviled (the literally word from which we get blasphemy)
  • younger men – (v. 8b) so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us
  • slaves – (v. 10b) so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior

So, when we look at our passage today, we get a piece of the doctrine – the instruction – about salvation that Paul was giving to Titus. Let’s check it out. We’re going to see how God’s grace redeems us, reforms us, and rewards us in salvation.

  1. Grace Redeems Us (vv. 11, 14a)
    1. v. 11 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people….
      1. Titus 3:4-5a – But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us….
      1. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 – This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
      1. So, who can be saved? “all people”
        1. Colossians 3:11 – Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
        1. Revelation 7:9-10 – After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
        1. Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
        1. Romans 10:13 (quoting from Joel 2:32) – For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
          1. The Bible is clear: anyone can be saved. It is also clear on how one gets saved: by repenting and believing.
    1. v. 14a – …[Jesus Christ] who gave Himself up for us to redeem us from all lawlessness….
      1. Ezekiel 18:23 – Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from His way and live?
      1. Let’s look at a little more of Titus 3:4-5bBut when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved, us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy…
        1. Jesus “redeem”s us by paying the penalty for our sin. And He does this simply because He loves us. Oh, what a love He has.
        1. A few weeks back, I noticed a church sign that caught my attention. It said, “Come as you are. Leave changed.”
          1. Jesus meets us in our sin (Romans 5:8) to save us, but He wants more for us afterward. Let’s look at how Grace Reforms Us
  • Grace Reforms Us (vv. 12, 14b)
    • v. 12 – …training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
      • Even though the world around us has not changed, our hearts are changed when Christ saves us.
        • 1 Peter 4:2 – …so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
      • So, what does all of this accomplish?
        • Philippians 2:15 – …that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of truth….
        • The way we live our lives either shows God to be a powerful Savior or weak and not very effective.
    • v. 14b – …and to purify for himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.
      • Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
      • God has a plan for you. God has a mission for you.
      • But the best news of all, is the reward – but it’s not heaven and glory and mansions and crowns – we get to be with God! Let’s look at how Grace Rewards Us.
  • Grace Rewards Us (v. 13)
    • v. 13 – …waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
      • I will never forget June 17, 2006…. When those doors opened at the back of the church….
      • Revelation 21:1-4 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
        • Amen, and hallelujah!
        • (Paul Washer) “Everyone wants to go to heaven. They just don’t want God to be there when they get there.”
        • He. Is. Our. Reward.

Conclusion/Application

I know I’ve given you a lot to chew on today, but I hope that you have listened to the Scripture that I shared and examined your life.

Salvation is available to everyone who calls on the Lord and repents/believes in Him. How about you: have you called on his name? Have you repented of your sin and confessed your faith to Him?

Coming into contact with the grace of God is life-changing. Has it changed your life?