The Curse of Mediocrity

John The Baptist simply preached the truth and did not care about stepping on people’s toes with how pastors today do the opposite.

There is a Nike commercial being shown this Christmas featuring Lebron James, the NBA star. In the commercial he talks about how the current culture we live in now elevates those like him who came from “humble beginnings,” have overcome that by striving to attain a level of cultural acceptance either through their education or, like him, their athletic abilities. He pushes in the commercial that his real goal and that our goal should be to eliminate all “humble beginnings.” Of course, he also decries all forms of Capitalism and has said he wants the world to turn to Socialism. Unfortunately, evangelical Christianity has succumbed to this madness as well.

 

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-39 (NASB)

Relativism has enslaved this post-modern 21st Century. The push to equalize everything continues unabated even though it has become apparent to continue down this path is bordering on insanity. There is a Nike commercial being shown this Christmas featuring Lebron James, the NBA star. In the commercial he talks about how the current culture we live in now elevates those like him who came from “humble beginnings,” have overcome that by striving to attain a level of cultural acceptance either through their education or, like him, their athletic abilities. He pushes in the commercial that his real goal and that our goal should be to eliminate all “humble beginnings.” Of course, he also decries all forms of Capitalism and has said he wants the world to turn to Socialism. Unfortunately, evangelical Christianity has succumbed to this madness as well. We see this, for instance, in the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention leadership by men who are advocates of the “Social Justice Gospel,” Critical Race Theory, and a determined effort on their part to move SBC church membership to become liberal in their politics rather than conservative.

During the Protestant Reformation, all who could read received a wonderful gift from God. Inexpensive Bibles in their own language became readily available with the invention of the printing press. The revival that burned across Europe and later to the American colonies resulted from the newly found deep Bible knowledge among theologians, pastors, and the disciples in the pews. They devoured their Bibles. God gave them a hunger for His Word and a thirst for righteousness. The preaching of the gospel was in full force from the pulpit. There was no attempt to water it down to make it easier for people to accept. That made no sense to them since they knew conversion of Christians came by the grace of God through faith not by any person’s works. They proclaimed the sovereignty of God. They did not attempt to cover up the fact that God is holy and just and His wrath burns against all sin.

We talked about this in our Bible Study class this morning in Church. We compared how John The Baptist simply preached the truth and did not care about stepping on people’s toes with how pastors today do the opposite. Several us shared how that was how the preachers we had growing up were like that as well. Then one of my friends in the class made the statement that John The Baptist was simply obeying God and wasn’t trying to build a Mega-Church.

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22 (NASB)

The Church at Laodicea resembles a large part of the post-Modern Western Church. Today’s version is self-focused. It has no fire for the true gospel. In fact, it seems to exist solely to provide a surrogate religious experience in place of devotion to the glory of God alone. When the gospel is given it is so watered down it is more of an invitation to join the group to find fulfillment rather than a proclamation of Jesus Christ as our only savior from the penalty of our sins.

Some of the semi-Pelagian and Arminian Churches do proclaim the gospel, but their emphasis is still on what Man does to be saved rather than what God does to save sinners. Many may say, “So what?” However, the problem is in their perception of the miracle of salvation. The Calvinist knows salvation is a complete miracle that is undeserved. He or she knows salvation is a gift from God not a work Man does.

Some of the confusion about this comes from a misunderstanding of how God calls sinners to repentance. There are two gospel calls. The first is the general call that comes from preachers and gospel presenters. The lost resist this call all the time. The second is the effectual call direct from God that no one can resist. The Calvinist understands that the general call is the presentation of the gospel to all people on the planet. This comes from preaching and presenting the gospel to the lost. The unregenerate can and do reject this call because it is not the effectual call from the Holy Spirit. The Arminian and semi-Pelagian say this is proof people must to decide or choose to believe. This confusion causes them to use techniques that utilize the general call as if it is the effectual call. When people walk the aisle in response to an invitation at the end of a church service, those churches see them as genuinely saved when actually what they are witnessing is, more often than not, a response to the general call of the gospel. God has not yet made the call effectual to that person. This causes big problems. These converts are the ones that “do not stick.” They quickly fall away or remain in the visible church as tares.

2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, 3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:2-9 (NASB)

The seed that fell on the rocky ground and in the thorns describes those who respond to the general call of the gospel only. On the other hand, the seed that fell into the good soil describes those whose heart God has prepared by striving with them. When they hear the gospel presented God makes the call effectual. These are the ones whom God regenerates and saves. Some of those who respond to the general call of the gospel only are tares. Some who respond to the general call God will regenerate later as He extends His effectual grace to them in His own timing. I was one of those. The problem is the misrepresentation of the gospel. With an emphasis on decision-only salvation, those who respond to the general call are told they are truly saved if they say a sinner’s prayer according to a specific pattern. This only adds to the confusion.

Unfortunately, many elect do come to salvation in the wrong church. A church environment geared to the lowest common denominator surrounds these believers. Bible knowledge is not very deep. False doctrines deceive many. There is a huge emphasis on unbiblical things or fringe issues. This focus does nothing but distract these believers from living for God’s glory alone. The result is self-focused spiritual mediocrity.

When I was a college student, I absolutely hated to get any grade less than an “A.” I was an adult who went back to college after being in the military. I was very serious about my grades. However, most of the students in my classes were young and right out of high school. Their emphasis was on having no studying to do on weekends. That was the only time I had to study because I worked full-time at night so I always wanted tests on Mondays. They wanted no tests on Mondays. When I had an accounting test in the middle of the week I struggled, but if it was on Monday I usually aced it. When I complained to one of the students next to me when we got our midweek tests, back and I had a “B” he did not understand why that upset me. A “B” was fine with him.

I am convinced most pew-sitting believers in the Western Church are like that classmate of mine concerning their spirituality. Their emphasis is self-gratification with a minimum amount of focus going God’s way. A large percentage of these self-focused believers are not genuine. They responded to the general call of the gospel, but they believe they are genuine because they said that sinner’s prayer. The truly saved believer is a new creation. He or she believed as God regenerated their heart so they could do so. After regeneration, they are reborn.

The spiritually mediocre churches count all “decisions” as genuine. Their church rolls are usually two to three times their weekly attendance. Some of their converts are genuine; however, statistics prove their brand of the gospel produces only spiritual mediocrity at best. They preach, “Come to Jesus so He can make your life better!” Many do come, but when they realize being Christian does not automatically make anyone’s life better they reject it all and leave.

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