Christian Nominalism in Europe I: Mt. 7:13-27, pt. 1

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Bible Study, Catholic Church, Church Growth, Church Planting, Missions, nominal Christians
Tags: , , , , ,
Matthias Church Budapest, Hungary from Wikipedia

Matthias Church Budapest, Hungary from Wikipedia

An observant traveler in Europe will quickly notice the abundance of large, old, beautiful churches, but also realize that these churches are usually empty, or nearly so, even Sunday morning, during traditional “church time.” Much has been written about the growth of secularism, the death of Christianity or the rise of Islam in Europe. Most articles focus on Western Europe, where these particular trends are most evident, even conveniently ignoring much of Eastern and Central Europe. However, as we shall see, the existing Church, whether in more secularized Western Europe, or more traditional Eastern Europe, is frequently characterized by a “Christian in name only”, a Christmas-and-Easter, wedding-baptism-funeral form of Christian nominalism.

We will look at Jesus’ teaching from the end of the Sermon on the Mount, where He demands a radical choice, and use His words to examine nominal Christianity in Europe, and propose some strategies for evangelizing Europeans. Probably, some issues will be similar for nominal Christians in America, as well.

Matthew 7:13-27

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18         A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23        And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” [1]

            At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents a series of metaphors that illustrate the truth that there are only two choices for people in the world, no matter how much of a middle ground we would like to see. “He utilizes a “two-ways” genre well-known from other Jewish literature (e.g., Deut 30:15–20; 2 Esdr 7:1–16; cf. also Did. 1:1–6:7).”[2] We see two ways (13-14), two fruits (15-20), two professions (21-23) and two foundations (24-27).

Warren Wiersbe suggests that Christ proposes three tests that prove our Christianity: the test of self-denial (13–14), the test of spiritual fruit (15–23), and the test of permanence or obedience (24–27).[3] A false, counterfeit Christianity will fail these tests. Or, put in the form of three questions:

Did my profession of faith in Christ cost me anything?

Did my decision for Christ change my life?  

In the end, what will God say?[4]

In the next post, we will look more closely at the metaphors in this passage, and begin to apply Christ’s teaching to the case of the nominal Christian.
I’d love your comments as we go through this!

[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 7:13–27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Blomberg, C. (2001). Vol. 22: Matthew (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (131). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (35–36). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Mt 7:6–21). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Comments
  1. […] part 1, I began to look at Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, as a preface to developing a […]

  2. […] Part I and II I looked at Matthew 7:13-27 as a beginning point for looking at “nominal” […]

  3. […] Part I and II I looked at Matthew 7:13-27 as a beginning point for looking at “nominal” Christians, […]

  4. […] CHRISTIAN NOMINALISM IN EUROPE I: MT. 7:13-27, PT. 1 […]

  5. […] Jesus’ words into consideration (parts 1 and 2), leaning on an understanding of what we know about “secular Christians” (3 and 4), […]

  6. Anonymous says:

    DENYING THE WORDS OF GOD THE FATHER!

    When men deny the truth found in the Scriptures; they are denying the words of God the Father. When men deny the truth spoken by Jesus; they are denying the words of God the Father. When men deny the doctrine of the apostles; they are denying the words of God the Father.

    All Scripture is the word of God the Father.

    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,(NKJV)

    All that Jesus spoke was from God the Father.

    John 12:49-50 “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 “And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”(NKJV)

    All of the apostles doctrine was from God the Father. Why was that? Because Jesus taught the apostles and all of the words of Jesus were from God the Father.

    John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.(NKJV)

    John 16:13-14 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

    All the teaching from the Holy Spirit came from Jesus and all the words of Jesus came from God the Father.

    There are no Scriptures that declare that church creed books, (catechisms) or any other extra-Biblical writings are that of God the Father. Remember; all Scripture is inspired by God. Creed books are not Scripture. No extra-Biblical writing is Scripture.

    HOW DO MEN DENY THE WORDS OF GOD THE FATHER?

    1. When men claim there is more than one God; they are denying the words of God the Father.

    Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.(NKJV)

    2. When men declare that Jesus did not say water baptism precedes salvation; they are denying the words of God the Father.

    Mark 16:16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…(NKJV)

    3. When men say that Christians cannot fall from grace; they denying the words of God the Father.

    Galatians 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.(NKJV)

    All Scripture is inspired by God the Father.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG: You can can find it by a google search, steve finnell a christian view.

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