Pastor’s Corner: Let’s get our facts straight

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Today I want to talk about the New Birth. Let me tell you what sparked my interest in this topic.

Last Sunday I read a quote describing how the author of an incredibly enduring book, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” came to faith in Jesus Christ. His name is John Bunyan, and John Bunyan had his facts straight about the nature of the Christian faith. And God used him mightily in his day.

Just a few minutes ago, though, as I was reading another book, I remembered that most people do not have their facts straight as to the nature of the Christian faith. I have built my understanding of the Christian faith on a regular, literalistic reading of the 66 books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

What do you think of when you think of Christianity? Maybe you think of people with absurd rules for everything. Maybe you think of taking your confessions to some priest as if he has magical powers to absolve you of your sins against God. Maybe you think of mindless morons who cannot think for themselves.

All these perceptions are absolutely wrong. They are built on what people say and do. They are not based on the content of the Bible.

Your understanding of a religion should only ever be built on the content that is found in that religion’s authoritative literature.

The author of the book I was just reading is also wrong about the nature of the Christian faith. He goes about describing it in a very attractive way, though. He believes the essence of the Christian faith is what he calls “Holy Moments.”

One of the major problems with this book is that I am more than halfway through it, and he has still not explicitly defined exactly what a “Holy Moment” is. I am taking a very good and probably accurate educated guess when I say this: Matthew Kelly seems to believe a “Holy Moment” is simply doing good things for people and society.

Remember, Kelly does not explicitly define his terms. Heck, he doesn’t even define the word “holy.” But Kelly’s definition of the nature of the Christian faith seems to be a popular idea, too.

In “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity,” Kelly writes, “There is nothing more attractive than holiness. When someone actually lives the teachings of Jesus in an unqualified way, they capture the imagination of the people of their age, because Holy Moments are universally attractive.”

What Kelly does not do is tell us why doing good things for people and society — his “Holy Moments” — is attractive. He simply uses this idea to say you can change the world by being good. So just keep doing good things and the world will be a better place.

So, if that is true, why did Jesus say, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6)?

Why did Jesus feed thousands of people who abandoned him moments later? John 6:26 tells us why: “You seek me . . . because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”

According to Jesus, doing good things for people and society are attractive because they are corrupt from the inside and therefore selfish.

Doing good things for people is never a guarantee that you will change the world.

Sometimes doing good things for people will only result in ridicule, punishment and enabling those you serve to be more sinister.

Adolf Hitler was rescued from drowning in a river in Passau, Germany, in January 1894 as a child. Henry Tandey spared Hitler’s life in 1918, and Hitler repaid the world by murdering more than 6 million innocent people.

After the religious belief of evolution was popularized in the U.S., Margaret Sanger used this false premise to convince the public that Planned Parenthood was good and healthy. Some people might call that a “Holy Moment.” Her racist ideas have resulted in the death of over 7 million precious children in our nation.

If the essence of the Christian faith is “Holy Moments,” then the world is doomed.

Thus, “Holy Moments” cannot possibly be the essence of the Christians faith. So, what is?

The essence of the Christian faith is what is often called “The New Birth.” Sometimes it is called regeneration. Jesus called it being “born again” or “born from above” in John 3.

The New Birth is an act of God that takes place in your soul the moment you give your life to Jesus Christ to have salvation from his wrath. It is an act of God where God takes you from a state of spiritual death to permanent spiritual life. The New Birth is the moment God makes you good from your innermost desires. It is the moment God makes your will good.

That is the essence of the Christian faith.

The Bible teaches that your will and everyone else’s will have been corrupt against God. You do not desire the things of God. Since you do not desire the things of God, you will never be a truly good person. But God’s act of the New Birth in Jesus Christ alone is the guarantee to make you a good person.

Do you want to be a good person? Look to Jesus Christ alone. Give him your life. Trust in him. He is the only way to God. He is the only means to make your will good.

Christians are good because the savior they look to calls them to be good regardless of how their goodness is received. Being good can get you in a lot of trouble. It is never a guaranty to make the world a better place. Only Jesus Christ offers that by changing your will in the New Birth.

Receive the New Birth today.

Andrés Reyes is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Perry.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Pastor Reyes-
    I am confused as to your reaction to reading the book, “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity,” by Matthew Kelly, and I have two issues with your review.

    First, you are inaccurate in your claim “. . . I am more than halfway through it, and he [Kelly] has still not explicitly defined exactly what a ‘Holy Moment’ is.”

    You must have missed it. Please check page 35 of the book (the beginning of chapter 7). On that page you will find the definition of a “Holy Moment.” Kelly writes:

    “A Holy Moment is a moment when you open yourself to God. You make yourself available to him. You set aside what you feel like doing in that moment, and you set aside self-interest, and for one moment you simply do what you prayerfully believe God is calling you to do in that moment. That is a Holy Moment.”

    Kelly goes on to describe a Holy Moment in another way on page 36:

    “A Holy Moment is a moment when you are being the person God created you to be, and you are doing what you believe God is calling you to do in that moment. It is an instance where you set aside self-interest, personal desire, and what you feel like doing or would rather be doing, and embrace what you believe will bring the most good to the most people in that moment.”

    Pages 45-50 (chapter 8) provide seven real-life stories of Holy Moments occurring within the lives of real people. After these seven stories, Kelly lists 19 examples of small and anonymous Holy Moments, ranging from controlling your temper to something as simple as recycling.

    I think that you, after re-reading those pages, will agree that your initial assessment that “Kelly seems to believe a Holy Moment is simply doing good things for people and society” is incorrect. A Holy Moment starts with an openness to God’s will and a willingness to be his instrument.

    Second, you seem to believe doing good in this world is a bad thing. Am I reading your comments correctly?

    From your article:

    “According to Jesus, doing good things for people and society are attractive because they are corrupt from the inside and therefore selfish.”

    “Doing good things for people is never a guarantee that you will change the world.”

    “Sometimes doing good things for people will only result in ridicule, punishment and enabling those you serve to be more sinister.”

    “If the essence of the Christian faith is ‘Holy Moments,’ then the world is doomed.”

    If this is the case, then how can one explain Matthew 5:16?
    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

    Or Hebrews 13:16?
    “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

    Or Galatians 6:9-10?
    “And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

    Or especially, Matthew 25:31-46?
    “ . . . the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ . . .”

    In summary, I think you have missed the point that Matthew Kelly is trying to make.

    The lie is this: “Holiness is not possible.”

    The truth is: “Holiness is possible when we share God’s truth, goodness, and beauty, with everyone who crosses our path, one Holy Moment at a time.”

  2. Thank you for your interest in my article, Bill Gerhadt.

    I would love to sit down with you in person and go through it to demonstrate why I believe my assesment is correct.

    In short, Kelly’s definition of a Holy Moment is extremely nebulous and subjective. Such a definition amounts to no definition at all since there is nothing concrete: “Make yourself available to him…for one moment you simply do what you prayerfully believe God is calling you to do in that moment. That is a Holy Moment.”

    There is nothing in such a definition that offers clarity. So people who call themselves Christians and are not might claim that God is calling them to do terrible things. And he might legitimately say that it was this definition that gave him the go ahead. Yes. I know that is not Kelly’s intention. Nevertheless, Kelly’s definition only makes things less clear.

    On your second point, I believe you are drawing conclusions that are not supported by the article itself. Doing good things keep society rolling. I am simply communicating that doing good things is not an end in itself, as Kelly seems to promote.

    Feel free to contact me at First Baptist Church in Perry, Iowa, if you would like to talk more over breakfast.

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