Having entered the 21st century, we find the Christian faith on a collision course with the world system. This has become increasingly apparent with the reactions to our recent Southern Baptist prayer efforts for people groups around the world. The outcry over our encouragement to pray for our Jewish friends has met incredible opposition not only from the secularists of the world but others who consider themselves a part of the Christian community. We have come a long way since the Apostle Paul said, Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1).
We have always understood that Christianity is cross-cultural. Now, we are being reminded that it is also counter-cultural. Too often the church today is trying to win a war without knowing where the battle is being fought. The war is not about submission. Submission is simply a skirmish. The war is not about abortion nor is it about such things as homosexual rights. Those are all skirmishes. The war is much bigger. It is a cosmic struggle between two diametrically opposing world views.
Postmodernism is resistant not just to our Christian truth claims but to all truth claims. The 21st century world philosophy tells us that all behavior, all beliefs, all lifestyles should be regarded as equally valid. Therefore, tolerance is the byword. So, along comes a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ who exclaims that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through him. And immediately, he finds himself at odds with the world system. Yes, our Christian faith is indeed counter-cultural.
At the heart of the issue is the main message of the church, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Our culture tells us there are many paths to eternal life. Eastern religionists influencing the West today tell us there is one truth and many paths. Postmodernists tell us there are many paths and no real absolute truth. Since the central message of the church is salvation by grace through faith, this great truth needs to be proclaimed as never before in our world today. In Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul reminds us of three things regarding salvation.
I. Salvation is God’s work (v. 8)
Where does salvation begin? The culture tells us it begins with man but God says it is by grace. Salvation is not my work. It is the work of God.
II. Salvation is God’s work in God’s way (vv. 8-9)
We want to shout these words…through faith…not of yourselves…the gift of God. Salvation is not only God’s work, it is in God’s way and his way is the way of faith alone.
III. Salvation is God’s work in God’s way according to God’s will (v. 10)
We are his “workmanship.” We get our English word, poem, from the Greek word we translate “workmanship.” We are God’s poem, his special work of art. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk therein.
In the midst of all the recent “millennial madness” and hype of the new century, there is a factor that for the most part has been lost in it all. After all these two thousand years, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is still the defining moment of all human history! In a warm and winsome way, let’s tell the world what they so desperately need to hear this new year—Salvation is God’s work in God’s way according to God’s will.