Friday, October 2, 2009

Radio Theology

This morning on the way in to church, I was listen to a local Christian radio station. I enjoy Christian radio music and it is usually helpful. What concerns me though is how many people us the Christian radio to actually 'nourish' their spiritual lives. It is one thing to listen to music or sermons on the radio. It is one thing to listen clean and family friendly programing--all of which the radio provides. But Christian radio cannot replace nourishment from God's Word which should come from person reading and study and gathering publicly to hear God's Word proclaimed. Do not neglect the preaching of God's Word--and radio preaching doesn't count.

This morning on the drive in, they were asking the question "Does God punish?". This simple question became rather convoluted as many shared their opinions but few shared what God's Word says. By the time I was done listening no one had given a clear answer. It was like the blind leading the blind. This is one more reason why you can't get spiritual nourishment from Christian radio, as good as it may be in other areas. God wants believers to be under the spiritual care of elders. We are sheep who need shepherds and one of the reason the Chief Shepherd Jesus appoints elders is so that they can care for and see the flock spiritual nourished. Jesus loves his sheep and wants them cared for.

You can't get your theology over the radio. Even if you listen to sermons online or on the radio, an act which can be helpful, you are not 'under the care' of such men. These men are 'hirelings'. Many have their own flocks their care for and deeply love. They may be proclaiming the Word of God to you as a listener, but they are not shepherding you. It amazes me how many times as a pastor someone will tell me they haven't been to church in a while but then will quickly add "I've been listening to _______" as if this somehow makes up for the loss of corporate worship. News flash: not everybody who has a radio show of a Christian station or can podcast a sermon is actually Biblical! (Many are, but too many are not).

So with respect to the theology I heard on the radio this morning: Does God punish sin? The radio took a simple question and offered convoluted non-answers. As a pastor, who has been asked similar questions before the simple answer to this complex question is: look at the cross of Jesus Christ. What is God doing on the cross? Why does Jesus have to suffer for sin? The Bible tells us that Jesus bore the curse for our sins (Gal 3:10-13). So God does have a curse for sin (punishment) and he does not let the guilty go unpunished. But out of His great love for us the loving Father sends the loving Son who willingly lays down his life to bear the just wrath God has upon sin. No where is this made more clear that in Romans 3:25—God presented his son as a “sacrifice of atonement” (NIV). The word there is hiliasterion. It is the Greek word used to translate the Hebrew Old Testament word referring to the mercy seat on the ark of the Covenant where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled. The word clearly means “propitiation”—means to pour out wrath and exhaust it. The wrath of God for sin is poured out on Christ.

God is clearly loving but he clearly must punish sins (Exodus 34:6-7). In the Bible God tells human judges it is a miscarriage of justice to let the guilty go unpunished; God finds it to be abominable. As a God who is just, He too does not let the guilty go unpunished. The problem is, of course, we are all guilty.

So, whenever people ask me does God have wrath for sin and does God punish sinners, the simple place to start is say: look at the cross of Christ. Yes God punishes sin.

As for radio theology--well too often it leaves too much to be desired. I think the larger point should be this: the work of a radio announcer or jockey is important in the sense that it is a calling from God and in God's eyes all work is noble and to be done for God's glory. They bring us news, music and make us laugh. But God ordains people to serve in different roles, gifting them for such things. God also ordains pastor/elders to shepherd and nourish. My concern is that in our media saturated age listeners confuse who is heralding what.

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