Tim Moore: Many years ago, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, prophesied that by the end of the twentieth century we would have Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, and Heaven without Hell. Have we arrived?
To help answer this question, Dennis Pollock, the founder of Spirit of Grace Ministries, has joined me to talk about the growing apostasy running rampant in the Church.
Leaving Christ Out of Christianity
Tim Moore: We are witnessing what’s really the devolution of understanding of what Christianity is all about. We have preachers today who are preaching a Christian faith that doesn’t even include Jesus Christ!
Dennis Pollock: Yes, the situation is hard to believe. It almost boggles the mind to think that we could even have a Christless Christianity, which is really no Christianity at all. I’ve been concerned about this situation for a long time now, for this is not something new to me, but I’m seeing it getting worse and worse as the days go by.
When I was a young minister, I was reading a book by the famous nineteenth-century preacher, Charles Spurgeon. He made a statement that ministers ought never to preach any sermon without presenting Christ and the Cross. He explained that people would ask him, “Why have so many people flooded into your church? Why is it so many people are giving their lives to Jesus as he preached?” He replied to the effect: “Because I preach Christ. I preach the Gospel. I preach the Cross and the Resurrection.”
I became convicted when I read that, and I already was a Bible teacher, for I love the Bible, every subject. But, sometimes I can get so engrossed in my subject that I forget to bring the message back to Jesus. I’ve preached lots of sermons where Jesus was either hardly or never mentioned. So, to fix this during those early days as a young pastor, I started writing in capital letters at the top of my sermon notes “JESUS” to remind myself.
After a while I stopped doing that because I didn’t have to anymore. Whether I wrote an article, or recorded a YouTube video, or whether I preached a full sermon, I learned that somehow you’ve got to present Jesus.
Sadly, I have seen over and over again pastors that just don’t do that. I recorded many TV preachers and started listening to them and writing down how many references to Jesus they had made in their sermons. Then I compared them with God, meaning how many references to Jesus versus how many references there were to God. I then did the same with the Apostle Paul’s writings. I went through Paul’s epistles, noting how many times he mentioned Jesus or Christ versus how many times he mentioned God. The count turned out almost 50-50. He mentioned Jesus and God in almost equals amounts.
Many of these TV preachers would talk about God but rarely about Jesus. Some would even say at the end of their message, “Now, if you want to accept God in your heart, then pray this prayer with me. ‘Oh, God I’m sorry. I need you to come into my life.'” Such a prayer is not based on the Cross, there’s nothing about the Resurrection, and there’s nothing about Jesus! You could have preached that sermon in a Muslim mosque just as easily as you could in a Christian church. Such a prayer would have been perfectly acceptable in so many other religious settings as well.
Christianity has lost its Christ in many respects. We’ve got to get back to Jesus!Dennis Pollock: #Christianity has lost its Christ in many respects. We've got to get back to Jesus! Click To Tweet
Tim Moore: What a challenge for anyone who calls themselves a pastor, a preacher, or declarer of the Word of God. We have to keep Christ as the center of our focus, not only as we preach, but even as we study God’s Word.
The True Vine
Tim Moore: Dennis, what would you advocate to those who are not pastors or preachers? How do they keep Christ-centered in their lives? How can they plug into a church and make sure they’re seeking out the Word of God and the counsel of those who will help keep Christ-centered in all that they do?
Dennis Pollock: I found this truth out in my own life experience as well. I became aware that Jesus plays many roles to us. The number one role we discover when we receive Him as our Savior is that He becomes our Savior and our Lord. Those are two of His main roles. But, I found out He plays a lot of other roles in our lives as well.
Jesus called Himself the true vine, and the true vine is the life-giver and the fruit producer. He said that if we abide in Him you’ll bear much fruit. When I began to truly see that in the Scriptures I began to talk to Jesus and say, “Lord, I trust you as my true vine.”
I remember in my early days I was passing out tracts once a week, and when I first got that insight that Jesus is my true vine and that it’s not just “Oh, God, help me win a soul today,” it became: “Lord Jesus, I trust in you as the source of life and fruit in me. I’m not the source of that light and fruit, you are.” When I went out with that mindset that day, somebody gave their life to Christ. I thought, “Hey, this seems like it works pretty well.” So, the next time I went out again I said: “Lord Jesus, I’m trusting you to be my true vine. I am trusting you as the life-giver.” And somebody else accepted Christ! I went out week after week after week, and people were getting saved every week, whereas before conversions would rarely happen. That has been my life experience. So, now, in whatever I am doing, it is, “Lord Jesus, you are my true vine.”
Jesus is the filler, along with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
He is the Good Shepherd. I’ve had times in life when I did not know what to do or where to go. I was making mistakes. I needed someone to guide me. “Lord Jesus, I trust you as my Shepherd.” So, in my own personal life, I began to fellowship and call Him based on His different roles. “You are my True Vine. You are my Good Shepherd. You are the filler with the Holy Spirit.” All of these different roles. I began to be more aware of Him, and my fellowship with Him became stronger.
Jesus said, “Abide in me.” You can’t abide in Jesus if you don’t focus on Him, if you don’t think about Him, if you don’t talk to Him. Then you are not abiding. So, the more you see of Jesus, and the more you begin to embrace Him in all that He says He is, the more fruitful and blessed your life will be.
Tim Moore: One of the beautiful points in the analogy of Jesus being “the Vine” is that when we initially placed our faith in Christ, we become a bud. In other words, we began to display new life in Christ as His life-giving Spirit flowed into us. Then, over time, that new bud becomes yet another branch that produces even more fruit. We become the conduit that His life-giving Spirit flows through, producing more fruit and raising up new buds. That’s one of Christ’s roles and how we as Christians get to partner with Him in bringing forth new spiritual life.
Another one of the labels that Jesus calls Himself is our Bridegroom, and we the Church are the collective Bride of Christ. The Church is looking forward to the arrival of our Bridegroom. What is Jesus looking forward to? He is looking forward to receiving His Bride. He longs to be together with His Bride the Church and take her to the place He is preparing for her, which is Heaven. All Christians then should be looking forward with great anticipation to the arrival of our Bridegroom — our soon Returning King — our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Allow your life to be a conduit of God’s blessing in the lives of others. Glorify God in all that we not only say, but in all that we collectively do. Godspeed!