Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ten Shekels & A Shirt: A Review

"Ten Shekels & A Shirt" is a sermon preached by Paris Reidhead some 40 years ago. His text is Judges 17:1-18:6, the story of Micah, a man from Mt. Ephraim who built himself a worship center including a graven image and a molded image, and who ultimately hired a Levite to be his priest for the princely sum of "ten shekels and a shirt."

This is a great message that is more relevant today than when it was originally preached. Reidhead decries the humanism that marks so much of what claims to be Christianity. He points out that while liberal Christianity is humanistic because it focuses on human happiness in the present world, fundamental Christianity can be just as humanistic in the way it focuses on human happiness in the next world.

The Gospel is not about man's happiness, but God's glory. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about man's satisfaction, but God's. Reidhead says that any Gospel presentation that implies that by simple mental assent a person can avoid hell's torment and attain heaven's bliss, is as humanistic as two men planning to rob a gas station. It is a something for nothing scheme built around and motivated by the happiness of men.

The true Gospel is centered on the goodness and glory of God. The true Gospel recognizes that human beings are "Monsters of Iniquity" who love their sin and hate God. (Romans 3:10-19) The true Gospel affirms the justice of God in assigning all men to eternal hell because of their wickedness and rebellion against their great Creator.

The invitation of the true Gospel is not a cold calculation about the benefits for human beings, but a passionate call to repentance because God is worthy of all glory and we have wronged Him horribly. This is not a message of cheap grace or easy believism. As Jesus preached, those who follow Him must count the cost, deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. We follow Jesus, not for what we can get, but because He is worthy.
(Revelation 5:9) And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
(Revelation 5:12-13) saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 ¶ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
How dare we presume on God's grace by substituting humanism as the motivation for the Gospel?

The sermon, "Ten Shekels and a Shirt" can be found at http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?lid=282.

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