1159) Confessing Christ (b)

The following was adapted from a 2010 sermon by Lutheran seminary professor and pastor Walter Sundberg.

Romans 10:9 — If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

     (…continued)    Story #2)  Speaking of golf, Tiger Woods is not having a good year (remember, this was in 2010).  For all his talent and all his money, he was not able to have a peaceful time at home last Thanksgiving Eve with his wife, his two little children, his mother, and his mother-in-law.  In the middle of the night he tried to escape, and crashed his truck into a tree.  Then, his whole life came crashing down.  He is now in a world of hurt and shame, of his own making, and his whole family is likewise stricken.

     On a FOX news program a few weeks ago, they took up the topic of Tiger Woods and his predicament, and what it means for golf and advertisers and so on.  Everyone was astounded at what veteran commentator Brit Hume had to say.  Hume said that he heard Woods was a Buddhist, the faith of his mother.  Then Hume said that Tiger was in need of the power of forgiveness and redemption such as he never needed before, so that he could pick up the pieces and get his life back again.  Hume went on to say that Buddhism would not be of much help to him on that; and then, on a national news program, Hume suggested that Tiger Woods turn to Jesus Christ, in whom he could find what he needs— the forgiveness of sins and a new life.  

     You could have heard a pin drop in that studio.  In the next days, other commentators on other programs and stations, and newspaper columnists all over the country, went ballistic.  They were all over Brit Hume for being inappropriate, for insulting Buddhism, and for trying, on television, to win converts.

     Hume himself became the story, and when he was interviewed he said, “I knew feathers would be ruffled.  But I did not insult Buddhism.  The simple fact is Buddhism is a different sort of religion and offers nothing in the line of forgiveness from above.  What Tiger Woods needs is to be redeemed.  His pain must be unbearable.  He needs a power from another world, a spiritual power that breaks into his life.  He needs the power of Jesus Christ.”

     The big rival to Fox news is MSNBC.  The host of their morning program is Joe Scarborough, a former congressman.  On his show, everyone was criticizing Hume, describing how offended they all were, and letting everyone know that they were appalled by such bad manners.  “Religion is a private matter,” one said.  “You can’t use a secular show to try and get across religious propaganda” (though they all would probably agree you can use any television program for anti-religious propaganda, ridiculing religion and those who believe in it).  Anyway, this trashing of Brit Hume went on for a while, and then Joe Scarborough looked into the camera and said, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

     Once again, you could have heard a pin drop.  When you confess Jesus Christ with your mouth, out loud, it has an impact.

     Item #3)  We should all be personally and profoundly concerned as to what this impact is.  

     There was a study done in 1994 by three sociologists on the religion of Baby Boomers, those born between the years of 1946 and 1964.  The sample group for this study was people who were confirmed in the Presbyterian Church, and who had kept their membership in that church.

     Those they studied were from two basic groups on the matter of religious practice.  In the first group were the committed.  They attended church regularly, they supported their congregation financially in a significant way, and, they spoke about the faith with their children at home.  Their children tended to stay a part of the church.

     The second group were what they called the casuals.  These people attended church occasionally, they did not support the church in any serious way, and they did not talk about the faith with their children at home.  Their children tended to drift away from the church.

     You cannot have a healthy congregation made up of casuals.  For a congregation to live and breathe and survive, you need the committed.  Unfortunately, in this study 68% of those surveyed were casual and not committed.

     Sociologists always look for what they call a ‘predictor,’ something that will predict a given behavior in those people being studied.  They found in this study a very clear predictor.  There was one factor that had a very high correlation with the desired outcome.

     If those studied answered this one question in a particular way, you could pretty well tell how they would behave.  That question concerned a basic article of faith: “Do you believe that salvation is by Christ alone?”

     Remember, Romans 10:9:  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

     Remember, Acts 4:12:  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

     The key question on the survey was, “Do you believe that salvation is by Christ alone?”

     For the most part, those who said yes, who made this confession, were committed.  Those who said no, who did not make this confession, were casual.  

     Where are you at?  What confession do you make?

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Vanishing Boundaries:  The Religion of Mainline Protestant Baby Boomers, by Dean R. Hoge, Benton Johnson, and Donald Luidens, 1994, Westminster/John Knox Press.

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II Corinthians 9:13  —  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

John 14:6  —  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 4:12  —  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

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I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.

–The Apostles’ Creed