Nashville, TN –– Christ-followers must “be bold, be clear, and be about the business,” Alistair Begg told a gathering of Christian media and ministry professionals Wednesday, saying it is fruitless to curse the darkness or to embrace it.
Begg, speaking at the NRB 2015 International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, TN, said while he is no art aficionado, he couldn’t help but notice the news of the sale of a painting by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin.
The sale of the canvas netted the private seller nearly $300 million, a new record for an artwork.
One of Gauguin’s most famous canvases and one that reflected his conflicted spiritual state was titled “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” continued Begg, who has served as Senior Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, OH, since 1983.
Gauguin lived his entire life without getting an answer to those questions, Begg said, suggesting in many ways Gauguin, who died in 1903, was a “contemporary man because many today are expressing the same kind of angst.”
This reality is widespread but not new to the world, Begg said.
“What is it that the Bible says concerning these things?” he asked. “Isaiah in a very different time says the predicament that we face as the people of God in the context of an alien world is that truth has fallen in the streets,” Begg said, referencing Isaiah 59:14.
“The prevailing and oppressive assumption is that there is no such thing as truth, that there is no such thing as right or wrong — at least not that one can assert all the time, everywhere and for everyone,” he said.
“In other words, there is no absolute,” he continued. “Under the post-modern sun everyone has a right to their own version of reality, so there is never really just one perspective. I have my reality; you have your reality.”
Begg asked, “How do you live Christianly in a post-Christian culture?”
Christians can respond to the culture in a spirit of condemnation, which Begg said is unbiblical, ineffective, and ignores the reality that it is only the grace of God that distinguishes the lost from the saved.
Accommodation is equally bad and dangerous, he continued.
“Historically, liberal Protestantism has adopted an approach which sought to capitulate almost exclusively to the cultural elites in the country,” Begg said. “They gave away large swaths of theological orthodoxy.”
Those churches are empty now, he added. “The contemporary church has decided if it is going to be successful it is going to have to accommodate itself to people,” Begg said.
“So what are we going to do?” he posed again. “Are we going to curse the darkness and complain and admonish everybody? Or are we going to accommodate ourselves because we don’t like it as our numbers dwindle and as our influence is dissipated?
“No,” Begg answered.
We must do what the Bible tells us to do, he continued. “We are going to go the way of proclamation. We are going to tell the Story.”
Begg said people don’t like to hear they are by nature “sinful, guilty, lost, and responsible.” But he said, “That’s our story.”
Christians must not have pity for the lost but a zeal for the God of the universe and His story, he insisted.
“The idea of a final judgment is unpalatable to modern man,” Begg said. “They dismiss it by simply saying it’s not part of my reality.
“We have to be prepared to say, 'You were created by God,' 'You are accountable to God,' and 'You’re going to face God,'” he continued.
“No amount of admonition, no amount of accommodation, is actually going to penetrate the culture,” he said.
“We are going to have to be prepared to kindly, graciously, imaginatively, sensitively, and boldly say, 'I want to tell you about the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to tell you who He is and why He has come. I want to tell you that this really matters,'” Begg stated.
Begg’s radio program, Truth For Life, which has aired for 20 years, was named the Radio Program of the Year by NRB this past week during the association's annual convention, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.
By Dwayne Hastings
Published: February 27, 2015