Rap artist S.O. made me aware of an article that he wrote and I thought I would share it with. This is something that has bothered me for some time (and I shared it here previously) so I’m glad that he wrote this as I feel it is very timely
Charles Spurgeon said,“I do believe that we slander Christ when we think that we are to draw the people by something else but the preaching of Christ crucified.” Most of us believe (or our words show this) it is by a different means other than the gospel that we reach men, WRONG. It is ONLY by the gospel that men are reached, as Paul said in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Souls are saved, men are reached and lives are changed through the gospel ALONE.So what does this have to do with anything? Well, it griefs me to say this but most of us are WASTING OUR STAGE. That which God has given us is being wasted away and becoming a decoy for self-promotion. It should be used for Him and all our songs should leave the listener in awe of Him and His greatness, instead they leave thinking how “cool” we are. I feel that there are 3 ways we waste our stage. They are as follows; 1) An inadequate gospel, 2) No gospel message at all, 3) Self centered songs/talks. People may think of more, but these 3 primarily need to be addressed. So lets turn to the first one.An inadequate gospel:
Ever too often I hear people come on stage and attempt to give a gospel presentation. Firstly it begins with something like this, “Come and try Jesus” or “Come and taste the Lord.” The idea comes from Psalm 34:8 which says, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!…….” If only the next verse is read, “Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,……” This verse is not for non-believers BUT for believers, encouraging them. Nevertheless, is Jesus something you try? Do you taste Jesus?
Mark 8:34 says this, “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” This is the cost of discipleship, this is the reality those who follow Jesus have to face. You don’t try to deny yourself, it is something you do or you don’t. In our attempt to sugar coat the gospel or make it cool we have lost the power it brings. It is about a loss of life, not a trial pack. Is He a piece of clothing you buy like a shirt from Zara and return if you don’t like it? Look how little we’ve made Him. He is not this little, wimpish, blue eyed “guy”, hoping and pleading with people to “try” Him. No, He is King, He is Saviour, Redeemer, He has irresistible grace and most of all HE IS GOD.Do not waste your stage by not understanding the gospel, or giving no gospel or at all. We need Christ and Him crucified preached accurately. He is what we need not self-centeredness, but Him and Him alone for in Him is life.
How we get away from this confuses me. An inadequate gospel leads to hypocrisy and apostasy. Paul said this in Galatians 1:8-9,“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received,let him be accursed.” It is dangerous territory some people are stepping into, this is the truth of our Lord and Saviour and it should not be taken lightly. We waste our stage by NOT understanding the gospel which leads ultimately to us giving NO GOSPEL AT ALL.No Gospel At All:
Have you been in a life-long commitment and do not know what it is all about? Would you not question my devotion to a group if I did not know what held it together? You would at least expect me to be able to articulate, even if it is briefly, a mission statement if my LIFE depended on it. But the same cannot be said for most of us. We jump on the stage say a few words, write a few bars alluding to the gospel but do not express the truth of the gospel. Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And earlier in chapter 1 verse 23 he said, “but we preach Christ crucified….” What about you? What do you base your life around? What is your desire? Well I know some have the desire to win souls or reach people in the street, but guess what can do it? CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED aka the gospel.No gospel presentation, no salvation. So I challenge you to go beyond one or two verses but to truly understand the gospel. It is strange to think that I am actually typing to “Christians” to understand the gospel and to convey it. Never forget that we are Christians before anything else. We say we are “gospel ministers” yet we have no gospel message in our songs. And even if we do it is eclipsed by nonsense. We do not need “war lyrics” we can get that from the world. We certainly do not need self motivating or self help talks because the world is over saturated with them.
What we need (and this is so needed) is the gospel, for if we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We should implore people on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:20-21). Oh youth ministers, rappers, singers and youth leaders when will we wake up and see the reality of things. I beg you to please be Bible-centered, not just bible based but bible-CENTERED, Christ-centered. Desire nothing else but to give a gospel-centered message all the time. Every word, every statement and every song or talk should be about the gospel, Christ and Him crucified. If not we make it ALL about ourselves.
Self centered songs/talk:
Imagine with me a gospel show, a minister comes on stage and begins to give his or her testimony. For 10-15 minutes it is all about them and what they used to do. “If you knew me before, man used to……” “Man was raw like, used to run the roads”. But for only 2 minutes it is a little, “ I accepted Jesus into my life.” What is wrong with this picture? Well to put it bluntly it is about the minister’s past life not about Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Let us take a biblical example of a testimony, here is John the Baptist’s in John 1:19-28;And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.John’s interest was to point all the attention back to Jesus. Not about him, he was merely a voice crying out. He was not even worthy to tie the sandals. His point was to lay the weightiness of Christ to the people by screaming, “GET YOUR EYES OFF ME”. No self-centered talk here from this passage. Not even a hint “me”. Remember when he said “I must decrease so He increases” that is the whole purpose of his testimony. Ultimately John’s testimony and ministry was about Jesus. We should follow this example. Though we claim it is about Jesus our songs are lacking in Christ-centeredness, though we say He died for our sins we do not linger on that point but vaguely speak of it whilst emphasizing our past lives.
Now do not get me wrong there is nothing improper about testimonies, but when will we forget ourselves and return back to the Christ? “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it.” “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Christ is why I live, He is my everything. How do we not remain there? From darkness to light, from enemies of God to sons of God. How is it that our songs are not FILLED with these facts? Is it that we are ashamed? We would respond, no. Or is that we trying to make ourselves relevant to the world, so that they can relate? But the bible teaches that the world hates us, John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Maybe this will sink in, James 4:4 says, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Oh if you just wish to be friends with the world your stepping into enemy grounds. The world dislikes us. So whatever we try to do, whether it is a self-centered testimony or song or talk to make them relate or be fond of us, it is not going to happen because they hated HIM first and He chose us out of it. And if it does happen we need to check ourselves and ask, ARE WE GIVING THEM THE GOSPEL?“Ministers must be workmen; they have work to do, and they must take pains in it. Workmen that are unskilful, or unfaithful, or lazy, have need to be ashamed; but those who mind their business, and keep to their work, are workmen that need not be ashamed. And what is their work? It is rightly to divide the word of truth. Not to invent a new gospel, but rightly to divide the gospel that is committed to their trust.”
The Unwasted Stage:
2 Tim 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Some translations say, “be diligent” but even so, “do your best” conveys effort, enthusiasm, zeal and persistence. Paul encourages Timothy to give his maximum effort in understanding the scriptures, so he could present himself to God as one approved. The same for us as ministers. We are to daily dive into the scriptures so that we can be approved by God, in ministry, in content and our concept of the gospel. We are to do our best in this. More time should be spent in the scriptures than in the studio, or in writing or any of the other things that we do. In doing this, when we get on the stage we do not waste it, but are ready “workers who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Here is Matthew Henry said about the latter part of this verse;
Brothers and sisters I pray we study the scriptures and not merely read it. This is how we will not be wasting our stage. If we are well studied in the word of truth, then we will not only have no need to be ashamed but be able to dish it out accurately. We should be HERE, ready, because we are stewards, leaders, workmen of Christ. 1 Peter 3:15 says we should always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Well brothers and sisters, every time we get on stage, each song we make or talk we give, that becomes our opportunity to give an account of the hope that is in us.
This is the most important thing that we need to know, so here goes;
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
None is righteous, no, not one no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
(Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 3:6-7, Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23, Romans 8:5-8, Romans 3:10-20, Galatians 4:4-5, John 1:2-5, Romans 5:6-8, Galatians 3:13-14, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-10, John 3:16-17, John 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Here we can see examples of Shai Linne NOT wasting the stage