Is the language of 'sin' and 'salvation' all a bit old hat now, and, frankly, a little bit scary?
That's an interesting question.
I think the truth behind those terms is permanent.
Whether the terms always work with people is a different discussion.
I'm concerned that, within the church, we don't really believe in sin anymore.
I am concerned about that.
Ravi Zacharias says, "We're workin' with a generation of Christians who listen with their eyes and think with their feelings."
And, the problem is, you've got biblical illiteracy in many generations of younger Christians.
If you've got biblical illiteracy, your theology's based on your feelings.
We've grown up in a post-modern world, and, so, it's all inclusion.
So, you don't believe that anyone does anything that needs to be changed, and so, you end up just extending your theology to encompass all kinds of behaviour.
Whereas, I'm with John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, who said in 1807, and bearin' in mind, a former slave ship owner who then found Jesus.
He says, in 1807, "I am a terrible sinner, and Christ is a wonderful saviour."
I think if we don't have an awareness of our brokenness, and our sinfulness, then we have no awareness of what we're being saved from.
There's nothing to be saved from.
And, we do need to, maybe at times, change the language, but we do need to hold clear to this reality.
I also find it interesting, it's only Christians who tell me the word 'sin' is outdated.
If you want to look in the secular world, let's take Slimming World.
Loads of my friends do Slimming World.
What is it called when you eat something naughty you shouldn't eat.
It's called a 'sin'.
And people understand that.
There's a nightclub chain that's quite successful in the UK.
It's called 'Sin'.
People get what sin is, and yet, we as the church sometimes back off and get Christian paranoid.
We need to realise we are broken, God is wonderful, I am a sinner, therefore I need a saviour, and those two things do need to connect, and we do need to live in the truth of those.
And, I know that sometimes the terminology can feel old hat, but, in reality, it's as relevant today as it's always been and always will be.
I also think in churches we need to consider what we're saying to people.
There's a Max Lucado quote that I think's profound.
It says, the first bit says, "God loves you just the way you are."
But people stop there, that's the problem, 'cause the second half of quote says this, "But he loves you too much for you to stay the way you are."
He wants you to be like Jesus.
And I think, too often, we get rid of the concept of sin by just saying "However you are, absolutely fine."
No, no, no, no.
He wants you to be like Jesus, so we've gotta be changed.
I think the thing within this, too, we've gotta go relationship first.
Too often we go rules first, and we want people to live in some kind of Christendom existence where they all behave like we think they should without knowing Jesus.
That doesn't work.
If you'd come to me when I was 15 and said, "Get married, you don't get to have girlfriends."
I've told you to get lost.
I liked having girlfriends.
When I met my wife, and that had a massive impact on my life, I was like, "fair play
I've got this relationship, I'm happy not to have the girlfriends."
Rules and relationships go together.
Otherwise, it's anarchy.
But, we need to talk people into a pro-Jesus understanding.
When you're, I am pro-Jesus, therefore there's lots of things I try not to do.
And I try to deal with my sinfulness.
But, the problem is, we take sin or salvation in isolation, it doesn't make sense.
Let's talk about this awe-inspiring, life defining, world-shattering Jesus.
And then, let's realise that the salvation he brings has some rules and boundaries with it.
So, let's deal with our sinfulness, step into his truth, and live with hope.
What about when it comes to, kind of, Christian-ese?
I didn't grow up in a Christian family, so I became a Christian in my teens, when I was, I think I was about 13 or 14.
And, a popular song at the time, this is gonna give away my age, but although, to be honest, at church they sing songs for about 40 years, don't they?
But, a song that everyone was singing was "There is therefore, now no condemnation."
I was singin' this week in, week out, I literally had no idea what the word condemnation meant.
And I was too embarrassed as a 13-year-old to ask anybody, and I thought, "this must be pretty important", but I didn't know what it meant, and just some of those words that were used, even things like "bein' washed by the blood".
Sounds a bit weird, really, like, but at the same time, it's in the Bible.
What about things like that?
How do we get around that?
We do need, the message has got to stay the same.
And I think what Gav's mentioned as well earlier is the mode's gotta change and the way we communicate things.
These words, they're not in our vocabulary anymore.
'Salvation', 'sanctification', it took me years to figure out what sanctification was all about when I come to faith.
I think I'm still figurin' it out bit by bit.
And, sin's one of the words that we, we misapply it, don't we?
We misinterpret it.
We talk about sins like breaking the speed limit is a sin.
And we try and equivilate all sins.
Well, sin is the same, but the consequences of some sins are far greater than the consequences of other sins.
And sin essentially is about separation from God.
It's about unbelief and rebellion to God that's within us all.
And it's not exclusive to any particular group in society.
It's a great equaliser sin, isn't it?
But then we confuse it in our language.
We're all sinners away from God, we all need Christ to be reconciled to God.
And, in our society, as we communicate for our society, we just need to say, "look out the window. If you think we live in a perfect, sinless world, we clearly don't."
Clearly, things are wrong in this world
You look at Syria, you look at war and poverty and inequality and oppression goin' on around the world, and in our own country.
People with terrible problems.
Something is not right.
That thing that we talk about that's not right, it's an effect of sin.
It's part of our condition as human beings.
And, we have a prescription for this.
We have a solution for this in Christ.
Christ reconciles us to God so that we can move on from that existence, that situation, into a newness of life.
It doesn't mean that we don't sin, but it just means that we've got help in growing to be more Christ-like.
And we get to enjoy the fruits of that and God's blessings in our lives.
Just briefly, when it comes to evangelists and when we're communicating to others about their sin, that can be a little bit tricky, can't it?
How do we communicate that without coming across like we're so sorted and we've put it all together? And that whole thing that some non-Christians can think, "oh, you think you're so perfect" And wanting to challenge somebody's sin, or address that, but at the same time not wanting to come across that you think you're better than them.
I think we have a vulnerable, not superior, disposition in what we do.
We have to.
People tell Hollywood stories that seem so inaccessible.
We need to tell stories of brokenness.
I am so broken, that's why I cling onto Jesus.
What I love about Jesus, take when he raises Lazarus to life.
He's about to raise someone to life.
He's so powerful, he stands outside Lazarus' tomb, and has to say "Lazarus, come out," 'cause there's 15 dead people in there.
If he'd just said "Come out", they all woulda done it.
What if there was two Lazaruses there?
"Not you, son, you go back to sleep, we'll have that one."
He's that powerful, but what does he do just before? He weeps.
He weeps for his friend.
For me, Jesus is vulnerable, not superior.
We've got to come across as vulnerable.
We're all hopeless people who've found hope in Jesus, who are journeying.
We're on a continual journey.
I think we too often come across as, "I'm sorted, I'm wonderful."
It's like a Disney princess film.
Everything lives happily ever after.
A hopeless person who's found Jesus who continues to journey. And I'm still aware of my sinfulness today.
I'm not the finished article.
I think we need to do that and point people to the only saviour who changes everything.