A Radical Church

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 3-12
Subject: Church; Christian Living; Courage; Commitment

Matthew 5:3-12; John 15:18-19

You hear it all the time: Ours is a friendly church. Ours is a mission minded church. Ours is a compassionate church. Ours is a generous church. Ours is a happy church. Ours is a wonderful church. Ours is a - uh - holy church? I love to hear people say kind and gracious things about their church, but the other day I heard one that I never thought I would hear about one of the greatest churches in the history of the United States. A friend who is a faithful deacon, asked me recently if I had seen the headlines he had seen on the Internet: “Tim Tebow to Speak at Radical Church.” He remembers when Tim Tebow was one of the most popular people in America. Sadly, Tebow called the pastor and canceled the appointment to speak at First Baptist Church, Dallas because of the controversy. He may have been getting pressure from his team, his coach, or the owners. When I looked up the article, I found another article that illustrates the a serious problem in America today. The title for that article was: “Does NBC hate Christians?”

That’s what I was wondering over the weekend as I watched “Saturday Night Live” blaspheme Jesus Christ in a violent and bloody Quentin Tarantino parody – just three days after Ash Wednesday.

The fake movie trailer for “Djesus Uncrossed” featured the Savior brandishing guns and blowing away Romans in classic Tarantino-style. Blood and gore and profanity spewed across flat screens from coast to coast; at one point Jesus sliced a man’s head in half.

“Critics are calling it a less violent ‘Passion of the Christ,’” the announcer declared. “I never knew how much Jesus used the N-word.”

Offending Christians is apparently what passes for entertainment these days.

A few days before the SNL episode, NBC Sports blogger Rick Chandler wrote a scathing smear against a prominent Christian church in Dallas.

Offending Christians is apparently what passes for entertainment these days.

The First Baptist Church in Dallas had invited Tim Tebow to speak at an upcoming service. Chandler urged the outspoken Christian football player to reconsider.

“Tim Tebow to speak at virulently anti-gay, anti-Semitic Dallas mega-church,” read the headline on Chandler’s hit piece.

Sing Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, told me he’s not surprised by NBC’s blistering assault on American Christians.

“It’s open season on those who profess personal faith in Jesus Christ and pattern their lives by biblical morality,” he said. “Evangelical Christians are treated with contempt and targeted for ridicule.”

And at the Peacock Network, the contempt and ridicule are on steroids.

NBC removed the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance during a produced video that aired during the U.S. Open.

NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman infamously denounced the religious part of Christmas during an episode of Today.

“I don’t like the religion part,” said Snyderman. “I think religion is what mucks the whole thing up.”

The “religion” she was referring to is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

...I find it interesting that the networks always mock and ridicule Christianity – but they give other religions a pass.

Why aren’t the writers at SNL churning out weekly skits about Islam – or the Prophet Mohammed? Where’s the mock movie trailer for “Jihad Undetonated?” Where’s the television show called “Good Muslim B****es?” Or the magazine essay about “The Myths of Mohammed?” I suspect we all know the answer to why.

I’ve often wondered why the people at 30 Rock hold Christians in such contempt. Maybe they choose to attack Christians because we are easy targets.

Southern Baptist spokesman Oldham said it should come as no surprise that networks like NBC target Christians for ridicule.

“Jesus said, ‘the world will hate you because of my name,’” he said, referring to a passage in the New Testament.

As best as I can tell, the folks over at NBC are either ideological bullies or religious bigots.

Either one is enough for me to change the channel.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary and the author of "Dispatches from Bitter America: A Gun Toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist's Culture War Stories."

As I said earlier, since the attacks on First Baptist Church, Dallas, Tim Tebow has canceled his appointed to speak there. I am sure many are disappointed in him, and in the cancellation. Does he believe First Baptist, Dallas is “radical”, or does his withdrawal have more to do with his popularity in New York?

My friends, if you cannot see the handwriting on the wall in this attack on Tim Tebow and on one of the greatest churches in the history of America, it is time for your wake-up call. Do not be deceived by the praise heaped on certain popular pastors today. The media loves a pastor who refuses to talk about sin, repentance, or judgment. One pastor has responded to questions about why he doesn’t condemn certain sins by saying, “I just want everyone to feel good.” You know who I would liked to see interviewed a lot more on television? How about Franklin Graham? Why do you think we don’t see him interviewed more? Do you think it may have something to do with his emphasis on the fact that everyone needs to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved? Now, that is radical in our day. Someone circulated a video some time back that showed Opra Winfrey announcing a religious training program she was promoting. A lady in the audience asked (two or three times), “But what about Jesus?” Opra Winfrey exclaimed, “Jesus can’t possibly be the only way!” And that is not radical?

The church that writer called a “radical church” was First Baptist Church, Dallas, where George W. Truett and W. A. Criswell served not only as their pastor but as one of the key leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention for over seventy-five years. We know about that great church. Now consider the individual to whom that writer referred. Who in America does not know the name Tim Tebow. Who in knows his name who is not aware of his commitment to Jesus Christ.

Reports about his commitment to the Lord, his mission trips to the Philippines, where the family had served as missionaries were received, not only with interest, but with enthusiasm. A lot of people who had not really been into football were talking about Tim Tebow. Never mind that many athletes have been committed Christians in the past, there was something new about Tim Tebow, especially in this day. I remember when, a generation ago, someone said that when an athlete was interviewed before the television camera the reporter or sportscaster would be enthusiastic with his questions, and the athlete’s answers. One said, however, if you mentioned Jesus Christ, the reporter would act like you had just spilled something on your tie: he tried to ignore it.

Tebow has lost popularity with some people and it seems that the main issue is his faith in Jesus Christ, and the fact that he lives for Him. Let’s face it, Jesus knew what He was talking about when He warned His followers that “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you” (John 15:18-19, HCSB). He was right, so if the world never shows hatred for us, maybe we look too much like the world, sound too much like the world, and some may even smell like the world!

Experts have advised Tim Tebow to tone it down. In other words, they are trying to silence him, and I don’t’ think their concern is for his career. I think Satan stirs them up because he doesn’t want to lose them to Jesus. Now, that is a radical statement! The question I would like to ask today is this: Is your faith, your life, and your testimony for Jesus strong enough to have you labeled as radical?
We are losing more and more freedom every year, as nativity scenes and other Christian symbols are forced out of the public square. Of course, it could be worse. Fox News on-line on this date (February 21, 2013) carries the headline and lead in sentence: “Advocates sound alarm over crackdown on house churches in China, where cases of government persecution of Christians rose 42 percent — and faithful are reportedly forced to call gatherings 'patriotic' in order to avoid jail.”
Other headlines read: “Islam or death? Egypt's Christians targeted by new terror group.” Still another reads: “Saudi religious police arrest Ethiopian workers for practicing Christianity.” Benjamin Weinthal (February 21, 2013) wrote for FoxNews.com,

“Saudi Arabia’s notorious religious police, known as the mutawa, swooped in on a private gathering of at least 53 Ethiopian Christians this month, shutting down their private prayer, and arresting the peaceful group of foreign workers for merely practicing their faith, FoxNews.com has learned.

“The mixed group of men and women was seized in a private residence in the city of Dammam, the capital of the wealthy oil province in Eastern Arabia, and Saudi authorities charged three Christian leaders with seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity. The latest crackdown on Christianity in the ultra-fundamental Islamic country comes on the heels of a brutal 2011/2012 incarceration and torture of 36 Ethiopian Christians, and drew a sharp rebuke from a U.S. lawmaker.”

Will we ever see anything like that in America? It will take them some time, but if “radial Muslims” have their way, you can count on it, unless the Lord returns first.


A. The Word Radical Was Once carried a Negative Idea.

For some time now, we have heard politicians and newscasters refer to a suicide bombing in the Middle East, a violent demonstration in Europe, or a brutal murder by a Muslim in America as the work of radical Islam. Constantly, the media portrays Islam as a peaceful religion and the violent outbreaks of terrorism as the work of radical Muslims. Certainly, there are groups that have proven more radical than others, but when their holy book calls for the murder of those who leave Islam and refuse to return, I would call that radical. When they take the children of those who convert to Christianity and sell them into slavery, I call that radical. When they launch a raid on a U. S. Embassy and brutally murder those who serve there, I would call that radical.

My old friend, Anis Sharrosh, grew up in Nazareth where his father was killed when the Israelis killed his father when they took Nazareth from Muslims. He has testified to the fact that when he was growing up he lived to get big enough to start killing Jews. When he grew up he had to find a job and when he looked he fund one in the Baptist Hospital where he heard the Gospel, receive Jesus Christ, and was called to preach the Gospel. Anis has stated that when the Muslim population is very small they are very nice neighbors, but as their numbers grow they begin to make demands, and as their numbers continue to grow they make more demands. They begin asking for Sharia law, they begin calling to get on TV to demand an apology when someone offends them. When they get in the majority, Anis says, “look out!”

B. John the Baptist Would Be Considered a Radical By Many Today.

Those religious leaders who went out to where he was preaching and baptizing, they demanded to know whether or not he was the Messiah. He assured them he was only the forerunner, the one sent to announce the coming of the Messiah. We are not told what they may have said to him, but he responded by calling them a generation of vipers. A few years ago, was talking with my brother who is the senior partner in a highly respected law firm when I thought about a local attorney someone had mentioned to me. I asked him and he said, “He’s a snake.” That was not a compliment and I can assure you those religious leaders from Jerusalem did not feel honored when John the Baptist called them one.

C. Jesus Was Seen As Radical in His Day.

Jesus had one confrontation after another with the Pharisees and Sadducees during His three year ministry. We know Him as the Prince of Peace, but I am sure the Pharisees thought He was a bit radical when He addressed them like this:

“Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and evil. Fools! Didn’t He who made the outside make the inside too? But give to charity what is within, and then everything is clean for you.

“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.

“Woe to you Pharisees! You love the front seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

“Woe to you! You build monuments to the prophets, and your fathers killed them.” (Luke 11 239-48)

D. Early Christians Were Viewed as Radical.

A man named Stephen was martyred for his faithfulness to Christ. Eleven of the original twelve became martyrs for Jesus, with James the brother of John being the first in A.D. 44 and John the last around A. D. 98. Peter, according to tradition, was crucified upside down in Rome; Paul was beheaded, and John was exiled to Patmos and then boiled in oil.

Dr. Bill Cooper, of Middlesex, England, Has been gracious enough to send me copies of all the books he has written. One of the most amazing is OLD LIGHT ON THE ROMAN WORLD. In this volume, Dr. Cooper writes about martyrs I did not read about in college or seminary, and when I mentioned some of the names to leaders at LifeWay Christian Resources and some of my fellow board members several years ago, I discovered that they had not heard of them either. According to my friend, the first bishop of the church at Rome was not Simon Peter, but a man named Linus, son of Caradoc, the king who defeated the mighty Roman army in thirty pitched battles on the island of Britain before surrendering to the Romans after his family was betrayed and captured. Where most captives fell on their face before the Roman emperor, Caradoc crossed his arms and gave him a piece of his mind! The senate insisted that Caradoc was too brave to kill, so they made arrangements for his family to live in the home of the Lady Pomponia, who led them all to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Her son Rufus (Rom. 16:13) Pudens (2 Tim. 4:21) who married Carodoc’s daughter Claudia (who wrote many of the hymns the sang in the First Century). Linus and Claudia were martyred for Jesus Christ.

Dr. Cooper also writes about a man named Richard Hunne, a wealthy cloth merchant who made a practice of standing in his shop, reading his copy of an English translation of the Bible out loud to people who would gather to listen. For such an offense, and for refusing to give a priest his deceased infant’s burial gown, he was arrested at the orders of a bishop, thrown into prison and killed by two representatives of the bishop who were supposed to have made it look like a suicide. The Bible he was reading? A descendant of his, who provided information for John Fox who was writing the Fox’s Book of Martyrs, carried that same Bible to the New World with him. A few years ago that Bible was on display in Houston, Texas.

E. Those Martyrs Were not the Radical Ones.

If we read Fox’s Book of Martyrs, we will soon realize that the Christian martyrs were not the radical ones, their persecutors and executors were. There are many examples, and various reasons given that Christians were beheaded, burned at the stake, or killed in other ways are given: some rejected trans-substantiation, some did not believe they needed some friar to hear their confessions, others wanted to read the Bible in their own language. Radical stuff, right?

To most any Christian who reads of the persecution of Christians throughout the ages those martyrs were not radical, they were victims of radical religious fanatics, or mercenaries hired by the church or by some king paid by that church to destroy the Reformers. Countless thousands, if not millions have been killed by others who professed to be Christians, as well as others who at war with Christianity.

A number of years ago, a lot of young people were going around saying that anything they liked is “bad.” A friend was bad, a car was bad, an athlete was bad, or a team was bad. They had a way of enunciating the word “Bad” that let others know they meant it was good. American athletes were in South Korea for the Olympic Games when a group of American college students spontaneously began saying, “South Korea is BAD.” Some English speaking South Koreans heard them and the word spread that American athletes were saying disrespectful things about South Korea. They had to offer an official apology to their gracious hosts.

Those who call a church radical today are not trying to say something nice about it. They are doing to the church what the news medai and entertainment industry has been doing to people - politicians and others they don’t like for years. The media has carried out one attack after another on conservative politicians, pastors, and scientists who believer in the Genesis account of creation.

Today, I would like for us to consider what the church, or church members do that lead some in the media to attack them and to call them radical. Remember now, the same media makes a distinction between “peaceful” Muslims and “radical” Muslims. Some seem willing to promote “peaceful” Muslims in such a way as to give them an advantage over Christians. The president of the United States, according to some accounts, did not honor the National Day of Prayer for Christians at the White House, but was photographed taking off his shoes with a large crowd of Muslims so he could pray with them.

I would like for us to review some of the things that seem to make some in the media think of Christians and Christian churches as radical. And, if it involves some of the things that come to mind, we need more radical churches, not fewer of them.


A. If Proclaiming the Gospel Is Radical, We Need More Radical Churches.

I remember hearing the two most famous pastors in America preach on the same evening at the Mississippi State Evangelism Conference when I was a student at Mississippi College. Those pastors were W. A. Criswell and the man he called the Prince of Preachers, R. G. Lee. That was at a time when many pastors in America had drifted to the left, as had many seminary professors. Dr. Leo Eddleman once told me that Christian publishers had just about stopped publishing sermons, but they told W. A. Criswell they would publish anything he wrote. An editor for a major denominational publisher told me that Dr. Criswell and Dr. Lee held their feet to the fire and never ceased to call them if they drifted to the left in articles.

Dr. Jimmy Draper was President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources for fifteen years, and for several of those years I was on the Board of Trustees. Dr. Draper is one of the most amazing people I have ever known. He is what many would call a “people person.” He is also a powerful preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were meeting at the Conference Center in Glorieta, New Mexico when Dr. Draper, in his President’s Address, shared what he called The Essentials of the Baptist Faith (and later on gave me permission to used them). They are:

1. Salvation by grace through faith, plus nothing.
2. The Lordship of Jesus Christ
3. Sufficiency of Scripture
4. Autonomy of the Local Church
5. Religious Liberty
6. Trinitarian view of God
7. The Great Commission

Dr. Draper stressed that there are many “distinctives” but these are “essentials.” Any church that adopts these “essentials” is likely to be labeled a radical church. However, those who are quick to label a church a radical church are probably looking more at social issues than doctrinal issues.

B. We Need Some Radical Preaching Today.

Jesus commands preachers to preach the Word of God “Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16, (HCSB).

Paul wrote: “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How welcome are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” (Rom. 10:15). In that same passage, Paul wrote, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Rom 10:17). Please note that the subject here is the “Word” preached. When the Gospel is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will apply it in the hearts and minds of those who hear it.

Again, Paul wrote: “For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:22-23). Radical preaching in the eyes of the world is preaching the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
From Jesus, John the Baptist, Peter and John, and Paul we learn that the preacher of the Word must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, glorifying Him, confronting sin, comforting those who are grieving, instructing new believers, and feeding all believers.

Now, would you really like to hear something radical? Try this: “But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8, HCSB) The world today - as well as a lot of churches - would say, that is really radical! What if I declare that I believer in the Genesis account of creation. I have been known to say that if you don’t believe God could do it, please spell you god with a small “g”! Call me radical, but what if the ones who deny that are really the radical ones?

C. We Need Some Radical Church Members today.

We need deacons who will lead, teach others, and live an exemplary life before the church family and lost in the community. The deacon should be an effective soul winner. They should honor Paul’s requirements in his letter to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:8-13. Deacons must be faithful to the church in all things, including attendance, ministry, and outreach. They must abstain from behavior that would compromise their testimony.

We need some radical Sunday School teachers. What is a radical Sunday School teacher? One who lives a solid moral life at home and in the community during the week, and prepares to teach the word of God. The teacher must be prepared every Sunday and live his or her life in a positive way, even when it comes to abstinence from those things that will compromise one’s teaching: drinking, gambling, immorality, doing anything that will compromise him or her morally.

D. We Need Training in How to Be Labeled a Radical Church.

1. Tell people that Jesus is the only way to be saved.

2. Tell them there is one to know Jesus, and that is by grace, through faith (Eh. 2:8f).

3. Tell people it is a sin to use profane and obscene language.

4. Tell people to abstain from alcoholic beverages.

5. Tell people to abstain from all forms of gambling.

6. Tell people to dress modestly - and I mean modestly!

7. Tell people to avoid movies that feature nudity, and near nudity.

8. Tell people to avoid movies that lead to lust.

9. Tell people to avoid movies that glorify immorality.

10. Tell people that God created the family with one man and one woman for life.

11. Tell people who are lost they need Jesus in their lives.

12. Tell people who are saved that the Lord expects them to worship in His church on Sunday.

13. Tell people that if God is more important that a ball game they will be in church on Sunday.

14. Tell people that if God is more important than hunting they will be in church on Sunday.

15. Tell people that if God is more important to them that fishing, they will be in church on Sunday.

16. Tell people that homosexuality is a sin.

17. Tell people there is no same-sex marriage with God.

18. Tell people off-color humor is not funny, but it is sinful.

19. Tell people sin will be punished.

20. Tell people God will forgive sin and save sinners if the repent.


To me, a radical church seduces people with false doctrines, emotionalism, corruption of Scripture, and questionable behavior. Fuzz and his family picked cotton for my father and every years during cotton picking time the lights would come on at the little church building my father called the “sway-back church” because of the roof line. One morning Fuzz showed up with the exciting news that God had called him to preach. The evangelist had told the people that God was calling someone to preach. No one walked the aisle, so the preacher told them God was giving him a vision of a little tiny casket and that if the father did not surrender to the call to preach.... You get the picture.

Another night, they were at church until after 10:00 P.M., because the evangelist told the people the offering was not what God told him they should receive. He then place his open Bible in the doorway and told the people that anyone who left before they got the offering that they were supposed to give they would be going our over the Word of God. The people were afraid to leave!

Now, my friend, that is a radical church. The church that tells lost people how to be saved, and saved people how to live is not a radical church to anyone except Satan and his followers. Let me stress that I mean the way of salvation laid out so clearly in the passages like John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8. That also assumes that the church will preach and teach the way the true believer mst live as set forth in the Bible. We can contrast the way of the lost (Romans ) and the way of the redeemed (The Sermon on the Mount).

If we do that, don’t be surprised if the world calls us radical. God will call us blessed.