Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
The thing about being both well-known and on Twitter, I suppose, is that if you royally, utterly, abysmally blow it, there are no fingers on earth fast enough to delete it before someone screenshots it and saves it in perpetuity. Especially if you send that tweet at the absolute worst possible time. This was certainly the case with Senator Rafael Warnock of Georgia, who is also the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was once pastored by no less than the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Easter Sunday, of all days, Senator Warnock tweeted, “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.” (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/warnock-deletes-easter-tweet-amid-backlash)
I do not know Senator Warnock, and therefore I am unwilling to assign any ill motives to his words. They may well have been given simply out of a heart desirous to help others. I do know the Bible, though, and therefore I am willing to assign the proper descriptive term to his words.
For twenty-four years now, I have periodically given my church what may seem like an odd instruction. I have taught them that if I ever contradict any of the foundational doctrines of Scripture, I am to be fired and removed. This is because a church is way bigger than any one man, even if he is the founding pastor (as I am) or the pastor of a historic church, or even a United States Senator. If I had said the words Senator Warnock tweeted on Sunday morning, I would have been fired before I ever stepped foot in the pulpit.
The words of that ill-conceived tweet are not just wrong–they are completely wrong, and about the most important subject in Scripture.
To begin with, there is nothing at all more “transcendent” than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:4, speaking of Jesus, says, “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” It was his bodily resurrection that God the Father used to declare to an unbelieving world that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God. 1 Corinthians 15, one of the longest chapters in the New Testament, is entirely about the resurrection of Christ. It teaches, among other things, that the resurrection of Christ is part of the gospel that one must believe to be saved and that if Christ has not risen our preaching and our faith is in vain. It teaches that because he arose, we will do the same.
When Jesus appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation chapter one, he did not refer to himself in terms of a social justice warrior. He called himself the one who lives, and was dead, and is alive forevermore. The resurrection of Christ is not just an important doctrine of the faith; it is the foundation on which every doctrine of the faith rests.
But the last half of the tweet was nearly as cringe-worthy as the first, “Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”
We are not, at all, able to save ourselves. And while the first half of his tweet struck at the resurrection, the last half, even though it does not mention it, strikes at the crucifixion. If we are able to save ourselves by helping others, then the death of Christ on Calvary was the most ridiculous choice in history, a clown circus minus the fun, with Jesus himself as the head clown crying “Step right up! See me suffer and die for nothing when people could just be saved by being nice!”
He suffered and died like no other because there was literally no other way for our sins to be paid for. 1 John 2:2 tells us that he is the propitiation, the satisfactory sacrifice, for our sins. 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we are not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is only by grace, never by works of righteousness, even works as good as “helping others.” Jesus in John 14:6 taught unequivocally that he is the only way to the Father. Jesus in John 3 told a good, moral, kind man named Nicodemus, part of a group famed for their commitment to helping others, “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
I could go on forever with this and give thousands of verses more; the Bible is very clear and speaks abundantly on the subject.
The greatest danger in what Senator Warnock tweeted is that people will believe it simply because of who he is. MSNBC host Joy Reid, responding to Jenna Ellis’ criticism of Warnock’s pronouncement, fired back “Madame, I’m gonna take @ReverendWarnock’s take, as a pastor and a scholar on the Word over yours, if you don’t mind.” But please allow me to spell out the problem with that: Ms. Reid would never say on any subject “I’m gonna take Franklin Graham’s word…” or Robert Jeffress, or any other preacher who had a view different than what she already wants to hear. Nor should she. Nor should any of us. You see, Scripture is not determined as right or wrong based on what a preacher, any preacher, says. Every preacher is either right or wrong based on what the Bible says.
Including Raphael Warnock, who is one hundred percent wrong on this.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and audio downloads are available by clicking the “Store” link above
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner