Monday, February 05, 2007
Yesterday I wrote:
"Since the church is being used as the tool of evangelism, the truth of the gospel and the truth of God's Word has been watered down and Evangelism has been reduced to a sales' pitch."
What is the truth of the gospel?
1Corinthians 1;18 "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
21"For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached tosave those who believe.22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;23but we preach Christ crucified,to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
Basically, it is crazy, the Message (a paraphrase) calls it "sheer silliness." I would say that biblically, the gospel is that Jesus Christ was crucified, died, buried and was resurrected. Finishing the work of Redemption for the salvation of His people.
However, the "Jesus loves you and He wants to make your life a blessing and you will receive many blessings if you just put your faith and trust in Him" (you will get what you want) message is at best a half truth. It is the decaffeinated gospel.
We want the whole truth (we being those of us who have been adopted by God the Father). Paul says we preached Christ crucified. Many say that love was the motivating factor of Christ being crucified and dying for the sins of the world. But Jesus had a different motivation: In John 12 Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." John 17, "Father the hour has come, glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You" The more I read through the gospels the more I see that the primary motivator was for God's glory. How would He glorify His Father? By paying the penalty of our sins, providing New Life for those who were dead in their transgressions, by being the first to be born from the dead.
This does not take away from the Love of Christ. He even says that "greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15;13 When asked what is the greatest commandment? How did Jesus answer?
"You shall Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22;37-39
One of the sales pitches I have heard is "if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have died for you. He loves you that much." I don't think that we can find anything in the Bible lines us with that thought. If you can please let me know. This me focused message is not sustaining or life giving.
What do we need with the gospel anyway? There is a need. Man is sinful in his core. There is no way for man to rescue himself from sin and death. First we need to believe that we are dead spiritual. Ephesians 2 says it perfectly especially verses 4 & 5 "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)" We are doomed we'll never make it without the power of God.
In most of the modern American Evangelical Churches (MAEC) you don't hear that. I would say on balance MAEC say look at the gifts, blessings, benefits that Christ has to offer you. Your life will turn around 180%, all you have to do is accept Christ and you will be on your way. It is a self-centered, selfish decaf. gospel. Everyone wants to "be blessed" but not everyone wants the Blesser. Romans 3 says, "there is none who seeks for God"
So where is the hope? For those who believe our hope is in God and that He is the keeper of His promises.
*Disclaimer about the book: I have not read this book but I was going for the caffeine look ;-)