Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A weak gospel is common!

I have often heard some ministers who are within the 'bible-belt' and usually Southern Baptists speak about the awful condition of people who will profess to know Christ. It would seem that some of these ministers believe that the problem is limited to the Sourthern-most states in America, yet I'm convinced that's simply not true. It may be true that in the 'South' many have had greater exposure to 'church' and that would certainly explain why so many would profess something they don't live up to, but to say it's a 'South' specific problem is quite far from the truth.
The gospel which most people have been exposed to is a powerless and compromised man-centered gospel of fluff. A gospel which is presented as a simple intellectual choice or emotional choice, which doesn't require much. A gospel which doesn't explain what it means to 'believe and repent' and doesn't explain the wrath that men deserve and the wrath Christ took, it is a gospel which lacks any explanation of power; the power of Christ's Resurrection (what that signified), the power of regeneration (the 'true' conversion experience). This gospel has been stripped of teaching, stripped of theology and has been dumbed down to an ineffective and timid sales pitch, which has caused countless millions to feel at peace with God when they should STILL be terrified because they are still lost!
Thanks to the media, the books, the radio, and the TV, not to mention the crusades and events that are and have been spreading throughout the world, this weak gospel is EVERYWHERE! I was first exposed to such things in England, and have since seen such in Northern Ohio. I've seen it in the Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Inter-denominational, non-denominational, Charismatic, Presbyterian churches. I witnessed such a tragedy several yrs ago whenever I had to accompany someone at the jails (juvenile jails) and usually (to my disgust) someone would ask in the beginning 'who here is saved?' and it never failed, just about every hand goes up. Likewise the same happened if someone asked 'ok, so who wants to be saved?'. I was able to watch this weak view of the gospel acted out at two inner-city youth groups, where these so-called 'moves of God' where tons of people come to the front and have emotional experiences, yet countless were the times where we (the 'workers') had to break up brawls right after the service (involving the same kids)!
THis should not come as a surprise to anyone, unless you've not been paying attention. Aren't men like Rick Warren and Billy Graham to name a few, internationally known? Regardless of the sentimental view you may have concerning such men, the fact that they have promoted and proclaimed a weak gospel can't honestly be denied, unless you haven't really read or listened to such men.
Due to this problem, we must ABOVE ALL have a thorougly clear view of the gospel. We must never grow tired of explaining the DETAILS of the gospel. Regardless of where you are at, the gospel needs to be clarified, and the life of the true believer must be explained.
We should ever be fine tuning our understanding of the gospel and growing in our ability to help others understand the gospel, this is one reason why I'm not interested in promoting some method of evangelism, even if it makes you more 'comfortable' (although I understand if you use something as a 'starter', but you must be prepared to go beyond a 'script')!
If you wish to become better equipped with your understanding of and articulation of the gospel, then you must give attention to the study of the gospel. My advice would be to familiarize yourself with the scriptures concerning all the promises and proclamations of the gospel. In addition to that listen to good preachers who present the gospel (Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Albert Martin, Jeff Noblit, Paul Washer, Albert Martin, John Macarthur, John Piper, Voddie Baucham, Jono Sims, Tim Conway, Charles Leiter, and of course that British guy Kevin Williams @ puritanfellowship.com to name a few) not to parrot them, but to learn from them. I would highly recommend that you study the aspects of the gospel using some good systematic theologies, like Wayne Grudem, Loius Berkhof, Robert Reymond, etc. Another great resource is to read the classics that contain ample evangelistic material, the Puritans for example were incredibly evangelistic in their writings, which is one reason why I so admire them, because it was obvious that they were writing for the purpose of reaching and teaching their hearers, their books were more like collections of long sermons as opposed to entertaining literature. J.C. Ryle also wrote like this, and no he wasn't just writing to 'bible-belt' professors.
Let me then just name a few choice pieces that I would recommend:
A call to the unconverted by Richard Baxter
An alarm to the unconverted by Joseph Alliene
Holiness by J.C. Ryle
Studies on the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Justification and Regeneration by Charles Leiter
The gospel according to Jesus by John Macarthur

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