Why is this the state of the church? Even though it was not planned, this post is really an extension to my post yesterday! When pastors cannot preach solid doctrine from the pulpit without falling back onto a little bit of this and a little bit of that with a solitary verse here or there without any good exegesis, no wonder the gospel has been demoted to the back of a car! The gospel has been diminished to little phrases that can fit onto a bumper sticker. It simply shows how small the gospel has become in the collective mind of evangelicals!
Within evangelicalism, the gospel has been demoted to be our "testimonies." It is no longer the message of God's salvific act within history to make propitiation for the sins of His people. Instead of the gospel being God's story of salvation effected within history, we have detracted from the gospel to make it "our" story! Bishop William Willimon from the UMC says that my story (and your story) is really not that interesting. That is why we should be preaching the gospel as it is spelled out in the Bible.
The problem we have is that we want to MAKE the gospel effective. It is not our job to MAKE the gospel effective! Jesus said that He will build His church. We think that it is our job to make the unbeliever believe. It is NOT our job to make people believe or try to convict them. When the Spirit comes,
(8) he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: (9) concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; (10) concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; (11) concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (Jn 16:8-11)We must remain true to the gospel, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest! The only reason the church must put up all kinds of side shows and circus acts, is because it no longer preaches the gospel, nor does it believe in the gospel. If it did, it would also trust that God would bring about the fruit He desires! We were told to preach the gospel, not to draw all people unto Christ. That is what Jesus Himself said HE would do!
The problem with the church today is that it goes looking for disciples. We were not told to do that! Jesus said we must make disciples. How do we do that? Not by looking for nice people to add to the church. We are not to go looking for respectable people that would add clout to our local church! We are to make disciples! That means that we must preach the gospel with all its glory and offensiveness. When we hide certain parts of the gospel because it might offend someone, then we are NOT preaching the gospel. It is either all or nothing!
The gospel is not a "pat on the back" type of message, saying, "You're OK! I'm OK!" The gospel is intrusive. It makes a full frontal assault on your human sensitivities. It tells you that you are condemned to hell by a God that is holy and hates sin, including your sin, and if you do not turn from your sin and believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, you are condemned to die in your sin!
This issue gets knocked around a bit in the White Horse Inn radio show of 24 June 2007.
Listen and learn!