Devotional - The Difference Between The Simplicity Of The Gospel And Dumbing It Down

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.“And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross,but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, not to the general public,but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” - Acts 10: 34-43 (NLT)

    I saw a tweet today that gave me pause and made me think. The tweet was essentially - "too many theologians can spoil the simplicity of the Gospel message." In this age of multimedia we are constantly bombarded with messages every waking minute of every day. I have a friend who moved to New Zealand yet we play Words With Friends like she lives next door! Technology has driven us apart in many ways but also drawn us closer than we ever have been in history. Unfortunately, it also provides platforms for people everywhere to give every opinion they may ever have, any any time, for any reason. While it may not matter how many people weigh in on whether Justin Beiber should face felony charges for egging his neighbor's house it does matter when people who have no calling from God to divide the Word insist on doing so anyway. The problem however is in the dumbing down of the Gospel, not that there are too many theologians. Let's investigate using the Word of God.

    The first truth is that the Gospel message is meant to be simple. There is no argument there. The key verses show Peter explaining such simplicity.

    1) All are invited

    2) There is now peace with God available through Jesus Christ, Lord of all

    3) Jesus was given all power on earth through God

    4) He was crucified and rose on the third day

    5) His resurrection was witnessed by many

    6) He is appointed by God to judge the living and the dead

    7) The Old Testament confirms His identity

    8) All who believe in Him will have their sins forgiven

    Some of this is even advanced theology. To preach the simplicity of the Gospel we only need numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8. Think about how simple Paul makes it:

    And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. - 1Corinthians 2: 1-5 (NIV)

    Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Why can we be so simple? Because any discussion of the crucifixion requires a discussion of sin and the resurrection. Any discussion of sin requires a discussion of heaven and hell. Any discussion of the resurrection requires a discussion of the deity of Christ and our reconciliation to God. That is it beloved. That is all that is required. Faith in Jesus Christ as God and His finished work on the cross to wash our sins away before a holy God. The entire Gospel message boiled down to five simple words - Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    When I speak about the dumbing down of the Gospel it is the dumbing down of this essential message. Realize that no matter how persuasive a preacher might be he has no power to save anyone. He has no words to save anyone. Only the Gospel has the power to save:

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. - Romans 1: 16 (NIV)

    So when I speak about the dumbing down of the Gospel I am speaking about people who preach things that seek to undermine this message. Realize that when you hide some of this message you are hiding salvation from people. When you add to it you are muddying the chances for someone to be saved. When you distract from it you are leading people away from it. Modern theories of church growth have confused their purpose to be growing the church when they are supposed to be growing the kingdom. When you have preachers who preach hyper-grace for example they take away sin from the equation. Seeker friendly churches do not discuss sin, the crucifixion, the blood, or the need for repentance - all of which are in this simple Gospel message - because they think it might offend someone who is unsaved. The purpose driven model no longer refers to them as unsaved, opting instead for "unchurched." What these false teachers fail to understand is the true Gospel was meant to offend!

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn“‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. - Matthew 10: 34-39 (NIV)

    When all you want to preach is the love of God you are overlooking a huge portion of the true Gospel, in all of its simplicity. People have to choose beloved. They must choose. C.S. Lewis once said:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it.

    But not according to the charlatans who dumb down the Gospel for a living. They sell a fake god. They sell a god who seemingly does not care about sin, never asks us to repent, requires no regeneration of our heart, exists only to bless us and requires nothing in return other than to serve in a ministry, which is labeled our purpose and to pay our tithe, which becomes our measurement of faithfulness and obedience. They can smile in thousand dollar suits and tell you that you are saved but without the entire Gospel message it is unlikely that you are.

    The other major force in the dumbing down of the Gospel is the so called prosperity preachers. They add to the true Gospel the notion that God wants His children to all be rich on this earth. They stay way from sin and repentance because those topics do not traditionally translate into high offerings. God become relegated to a spiritual ATM who exists solely to "bless us" repeatedly. This religious ponzi scheme is perpetrated by ripping Scriptures out of context to prop up their false gospel. Which is one reason why we need theologians.

    Thus we come full circle in our discussion. Are there too many theologians? I think there are too many wannabe theologians but we can always use more people called by God to divide His Word for His people. I am sure the tweet author did not mean to infer what he did but it is a trend in recent religiosity to steer towards what I have dubbed a "Kumbya Christianity." Where they sell the notion that everyone is on the same team when clearly many are not. Joel Osteen has dubbed doctrine a dirty word and readily admits that he may not even bring a Scripture into his sermon until the very end. Joel Osteen does not have the words that bring eternal life - only God does! But even the most brilliant of theologians can be wrong. I know someone who knows all the ancient Hebraic languages yet thinks Benny Hinn and Joseph Prince are merely "brothers with doctrinal errors." The Bible is very clear. No matter how simple the true Gospel message is we must not allow it to make us lazy in our Christianity. Our role has to be so much more than attending a church or reading a devotional. The Bible teaches us:

    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, - Philippians 2: 12 (NIV)

    Test all things; hold fast what is good. - 1Thessalonians 5: 21 (NKJV)

    I once saw an interview with a congregant from Osteen's Lakewood Church who said that Pastor Joel gives her "just what she needs to make it back to him next Sunday." What a horrible way to live! We are supposed to read the Bible for ourselves. Get our own word from God. Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. There is no more fear of God in the modern church because the jesus that is portrayed is only their for our use not for our salvation. You do not fear someone you control.

    It is the theologians that help point out these errors. If you belong to a church that is focused on you - run! If you are in a church where God exists to bless you - run! If you are in a church that uses guilt and manipulation of Scripture to extort money from you - run! If you are in a church that seeks to bring glory to man instead of God - run! If you are in a church where the pastor does not adhere to his own teachings - run! If we cannot call evil evil then we are of no use as theologians. Remember - correct doctrine means the difference between heaven and hell!

    Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)

    Not only that but without correct doctrine we start to falter in persevering in our lives as well! The real damage however is on the falsely converted. Those people who will attend a church for many years. Be assimilated into its ministries to discover their alleged "purpose." Be assured of their salvation by the man picking their pockets. Never be challenged to change who they are. Never be challenged to examine their sin and repent. Then one day that person stands before Christ only to discover He does not know them. Don't tell me doctrine is unimportant.

    The Bible talks about a great apostasy that will happen before the second coming of Christ. A great falling away from the faith. I often wondered how that will happen. How so many could walk away from the saving grace and faith of Jesus Christ. Then God started to show me that it does not happen overnight. It is a gradual erosion not so much of doctrine itself but in caring about doctrine. A shift from valuing the eternal things of God to the temporal things of this earth. The great apostasy has already started. It starts when people who consider themselves Christian start marginalizing theologians instead of false teachers. That the one who demands doctrinal purity is looked down upon and the one who sings kumbya the clearest is our closest brother. People have asked me how I think Christians will be duped into taking the mark of the beast found in Revelation and my answer is always the same. Their churches will tell them its OK. Is there anyone who honestly thinks someone like Joel Osteen would not advise his congregation to participate in whatever world system there is? How else could you buy his books?

    The Gospel is simple. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Too many false teachers and the people that want to hold hands with them can spoil that simplicity. The ruination of sound doctrine can then result in the eternal damnation of many who have been promised they are saved. Let the clarion call go forth from those truly called of God to be theologians, studied hard to show themselves approved.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - January 15, 2014

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