“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The Apostle Paul lays out for all to understand just what constitutes “The Gospel”, which is the message we believers in Christ should have firmly and faithfully imbedded on our brains – completely memorized and sharing it with the lost world.
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13. It’s the truth, when we heard it we were drawn to it – many of us believed it and we were saved. Where is “The Gospel” today?
“We are not makers and inventors; we are repeaters, we tell the message we have received” – Charles Spurgeon.
What message are we promoting? Is it the same message Paul promoted on his many journeys? What are people led to believe when they sit and listen to their pastor on Sunday mornings preach about prosperity or some other nonsense instead of preaching the truth of the Gospel? Spurgeon tells us we don’t create new messages we “Preach the Gospel”. And no, the Gospel is never to be considered old fashion, obsolete, or obscure.
The Gospel tells us of Jesus’ sacrifice – which was an accomplishment not a tragedy – made for the sin of the world. He died – He was buried – three days later He arose from the grave. Why did He die? Because His creation had turned into a bunch of lost sinners who had condemned themselves to Hell. Yet He still loved us so much He made the ultimate sacrifice by dying – paying the full price for our sins. Why Jesus? Because that was the plan the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had preordained before the foundation of the world. The Gospel message is not a fable or a church tradition which lost its power over the past 19 centuries.
The fulfillment of the Gospel was an achievement and a passion that took nothing less than the Creator of the universe to accomplish. The reason for teaching the Gospel is to show a sinful lost world there’s hope, there’s a life after this life, a better life for us all – and that the One true God, who loved us so much He was willing to die a horrific death for us, is alive and well and stands with us today. But it must be preached, taught, fully explained – and it must be believed if salvation is the goal. If salvation isn’t the goal of the church then what is?
Paul explains the Gospel message always referring to the fact that all these things happened “according to the scriptures”. The Old Testament scriptures reference Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The plan for His death is described in places like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. The plan for His resurrection is described in Hosea 6:2, Jonah 1:17, Psalm 16:10.
The truth of the Gospel message is the most important message you will ever hear. But the problem is that as important as this message is, it is sorely lacking in its presentation from our Christian pulpits today.
“Good luck” is the god that receives the accolades today while the One true God’s blessings are dismissed as mere coincidence. Sooner or later the Gospel must also be dismissed as nothing more than an old fable – and to many, a very ill favored and sick fable at that. What kind of God would send His only Son to die such a horrible death? One who loves you and me more than we can know.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. How has Jesus’ instructions changed? I found, with little effort, the term “Preach the Gospel” presented fourteen times in the King James Version of the Bible, “Preaching the Gospel six times, “The Gospel of God” twenty-three times, “The Gospel of Christ” 24 times, and the term “the Gospel” was repeated 94 times. Yet to “Preach the Gospel” message today is akin to preaching heresy.
“And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Acts 16:10. Paul and Silas, two itinerate preachers, preached the Gospel of Christ as they traveled on their journeys throughout Asia Minor and including Macedonia. It was the Gospel message that those people heard and responded to, which was portrayed as nothing less than the death of God Himself. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the theme of the Bible.
Sadly, today the Gospel message is given little significance in Christ’s Church. The messages are about being more spiritual and feeling good about who you are and what you’ve obtained. Pleasure, performance, prosperity are all wonderful themes to be preached in the minds of many Christian pastors; health and weight loss are flourishing messages in the Churches of Jesus Christ. But Christ dying on an old wooden cross for the sin of the world is apparently not a very pleasing or uplifting message to those who warm pews today.
Ask most people in the church today what the Gospel message is and the reply will be “It’s the good news”, or they may not even have an answer. Although most may know the Gospel represents good news they don’t know what good news it represents. There is way too much emphasis on man’s invented doctrines and other nonsense which has become traditional church doctrine. There is so very little representative truth about Jesus Christ these days that one might miss the fact that He is our Lord and Savior.
Most in the church today have no clue as to what Jesus meant when He told His disciples to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20. Teach them what? The Gospel of course. His Gospel. Who He is and what He did. That His death, burial, and resurrection is the truth and must be believed if there be any hope for our salvation. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, period.
The exclusivity of the cross is not to be denied, yet the worldly religions, as well as what is becoming a majority of the professing church, are against us for what we believe, and for what we claim as exclusivity (John 14:6). We, the true church, are seen as intolerant, racist, bigoted, self-righteous, lacking compassion, and arrogant. Since they don’t believe the Word of God they see us as a bunch of haters. Therefore those of us who do believe Jesus’ statement “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” John 14:6, are nothing more than a shrinking minority.
The message today must be a more “seeker friendly – purpose driven”, conversational subject matter geared at not upsetting those who might object to putting restrictions on lifestyles. Of course the harshness and brutality of the cross and what the Bible says happened to Jesus while on that cross should not be spoken of as it may drive many away from the church. Let’s keep it simple and fun. Why drag Jesus Christ into it? With Him there is much suffering and heartache represented by that cross which is not a subject that goes over well with the politically correct crowd as they sip their lattés while allowing their ears to be tickled.
Preaching the Gospel to folks is old hat. It worked fine for those war mongering generations of the past, but today in this postmodern world of the new morality, and new age concepts there is no need for such an ancient, arcane teaching to be presented to folks. After all, isn’t it true that everyone who is good, no matter what they believe, goes to Heaven?
In a recent survey 83 percent of evangelical Protestants believe that there is no further need to preach the Gospel of Christ from the pulpit or spread the good news around the world. The survey concluded that anyone who is a good person, no matter what religion they are affiliated with or whether they are religious or not, will go to heaven when they die.
That, my friends, is certainly a sad commentary on our times. I for one am aghast at the level of unbelief in the evangelical community. It’s no wonder the Gospel isn’t being preached from very many Christian pulpits. To this crowd God’s word was not meant to be everlasting, but transient. As people and societies change with the times, so then must the message change. And it has.
People have become so nonchalant about what they believe that if anyone opposes those beliefs they simply become apathetic or ambiguous. The desire to stand firm for Jesus Christ and His word, and what once was thought of as a privilege to give one’s life in defense of, has now almost completely deteriorated.
The Bible is our link to God, but many churches today ignore, or worse ridicule and scoff at his Word, relegating it to a myth. When this occurs, Jesus Christ’s status as Creator of the universe is diminished or even lost all together. Then, as we’ve seen over the past few years, Jesus is remembered only as a prophet, teacher, or just a nice man.
Paul, speaking of Jesus Christ, says “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18. Does Jesus the Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, still reign supreme in your church or has He lost His preeminence?
From the pulpit to revivals the Gospel message must become the dominating theme preached or without fail the true Church is going to do nothing more than shrink. What will become of all those big beautiful buildings rising up on the landscapes housing hundreds, even thousands, of pew warmers? Nothing. They’ll still be around and may even flourish, but without the Gospel message they are no different than a café, a social gathering of lost folks pacifying one another with drivel, yet without a clue of how lost they are.
Before the scriptures were written down for us, God placed the Gospel message among the stars, it’s known as the Mazzaroth or Zodiac. It’s been corrupted over the years by you know who (Satan) and now many astrologers stake their claim to what was originally God’s Gospel message and subvert it. The Gospel is so important to God that He arranged the stars in such a fashion at creation that they would explain His message of redemption. Why then does the church today dismiss it? Why has the Gospel message lost its appeal?
Look up church. It’s just above your heads – day and night. You’re standing in perfect view of the most important text message you’ll ever receive. God, help us all to get back to the truth and “Preach the Gospel”, proclaimed even in the stars.
God bless you all,