Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           March 21, 2010                           NO. 12

 Why The Good News Is Treated Like Bad News


            The word gospel in our Bibles translates a Greek word that means "good news." What better name for the message about Jesus could there be? The gospel is the story of how Jesus died in our place to save us from the worst thing that could possibly happen to us: experiencing the wrath of God because of our sin. Jesus took the punishment that was due to us, and because of His sacrifice on our behalf we are spared the awful consequences of our wrongs. What a wonderful gift! What a blessing! It is the best news that man has ever



            But many people do not think that the gospel is good news at all. The gospel is treated as something to be avoided in polite conversation, something that offends and creates fights. In many circles it is considered rude to bring up the subject of the gospel to one's acquaintances, family, or co-workers, and it is considered offensive to suggest that the gospel is the only truth and that all must obey it. The good news is treated like bad news.


            How did the good news become bad news? The answer is easy: because the good news begins with the fact that all are sinners and stand condemned before God (Rom. 3:23). The first thing the gospel tells us is that we are wrong, that we have not lived in the right way and that we need salvation from our sin. Most people do not like to hear that. People would prefer to hear that they are good and that they are living right (even when they admit they are not perfect). We do not like to be rebuked. It hurts the conscience and the heart. So rather than listen to the gospel's initial rebuke, many people turn away from it.


            One of the craftiest plans Satan ever developed was to present people with a false gospel that strips away all the unpleasant parts. That's the kind of gospel people will hear. The world has become flooded with false gospels that have virtually eliminated the concept of sin from its doctrines. To many people the gospel is like an invitation to join a club. No guilt, no sacrifice, no hardship, no loss of respect. Just join the church and have a good time. In such groups the gospel is not about salvation from sin's consequences or the cleansing of the conscience of the load of guilt sin brings. It is a gospel without condemnation.


            Any gospel that does not begin by telling us that we are sinners has two fatal faults. First, it is not the gospel taught in the New Testament. The gospel preached by the apostles began with rebuke and warning. No "gospel" that downplays or ignores this feature has the right to call itself the gospel. Second, in what sense can we say that the gospel is good news if it does not portray the problem of our sin as enormous? If our sin is no big deal (as the false gospels portray it), then what is so good about the gospel? If God accepts me just as I am, if I have little or nothing to change, then the good news is just a fix of a minor problem.


            We must beware of any "gospel" that minimizes sin. Only when we truly understand the nature of our sin, what it does to us and what it does to God, will we be able to appreciate fully what is so good about the gospel. The gospel is presented as the answer, the solution, to the worst problem in the world. The gospel's glory will never be seen for what it is if we depreciate sin.


            Not only must we beware of any gospel that minimizes sin, we must not succumb to the temptation to decrease the Biblical message about sin to make the gospel easier for others to accept. We all know many people that we want to see saved. In our love for them and our zeal to preach the gospel there is a temptation that we will try to relax the message so that it is not so harsh, so that it will be a "friendlier" gospel.


            But our love for the lost has no authority over God. We may not relax God's standards because we think they are too tough. God is the One who created us, and God is the only One who has the right to say what the way to fellowship with Him will be. If we are not content to preach God's message just as He gave it, then woe to us, for we have become judges of God.


            God sets the conditions for salvation. Preaching or obeying a watered-down gospel does not change or solve anything. If people find the gospel offensive, ugly, and a turn-off, so be it. Let us preach without apologies or embarrassment. Let us say with Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel" (Rom 1:16).


---David McClister


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                         Indictments Of The Social Gospel


THE SOCIAL GOSPEL is a philosophy in religion that the church should concern itself with worldly problems rather than spiritual ones. It is more interested in ecology, biology, psychology and sociology than in theology. It is more concerned about preserving the whooping crane and alligator than about preaching Christ the emancipator. It spends  more  time  fighting  earthly  pollution  that  MAY damage the  body than with fighting spiritual plagues that WILL certainly damn the soul.


THE SOCIAL GOSPEL is more interested in feeding the body than in nurturing the soul. Its goal is secular education, not salvation; recreation, not sanctification; fraternity, instead of eternity. It concerns itself with the "new morality" rather than with immortality; birth control rather than self-control; ministering to the "inner city" rather than seeking the heavenly city; slum clearance rather than with spiritual perseverance.


THE SOCIAL GOSPEL philosophy is more interested in helping men make a living than in helping them make a life. It is more concerned with civil rights than with spiritual fights; civil laws rather than spiritual flaws; revolution rather than revelation; civil disobedience rather than spiritual obedience; communism rather than faith, repentance and baptism.


THE SOCIAL GOSPEL is a lame duck spiritually because it is without the power to fulfill the lasting needs of the human race. It preaches Christ as a great social reformer, rather than as a Spiritual Savior. It limits His work to earthly benefits for mankind; and Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (I Cor. 15:19). Social ''Gospelism'' can only leave man spiritually naked!

---James P. Needham


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"Watch your thoughts, they become your words.

Watch your words, they become your actions.

Watch your actions, they become your habits.

Watch your habits, they become your character.

                                                            Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."
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