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The Revival Preacher Circular No.11

Preaching A Superficial Gospel (adapted from an article by Greg Gordon)

 

1. If you look carefully at the history of the people of Israel, you will realize that many times the "popular" majority of priests and prophets turned from preaching the truth before the people and became profane in their speech and lives. In Jeremiahís time we see this recorded : "For both prophet and priest are profane; even in my house I have found their wickedness, says the Lord." (Jer. 23:11) How terrible to see almost all of the spiritual leaders of Israel speaking lies in the name of the Lord. Could this happen again? Is it possible that in our modern day evangelical circles there are many that are not preaching a true genuine, Biblical Gospel? True Christianity is never popular Christianity! True Christianity is accepted by few and rejected by many. True Christianity is an abhorrence to the flesh, the devil and the world. True Christianity involves a Cross! It means death to self and crucifixion to the world! But we want it easy, a salvation and a gospel that does not hurt us or crucify us. We want a gospel that caters to man and his interests; that demands little of us and just adds a few things.

2. Such sentiments were present even at the time of the reformation. Martin Luther wrote: "I would never have thought that Satan would raise a sect that taught that the ten commandments should be taken out of the Church, so that men should not be terrified by the Law. These people hold that men should not be taught the Law but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ."

Martin Luther regarded this as a doctrine of Satan, that men should no longer teach the Law but replace it with a gospel of love and grace only. Yet the law and the fear of God are foundational aspects of true Christianity, and to replace those with the love and grace of God is to build on sand.

But this gospel of love and grace has a paramount place in the evangelical Church today. If a preacher speaks of the Law and the Judgment of God he is considered by most to be an extremist and a legalist without a proper conception of Godís grace.

In the last days, Scripture speaks of many false teachers who will abound in the world. The Apostle Paul wrote: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons." (1Tim. 4:1) In these days, many have been preaching a superficial gospel that does not relate the whole counsel of God to their hearers.

3. Walter Chantry wrote: "We have inherited a system of evangelistic preaching, which is unbiblical. Our message and manner of preaching the gospel cannot be traced back to the Scriptures. They have clearly arisen from the careless mixture of 19th and 20th century reasoning with Godís revelation." The products of modern evangelism are often sad examples of Christianity. They make a profession of faith and then continue to live like the world. Only a small proportion of those that make decisions evidence a transformed life. Large numbers have been led to assume that they have a right to everlasting life and have been given an assurance that it is so, but it is a false security Many who have made decisions and have been told that their sins have been forgiven, will be surprised to hear, Ď I never knew you. Depart from me!í Those who "decided for Christ," yet do not study the Word, are not constant in prayer, do not attend prayer meetings, are not witnessing for Christ, and give no evidence of true conversion, were obviously not evangelized at all.

4. "Thousands of sinners think of God having only one attribute, love! If you tell someone, ĎGod loves you,í his mind registers something like this, ĎYes he loves me, so he would never harm me and he doesnít mind what I do. I can do anything I like. To say to a rebel ĎGod loves you and has a wonderful plan for your lifeí as a complete statement, just makes people secure in their sin. They need to be told that God is perfect and holy, and because of that, He cannot tolerate any sin at all. He has set standards and laws for people to follow, but everybody has broken them, especially in that they have not put God first in their lives. Consequently He is angry about these sins, so that His wrath already hangs over their heads, unless they truly repent of their sin and live righteous lives. This plan is not so wonderful!

If you offer an easy gospel to people that have a defective view of God, you will deceive them. Preaching a few easy steps to heaven is not evangelism. Only preaching the whole counsel of God is! Paul could say to the Ephesian Elders that he was free from the blood of all men; not because he had made it easy for each person to accept the gospel, but because he had not shunned from declaring to them the whole counsel or purpose of God. Today almost all preachers shrink back from declaring the whole counsel, the whole truth about God because it would upset people.

5. Milton Green continues to share on this false gospel: "Present day preaching only pays lip service to the concept that a man must recognize himself to be a sinner before he can genuinely embrace the Saviour. No definition of sin is included in this presentation. It is Godís Law that convicts of sin. (Rom. 3:20) It is essential to declare the Commandments in order to show the sinner his heart of hatred toward God and enmity towards men. Only then will he flee to the grace of God in Christ Jesus to provide him acceptance and righteousness. Men are not turning to Christ because they have no sense of sinning against the Lord, and they have no concept of sinning because the Law of God is not preached. In the 20th Century and even more in the 21st, the Church has tried to see how little it could say and still get converts! It is succeeding in spreading the truth so thinly that the world cannot see it! We must preach the holy character of God. We must preach the eternal Law of God. Where are the preachers showing Godís clear Law that makes strict demands upon motives, desires, feelings and attitudes of the soul? "

"Our ears have grown accustomed to hearing men told Ďaccept Jesus as your personal Saviour,í a form of words that is not found in Scripture. It has become an empty phrase that totally ignores essential elements of the Gospel, conviction, repentance and a complete change of life. If evangelists and pastors do not preach in order to bring sinners to repentance, then sinners believe that they can live in their old way of life and just add Jesus. Build treasures on earth and also build treasures in heaven! Who could turn down that bargain? The pleasures of sin and the joys of eternity! Consequently, sinners are not being saddened or offended, and churches are being filled with people who have never truly repented, for they have never heard that Jesus demands repentance of any who seek eternal life. The converts of modern evangelism are often as worldly after their decision as before. In a panic over this phenomena, many emphasise the idea of a carnal Christian. They are said to be those who have taken the gift of eternal life without turning from sin. They are said to have allowed Jesus to be their Saviour but they have not yielded their life to the Lord. But this is a completely false invention. Jesus said anyone wanting to follow him had to deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. There are no half measures. Giving false assurance to sinners is a scriptural sign of a false prophet.

6. When an entire nation was embracing a false gospel, Jeremiah wrote, "A terrible and horrible thing has happened in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority; and my people love to have it so: but what will you do when the end comes?" In a similar way, a false gospel abounds and overflows in our churches today. We are getting to the time prophesied by Amos the prophet: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." (Amos 8:11-12)

The truth of this is becoming more and more real. Many are searching desperately for the true word of God in this day, for they are finding it increasingly difficult to find churches where true Biblical doctrine is preached, where the conviction of the Spirit of God, the burden for lost sinners, and the proclamation of the judgment of God are a reality. Most churches want to give people Ďthe feel good factor,í and therefore shy away from reality. They give people the music they want to hear, prayers that will not offend, so are bland and non specific, and messages that merely give Bible information or confirm people in their sin. Nothing is done to upset, challenge or confront people. The low moral standards of today are not challenged. Sinners are not confronted with their rebellion. Backsliders are left in their coldness. The terrible state of the world around them in its sin and blindness is not mentioned. True believers of past ages would be appalled at such a deficient gospel being proclaimed, such ignorance being displayed, and such lack of concern by those saying they are Christians.

7. In too many churches today, the great truths of the gospel are hardly, if ever mentioned: the holiness of God, the laws of God, the wrath of God, the judgment of God, the punishment of God, the fear of God, sanctification, imparted righteousness, self discipline, fasting, self sacrifice, walking the narrow way, waiting upon God, being still and quiet before God, reverence before God, seeking the face of God, calling a solemn assembly, acknowledging that without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing.

As a result, the churches, having gone away from the great truths of the word of God, have become spiritually blind and complacent. They are seemingly unaware of their own true state or the state of the world around them. They have no burden for the state of the Church in this land, which is so weak, so worldly, so complacent and so impotent; no burden for the people around them who, according to the Bible, are dead in trespasses and sins; no burden for the state of this nation that has gone so far away from Godís will and purposes; no burden for all the people around them who belong to Christ denying religions, especially Islam, which is such a threat to our whole way of life; no burden to pray for and support their Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of the suffering, persecuted Church all over the world; no burden for God to rend the heavens and pour out His Spirit in revival and awakening on this needy land.

This shows the terrible consequences of not having the true gospel preached. It is not just sad, but tragic, for the whole church and the whole world suffer as a result.

8.There is nothing new in this. Even in the time of the Early Church, the apostle Peter said "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Pet. 2:1) This is happening now in our modern day evangelical churches all over this land. This sham gospel that is being preached has nullified Godís power and made the Church ineffective.

Jeremiah pointed out that Godís people in the Old Testament were perpetually backsliding, (Jer. 8:5-6), for they listened to the prophets who told them that everything was all right. (Jer. 6:4) It is always the same. The Church will perpetually backslide, it will always listen to the false prophets who prophesy false things, if they are not brought back to God through His challenging word.

But you know the truth, you know His word. You have committed yourselves to preach that true Biblical gospel message in our day, whatever the cost. The need is desperate. Donít fail the Church. Donít fail the world. Donít fail the Lord. They are all depending on you. Please assure me you will not.

Gilbert Tennent was used mightily of God in the First Great Awakening. Hear him give an account of the popular preaching in his day:

"They often strengthen the hands of the wicked by promising them life. They comfort people before they convince them; they sow before they plough: and are busy in raising a building before they lay a foundation. These foolish builders strengthen men's carnal security by their soft, selfish, cowardly discourses. They have not the courage or honesty to thrust the nail of terror into the sleeping souls!"

"In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that the curse of God, by the Law, doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin." John Bunyan

" Expound the Law truly and open the veil of Moses to condemn all flesh and prove all men sinners, then set before them the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let wounded consciences drink of Him." William Tyndale.

"The man who does not know the nature of the Law, cannot know the nature of sin." John Bunyan

"It is a poor sermon that gives no offence; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher." George Whitefield

"It is imperative that preachers of today learn how to declare the spiritual law of God; for, until we learn how to wound consciences, we shall have no wounds to bind with Gospel bandages." Walter Chantry

"It is either all of Christ or none of Christ! I believe we need to preach again a whole Christ to the world, a Christ who does not need our apologies, a Christ who will not be divided, a Christ who will either be Lord of all or will not be Lord at all!" A.W. Tozer

One reason why there is no revival is because preachers are not willing to pay the cost, namely the loss of reputation. "A foolish physician he is, and a most unfaithful friend, who will let a sick man die for fear of troubling him through telling him the truth; and cruel wretches are we to our friends, if we will allow them to go quietly to hell, rather than anger them, or risk our reputation with them." -Richard Baxter

"Set before each Christian are two crowns. One is the crown of man's esteem and applause, the other is man's criticism and rejection of us for our zeal for God's glory. One crown forfeits the other. Which will we bear?" Derek Melton

FOOTNOTE. Because of the "superficial gospel" being preached in evangelism, the British website "What Is The Gospel?" has examined the gospel preached in evangelism by both Peter and Paul in the New Testament. This examination shows how far the true gospel has been "adapted" today to suit the ears of its hearers.