THE TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
Just what is the gospel? Is it a narrative about certain events that happened over two thousand years ago? Yes, it surely is that. But is there more to it than that? Is the gospel a message held tightly within that narrative? Can that message be lived out in such a way that it draws attention to that narrative? Is the gospel just something by which we can flex our doctrinal muscles? Are we to defend it doctrinally and Biblically or can we defend it through sharing it as well as a life that follows the central Character in that narrative?
We know that by faith we are saved, however can a sinner be saved by believing the events of the gospel without counting any cost? Is the gospel an answer on a spiritual test or is it a powerful redemption that comes with a life path as well? Is the gospel the most important message for all eternity or must it share the stage with politics and economics and earthly success? Is believing the gospel the only and exclusive way to find eternal life? And if so, can we take it upon ourselves to expand salvation to include sinners who have never heard and allow them a path to heaven which does not include the gospel?
Conservatism is the enemy of the gospel. It pleads causes and takes economic stands. Conservatism loudly objects to helping the poor through government programs. It forms a group which invites all religions. It cements bonds with those who reject and fight against Christ. Its agenda is earthly and it has little regard for the things of eternity. It deems liberals as enemies of the state. It does not see the Bible as God’s Word but it sees a Judeo-Christian ethic. You cannot see both. It sacrifices redemption and pursues a battle of morals and economics.
Conservatism supports war as a necessary evil. It even embraces war over taxes and suggests that God was active in that war to found the nation called America. Christian conservatism creates an amalgam between America and Christianity. It ignores the scandalous behavior of some of the founding fathers as well as the many slaves that were owned. Christian conservatism sees the welfare and prosperity of America as a divine calling. It has a list of morals which must be championed as well as certain economic principles. The gospel of Jesus Christ is an understood tenant of the faith which should not cause disharmony within the ranks of conservatism.
Christian conservatism seeks a return to a time when things were better in America. It expends much energy attempting to eradicate gay rights and gay marriage. It sometimes speaks out against abortion and would like to see the law change. In these latter days the issue of abortion has lost its vigor. Christian conservatism rejects socialism which it sees as robbing the haves to give to the have nots. It opposes government intervention into private lives except in the case of marriage and war and other moral issues. Christian conservatism holds the founding fathers in high esteem and supports many voices in the media who castigate sinners and even mock those of opposing political views.
But once you add to the gospel by attaching labels you are on the path to compromise. There is no such thing as liberal or conservative as it pertains to believers. Those are the terms of the world. In Bible parlance there is only faith and unbelief. So when you put on the world’s monikers you begin to take on the world’s perspectives. And when that happens you lose the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel no longer consumes you. You are interested in earthly issues and causes and you employ earthly weapons and earthly alliances in order to accomplish your earthly goals.
But the gospel seems so outdated and unsophisticated. After the Industrial Revolution the things of this world took on a whole new meaning and attraction. And initially torn between the gospel and the things of this world, the church set out to find a way to alleviate the tension. And after a systematic journey of compromise the church eventually found a way to embrace and enjoy the things of this world while still giving the gospel a place in its theology. And that strategy has worked beyond expectations. Professing believers and bone fide church members can now be aggressive in economic and political matters while never witnessing the gospel to sinners. They can caterwaul about the lack of a nativity scene on public property but are without emotion concerning the souls of men. They can gripe continually about high taxes but remain stoic about starving children. They can be effervescent about political figures but very subdued about Jesus. It is an astounding reality which is a monstrous betrayal but which is rarely addressed or even understood by the most ardent heresy hunters.
The things of this world tug at our hearts and minds with great strength and with a present relentlessness. It is easy to be overwhelmed either openly or with subtlety. If we do not have a passion for Christ and His gospel we will be consumed by this world. The devil is not limited to use things that are bad in order to deceive. He often employs things that are good and right in his arsenal. For instance he will suggest that feeding starving children will get you to heaven. Or that being pro-life proves your spiritual depth. You see, there is an unseen battle in the spirit world which competes for the hearts and minds of men. And the last thing the evil one desires is for the church to return to Christ and His gospel.
The devil is content with the gospel having a prominent place in our statements of faith. He is not worried when the gospel is sometimes spoken in the pulpit. But when and if that same gospel becomes a focal point and a passion in the lives of believers then the kingdom of darkness is in great peril. The gospel is a story, but much more than a story. The gospel is an historical account, but much more than an historical account. The gospel can be written, but it is much more than a written exposé. The gospel is a living, breathing truth which can find a level of expression through lips and lives. It is the power of God and it must be the very heartbeat of the church.
So the gospel message is the message of Christ Jesus. It not only is the only path to redemption, but it should map out the path for our lives. It is a life. We use the word gospel so freely, so lightly. But here we are in a church world with all the bells and whistles of the world, and with great political power and growing memberships, but we stand without the power of God and unashamedly in our own strength. To share and live the gospel we must be prepared for a humility which defies everything we have been told and everything our own minds tell us.
The gospel should be the phalanx of everything we do. It cannot, it must not, be something about which we can set aside in order to attempt to make this world a more pleasant place. The moment this world becomes a more pleasant place is the moment you have left the gospel completely. We must always find our place of rest and comfort and joy in Christ. And if you truly desire to find Christ in all His glory than pick up you spiritual shovel and dig deeper and deeper into the gospel.