Some of the stuff coming from the minds and mouths of some preachers is so funny it’s…
Folks will preach an Old Testament sermon and sprinkle a little Jesus on top and call it a “Gospel” message. Over the course of my 12 years in ministry, I have heard the “hell message.” I have heard the “guilt message.” I have heard the “tithing and giving messages.” I have heard the “sinful lifestyle” messages. And I have heard the “rapture message.” Many of these messages have been emotionally moving and some of them have actually been Biblically-based.
And, yet, they’re — for the most part — wrong.
Because they’re driven by negative reinforcement. In other words, “do this to avoid hell” and “you don’t wanna be left behind…”
But the Gospel is Good News. In fact, as I’ve said many times before, the Gospel is literally the too-good-to-be-true-news of God’s unconditional Love and Grace. Let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul had to say about it:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
Paul said clearly that he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel. That’s a heavy statement. Why would any preacher worth his or her salt have to offer up such a disclaimer?
Because the Gospel is scandalous!
Yes, it is scandalous because its message is one of Love, Grace, Liberty, and — uh, oh — unity!
You see, those are all concepts that are foreign to the world’s system. The world’s system (and when I say the world’s system, I mean satan’s system) is based on fear, rules, bondage, and division.
The Gospel message is that God loves us so much that He graced us with the Gift of His son and the abiding presence of His Spirit, that we may be set free from sin and religion and work together to bring His will, culture, and intent from heaven to invade earth.
The Gospel was scandalous then and it is just as scandalous now. When you tell people that they no longer have to be conscious of sin (Hebrews 10:2), that they are no longer under the law (Romans 6:14), that they are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), that the Spirit of the Lord can be found where there is Liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17), and that we have the ability to know what the will of God is (Ephesians 5:17)
Hearing this, some folks will say I’m dissing the Old Testament. Nothing could be farther from the truth because the Old Testament contains the Gospel, concealed but the New Testament is the Gospel revealed.
Paul wrote it thusly to the Church at Galatia:
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8)
Did you catch that? God, Himself, preached the Gospel to Abraham. Can you imagine Abraham sitting down and listening to a sermon preached by God? Give that a minute to sink in! In the days of Abraham, society was very tribal, so imagine how Abraham had to get his mind wrapped around the fact that even people whom he didn’t like would be blessed through him! Abraham needed this Good news to get him to being the father of many before he was the father of any. It was Abraham’s faith in the Gospel message he received directly from the Lord that he was willing to do some things that seemed crazy — even sacrificing his own son, if needed.
Abraham wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel.
Paul had to state specifically that he was not ashamed of the Gospel because there were forks in his day who called themselves “Christians” but were so ashamed of the Gospel that they felt they had to resort back to the law. This was so bad that Paul had to pen Galatians 3 specifically to correct this.
The Apostle John had to deal with people who were ashamed of the Gospel. The Gnostics, a sect of pseudo-Christians who believed that man had no inherent sin to repent of, were gaining influence in the Church. The entire epistle of 1 John was written to these folks who were being influenced by Gnosticism and paganism
There were folks who were ashamed of the Gospel then and there are folks who are ashamed of the Gospel, now.
You say, “How can you say that, preacher?”
Look at the fruit! Are they preaching what Jesus preached? Is what they’re preaching lifting burdens off the backs of people — or are they heaping on new ones? Is what they’re preaching ushering people into the liberty only found in Christ — or are they placing people into a new form of bondage (religion)?
You cannot preach that which you are ashamed of and you certainly can’t live it! So, what happens is that folks turn to the law as the yardstick for holiness and righteousness instead of turning to the Gospel and they miss the mark and drag a bunch of folks along with them.
Now, I’m not suggesting that any of these folks will miss their eternal reward — because if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord you are saved — but many of them will miss out on all the things God has for us in this world and in this time.
That said, Jesus gave no command to preach anything else. When He dispatched His disciples in Luke, chapters 9 and 10, He specifically instructed them to preach the Gospel. Indeed, the Great Commission is all about preaching the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) and to make disciples BASED ON THIS GOSPEL (Matthew 28:18-20)!
Understand, there was the entire canon of the Old Testament to be preached but Jesus did not instruct anyone to either preach or uphold it.
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Romans 9:24:25)
There are some who are ashamed of the Gospel because they cannot profit from it. Legalism is far more lucrative — the Pharisees could testify of that! Unlike many others, I don’t see verse 25 as a condemnation, as in “you’re going to hell.” Rather, I think that when Jesus comes back and sees all the religious junk that has been preached, He’s simply going to facepalm and shake His head!
I’ll close with this: it is when you fall back to the law — when you fall from grace — that you have demonstrated you are ashamed of the Gospel.
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
Give it a minute…
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)