Monday, May 21, 2007

Will the Real Gospel Please Stand Up?

Last Sunday, my Sunday School teacher (that's right, Sunday School...it's not a curse word, people) gave a simple yet very important (I believe) message about the gospel. The message basically was about setting the record straight in regards to what the good news really is. Going through The Roman's Road, he revealed four simple yet key components that make the gospel what it is. What he was implying, and what I am now saying, is that if what someone preaches is missing any of these key elements, then it ain't the gospel:
  1. We are lost. This is a statement of condition. Sin has placed us in this condition, i.e., separate from God.
  2. We are headed to hell. This is the consequence of the condition. Apparently, our condition merits some sort of response, and that response is damnation. Sin has placed us in a state of damnation, i.e., permanent separation from God
  3. We have a way of escape. This is a statement about Christ. Apparently, the consequence to our condition is not inevitable. Christ has given us a way out. That is what His death basically means, i.e., bringing us back to God.
  4. We must believe in Christ to be saved. This is a statement about choice. The ball is now in our court, i.e., what will we do with Christ, with His way of escape?

Why I find this important is because these simple yet key elements can help one distinguish the true gospel from other mainstream "gospels" out there, i.e., Prosperity, Social, and Love. All three of these "gospels" do the exact same thing in regards to these four key components: they omit components "1" and "2". Of course, when this happens they create a vacuum that must be filled, for "3" and "4" logically follow from "1" and "2". If Christ did not come and die to redeem us, to destroy the works of the devil, to go through death so that He might destroy the one who had the power of death, then what did he die for? The three mainstream "gospels" fill in the blanks in their own way:

  • Prosperity-Jesus came and died to make us healthy, wealthy and wise because before He came we were sick, poor and foolish, and sickness, poverty and foolishness have nothing to do with God.
  • Social-Jesus came so that he could cure diseases, end world hunger, and give everyone a good education. His death marked the tragic end of His good works and marked the beginning of our good works. Again, sickness, poverty and foolishness are not of God.
  • Love-Jesus came and died because...well, because God loves us...and that's it.

The part of the gospel we must redeem from Modern Christendom and mainstream "gospels" is the truth about our condition and its consequence. Side notes can be the redeeming of sickness, poverty and foolishness (Christ was acquainted with grief and had no place to lay His head, and foolishness is God's weapon of choice against the wise), but we must above all else drag the truth of (if I may say so) "hellfire and damnation" back into the public mind. We are sinners, and we must be saved. Salvation is what a savior does, and if Christ is not a savior, then He is nothing but the same old running gag played over and over again from aesthetic pagans and righteous heathens--be good and help those who are hurting.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: health, wealth, wisdom, a new house, freshly upholstered furniture, new clothes, good stock portfolios, fat bank accounts, social amiability, good hygiene, and a bass boat are nice and all, but what good are they towards curing the soul? How do these things make you unlost? How do they save you? Tell someone that you know who can fix their broken home or liver or bank account, and they will rejoice and be glad, but they will still have lost their souls in the end. Tell someone that you know Who can fix their broken souls, however, and you will have given them truly good news. You may have been unfaithful to the institutions and their advocates, but you will not have been unfaithful to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.