Last week I shared with you my deep concern about the way we share the Gospel in our post modern culture. There is a deep vein that’s beginning to run through many modern-day and “hip” ministries and mega-churches seeking to draw crowds with a message of cheap grace, God’s love and His all-encompassing mercy. Yet, sin and its implications are seldom discussed. Typically in these types of ministries seldom do we hear of God’s holiness, judgment or wrath. We feel we must give a “softer and gentler” gospel, otherwise they won’t come.
Problem is: we’re producing un-regenerated people. We are producing people who have never met the Jesus of Scripture. Instead they have been drawn JUST to a “Savior,” but not a LORD. They have been drawn to Christ with a message of “it’s okay to be you…come as you are…stay as you are…everything is going to be okay now…” Unfortunately, all we have done is prettied up a person who is dead and decaying from sin. We’ve fixed up the outside, but done nothing with the inside.
I was reading a transcript of a message given by Dr. Erwin Lutzer at the “Understanding the Times Conference” held in late April in Minneapolis, MN.
I’ve parsed some very interesting points relating to our modern message… See what you think.
In America, if you are under 40, you probably belong to a group of evangelicals who basically see nothing wrong with same sex marriage. They are more tolerant, saying that there may be other religions that lead you to God, so on and so forth… They were reared by “Will and Grace” on television. They are obsessed with technology. Many young people – not the ones that are here today by the way; they are the exception – but many young people are so narcissistic. Yesterday I heard on the news that one kid took 200 selfies – 200 pictures of himself in a single day…
So there are those who say we can’t preach against homosexuality or mention Islam or anything because we want to win these people to Christ, and that’s a barrier. So what we’ve found is that the gospel and its implications are often dumbed down. Then you have a form of ecumenism that compromises the gospel. And then there’s something else and that is it’s popular today to say, “God loves you unconditionally.”
Now, to the one who’s sitting in the pew that’s sleeping with his girlfriend, he says to himself, “I know exactly what that means. That means that it’s okay for me to continue to sleep with my girlfriend because, after all, God loves me unconditionally. That’s His job. That’s who He is.
You see it used to be, and some of you who are older would remember this, that preachers used to preach against sin, and then when people knew that they couldn’t live up to God’s standard, and they were aware of their sin, then grace was offered to them. Thank God for amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
Today grace is offered up front. Grace is offered to people when they don’t even know they need it and whether or not they really care as to whether or not they want it because God loves you “unconditionally.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but there are several different passages in Scripture in the Psalms where it says that God says, “I am angry with the wicked every day.”
Certainly, God loves the elect, those who are saved and He loved them, the Bible says, from the foundation of the world. But to throw that out there for everybody to hear – that God loves you unconditionally – is really to water down the seriousness of sin and the real understanding of grace. Because you cannot understand grace until you fully understand sin and the better you understand sin the better you will magnify grace. But we don’t have that today in our society.”
I agree with Lutzer. Sometimes this message is known as the “Grace Revolution”, “Hyper-Grace,” or the “Humility of Orthodoxy.” Call it what you like, but it’s not the full counsel of Scripture concerning the Gospel. You see, it’s not popular to say this, but you’ve got to make people feel bad before they can feel good. You’ve got to help a person see their sin before they can truly see their need of a Savior who deserves to be “Lord.” We’ve got to stop treating God like He is a Cosmic Therapist, Who exists to make us happy or Divine Butler, Whom we use to simply bring us what we want.
You know what?
I’m convinced our younger generation desires more than this!
I read an article at CNN of all places that had some pretty cool insight.
Millennials and the false ‘gospel of nice’
Daniel Darling (“CNN,” April 3, 2014)
Younger Christians are weary of pitched cultural battles and are longing for the “real Jesus” – a Jesus who talks more about washing feet and feeding the poor than flashpoint issues like same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life.
If key evangelical influencers don’t listen, we are told, they are about to lose the entire millennial generation. Or, maybe that generation is already gone. For the last several years, some Southern Baptist leaders have voiced concern about the decline in baptisms and membership.
But nobody is suggesting that orthodoxy is the reason for decline. If anything, leaders are pointing to a lack of faithful evangelical preaching and intentional gospel witness as the culprit. Church history doesn’t bear out evidence that a mushy, heterodox movement is the cure for stagnation.
What’s more, there is anecdotal evidence that seems to indicate a robustly orthodox evangelicalism is growing among the young. Networks such as The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel and others are growing. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, an unflinching bastion of orthodoxy, enrolls more Masters of Divinity students than any other institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.
One might argue that young evangelicals aren’t fleeing core conservative institutions, but flooding them. Jesus prepared us for seasons like this, urging his followers to a counter-cultural faith, one that gains the favor of heaven, but earns the antagonism of the world.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me,” Jesus says in the Gospels.
The pop Jesus of progressives sounds less like the Jesus of the Bible and more like a malleable deity who easily aligns with our cultural sensibilities. A mascot for every chic cause, except for that difficult mission to which he called his followers: cross-bearing.
Consider some of Jesus’ statements:
“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”
“If anyone does not hate his father or mother, he cannot be my disciple.”
“If any man will be my disciple, let me him take up his cross and follow me.”
“For this cause, shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.”
What’s more, Jesus praised John the Baptist, that culture warrior, for his prophetic word against Herod, the monarch who committed adultery.
Yes, it is true that Christians should be known more for what they are for than what they are against. But if you move past the rhetoric, you’ll find that it is often not aggrieved ex-evangelicals who are founding and leading charitable organizations, but the stubbornly orthodox. Faithful Christians are not the only ones in the trenches, relieving human need – but they make up a large percentage.
All over the world, you will find faithful followers of Christ adopting orphaned children, rescuing girls from trafficking, feeding the poor, digging wells and volunteering in disaster relief.
My own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, operates one of the world’s largest relief operations while holding fast to its theological commitments.
And some of the world’s most effective ministries to the poor and marginalized were started by and continue to operate according to evangelical Christian beliefs. They live in the tension of the New Testament, which calls believers to both faithfulness and charity.
In fact, the most effective agents of hope in this world likely don’t have Twitter accounts, have never blogged and might never have even uttered the words, “social justice.” And yet silently, quietly, patiently they serve the least of these, not because they first jettisoned their quaint notions of orthodoxy, but because they held them tighter.
So let’s not be deceived by the “False Gospel of Nice” and the “Modern Message Myth.”t bending His standards for any generation, and if people choose to desert the faith to fit in with the crowd or because the truth is too hard to bear, well…the Word of God doesn’t change and we should be willing to stand on the authority of God’s Word.
When Jesus taught that He was the bread come down from heaven and said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54), many deserted Him. The Bible says, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’” (verses 66-67).We’ve got to stay strong. We must continue to present the Good News to people who need to be told the Bad News that they need a Savior and Lord, who can change their lives and make everything new…not just pretty-up and whitewash a dead life.