I want to thank those of you who check this blog out for understanding my interruption of the thoughts on the Gospel. We will now continue with this series, sparked by the book of Romans, on the Gospel and what part it should play in our lives. Also, I would like to encourage you to vote on the polls to the left. With each new post I will put up a new poll. The results are public but the votes are anonymous, thanks.
I know by having lived in a Bible college environment for 8 years (no it did not take me that long to get through) that most people who are heavily surrounded by believers may be growing and maturing in Christ, and this is great. There is, however, a danger that is inherent in this. Those who frequently surround themselves with fellow believers tend to gravitate toward discussions of the “finer” points in theology. This is good and even necessary, but when this is the main focus the most common element that gets neglected is the gospel.
I have wondered before how this happens. I think I have finally come to a reasonable conclusion. It is not out of purposeful neglect but rather out of the belief that the gospel is milk and the “weightier” matters are the meat. It is done out a desire for growth and maturity. My answer to that is the old slogan, “Milk! It does a body good!” What I mean is that if we neglect the Gospel; there are some serious consequences to the body of Christ.
First, when the gospel is neglected the body does not grow. Recent statistics show that most fundamentalist churches are not growing by evangelism but rather by transfer. This not only detrimental to numerical growth but to the spiritual growth of the existing believers. When we share the gospel we are challenged to be pure vessels for the spirit to use. We are also in need of being reminded of the single greatest truth in the world, that we are loved by God enough that he gave His Son for our redemption. How often we forget the wonder of God’s love!
Second, when the gospel is neglected the focus is turned inward. This can be good in some ways, such as more ministry to the saints, good biblical ministry (training), and maturity. The danger, however, is also significant. An inward focus can lead to infighting. It can also lead to a lot of learning and very little application. Most of us have heard the phrase, “still waters run deep” but have we also considered that still waters can also be stagnant? Add to that the admonition from the apostle Paul that knowledge without love puffs up. Admittedly, knowledge is not evil, we are told to grow in knowledge, and to bring our children up in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. But the key is that without love it is only a source of pride. It is this pride that makes us look at the world as an inferior and awful place. We are not to love the world and its things but we are to love the people in it. If we are to emulate God’s love then we should give them what he gave to the world, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A third danger is the tendency to lose touch with the unsaved. When we introvert into the body and lose touch with the unsaved we also tend to forget how to “answer every man of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15) In short we have no idea how to tell people the good news. This lack of “know how” leaves us in fear and we do nothing. We hesitate to speak up because we are not sure if we would be able to “convince” anyone to believe. In short the third danger is that we neglect the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel that Paul proclaimed (Romans 1:16-17).
I know that there are those who are heavily evangelistic in nature, and this is good. I also know some who are very evangelistic who are rough and abrasive. When I bring this up the response I always get is that the Gospel is offensive. I then have to resist the urge to slap them and proceed to kindly try to remind them that the Gospel is offensive because it lays bare our sin, not because of the messenger! Some then point out that Christ was very harsh toward unbelievers. This is not necessarily true. Christ did call the Pharisees hypocrites and vipers, but He was addressing a group of religious men who were turning people away from the truth. Did Christ have compassion for them? Sure! But he was not about to just blast sinners because of their sin. He treated sinners with love and compassion!
In summary, I just want to challenge you to think about the Gospel. Keep it fresh in your mind. It will remind you of the great gift we have in Christ, and, hopefully, make you want to know Him more. I also believe that when we think about the Gospel as we should it will spill out from us as Good News should. So how is this related to the power of the Gospel? I’ll tell you next week.