Tag Archives: Gospel
My first thought was, “how can Christians think biblically about this issue?”
As I conversed with Christians about this topic it was clear that many are in the same boat I am. We want to be biblical, we want to prioritize the Gospel, and we want to be loving to foreigners coming to America. But, we also want to protect our families and the lives of those around us from people that would seek to do harm.
Let’s establish some basic thoughts and then we can discuss the issue and hopefully come to some conclusions.
In a recent podcast I heard the speaker reference “the gospel of acceptance” and explain that some people are simply seeking a gospel in which they feel accepted. With so much division in our culture it’s easy to see how people could long for acceptance and place acceptance so high on their priority list that it becomes, essentially, a gospel.
As I listened to this podcast I realized that not only does every person alive live under some sort of religious ideology, but everyone is a champion for their own brand of gospel.
And then there is the favorite Christian excuse: “well, if it leads one person to Jesus it’s okay with me.” What a cowardly, damnable position to take. I should know; I used to take that position. I used to be of the opinion that anything that could lead a person toward Jesus was a good thing. The problem is that when the thing you are using to lead people to Jesus doesn’t accurately reflect the truth of who Jesus is, you are leading people to a false Jesus, a false Gospel, and a lie. Furthermore, you are creating an idol. Anything, book, movie, or preacher that does not biblically represent Jesus is creating an idol for others to worship. For this reason, movies like The Shack are little more than heretical portrayals of God in need of rebuke by Christians, not support.
You see the doctrines of election and predestination don’t eliminate the preaching of the Gospel or evangelism because those are the only means by which any person can be saved. And since, as Keller points out, no one knows who is and who is not part of the elect, we have a responsibility to preach the Gospel to “all men.” It is not surprising that the Bible calls “all men” to repentance on many occasions. We see the Apostles in the New Testament often preaching to large groups of people and calling them to repent and be saved. And on many occasions Jesus preached to large crowds. More than once we read of many people being saved, but not all. But at every opportunity all were called to repentance and no one was singled out as part of the elect.
I will be the first to say that the doctrine of election and predestination is one that will require much wrestling. It is not a doctrine that you will one day wake up and fully accept. It is a doctrine that will take time, prayer, study, wrestling, and conversation. And, chances are, you will need to ask God some very difficult questions along the way. That’s ok, God doesn’t mind.
Let me first commend to you this article by Tim Keller. Pastor Keller is a highly respected pastor, theologian, and Bible teacher. Dr. Keller has written a short commentary on three of the most asked questions regarding the doctrine of election and predestination. I highly recommend you read the entire article. The questions Keller addresses are:
If you believe in election, doesn’t that leave you with the problem of why God doesn’t choose to save everyone?
But if everything is fixed and certain, why pray, evangelize, or do anything at all?
I believe the Bible and I see all the teaching about election, but why do I still dislike it?
There is much confusion and misinformation in our world about what the Gospel is. Some people think the Gospel is doing good things, living “right” (whatever that means), or going to church once in a while. Many Americans believe that being born in America or in a particular part of the country is enough “Gospel” to save someone. And other, well meaning “church people” would say that the Gospel is doing good deeds as a form of “servant evangelism.”
Still, there’s those pesky mega-preachers that claim to know Jesus and say that the Gospel is loving people. All you gotta do is flash a perfectly white smile, say some fluffy, inspiring cliché’s and, voila, Jesus.
None of this is the Gospel. So the question remains, what is the Gospel?
I find that my greatest struggle in parenting my kids is consistency. Playing loudly in the basement is okay at noon, but at 7:30 in the morning? Seeking to consistently apply the rules of our household each and every day is no small feat. But, one thing is for sure; demanding that our kid’s obey is essential.
I’ve grown up in the Baptist church my entire life. I spent my entire ministry in Baptist churches. I have a Master’s degree in theology from a Baptist school. I know Baptist theology more than most due to my life-long desire to study and grow in my theological understanding. And I can say without reservation that I have found more Gospel focus, theological depth, mission’s emphasis, and Great-Commission minded people within reformed theology in the last several years than I have in the Baptist church in my entire life.
This reality of my experience makes the mischaracterization of reformed theology troubling as it reveals most people don’t know enough about reformed theology to make an accurate objection. It also reveals that the persistent myths and false accusations perpetrated against reformed theology are done in error.
Some of the myths and false accusations around reformed theology are:
Our entire culture is designed to attract us to something and sell something to us. Corporations spend billions of dollars to learn exactly the right words to make you buy their product. Marketing and advertising is a billion dollar industry centered around attracting and selling. From television, to the Internet, to billboards, you can’t go an hour without seeing an ad for something. When the church engages in these tactics, it cheapens grace in favor of enticements.
The church is the most expensive purchase in all of history. The bible tells us that Jesus bought the church “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The grace that has been poured out on the body of Christ is priceless. When we seek to entice people through the doors of our church with cheap attractions (like door prizes), we cheapen that priceless grace and the Gospel of Jesus.
I posted the church’s sign on social media with my encouragement for people to run far away from such a church. That started a conversation with friends from all over about the intentions of the church and whether having door prizes was a good idea. Some viewed this as a good way to “attract” people to church so they could hear the Gospel. The thought was, get them in the doors and share Jesus with them. If they get saved then it was worth it. The opposing thought was that this church was cheapening grace and the Gospel with enticements.