in Theology & Salvation

Gospel Attraction

Wrapping the Central Message of Christianity

Wrapping the Central Message

Evangelical Christians have long been associated with telling people about Jesus Christ. The term born-again brings up images of a devout, exited for Jesus, Christian who can’t stop trying to convert others to Christianity. Our culture is, in general, open to many forms of spiritual expression and exploration, but somehow the Good News of Jesus Christ is not the best news around. Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ just not cool enough, modern enough, or hip enough? Do we need to hype-it-up with mystique like the Eastern religions? Should we wrap up the Christianity’s central message in modern garb to present it as attractive? Can we make the Gospel attractive?

There are several modern attempts to make the Christianity more attractive and appealing to the masses. This article will show some of these attempts and also look at the reason these are not adequate when compared to what is found in the Bible.

Gospels in Modern Garb

There are several modern attempts to make the gospel more attractive and appealing to the masses. The common characteristic of all these gospels is to reduce the pessimistic characteristics and emphasize the positive. It is certainly good to be hopeful and optimistic, but we should never comprise the truth or misrepresent the truth in order to make Christianity more appealing.

The Therapeutic Gospel. In this flavor of good news, God is presented as our divine therapist, primarily interested in healing our psychological and emotional issues. God is that good angel on our shoulder that tells us things that help us feel good and lift our self-esteem. Our greatest problem is that we have yet to realize how blessed and important we are to God. If we would just realize how much God loves us and how He has such a good plan for our lives, we would be relieved of our difficulties and our life would be on a path of joy and happiness.

The problem with this gospel is that it places man at the center of God’s plans. The last time man was at the center of the universe was when people thought the earth was flat. Should we really repeat such silly thoughts about God. Perhaps God made the sun the center of the universe, and people unknowingly chose the word sun, so that we would one day realize that we are not at the center of God’s universe, but God’s Son is at the center. I believe in the power of God to accomplish even the most unexpected things.

The Bible does tell us that we are made perfect by the love of God, but it is not the love of God communicated by cuddly quotes to stroke our consciences. It is the love of God demonstrated by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross (Rom 5:8; 2 Cor 5:14). We are made perfect by this love, in which Christ died the death that we deserved for our sins. We cannot overcome our imperfections by healing our emotions, because our most damaging imperfections are not psychological, our most damaging imperfections are moral. While our psychological imperfections are offending our conscience, our moral imperfections are offending the God of the universe. Which is more grievous, offending our conscience, or offending the King of the universe? Which carries eternal significance?

The other problem with this is that we often do not know what is best for our psychological well-being. If it was up to us, we would suffer no sorrows or pain, yet God often plans to do great things through suffering. Consider the suffering that Joseph went through in Egypt both physically and emotionally. His brothers meant to cause pain and suffering on Joseph, yet God preserved an entire people from the devastating effects of a famine (Gen 5:20). We all experience emotional and psychological suffering that tests our faith in God. The New Testament tells us that God tests our faith to produce steadfastness which ultimately leads towards our being “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jas 1:2-4).

The Prosperity Gospel. This is where we find God depicted as the divine butler, who we calls on to assist us in our time of need. This is the popular view among many of the youth in our day. We also see the prosperity gospel on television from preachers who appeal for money with promises of divine blessing for those who sacrifice larger sums of money. Those who give more have more faith in future blessings from God and those who give less have less faith in future blessings. Those who don’t give generously will not experience a prosperous future.

This is similar to the therapeutic Gospel in that it seeks material blessings while the therapeutic Gospel seeks emotional and psychological blessings. The prosperity Gospel shares the same problems as the therapeutic gospel.

We can find testimonies of God’s dealings with people in the Bible that show that God is not primarily interested in increasing our wealth. Consider Job and his loss of family, property and health. Consider the Israelites in the wilderness and their loss food, shelter, and land. Consider Jesus and his life of poverty and suffering on the Cross. Consider the apostles and the martyrs throughout history who have died defending the faith. These are all examples of men with great faith who did not have prosperity in the typical sense, yet they had great spiritual wealth.

Jesus challenged the rich man to sell all his possessions (Matt 19:21) because a life of material blessings can be an obstacle and snare (Matt 19:23; Jas 1:10-11; 1 Tim 6:9-10). We should not be consumed with thoughts of prosperity and a life of comfort and luxury. We should rather be more concerned with laying up “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt 6:19-20).

The Social Gospel. The social gospel involves social action such as alleviating poverty, curing diseases and bring freedom and justice to the oppressed. It is very good for Christians to be involved in such things, but the social gospel puts forth Christianity as essentially concerned with these things. It is true that Jesus and the apostles had an incredible healing ministry. And we see various versus exhorting us to care for the helpless (Isa 58:6;  Jas 1:27), but we must remember that though we may help someone physically, we must also care for their soul . All our efforts to provide physical healing reap only temporary results because all things on this earth will pass away (Eccl 3:20; Matt 24:35), however, our efforts to provide spiritual healing leads to eternal life for those who believe (John 3:16; John 4:14). Physical pain we experience as a result of disease or old age is an echo of the spiritual pain inflicted in our soul due to sin. We have all offended a Holy God and our gravest illness is the depravity of the soul (Rom 3:9; 5:12). There is only one person who can cure the illness of sin (John 14:6) and Jesus exemplified this reality and priority when he first forgave a paralytic of his sins and then healed him of his disease (Luke 5:21-25).

Social action to bring healing of diseases and justice to the oppressed is certainly a vital component of the Christian life, but it should never take precedence, or displace spiritual healing.

The Real Gospel

So among these false gospels, what is the real gospel? The real Gospel starts with a recognition that we are at the mercy of a Holy and Perfect God (Rom 3:9-10). Our behavior is tainted by our sinful thoughts and actions. None of us can stand before God and say that we deserve entrance into heaven based on our good behavior (Rom 3:20). Our sinful actions stain our record deserve eternal punishment unless they are forgiven by God. We cannot do anything to earn God’s forgiveness but based on our sin, we certainly deserve God’s justice, which would be eternal punishment (Rom 11:6).

But God, being merciful, provided a way for forgiveness of sins. God sent Jesus Christ (Eph 2:4-5; 1 Pet 1:3), the third person of the trinity, God incarnate, to live the perfect sinless life. He died on the cross, as the sacrificial lamb of God, atoning for sins, dying in our place, providing forgiveness of sin for those who believe (1 Pet 2:22-24).

And Gospel ends with a person who has been born-again (John 3:3), transformed by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:18), receiving newness of life (Rom 6:4), being adopted into the family of God (Rom 8:15), sharing this good news with others, making disciples (Matt 28:19), becoming more like Christ (Rom 8:29), showing fruits of the Spirit (John 15:8; 15:16), and persevering to the end with faith (Matt 10:22, 24:13) and one day being perfected in heaven (Rom 8:30), living eternally in the presence of God and all the saints (1 Thess 4:17).

A Call to Discern

The Scriptures exhort us to discern between those who are teaching the pure Gospel and those who are not. The apostle Paul wrote about the tendency of the Corinthian church to follow after false gospels (2 Cor 11:3-4) and Paul also exhorted the Galatians not to believe false gospels even if an angel came and gave it to them (Gal 1:8-9).

There are many today who are disenchanted with Christianity because of the various divisions and the numerous denominations that seem to all think they are right. So there is a general distaste for those who make judgments and suppose that they know the answer and all others are wrong. But this is not the position that I am taking for although there are many denominations and organizations that have corrupted the gospel message, there are also many that are holding fast to the Gospel. The first step towards recovering the one True Gospel is to discern when a false gospel is being taught and yearn for the True Gospel (1 Pet 2:2).

Perhaps you are just a member in a local church that is compromising the Gospel. Voice your concern to the leadership with love and gentleness (Gal 6:1; 2 Tim 2:24-25; 1 Pet 3:15) and if you are able, correct them (Gal 2:14). If not, then you may need to consider searching for a church that faithfully preaches the Gospel and does not compromise the truth. It is a dangerous place for a person to remain under false teaching (2 Pet 2:1-2) and so it can be best advised to get to a safer place. Feel free to contact me if you need help in searching for a Church.

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Comments

  1. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Hi dude, you allocated nicely about Gospel Attraction. Frankly saying I always like to do gospel. Thanks mate. smile
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  2. proofreadingservices careers says:

    Well, that was really in detail. I guess it would be fine if you’ll make a kind of an introduction for atheists or agnostics (is that correct?). What do you think of it?

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