Thursday, July 30, 2009

"A Relevant Gospel?"

Occasionally in Christian circles the notion is proposed that we must "make the Gospel relevant to people." The Biblical truth of the matter, however, is that people must be made relevant to the Gospel.

Our Creator alone sets the terms by which we approach Him. Certainly He works in various and individual ways as He draws people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our presentation of the Gospel may be accompanied by faithful illustrations, metaphors and homilies appropriate to our audience. It is must be clear, however, that the truth of Christ will seem offensive rather than relevant when first heard and understood by unbelieving hearts.

"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them" (Acts 5:29-33; emphasis added).

The Gospel rightly presented tells us who God is, and who we are. The contrast is not pleasant to behold. We are not what we should be apart from Christ, and our attitudes, actions and words are contrary to God and the perfection of His person and way. The extent of such rejection is that we are condemned without the Lord Jesus, and our only hope of escape from eternal wrath is His saving grace. The Apostle Peter indicted those of His day - "Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree" - and we must also tell our world that there is blood on our hands, the blood of the Lamb who had to die in order to save us from our sins. God's terms are full acceptance of this painful truth, with no excuse offered, and then full acceptance by faith that the Lord Jesus is our only hope for redemption.

I once heard it said that no happy person has ever believed in the Lord Jesus. There is truth in this statement because God's message of grace in Christ is barbed in its initial presentation. The conviction of the Holy Spirit cuts deep into the heart of the lost sinner, proclaiming his guilt and condemnation as the dark backdrop against which the hope of Christ shines forth in glorious display. Softening the Gospel with "relevance" is completely inappropriate for this Biblical evangel of grace in Christ, and we must join the apostles of old in diagnosing the disease even as we prescribe the cure....

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:.. whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death...Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ....Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

(Acts 2:23-24; 36-38)

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