24 June 2020
There has been a significant shift in the approach and focus in the ‘preaching’ and sharing of the gospel in recent years; it has led to a ‘dilution’ or even distortion of the biblical gospel. The biblical gospel focuses on the glory of God and the rebellion of man; it proclaims God’s sovereignty, mercy and judgement in dealing with sin and in taking our place as a substitute for the penalty of sin so that we may be forgiven and received back into the ‘fold of God’; it summons man to bow down and repent and to worship the almighty Lord on whom man depends for all good and restoration, not just for now but for eternity.
The shift in the gospel presents a substitute that does not answer the ends for which the biblical gospel once proved to be so mighty and life-changing. The ‘substitute’ does not make men God-centred in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts. Instead, it focuses on being ‘helpful’ to man – to bring comfort, happiness, healing, satisfaction, ‘prosperity’, even at the expense of upholding the truth embedded in the biblical gospel. The biblical gospel aims to teach man to worship God, concentrating on God and HIs ways with men; the substitute concentrates on making men feel better and the subject matter is man and the help God gives him. The substitute is therefore no better than the approach in many practices of ‘psychology’ and ‘self-help’, focusing on believing in yourself and ‘you can do it” and ‘you are stronger than you think’, all these ultimately promoting the ‘man is the centre of the universe’ philosophy, of course throwing in a bit of theological language like “God loves you and seeks to bless you’.
The outcome would not be ‘a new creation’, a ‘born-again’ experience; it just equips individuals with ‘tools’ for self-improvement and positive thinking. The content and character of the gospel is essential. It is definitely the Holy Spirit alone who effected regeneration but communicating the truth in God’s Word and revelation is needful.
This focus on the worship of God and being God-centred and God-fearing must be carried over in our christian lives and walk with God. Whether such a focus is maintained can be deduced by examining the way we approach God daily.
For instance, as we spend time with Him in our devotion, do we constantly remind ourselves that God is great, transcendent, almighty and holy and yet He loves us and wants to speak to us.? Do we constantly recall that we are the original sinners, the rebellious and the unwise who miss God’s ways often and make numerous mistakes in our lives up to this point of time and will make more today if we fail to keep in touch with Him?
A humbling sense of spiritual hunger and emptiness gives one an appetite for a spiritual meal and the Word of God. Coming to Him in prayer and coming to His Word night and day, let this be our posture, ‘sitting at His feet’, ‘opening our mouth wide so that God may fill it’ (Psalm 81:10).
The quantity of our knowledge of the Bible and theological notions do not say anything about our quality of relationship with God – it does not mean that our relationship with God is right and going to be right. There is a great and vast difference in knowing notions, even true and accurate notions, and knowing God. There is certainly a great gap between knowing about God and knowing Him. Our devotions, our times of prayer, our study of the Scriptures – they are primarily for knowing God. Any other kind of objective is missing the mark by a quantum distance.