The Simple Gospel
I have not posted for more than four weeks. I have been on a self-imposed hiatus for a number of reasons.
I’ve been busy with flesh and blood issues of life. I have really not had the luxury of engaging in a lot of high minded reflection. (I’m not really very “high” minded anyway.)
I’ve been grieving. Oh, I’m not grieving because Hillary Clinton lost the election, or because Donald Trump won. I’m grieving that a nation I love so dearly is fully engaged in its own self-destruction. The left will not accept the outcome of the election anymore than the right would have, should it have gone the other way. We have finally achieved the status of a third world political system (Banana Republic) where strong men fight like animals for power and regardless of the victor, the people suffer. I understand that there are many who disagree, believing that Donald Trump and his cabinet are going to set everything right. I am not so sure. This is not a criticism of Trump or his team. I simply believe the brokenness of our nation to be beyond the scope of any politician to repair. I have predicted that the outcome of the 2016 election very well could be civil war. It would appear that it is nearly upon us.
While I normally stand on the conservative side of most issues, I am quite frankly grieved by the general tenor of us all; regardless of our left or right leanings. One side is whining and the other is gloating; and neither is particularly befitting a nation that prides itself in its “exceptionalism.” There is no exceptionalism left; we’re just like everybody else. There aren’t any peacemakers left. Only opponents. When only adversaries remain, war at some level, is all that is left.
Yet, my heart is most troubled by the fact that while much of the evangelical church has been consumed over the past two years with getting Donald Trump into the White House, the stream of souls pouring into hell remains constant. I live in a small town of less than 18,000 people; many of whom have been overwhelmed by despair. The death rate in our small community from heroin overdose is staggering. It seems like each day EMT’s are sent to rescue more overdose victims; many, too many, don’t survive. Homes are destroyed, children are abandoned or orphaned, Child Services are overwhelmed, shelters are mobbed, soup kitchens and pantries are unable to keep up with the desperate demand.
But, we have our religious freedom.
I am of the very unpopular opinion that the American church has had its religious freedom for over 250 years and we have essentially squandered it. We have built palaces and shopping malls that we call churches, raised up television networks with opulent sets selling the prosperity gospel, convincing gullible souls that God exists to make them rich, and we have consistently bent before public opinion to moderate the gospel so that it is less offensive to sinners and in far too many cases, we have yielded to the perverted demands of the culture and embraced their humanistic theology so as not to incur the wrath of sinners and to keep our tax exempt status.
We need to become intercessors for our communities, for our nation; and intercessors don’t go with the flow. Intercessors stand in the way.
Intercessors plead with God on behalf of those who would incur His wrath.
Intercessors don’t coddle the rebellious; they don’t worry about offending them. They stand between the sinner and the pit. They cry, they scream, they warn. Intercessors aren’t embarrassed to use the word hell. Intercessors don’t call sin something else. Intercessors don’t compromise to gain a larger audience. Intercessors understand that they might well be the last chance that some have to be snatched from the fires of hell.
I’m thinking that we need to start thinking less about our religious freedom and start thinking more about our spiritual responsibilities. We are ambassadors for Christ, representatives of the Kingdom of God – but also importantly, we are a“holy priesthood called to show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness and into the light.” The ministry of the priest is simple – he stands between God and man. The priest appeals to God on behalf of man and he appeals to man on behalf of God. The cost of standing in intercession for those who are in the pathway of the wrath of God might in fact be, the loss of our religious freedom. If we are going to speak for Christ in a post Christian world, we are going to incur the wrath of those who are possessed of an “anti-Christ” spirit.
Are we prepared to go to prison for the sake of the lost?
Are we prepared to be sanctioned by our communities for the sake of the lost?
Are we prepared to be taxed, censured, dragged into court, and beaten for the crime of standing in the gap for our neighborhoods?
And, are we prepared to abandoned the milk-toast, cotton candy gospel that is no gospel at all; and which is condemning men to hell every day in America.
Recently I read a comment by a leading “prophetess” in America when asked, “What is the simple gospel?” Her answer: “The simple gospel is Jesus as our example while he was on earth. Before he left this earth he gave us authority to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. Not to mention that Jesus desires us and to have a deep relationship with him.” (Beni Johnson – Bethel Church)
In this version of the “simple gospel” there is no mention of the cross (His or ours), no mention of the atonement, confession of sin, repentance from sin. There is no comment that Jesus is our Savior; that He paid the penalty for our sins, and without His interposition into humanity through the incarnation and His intercession for us at the right hand of the father, we are hell bound.
The simple gospel is that we are sinners, deserving of the wrath of God but Christ interposed Himself on our behalf, taking upon Himself the burden of our sin, paying our penalty, dying our death. The simple gospel is that a relationship to God is apprehended only through the confession of sin and the cleansing power of Christ’s blood shed on our behalf; and there is no other who can save us from the wrath of God. We don’t need an example – we need a savior.
That is the simple gospel. And it is probably this gospel that will mean the end of our religious freedom.
When God wanted to call Israel to repent He didn’t send a CEO with a thousand dollar suit and a million dollar smile. He sent a guy in a camel hair toga and a bag full of locusts; and we all know what happened to him.