The Damning Gospel

"If what we preach as 'Gospel' is not offensive, we’re doing it wrong. An inoffensive Gospel is a false Gospel, a damning Gospel" - Dan Phillips, The World-Tilting Gospel (*1)


You know the sermon is almost over because the preacher gets that "soft" tone in his voice. He speaks so gently and quietly he's almost whispering.
"Some of you are here today, and you know in your heart it's time to 'get right.' It will only take a minute,  and you can have assurance that your soul will spend eternity with Jesus... If that's you, with every head bowed and every eye closed, I want you to repeat after me..."

Dear Church, salvation that costs one minute is not salvation (2 Cor 5.17). On the contrary, your salvation will cost you everything (1 Pet 4.2). Jesus promised two things to those who would follow Him: Eternal life, and a cross to die on (Jn 5.24, Mk 8.34, Lk 14.27).

Surely, there is no formula for salvation. But we aren't the first generation to pretend there is! It seems our "repeat-after-me" evangelism was popular in Jesus' day, too. Just ask these guys, who repeated "Lord Lord" just like they were told. Jesus had this to say to them:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Mat 7.21-23)
The biggest lie Satan has sold humanity is that if we just pray a prayer once, we can go on living like hell and still be assured of our salvation. Religion built on this lie sends people to hell (Ro 8.13). Why do you think the American church is dropping in numbers? Because non-believers who prayed a prayer once fill our pews, determined to conform the church to the world. And once they have succeeded, they get bored with their self-made religion, and move on. Dear Church, it's our well-intended 60-second-altar-call evangelism that has let this happen. Such "Christianity Light" is not good news. It's a false--thus, damning--gospel.

There is, however, a silver-lining to this tragedy: We can take comfort in knowing our Lord foresaw this infiltration in detail, and He gave us instructions for how to cope when when it happens.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit." (Mat 7.15-17)
Consider this, then, in light of Christ's words: If a person dresses like a non-christian, talks like a non-christian, treats his spouse like a non-christian, consumes media like a non-christian, cheats the system like a non-christian, and in every practical way lives like a non-christian... Is he a Christian? (Ps 10.4)

What are we to do, then? Please, Church, do not pretend they are of us (1 Jn 2.19-20).

Love them. Go to coffee with them. Share the Gospel with them. They have yet to be reborn. And when they do come to repentance, rejoice with them, and glorify God for the transformation He works in His children.


Footnotes:
*1 - I haven't read this book yet, but it's high on my list! This excerpt is from a tweet by Dan Phillips, so while I don't know the context of the point he was making, it was a provocative enough statement to get me writing.

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