Perhaps the greatest danger we can pose to the preaching of the gospel is the preaching of another gospel. When we substitute the gospel of Jesus Christ for moral instruction, we are preaching another gospel. Moralism is NOT the gospel of Jesus Christ, even if it appropriates some sayings of Jesus and principles from the Bible.
The danger in morality as the gospel is that it promotes the goodness of man as the basis of salvation. Salvation is not based on man’s goodness or moral perpendicularity. It is ENTIRELY predicated on the sacrifice of Jesus. Moral instruction cannot save mankind. There’s no spiritual power in the preaching of morality. Morality is society’s regulatory regime and it changes. What is immoral today may be moral tomorrow. On the other hand the word of God is immutable. That a man is morally upright is no proof of relationship with God. There are people who hate God yet are morally upright.
When we equate the message of salvation with moral instruction, we are in effect saying man can save himself. When we preach morality as gospel, we are saying that man is made righteous before God through personal effort. The real message of salvation by good works is that the blood of Jesus is not enough to give us salvation. That after we accept Jesus we then need to discipline ourselves “to the end” to be saved. What blasphemy! Righteousness by morality is self-righteousness. The righteousness that saves is a GIFT of Almighty God. Romans 5:17-19.
Some worry that the message of grace is license to sin; they forget there can be no salvation without grace. Ephesians 2:8 tells us, For by grace are you saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. If grace was instituted by God, shall we then say that God is instigating sin? God forbid!
The message of salvation is quite simple: Man is a sinner. Jesus died for the sins of mankind. Accept the sacrifice of Jesus, believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:8-10. There is nothing in that message about the shedding of vices as the basis of salvation. That is our pharisaism. Reformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. It comes AFTER salvation not before. Jesus wants the sinner to come as is.
The message of salvation is not sermonisation against dress code, cigarettes, sex, alcohol. These are temperance issues. What the enemy has done, which we bought into is to substitute the gospel with a temperance message. And so the evangelist rails against those taking cigarettes and alcohol, but doesn’t preach the gospel. He preaches against make-up and “Jezebels”, using pejorative expressions but he fails to preach the gospel. He preaches against hairstyles, appellates some demonic, rails against women in trousers but does not preach the gospel. Prejudice is not the gospel. Neither is our cultural taste, predilections, exposure or lack of it the gospel. The devil knows such preaching sucks power out of the Church. Every church where the gospel is substituted with morality gets weakened. There is no power.
Because morality is relative, those who preach morality as gospel tend to have a superiority complex towards others. It is this sense of moral superiority that leads to messages of condemnation against the sinner. Yet Jesus said he did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. How can we preach the message of salvation without love? The gospel of Jesus is the story of love! It is the story of the love of a Father for the undeserving, the sinful, the pitiful… The gospel is a story of mercy. We must therefore examine our posture, reorient our language and watch our tone in the preaching of the gospel.
Paul said, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. When we preach the authentic gospel, we unleash the power of God into human circumstance. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish.” That may not sound like much and may indeed seem like mere words, but the POWER in those words will raise the dead. It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
God is the one that saves not us. Just speak the Word. Don’t intellectualize, don’t logicalize, don’t argue. Just tell the simple story of the love of Christ. The message of the gospel is foolish and absurd to the intellectual. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25. Speak the word of God, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. It’s a code! It’s embedded with possibilities. The Spirit of God will quicken those words, give life to them and use them to create new life. It is the Spirit that exposes the error of the world’s view of sin, righteousness and judgment, not us. John 16:8. Speak the word.
God gives us assurance concerning his word: It will never fall to the ground! “Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers, and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Isaiah 55:10,11.
There is no special formula for evangelism. All that’s required is love for your fellow man. And we can’t claim to love the God we can’t see when we don’t love the people we see. 1 John 4:20. “The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” 1 John 4:21 MSG. You can never divorce the message of salvation from love. And love is kind – it is not condemnatory. It’s not charitable to declare God “judged” someone who suffered the misfortune of loss of a child. It’s not Christian. Love does not rejoice in the misfortune of others. We are God’s channel of love and God loves even the vilest offender.
That phrase brings to mind the immortal words of the hymn written by Frances Jane Crosby, To God Be The Glory*:
“To God be the glory, great things He hath done;
To loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life, an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate, that all may go in.
O Perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer, the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”
If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: Father forgive me. I am a sinner. I know that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. I accept him today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen!
*The writer of that hymn, To God Be The Glory was totally blind from the age of six till she died in her nineties. As was written of her, she never saw the works of God but she eloquently testified of the light of his grace. And her song is still testifying. Even in death. Evangelism comes in many formats. Even in songs.
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org