This may come as a surprise. It did to me.
The Gospel has changed. Let me explain.
The Gospel that is commonly preached today has changed. Not deliberately or with any deceit intended. It has just been artificially sweetened. The age-old, Biblical Gospel of the Bible has not changed (I thought I should clarify that).
To demonstrate this, please take a moment to read the below illustration.
How would you respond If I approached you with a syringe full of red liquid, insisting “you need my saving serum. It will make you feel much better; it will give you a sense of peace and well-being and make you a happier, healthier person”
I suspect (actually I am 100% sure) that you would consider me a crazy person and either call the police or at the very least, get as far from me as you could.
But, If I were to first point out the two fresh puncture wounds on your leg that were made by a venomous snake that was hiding in the plant that you brushed past moments ago, you would be more likely to take me seriously.
If I then went on to point out some of the early symptoms that you were already manifesting, the sweaty palms, the tremors, the dizziness, the dilated pupils, you may well begin to recognise your desperate need for the antidote in the syringe!
The parallel is uncanny:
The average non-Christian believes with all sincerity that they are a good and moral person (after-all, there are no moral absolutes by which to be judged). They don’t see their morality as sick and they don’t feel lost.
So to walk around saying “Jesus saves” or “you need Jesus” will seem like absolute foolishness to them. Both statements are in fact true: Jesus does save and everyone does need Jesus, but it isn’t the approach we see modeled in the Gospels. They will think “I’m not lost and I don’t need your saviour!”
But, if we instead take a biblical approach and help them to self-diagnose their moral sickness, they will be in a far better position to recognise their need for a saviour.
What is the “Biblical approach”?
Take a look at the way Jesus evangelised to the “woman at the well”
in John 4 verses 7 – 20.
- Jesus asked some questions to help the woman recognise and admit her sin (self-diagnosis);
- Jesus then revealed who He was (the Messiah), the source of living water and eternal life;
- Jesus instructed her to repent (turn from her sin).
So how is this different from today’s Gospel?
In our eagerness and compassion for the lost, we often try to do things in a way that seems best to us. We know we can generate more interest and appeal if we entice people by listing the benefits. After all, isn’t that an effective and proven sales technique? True, it does draw more people to “say that prayer” or “raise their hand” but the problem is that when people make a decision with a wrong motive, we are setting them up for disappointment. We are in fact helping to create a false convert or a bitter backslider.
The Biblical Gospel message isn’t one of comfort, ease or prosperity. Just take a look at the early Church in the book of Acts or read about the hardships that their decision to follow Christ resulted in (refer to FOXE’S BOOK OF MARTYRS).
We cannot and should not promise or entice potential converts with prosperity and peace. If instead, we lead them to faith through Biblical conviction of sin and the promise of a Saviour that died for them, then we can know that we have been faithful and obedient.
For a more complete illustration, Bible verses and details, please watch or listen to Hell’s Best Kept Secret.