The Gospel message is not complicated. God designed it that way. However, it seems that many times we view it as a complex puzzle that God is frantically depending on us to solve so that we might somehow become better at helping Him further His kingdom. Sometimes it appears as if the present-day Church is constantly trying to identify a new “Gospel formula” that will help aid in church growth and increase salvations. Perhaps the thinking is that a diluted, candy-coated, warm-fuzzy, non-convicting, all-inclusive, tolerant gospel will be better received. After all, the world’s changing, so the Church should adapt, right? Should we not find it telling that for well over 2,000 years, the power and directness of the Gospel has been sufficient, the way God made it, to wholly transform lives and add to His Church? It’s a message so straightforward, that you don’t need multiple degrees next to your name to comprehend it. To the contrary, a child will many times understand and embrace the Gospel more fully than an adult with a PhD. Why then, do we often times find the need to complicate a message that is as simple as believing in Christ and loving others? It’s a response and a result. A message of repenting, receiving, and giving.
The word “Gospel” means Good News. It’s a plan of redemption for those who repent and believe on the Lord. A transparent message containing essential elements – Man is sinful by nature, Christ’s death on the cross (and nothing else) atones for man’s sins, and His resurrection provides the free gift of salvation and life everlasting for those who repent and believe by faith. This is the pure and clear Gospel the apostles affirmed. A message so powerful and convicting, that most were killed proclaiming it. Why would we want to muddle a message so dynamic and so compelling that it has literally transformed generation upon generation?
Why do we find the need to travel to the far corners of the earth in search of formulas and techniques that can be brought back and used to grow our churches and increase salvations here at home when we’ve already been given all we need? Perhaps it’s time we take our hands off the Gospel and quit trying to control, shape, and mold it into what we think it should be. The more we try to control it, the more it becomes about us and less about God.
Do we really want to see our churches multiply and those around us come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? If that is truly our desire, then we should consider starting at Gospel-Ground-Level. Let’s start fervently loving God and intentionally loving others. 1 John 3:23 commands us to “believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and love others.” Loving others should be an evident result of our salvation. If we don’t have a deep desire to love others, there is probable cause to evaluate our own salvation. It is by our love that the world will know who we are. John 13:35 ensures us that our “Love for others is how we will be identified as Christians. Your love for one another will prove that you are My disciples.” The greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” What commandment comes a close second? “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40.) Everything hinges on these commandments. Our message of the Gospel is powerless if we don’t love God and love others. 1 Corinthians 13:1 goes further and states, “If we could speak in all the languages of men and angels, but do not love others, we are nothing more than the distraction of a clanging cymbal.”
Why then, would we convolute and obscure a message that was inspired and written in a way that is so easy to understand? Why do we often try to control it, revamp it, and manipulate it as if we need to shine it up and add our “finishing touches” to it? The message of the Gospel has been powerful and effective for over 2,000 years because it is God’s divine plan. We must pray for the lost and love the lost. If we love them, they will come. And when they respond, we must feed them the unadulterated, uncompromised Word of God so that they too will go forward, fulfilling the Great Commission. God help us to keep it that simple and free of embellishment.
Blog Entry Contributed by: Scott Lepard