I’ve written a book about it (The Real Gospel). I’ve written numerous articles on it. To me, it is the greatest spiritual American tragedy that I must put you in remembrance of again lest it drift from you and slip from your mind.
There is a gross revision of the gospel being spewed from preachers’ mouths today in our nation that is so far beneath the mind of Christ and the way of His kingdom.
We live in a day when popular church culture is being shaped by a cacophony of strange voices all vying for our loyalty – from America’s most popular television preachers and mega-church pastors toning down on the moral demands of the gospel to many professing Christian athletes and celebrities who unworthily and irreverently refer to God as the “supreme power” and “man upstairs”, and whose faith is more often than not detached from their lifestyles. The height of their knowledge of God and that of many American Christians seems to be that He reigns in heaven for their own personal happiness and the fulfillment of their own dreams and careers.
I swear the next time I see an athlete beat their chest and point to the sky and declare how their deceased loved ones are watching him play and going crazy over the touchdown they just scored or home run they hit in their honor I am going to scream!
“God and your deceased loved ones are not watching you play sport and cheering for you to score! They are not honored by your self-adulation and misplaced zeal for things you are ignorant of. Your loved ones are now in eternity and they are only interested in having eternity stamped in earthly men’s hearts and seeing them convicted of their sins, gloriously saved, and truly living for the Lord Jesus Christ. If they could live again they would scream that to you, too!
“Your view and perspective of the kingdom of God is so carnal and skewed and most unworthy of Jesus’ holy sacrifice. You are like a pig stomping around in the king’s palace. You need your stinking thinking renewed and elevated to a higher order. If you are really a Christian and want to use your God-given talents to glorify Christ, then use the platform He has given you to be a living witness of the real gospel. Then you will see what it means to suffer even a little for the Savior you claim to follow. That’s also when you’ll find out if you’re living for your fan’s applause or the Master’s approval.
“If you’re really as tough as you seem to be on the football field or wherever you display your talents, and you sincerely seek to please God and honor those who’ve gone on into eternity, instead of pleasing and appeasing your fan base, why not preach the gospel? Instead of saying “God this”, and “God that”, why not be radical and say “Jesus this” and “Jesus that”? It’s the Name of Jesus that scares demons and induces persecution. You will not glorify God until you can at least identify in a simple clear way with His Son.”
I know, I know, I’m ranting now.
The problem with many of these professional athletes and professing Christian celebrities is they have no solid mentors in their lives. They model their lives after famous hipster rappers or sissified celebrity pastors who appear cool and hip and preach a fashionable perversion of faith, but don’t live holy and can hardly make any demon tremble.
The modern gospel proclaimed today differs from the gospel that was preached just one half century ago in that man and not Jesus Christ is the center of it. Today’s American gospel elevates the fulfillment of self and the promotion of one’s passion for pleasure and fame. It is a gospel that has been stripped of its more challenging demands, its sufferings and sacrifice, to a comfortable, customized, and carnal version that none of the early apostles and believers would’ve recognized.
What popular church culture needs to understand is that the doorway to the life that Jesus offers us is death. Our gospel bids us to come and die to sin, the flesh, and the world. Jesus did not just die to forgive your sins. He died to purchase you and own you! (2 Cor. 5:15) The only gospel that is worthy of the reward of Christ’s sacrifice is the one that is detached from the deification of man and attached to the death of him.
Jesus taught Peter this lesson.
“But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men” (Mt. 16:23).
Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that He would suffer and be killed. Jesus recognized this rebuke as being of a Satanic nature. This is one compelling example of Jesus guarding His death more than He did His life. In a word, this is the way of the cross, which every true Christian is called to bear and every minister to exemplify (Mt. 16:24-25).
The cross-less gospel is the greatest lack in Christianity today and the reason for many of the church’s failures and the biggest reason why it is becoming increasingly difficult in many places of the world to tell the difference between a real Christian and non-Christian. It is also the most common place where men are duped into thinking that there can be a shortcut to revival and the power and glory of God.
“The way into glory is through the flesh being torn away from the world and separated unto God.” — Smith Wigglesworth
The major cause for failure in ministry today for those who profess Christ’s Name is the same – not knowing the true nature and quality of God. Unless we understand and know the nature of the gospel and of our God, we will continually sacrifice His life on the altar of convenience and serve God on our own terms. It is those men like Wigglesworth in every generation who have risen above this pretense and lived out the real gospel that have changed the world.
Until the American Church gets back to that, no real and lasting change is forthcoming. You can listen to all the New Year prophecies that speak of what a great year this next one is going to be for the church and how you will prosper and be favored. You can listen to empty promises and predictions of the how the glory and power of God will be made manifest – how this will be the year of revival and awakening – even how the next president will lead the nation back to God (those prophecies have already started).
I believe God’s promises are true, and I am all for instilling hope in people, but sometimes the best thing the church can hear are the warnings, rebukes, and roadblocks of what is actually hindering His promises from coming to pass.
There is a new gospel and new prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, running through the land. They speak peace to all those who have itching ears for something new and exotic and they cause them to trust in a lie, and subtly supplant within their hearts rebellion against the Lord (Jer. 28:15-16). But the word I hear remains the same year after year.
Return to the gospel. Return to the traditions of your forefathers. Get back to the cross. Get back to the blood. Get back to holiness and repentance. Get thrilled with the Word and the basics of our faith. Get thrilled with soul winning. Get excited about making disciples. Until the basics of our faith come alive in our hearts we are dead and need reviving. If these things are not appealing to you and do not bring you joy then you are in need of repentance.
Another word that leaves us in our deadness and full of ourselves is not a word from God. Beware of false empty New Year prophecies and promises. Beware of the Satanic nature of another gospel. It’s a Trojan horse intended to undermine our faith and keep us trapped and powerless in our anemic version of Christianity.