Christianity Without the Gospel?!

The headline seems contradictory. Is Christianity without the Gospel possible? It depends on how we define Christianity. If becoming a Christian is about salvation, being born-again and following Jesus, then there is no Christianity without the Gospel. If, on the other side, we view Christianity as a cultural heritage, an institutional religion or a religious doctrine, then there is not much room or need for the Gospel.

We hear much today about the threat against Christianity. Many look at the secularized western society with laws that disregard the Bible, while others cite the advancement of Islam as our major threat. We are encouraged to fight against these forces of secularism and false religion if Christianity is to survive. Books, magazines, and articles are published and sermons are preached where the world around us is described in negative terms. We are fighting immorality, corruption, and secularization. The solution according to many writers is more Christian unity, more “spiritual warfare” and more “unity.” If only all churches could come together and come into agreement, stand united, then we would be strong and have a chance, and maybe revival would come.

If Christianity is about tradition and western culture built on Judeo-Christian principles, then the above reasoning is, of course, correct. This rationality leaves little or no expectation or faith in the power of the Gospel. If Christianity is simply about our efforts to unite and fight evil, what really then is Christianity? In fact, those who question the survival of Christianity, with that question, are actually demonstrating their lack of understanding. Those who believe in the power of the Gospel are not concerned about the survival of a religious form, but our concern is that the Gospel would have “free course.” We know that the Gospel is God’s power and it shall be preached to all nations (Matt. 24:14). If only the Gospel is given room, it contains the life of God and it will prevail.

The important thing is to be born-again.

Christianity without the Gospel is not Christianity at all, and it is not worth fighting for. The Greek word “evaggelio” means “good news” or “glad tidings.” What is this message of good news and glad tidings? It is that God was in Christ and put the world’s sins on Jesus; the world was then reconciled to God through what Jesus did on the cross (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Rom 5:10). Jesus solved the world’s sin problem – He died and rose again. He is now alive and all those who receive Him, receive power to become God’s children. When we turn from self-sufficiency to receiving the Good News of what Jesus has done, we are born-again. Those who receive Jesus become new creations; the nature of righteousness and love comes into us. Then the Gospel has victorious power in itself to transform both the individual and the society.

We are not fighting for a cultural heritage or a tradition - it is the Gospel we are fighting for.

The great question is if we are born-again, or not. The message of grace is simply an offer to the entire world to receive what Jesus has done. And when we receive it, we are recipients of a new life. Muslims need to be born-again. Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists, Atheists, and especially Christians need to be born-again. We are not fighting for a cultural heritage or a tradition - it is the Gospel we are fighting for.

Our hope with Global Grace Network.

Our hope with the Global Grace Network is that many will rise up across the world to take up the battle against the deceptive, merit-based religion that focuses on human performance. Neither human wisdom, nor legalistic religion has any power in it. The power is in the Good News.

The important word is “Gospel.” As far as we know Jesus never used the words “Christian” or “Christianity.” Instead He spoke much about the Gospel. Paul, Peter and the other disciples continued in that same style. We, on the other hand, hear little about the Gospel, but much about the defense of Christianity. Maybe a renewed focus on the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), would lead to survival of real Christianity and the salvation of the world.

Moving the pulpit from Sinai to Golgotha.

In this edition of our newsletter we deal with “moving the pulpit from Sinai to Golgotha.” Golgotha represents the Gospel while Sinai represents legalistic performance-oriented religion. As long as the pulpit is at Sinai, we are preaching the requirements and rules, which must be adhered to, in order for God to move. When we preach from Golgotha we are declaring the finished work of Christ, in whom we are identified in His death and resurrection.

Who is preaching in your church this Sunday?

In our seminars I frequently ask pastors: “Who is preaching in your church this coming Sunday?” Then I tell the story of the prodigal son and for a moment I imagine: What if the father was not standing there, looking for the lost son, but instead the older brother was waiting at the door? What message would he have given to the prodigal? There would have been no kiss, hug, fatted calf, ring, or celebration. The prodigal’s humble statement, “I’m not worthy to be called your son,” would have been met with: “You surely aren’t worthy, and don’t even think you are going to enter into father’s house. No, you will be staying with the servants until we can test the validity and sincerity of your heart.” Imagine, how discouraging. Surely the prodigal would have responded: “Yes, I know, I’m unworthy and useless; send me out with the servants.” You see, the father didn’t even allow the prodigal to go through his long, prepared speech of penance and remorse. The father represents Golgotha, while the older brother represents Sinai. Who is preaching in your church this Sunday? Is it the older brother, preaching from the Law of Moses constantly exalting, prioritizing and focusing on human failure and shortcoming? Is there continual emphasis on why people aren’t healed, why families aren’t saved and why revival hasn’t come? Are there constant paths of five steps, seven steps, twelve steps or twenty-five steps to breakthrough and victory proclaimed in your pulpit? Then it is the older brother preaching. The message is from Sinai. When we preach from Golgotha, there is a lavishly loving Heavenly Father with arms wide open, welcoming the lost and despairing son. The message from Sinai has no power to change lives; instead it arouses in us a desire to sin. The message from Golgotha transforms lives.

Christianity from Sinai is Christianity without the Gospel. Move your pulpit to Golgotha. That’s the message that transformed the world 2,000 years ago, and when preached, it will have the same effect once again.

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