Don't Flaunt the Neutered Gospel
There is increasing pressure, even from preachers, especially so, to think that the Christian faith must be very passive, docile, inclusive, mere principles, not applications, never offensive, always expressly encouraging, never judgmental—certainly not that kind of religion the press should speak badly about.
Here is my observation as of late: As the world slanders Christians for this or that, there is very little encouragement to the Christians for having done something that brought them persecution. It is as if Jesus did not say, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account.” On the contrary, I am only seeing preachers call out Christians for somehow being the responsible party in the riffraff. I’m not saying they never are. They often are, “for if anyone does not sin with his tongue he is a perfect person.” But often they aren’t. Often the slander Christians endure is because, well, Jesus said to expect it! What a thing that is. “If they called the master of the house a demon, how much more will they malign the members of his house?”
If Christians cannot speak a word against abortion, antifa, looting, burning Bibles, pride parades, the BLM organization, Robin DiAngelo, intersectionality, and so on, then he has lost his saltiness. Jesus was gentle and compassionate toward humble sinners who recognized their faults. But he was sharp and heavy-handed toward those with no mind for his gospel. And he always told both of them the truth. “It is not the healthy who have need of a physician but those who are sick.”
I will answer a rebuttal that might have formed by this point. It goes like this: “But Jesus preached his hardest sermons to religious people, not the unbelievers.” This is true, and primarily it is true because Jesus lived his entire ministry in Palestine where nearly all of his encounters were with religious persons. He preached to the covenant people of God. So the rebuttal isn’t especially critical.
After Jesus, however, Paul’s preaching began riots. He called the Christians of Corinth out of the culture of idolatry, sex, homosexuality, carousing, drunkenness, the general ways of the world. He preached hard against the sinful environments of pagan peoples. We must also do the same.
I also desire to answer one further rebuttal. It goes something like: “Preaching against these sins will turn them away before they even hear the gospel.” But what exactly is the gospel? “It is the good news of salvation.” Salvation from what? “Death.” But for what did death come into the world? “For sin.” Yes, for sin. What is that?
The Christian gospel is only gospel against a backdrop and the context of the alternative of gospel—which is God’s wrath and eternal destruction. It makes very little sense to say to someone, “Jesus died for your sins...but I shall not speak of those now. For I do not wish to turn you away.” The whole of the gospel demands there be many conversations around the depths of the sinfulness and depravities of man! For then the gospel is GOOD NEWS. I utterly scorned my eternal Father. I rebelled hard against him. I kicked against the pricks. I chose poison over grace. I stood pompously, knowing nothing. I wandered forbidden paths. I trusted instinct over divine revelation. I lusted many things of the flesh. I suppressed truths of God I once knew. I was utterly depraved and sinful. And therefore I stood condemned before the God who made me. But God sent Jesus on my account. Needing to punish my rebellion, wrath loomed. Wanting to bear grace over me, a plan was hatched. Jesus should serve as my punishment. His perfect blood should stand as my covering. This is the gospel of Jesus. It is the greatest news in all the world.
So, I will preach very hard against abortionists, homosexuals, porn-addicts, atheists, hypocrites, racists (real racists by Biblical terms), lovers of the praise of men, lovers of self, preachers who preach for worldly gain, preachers who preach to gain mass followings, preachers who always craft words never to chide the world, Christians who stand quiet on cultural wickedness, those who have lost their saltiness, those whose god is their belly, those whose god is Trump, those whose religion is so-called “social justice,” and the list shall go on indefinitely. As society morphs, the precise applications do too. But the Biblical principles are always understood.
As one man said, the Christian must hold the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Should we forget that our work is a dividing sword, we cannot wear the name of Jesus. “Have no fear of them,” said he. “Proclaim what you hear on the rooftops,” said he. Out to a pack of wolves we go, and sheep we are. Fear not those who kill the body, said Jesus! Why, why would he say that?
I am not advocating for conspiracy or hurtful words meant only to rile. I am not promoting political partisanship. Obviously not. I am not promoting ignorant statements and memes unsupported by facts. I am critiquing the neutered gospel that so many have fallen prey to. I am critiquing those whose fears of man are cloaked as love and grace. Ah, love and grace—the truest of all virtues. But Love tells all truth. And Grace implies treachery. You cannot call your ministry a loving ministry if you do not tell people what they need to hear. Such is neither love nor grace. It is cowardice.
Preach the truth, my brothers. Preach it in love. Preach so that you might honestly say, “I am innocent of the blood of all, for I have preached the WHOLE counsel of God.” Preach it always with this specific heart: I love the souls of the many who are lost and now damned. Praise God for the gospel of salvation to which he is calling them.