A few days ago the elders of our church gathered together to discuss various aspects of our fundamental beliefs, the trying social issues of our day, and several “what if…” scenarios. One such topic was the gospel message of salvation Christ. We noted a damaging trend of recent years in how the message of salvation has been presented. Often the message today goes something like this: God loves you and wants you to follow Him. Live righteously and He will bless your life, then, when you die you will go to heaven.
This is a damnable gospel message! — No… really… it is damnable! Paul, writing to the Galatians, affirms :
“I am astonished that you… are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all…. You But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! …If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (see Gal. 1:6-10).
What is the problem with this contemporary pseudo-gospel message? There is no mention of personal sin, no mention of God’s wrath against sin, no mention of the hell that awaits the unrepentant!
Scripture informs us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… of wisdom…” (Prov. 9:7, 1:10). God is Loving — that’s why He sent Jesus – but He is also Holy and Righteous and it is just this holiness and righteousness that can not allow Him to overlook sin, to act unjustly. If He did, he would be neither holy nor righteous.
Just believing in God is not sufficient. “The demons also believe – and tremble!” (James 2:19). They know there is no salvation for them! Jude urges us to use all means possible to draw men and women to God:
“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 22,23). (See also 1 Cor. 9:22b).
The gospel message is this: We are all impure, sinful, and under the wrath of God, but in His love God has given His Son to bear that wrath. We must repent… turn around… fall before Him as Saviour and Lord. When we do, He transforms us, sees us as holy… sees the righteousness of His Son and fits us for heaven.
The true gospel begins with fear and ends with love.