The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

Friday, June 29, 2012

Back to Basics - of the Gospel

Why dilute the Gospel? Afraid of losing the audience, facing rejection, opposition, even persecution? This is how John the Baptist introduced the ministry of Jesus.

"I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am - so much greater that I'm not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire. John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News.”
(Luke 3:16-18 NLT)

That's quite an introduction. I’m not sure that would go over very well among some evangelicals today. Evidently judgement for rejecting the Good News is part of the Good News.

Jesus, “filled with the Holy Spirit’s power,” preached his first sermon from Isaiah chapter 61 in his hometown of Nazareth. His audience was "amazed at his gracious words" and spoke "well of him." However when he exposed their unbelief, they were infuriated and mobbed him in an attempt to kill him. (Luke 4:16-30)

Speaking the truth graciously does not preclude violent opposition to the message, or the messenger. Jesus felt no need to modify the Good News to make it more appealing. He evidently did not embrace a "seeker sensitive” strategy.

A few chapters later Jesus responded to a news report that Pilate had murdered worshippers in the Temple, with this message.

"Did you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?...Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And, you will perish, too, unless you repent and turn to God” (Luke 13:2,3 NLT)

The focus of evangelism should be on communicating the whole gospel, Good News that includes repentance or judgment for rejecting the Good News. After all the fruit of evangelism depends on the work of the God, not man.

“ one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” (John 6:44 NLT)

The success of gospel proclamation has far more to do with the evangelist being “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1) than personality, prominence, prestige, dressing down (or up) or any other attempts to be “culturally relevant.” Spirit empowered evangelism has no fear of proclaiming God’s judgment of unbelief.

The Apostle Paul’s testimony parallels Jesus’ example,

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the power of God...But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18,24 NLT)

“ message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 2:4 NLT)

You know the results.

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