Family time for the four of us will be coming to an end far too soon. We really want the girls to embrace God’s truth and Danny will likely be away to school next year, so us four, together in the Word, will be coming to an end. I remember preaching a sermon one time when Danny was around nine or ten and said that we were about half-way to prepping her to be slungshot out into the real world. The time goes by so quickly.
Some of our most precious times have been reading the actual Word together. I remember reading through a couple of chapters one time and they were amazingly attentive. It is a fond memory that I have. We have also read through various books. We studied ‘Big Truths for Young Hearts’ by Bruce Ware, a book written for kids. We also read a book by R.C. Sroul NOT written for kids! It seemed that I was always changing the words as I read so they would get it. The last little while we have been walking through a thin book called ‘Big God’ by Orlando Saer. I downloaded it a while back because a respected author recommended it over ‘Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God’ by J.I. Packer, even though that’s a book that he still recommends.
I love the subtitle of the book: ‘How to approach SUFFERING, spread the GOSPEL, make DECISIONS and PRAY in light of a God who really is in the DRIVING SEAT of the world.’ That kinda sums it up well.
In one chapter he addresses how we live in a world that likes to make the gospel more relevant and in the process of doing that, we adjust the gospel, we alter it to engage more people…but what ends up happening is that you may engage more with a less than pure message…a false message. I really like his three examples.
The social gospel. This is about transforming the social systems right hear and now. Jesus came to bring equality and to deep six poverty and oppression. This message gets the basic plan right, Jesus did come to initiate God’s kingdom but it has the problem wrong. ‘Our biggest problem is not the effect of other peoples’ sins but the effect of our own.’
The prosperity gospel. This is all about the material comforts for believers going up. Jesus came to fatten my bank account and give me pain-free health. It does get God’s favour right, He does pour His blessing on His people. Jesus did promise abundant life in this lifetime (John 10:10) but not necessarily in the way that the prosperity gospel promises. On this side of Heaven, we are promised pain (2 Timothy 3:12) and we may or may not be blessed materially. Your best life is later.
The therapeutic gospel. This gospel is about boosting my happiness and fulfilment. He came to make me feel loved and raise my self worth and make me feel better about myself and give me purpose and significance. The reality is that Spirit-empowered joy and great hope are stellar marks of a genuine believer but the gospel is less about improving my life and is a whole lot more about rescuing me from my sin and eternity separated from Christ. I say to my shame that this was a message that would sometimes slip into my preaching and I thank God for His correction.
The key thing is this: because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, we are born in sin because we’re their descendants. We try and do good stuff to get to God. ‘I don’t cheat on my taxes or my spouse or on my tests at school. I give to charity. I try to behave. I try to do good stuff’ and all of these things that we do to gain brownie points with God, fall short. We are born outside of God’s camp, a long way from God because of our sin and nothing that we can do will get us to God…but the work of Another can. Jesus came, fully God and fully man, and lived the perfect life and died a sinner’s death and rose again on the third day. He came to experience the wrath that was meant for us because of our sin. If we repent (turn from our sins by God’s grace) and believe (trust Him in faith that Jesus died as our substitute) we are adopted into God’s family…we become new creations in Christ. The Spirit of God had been previously working in us to draw us to the foot of the cross for forgiveness.
So when you listen to a speaker at church or on TV or if you’re reading a book, be watching for different gospels…which are really no gospels at all. Only the genuine gospel has the power to save.
 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)