Tag Archives: Gospel

The Gospel is at stake if “Heaven is for Real”

There are many reasons why I will not read and will not attend the upcoming movie “Heaven is for Real.” The most important is that I will not be lead astray by accounts about heaven or hell that are unbiblical and unwarranted. I have come across a variety of responses to these kinds of accounts. Some might see these as mildly entertaining and essentially harmless. Others would argue they serve as conversation starters with people who are otherwise closed off to the Gospel. And still others would go so far as to argue that this (my response) is why some in the world outside the church are disenchanted with the church.

I would like to give an answer to each of these.

1. A Lie is ALWAYS harmful

If we, as the church, are going to entertain every frivolous account about doctrinal questions, we need to stop complaining about the church being too strict on other doctrinal subjects. Whatever might be wrong with the church and anything else we may want to complain about related to what people are doing in the church are not reason enough to entertain lies. Lies are deadly. Any argument to the contrary undermines the testimony of the bible and reason itself. In fact, a lie is the reason sin entered the world and lies are the reason hell exists. Lies are eternally harmful.

trust me, I'm lying

2. A conversation starter about faith in Jesus should not begin with a lie, but with the truth of the Gospel.

Not only are lies harmful to the church, a believer’s witness and faith, a lie should not be the opening statement of the Gospel to a non-believer/seeker. This is pure madness. Not only does it show a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit/God’s Word/God/Jesus, it trivializes the problem of sin. We have to stop allowing the world the access of dictating to us, the church, how it should do its work and fulfill its mission.

I know there are many who think I am overreacting. And they may be right. But, my question is why aren’t more believers reacting at all? The problem is if we never react at all, when the time comes for the needed strong response, it will be too late. We will have waited too long and lost too much ground. The truth must be the bastion of our faith and evangelistic efforts.

3. What the world thinks about the church should not cause the church to give ground on truth

I find myself growing wearisome of the constant droning about why this group or that group are leaving the church. Could it be more true that people are leaving the church for the same reason they leave everything else? Maybe the church is not “me” centered enough. It is possible that people are leaving the church because we are trying harder to get them in the building, rather than spending time trying to get HIM in the building.

I am not going to allow those who are not on the journey of faith with me from altering my focus and direction. There are many issues the church needs to address, many concerns that must be answered. But, these issues and concerns will not be solved by listening to the masses. It was the crowd that called for the death and crucifixion of Jesus. Or have we forgotten this as well?

The world and those who love it are not the counselors we should seek. Only the counsel of God is necessary and will be sought.

Whether we like it or not, the Gospel is at stake if “Heaven is for Real.”

The following video by Dr. David Platt provides a succinct and compelling reason for avoiding material (regardless of medium) that is not clearly and undeniably grounded in God’s Word.

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Lent Day #6 | The Power of Truth

We are living in a world that is growing more and more disconnected from any idea of what truth is. It seems that truth has become personal rather than universal. It is a preference to have rather than a principle to be adhered to. As we walk on this earth we will be faced with a difficult choice. Will we uphold the reality of truth or will we cave to the pressure to remain silent?
Continue reading Lent Day #6 | The Power of Truth

The Gospel and Black Cats

This past weekend I saw something with my own eyes that I would not have believed it had not happened right in front of me! My family and I were going to the mall here in Columbus and getting some amazingly, delicious Auntie Anne’s pretzels. (They are my favorite! But, I digress.) We had gotten our snack and were headed over to the playground to lets the girls run around and burn some energy.

So we arrive at the stop sign and I see this small sedan pass right in front of us and come to an abrupt and complete stop. I was wondering what was going on, and that is when I saw it. A black cat ran out from the grass and darted across the road, right in front of the car. From were I was I could see the driver and she had this look of panic on her face. What stunned me was what happened next.

The driver put the car in reverse and backed up very quickly, made a right turn and passed us. I looked over at my wife and said, “Did I just see that happen?!” It was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. As I have thought about it over the last several days, I have come to realize that superstition can be a powerful reality in the lives of people. But, what does the Gospel offer to us as believers when we face something like this?

First, the initial thought that I had was, “How sad.” This woman almost caused an accident because she was motivated by fear. A fear based on a lie. That cat crossing in front of her car was not a bad omen. It was just a cat crossing the road. The apostle Paul gives Timothy a challenge as it relates to these kinds of occurrences.

7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. — 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Second, the Gospel is truth and it takes away any reason for entertaining “irreverent, silly myths.” When we stand in the light, all darkness disappears. That is the wonder and beauty of light. The reality of God’s love and of Jesus’ example and sacrifice means we no longer have to fear crossing cats, walking under ladders, spilling salt, breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella indoors or any other superstition this world has.

The Gospel represents freedom. The kind of freedom the driver of the car did not have.

Gospel Basics: Seeing the Goodness of the Good News

Purchase here: Kindle Edition or Paperback

No Running from Romans 1

Romans 1:16-17 has been the catalyst for a radical transformation in my understanding of what God desires in us as his people. Paul writes these words after a brief introduction:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

These two clauses have done more to ruin my tendency to sugarcoat what it means to be a pastor and a Christian than any other verses I can imagine.

The message and retelling of what Jesus did and what he secured for all who believe is so incomprehensible, the longer I think about it, the more my brain hurts and my heart yearns to see him. The Gospel is something that will never grow old, tired or weak. What happens is that our sensitivity to its message wains because we do not fully see its depth.

The Power of God For Salvation

This phrase, “the power of God for salvation,” can be difficult to understand on the surface. But, what stands out is that whatever it means there is an undeniable and unbreakable link between the Gospel and salvation. These two realities are so closely link by this text that if the Gospel is not proclaimed, then there is no salvation. And, if no salvation occurs, then the Gospel was not preached. The power, the dynamic active component necessary for salvation is the Gospel proclaimed. Why is this the case? I have no answer other than to say that is the way that God designed it.

If we take Peter’s declaration in Acts 4:12 that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” then we have to draw a straight logical line from the Gospel to Salvation. When the Gospel is clearly and intentionally presented, and the work of regeneration is done by the Holy Spirit, then salvation is the necessary byproduct. If this is not the necessary effect, then the power that Paul talks about is not present.

I think you can begin to see the problem. IF we, the modern church, are proclaiming the Gospel, then why are there not more people “getting saved” in our churches? We have one of at least two choices. Either, we are not preaching the Gospel. Or, the Gospel has no power? But, we know that the second of these options is not reasonable. Therefore, we are left with the first. There is something wrong in our Gospel presentation. The conviction that the Gospel should elicit has somehow been tamed, softened, dulled.

The Righteousness of God Is Revealed

Clause number two is just as potent as the first. This clause is interesting because it makes an unusual assertion. What makes this assertion unusual is that it ties God’s righteousness to the Gospel itself. Paul said that “in it” the “righteousness of God is revealed.” Wow! That means that every time the Gospel is accurately, faithfully and completely proclaimed God’s righteous acts toward sinners are on full display for all to see. If anything qualifies as a theological mouthful, this is it. The danger inherent in this claim is that the opposite is also true. When the Gospel is NOT accurately, faithfully and completely proclaimed God’s righteousness may be missed at best, and diminished beyond recognition at worst.

What I realized, as the weight of these verses landed on my heart, is that I do not want to be the reason that someone else does not hear the Gospel accurately. If you have not discovered that the Gospel can be unpopular at certain times among certain people, you will. It can be difficult to preach, teach, proclaim and tell the Gospel without shrinking back. However, I realized that I was unwilling to fail at being a faithful steward of God’s News to a fallen world. I do not want to be the one who would deny sinners the opportunity of encountering the righteous God and creator of the world. That is too high a cost for being liked by my peers.

My Hope For Gospel Basics

This book is my attempt at deciphering the fullness of the Gospel’s message. It is not an exhaustive treatment of the Gospel. I do not think that such an approach would be wise. I just wanted to remind myself and any who read it, of the Gospel’s beauty and simplicity.

It is not written with a lot of technical language, but there are important biblical concepts and theological ideas discussed. It should not take to long in reading. My hope and prayer for Gospel Basics is that it might serve as a reminder of what we have received in and because of Jesus.