ARE WE PREACHING THE WRONG GOSPEL?
BY: BRENDA IMUS
As Christians we are very aware of the sin in the world. We tell others that they (and we) are sinners, in need of repentance. We see, and stress, the depravity of man in a fallen world. Everywhere we look we see the evidence of our rebellion against God: Death, Sickness, War, Crime and Pain of every description, inwardly and outwardly.
But which is greater? The depravity of man, or the goodness of God? Which message do we dwell on, and which one do we preach? What is the glory of the Father, and the gospel of Jesus Christ? That man is depraved and deserving of judgment or that God’s goodness and grace is greater than any depravity? Do we really believe that His power can draw men from utter sinful darkness unto His light? No matter how great that darkness? Do we believe that He forgives murderers? Adulterers? Dope addicts? Rapists? Homosexuals? Do we understand the depth of His power toward deliverance? Or that He accomplishes all His will by the power of unconditional, sacrificial love? No programs, conditions or gimmicks – just sheer love and grace. No matter how ‘bad’ we’ve been, He calls… until our last breath, he calls… infinitely patient, He waits.
What is He waiting for? He’s waiting for His prodigal son – the one covered in hog waste and stinking of utter depravity – to come and darken His door, so that He may make him welcome in His house, and celebrate his return. He doesn’t tell us that we need to get cleaned up so that we may come to Him. No! He says, “Come to me…” while we are yet sinners. That is His goodness! That is His glory! Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Do we offer this same grace to one another, and to our unsaved loved ones? I fear that my answer, often, would have to be ‘no.’ I’ve preached a message of the depravity of man, the need of man to repent… I’ve judged the abortionist, rather than prayed for him. I’ve bemoaned the decadent state of our youth, rather than reaching out with wide-open arms to draw them in to the household of God. I watch the horrors of the mass murder of young people, or the evils of ethnic cleansing, unfold on television, and say, “Oh, how far we’ve fallen! How awful we’ve become! Where will it end?”
But we’ve not fallen one bit further than we did when Adam first sinned! All we’re doing is reaping the fruit of that fall–which was complete. In our natural selves, we’re not one bit better than those boys who pull the trigger on their classmates, or the soldiers who persecute innocent citizens. Though we may live an outwardly exemplary life, teach Sunday School, and donate blood to the Red Cross every month, their fate would be ours – and deservedly so! – except that God, with infinite mercy and love, called us unto Himself. Why did He extend us such grace? So that we might minister the same unconditional love and reconciliation unto others. Even the ‘worst’ of sinners. Especially the ‘worst’ of sinners!
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve been preaching the ‘wrong’ gospel! Why tell a fallen man that he is fallen? He already knows this! To tell him he’s a sinner doesn’t change him from being a sinner or save him from his sin–it only serves to heap condemnation upon his head, and further alienate him from the One he views as being his judge. But the Day of Judgment has not yet come… we are living in a time when we may call God our Father. Father, receive me. Father, help me. Father… love me. Isn’t that the inward cry of every heart? Isn’t that the message that will draw sinners unto God?
Are we presenting Him to His lost children as judge… or as their ever-loving Father? Are we unconsciously believing that many sinners are simply ‘too far gone’ for Him to reach, and thereby limiting what He might actually accomplish through us – if we would but believe Him for it?
I’m beginning to really understand, down to the marrow of my bones, that God is going to do an unprecedented thing in this generation. He is going to call unto Himself those who are considered the ‘worst of the worst.’ He’s going to save murderers… and homosexuals… and thieves… and those who feel they have no hope. And through these obvious ‘sinners,’ He is going to manifest His love, and mercy, and grace… and GLORY!!! And everyone will know that this is the work of God, and no man.
I Cor. 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Watching in wonder,
WRONG GOSPEL, ARE WE PREACHING THE [Brenda Imus] 1