Summary: Many of the problems we’re experiencing the church in America can be traced back to the fact that we’re only preaching part of the gospel ("believe in Jesus") while ignoring the rest of the basic gospel message laid out by Paul in Romans.
A Burden On My Heart: In many churches today it’s not so much that we’re preaching a false gospel as that we’re preaching an incomplete gospel.
- Quite a while back, God began to point out to me a lot of references throughout the NT to a particular truth (and I’ll get into what that was here in a minute) that we almost never mention. This was not something that was a peripheral issue, but something that would be at the core of the message of our faith. So, I began to do a lot of heavy lifting and deep digging into the Scriptures, taking lots of notes and trying to put together all the pieces.
- What I found was that we are indeed, in my opinion, failing to preach the whole gospel. We have allowed our repetition of a certain way of talking about salvation to blind us to what the Bible says is the whole gospel message.
- This is not some big conspiracy. I just think it’s because of a number of straightforward reasons, the most obvious of which is that we get lazy in studying our Bibles. We’re too quit to accept what everyone says is true without doing the deep digging into the priorities and focus of the Scripture.
- In the end, what I was looking for and what I found don’t come from some hidden corner of Scripture or some secret interpretation of some obscure passage. It comes from the entire first half of the greatest theological book in the Bible - the book of Romans.
- It was, once I saw it, hiding in plain sight. In fact, it made me wonder how in the world we could so regularly and frequently miss it. And yet, we do.
- In fact, at one point in my digging, I looked up how the three biggest names in evangelical circles talk about salvation by going on their websites and looking up their gospel presentations. All three concentrated on only one of these and only one even mentioned in passing more than one of these.
The Whole Gospel:
[start with point 2 because that is what is preached, even though the order is right in the outline]
2. We can get right with God through faith in Christ.
- Key verses:
a. Romans 3:21-24 - Righteousness of God through faith in Jesus.
b. Romans 5:6-8 - Christ died when we were without merit.
1. You have to repent of your sins.
- Key verses:
a. Romans 1:18-19 - Everyone has sinned.
b. Romans 2:1- You’re guilty too.
c. Romans 3:9-10 - No one is right before God.
- This is essential for two reasons:
a. You cannot understand the Good News (Jesus died to save you and give you new life) unless you understand the bad news (you’re a sinner in need of salvation).
- Gatens/Osteen story - At Gatens for the Christmas memorial service, I asked Chad who I was replacing (because I’d been called only a week before). He joked, “Joel Osteen.” I said, “It’s a good thing then, because you need someone who preaches the whole gospel.” Someone asked me about that (it turned out he’d gone to Osteen rallies) and I said, “He only preaches happy stuff and the thing is that you can’t understand the Good News until you grasp the bad news.”
b. The other reason it’s especially essential today is that we’ve become so skilled at excusing sin.
- Am I really that bad of a sinner?
- Review 10 Commandments
- No other gods before God.
- Don’t take Lord’s name in vain.
- Keep Sabbath (worship and rest).
- Murder (feel hatred?).
- Adultery (look with lust?).
- Steal (office supplies?).
- How many of those are you failing at?
- Beyond that, what about relational sin? That is, everything that I do that I do primarily to get what I want out of someone.
- Beyond that, what about knowing that Jesus was perfect, so every way that I am falling short of living out the sacrificial love of Christ every day is sin.
- What we’re good at is not avoiding sin, but sin management. We still have our sin, but we work so that we keep it hidden and quiet.
- This is a big problem today because we often don’t preach repentance but instead just preach believe. You can’t really understand grasp what Jesus did on the cross unless you realize you’re a sinner.
- Many today are simply told to believe without being asked if they believe they are a sinner in need of salvation. If you’re not a sinner, what do you need to be saved from?