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Considering the Gospel | Assumption and Adjustment

Each day that we live is a day that assumes. In reality, the assumption of life goes beyond the scope of our comprehension and sight. This is saying that we don’t even see everything that we assume. In the life of the church, the true believers of Jesus Christ, there is a silent assumption that is killing the wisdom of God. (Eph 3:10) This is the assumptive Gospel.

What I mean by this is that there are many people who live with a mouthed profession and a proposed confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. A stated belief that is good, however, when the covers are peeled back, a huge assumption is found lying in decay under the nicely made sheets. This assumption says, “I said the words with my mouth, so I am saved and am a child of God.” This assumption also goes to this point, “Therefore, I have confident security in my own actions in regard to my salvation and am OK with God, period.”

While a confession “could” be proof spiritual adoption by the Father and true adoption empowers such a confession, the confession in itself most of the time is not a confession at all, but a lie. A confession is a statement of absolute truth. In other words, when a criminal confesses to a crime after being caught, he or she “agrees with” the courts and admits what is true. The action of the crime and the confession of the crime are married to the evidence that agrees with such statements and actions. So, as a believer in Christ, one’s confession must also follow this mold.

So, in this context, I want to make a confident observation in the area of most confessing Christians. Jesus asked a question in Luke 6:46 by asking, ““Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” See, Jesus is very clear here, among other places, that if we are truly His, our hearts will be in tune with the Father’s will, law and glory. He gives a huge test in Matthew 22 by telling the Jews that the greatest commandment is to love Him above all things and the second of equal importance is to love others as much as you love yourself.

This is what Christ “tells believers to do” and if one is a true believer, then they will most definitely follow this rule. Any other action contrary to this is a slap in the face of the true Gospel, a diminishing of the true nature of the church, which is the body of Christ who died for the church to present her holy and blameless. (Eph 5) Now back to the assumption.

For many who claim Christ, their lives do not “look” like their claim. They do not follow Christ but only “think” they have His ticket to eternal life. In some cases, Christ isn’t their treasure at all, but life and assurance of not experiencing eternal death is their joy, not Christ. This is a dangerous assumption, this is an “adjusted” Gospel and in the words of Paul, “…not that there is another one (gospel), but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:7)

I have seen this played out my entire life. People who claim Christ and then get hurt because of their own selfish desires to have things their way. “So-called” Christians who are willing to sacrifice love and worship for honor and pride. Men who force their ways on others in order to be the one who wins in life. People who hold grudges and refuse to fellowship with someone because of differences of opinion. These are just a few things that are seen in the body. Their root is plain and simple: depravity. The sinfulness of man will rule if the Holy Spirit of God is not in them.

So, how does one get an “adjusted Gospel”? The “Together 4 the Gospel” pastor’s conference this year dealt with this theme directly. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, gave a lecture on “The Trajectories Toward and Adjusted Gospel” and is well worth your listen.

Dr. Mohler gives eight ways the Gospel has been lost or adjusted and he makes it very clear that the church must return to an “Unadjusted” Gospel. Until the church comes to this reality, those who live in a world of assumed salvation with no fruit in their lives are those who are condemned already and on whom the wrath of God remains, despite their faith in their gospel.

The Trajectories to an Adjusted Gospel: (Highly Truncated and Surface Listing)

  1. Modern Trajectory – This is the thinking that says, “It is impossible to believe in the New Testament when we have such modern inventions.”  This line of thinking gives an open line to complete meltdown of essential doctrine and desires to “rethink” the manner of the scripture and its truths because we are smarter than we once were.
  2. Postmodern – In a nutshell, this line of thinking says, “It’s OK if the scripture isn’t the “final” authority, because we can still get a lot of “good” out of it and we’ll just stick to that.”  For example:  The benevolent, let’s love everyone into heaven gospel.  Or the, Jesus is a good role model gospel.  This thinking says that what “I” think is true is true for me and what you believe is OK too, even when it isn’t what I believe.  This destroys the meaning of scripture and defines salvation depending on the weather or feelings.  This moves to defining God and the bible based on what people “think” not on what it actually “says”.  Current teachers of these ideas are Brian McClaren and Rob Bell.
  3. Moral – “The Gospel is immoral because it breeds a degrading of man.”  This thinking eliminates the truth of God’s holiness and desires to see all mankind as essentially good and moral and they are victims of their circumstances and environment.  This thinking says, “hell, sin, wrath and judgment push people away from the love of God, so let’s stop talking about that.”  Many people who teach from this point of view would say that God was an abusive Father because He allowed Christ to suffer on the cross.  This line of thinking says, “This is not fair, God is not fair and His plan of salvation is not fair.”  Well, ask even my 5 year old what fair is, she’ll say, “that we should all be in hell and receive judgment.”  Dr. Mohler says, “God is perfect and “fairness” does not apply to God because perfect is superior to fair and fair CANNOT question perfect!”  Amen.  Brian McClaren also fits into this teaching and teaches that the scripture is a library of learning that we should be careful around.  The scripture says it is absolute truth… so who’s wrong?
  4. Aesthetic Trajectory – “God is sooooo beautiful!”  This type of thinking devalues the cross and gives the idea that we can “win” people to love the beauty of God.  Mankind, however, cannot see God’s beauty until we see our ugly and the ugly that sin has caused.  Some would say, “we don’t need a bloody cross”.  That thinking takes away the beauty of God and His salvation of an undeserving people.  The cross is beautiful even though it is not pretty.  Paul stated, “I chose to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified lest the cross lose its power!” (1 Cor 1)
  5. Therapeutic – This is the largest group of Gospel adjusted people in the country, the “Oprah” gospel.  This says that we are sick but we don’t know why and we need therapy.  For those who are not in therapy at the moment they are “envious” of those that are and find a reason to get therapy for themselves.  The rescue of the soul in this linking is “internal” fixing of one’s sickness that was brought on by mom or dad or the job, but not sin and depravity.  This thinking removes the need for Christ at all but, if you want Christ as part of your therapy, then fine, but understand you go with what “works for you!”  This is a majority of the unchurched in this country and is continually perpetrated by “Christians” who fall into the psychological “needs” trap and try to mold therapy into the gospel of Jesus.  Christ is sufficient alone for salvation.  (**I am not knocking therapy, just the idea that one’s soul and life is “found” or “fixed” through it.”
  6. Pragmatic Trajectory – This started in the garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve, after falling from God’s Glory, decided to do something to “cover” their transgression.  They made clothes out of leaves.  This thinking says, “all solutions must be pragmatic.”  This is the area where most pastors and leaders spend their time.  They consider what someone can “take home” and “use right now.”  Well, the gospel is the power of God above all things, so, what else does one need?  One of the main reasons for this is prideful accomplishment and personl desire to see growth.  Pragmatism is immediate, like fast food.  Could you imagine waiting in line at Burger King for them to grind up beef, bat it out, season it and warm up the grill?  Nope.  And in the church, we have forgotten that the fruit is the Spirit of God, not the heart of man.  This type of thinking results in management, not magnificent worship.  This “cult of efficiency” produces crowds that are not the church and the change in their lives is not regeneration.  (I’m not sure if I wrote this in my notes from a quote from Mohler – if you find it, let me know.)
  7. Emotional Trajectory – This thinking looks for an emotional reward and runs away from what causes an emotional cost (salvation and repentance).  This thinking weighs the reward vs. cost and decides that the reward of feeling and happiness outweigh the cost of joy and life that is not immediate and has to be fought for.  It’s like the junkie who just keeps using wanting that high from old, never to find it again.  Emotionalism is replete in most mainline word of faith churches and churches that put musical feeling and worship style as a high priority.
  8. Materialist Trajectory – This thinking says, “If I can see it and hold it, then it’s real.”  This is the prosperity gospel like that of Joel Osteen, that makes Jesus as a giver of all sorts of gifts and the stays with the idea that if people can find a tangible reality in Christ, then Christ will be more appealing and real to them.  In other words, the “world” is what I really want, so Christ can give it to me.  I’ll write more on this thinking in later posts, but for now understand that this thinking is dominant in missionary efforts across the globe.  A good video on this from Dr. John Piper can give you a quick five minute feel for the problem.

What is the bottom line with this assumed gospel?  That everyone who has an assumed gospel has no gospel at all.  They are those who “think” they have life and their lives are spent pursuing their own desires, passions and treasures, including their own religion, feelings, and spiritual growth for their own glory.  They do not cherish the one true God who is Jesus Christ as their all satisfying everything!  Let us pray for them.  Pray for us, that we might be true to our confession in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Look at the words of Christ in Matthew 7.  May the AUTHORITY of the scripture destroy your assumed Gospel and give you life in Christ alone!

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

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