Pastor Keith Williams,
High Prairie Bethel Baptist Church
In one of my counselling books Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. John Trent give some startling facts about marriage and divorce.
“Born-again Christian couples who marry…in the church after having received premarital counselling…and attend church regularly and pray daily together…experience only one divorce out of nearly 39,000 marriages, or 0.00256 per cent.”
How can this be when we hear so much about how Christian marriages fail just as often as non-Christian marriages? [Around 50 per cent.]
I think it has a lot to do with understanding the Gospel correctly. What do I mean? John MacArthur, in his book The Gospel According to Jesus is helpful here.
On a disturbing number of fronts, the message being proclaimed today is not the Gospel according to Jesus.
The Gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners. It promises them they can have eternal life, yet continue to live in rebellion against God.
Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Saviour yet defer until later the commitment to obey Him as Lord. It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity. If offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as wholehearted obedience to the truth.
Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.
This new Gospel has spawned a generation of professing Christians whose behaviour is indistinguishable from the rebellion of the unregenerate. A well-publicized opinion poll indicated that nearly a third of all Americans claim to be born again. Those figures surely represent millions who are tragically deceived. Theirs is a damning false assurance.
The church’s witness to the world has been sacrificed on the altar of cheap grace. Shocking forms of open immorality have become commonplace among professing Christians.
And why not? The promise of eternal life without surrender to divine authority feeds the wretchedness of the unregenerate heart. Enthusiastic converts to this new Gospel believe their behaviour has no relationship to their spiritual status – even if they continue wantonly in the grossest kinds of sin and expressions of human depravity.
It now appears that the church of our generation will be remembered chiefly for a series of hideous scandals that have uncovered the rankest exhibitions of depravity in the lives of some highly visible media evangelists. Most troubling of all is the painful reality that most Christians continue to view these people as insiders, not as wolves and false shepherds who have crept in among the flock. [Matthew 7:15]
Why should we assume that people who live in an unbroken pattern of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, deceit, and every conceivable kind of flagrant excess, are truly born again?
Yet, that is exactly the assumption Christians of this age have been taught to make. They have been told that the only criterion for salvation is knowing and believing some basic facts about Christ. They hear from the beginning that obedience is optional. It follows logically, then, that someone’s one-time profession of faith is more valid than the evidence of that person’s ongoing lifestyle is determining whether to embrace him or her as a true believer. The character of the visible church reveals the detestable consequence of this theology.
We want Christ as our Saviour, we just don’t want to do what He says.
Next week: High Prairie Victory Life Church Pastor Luc Portelance.