by Paul Benson
Discerning The True Gospel
If we are going to find true revival we must first embrace the true Gospel. This issue in itself can take divine intervention. To find true biblical Christianity amid the deceptive counterfeit presented by most ministers in this nation is a miracle for sure. In the message commonly heard from most pulpits today there are many elements of true Christianity that have been tossed aside in favor of a more user-friendly message. How can we distinguish the true from the false?
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7
Rarely do you hear a minister (or a TV or radio preacher) preach on the reality of a literal fiery eternal Hell; or the call to a holy and sanctified life-style. The topic of modern preaching most usually centers around the prosperity and preservation of self. The goodness of God, but never His severity. A false balance is abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 11:1). And even more rarely is the standard lifted which demands that a person turn from their sins in genuine repentance to receive the gift of God’s grace.
New Wine In New Wineskins
It is important to realize that once we are filled with God’s grace and the power of the Spirit we now have not only a means, but also a mandate, to stay free from defilement. Many people who have desired to follow Jesus are truly perplexed over the fact they once felt the touch of God upon their lives, but somehow it has dwindled and faded to little more than a condemning memory.
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. Luke 5:37-38
In the days Jesus walked the earth as a man the bottles they used were made of animal skins. As these skins would age they would get less supple and develop weak spots. New wine has a tendency to be quite active, and would expand an old wine skin beyond it’s limits, causing damage to the wine-skin, and a loss of its contents.
New wine had to be put into fresh skins. The Lord was not just trying to scratch up a message here to pass the time of day. This teaching was vital to those who would be the foundation of the Christian Church. Jesus was using this allegory to impress upon them (and us) the importance of repentance in entering a life of faith in Him. Sin in the life of a believer is like a crack in the wine-skin; leaving the vessel empty, and unfit to be refilled.
Why Preach A Powerless Gospel?
A gospel that does not proclaim the absolute necessity of turning from your sins is not the Gospel of the Bible; and will not produce lasting fruit. Countless church goers have been deceived into thinking they can embrace a life of faith and still retain their former life-style. This is what many people are hearing from the ‘modern’ pulpit. Most of today’s ministers are more worried about increasing their attendance numbers than they are about preaching a life changing message.
They are so concerned about preaching in a manner that will cause the maximum number of people to return (with their checkbooks) that they preach next to nothing that will confront sinful mankind with the standards of a holy God. They usually make a few token stabs at sin but then negate any standard they have presented with words of pacification. As Vance Havner once put it: “Half of what they say cancels out the other half; and they end up having said nothing at all.” Amen Brother Havner!
I personally have witnessed drunkards, perverts, and drug addicts being told “God loves you, and He accepts you just the way you are”. This is not the truth! Does God love us just the way we are? Yes, He sure does; and we are quite thankful that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Thank you Jesus! But to leave a sinner with the impression they are acceptable to God without turning from their sin to obey the will of God is a perversion of the Gospel; and a sin against God and man.
Following the example of Jesus
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17
Here we have a record of the start of Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry. Jesus went forth and began to preach what? Repentance! He knew that if this foundation was not laid the house would not stand. He knew you could not skip this step and have a successful outcome. He also warned of Hell twice as many times as he promised salvation. How many today are following his pattern of ministry?
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27
Some mistakenly say this parable is about having Jesus as your foundation (as he is the rock) but if you read carefully you will see it is obedience to his teachings that is the solid foundation that will carry you through the storm. Seeing the absolute necessity of repentance and obedience in entering a life of faith: let’s look at what true repentance is, and what it is not. (To be continued in part II)