March 16, 2017

Shocker: Paul Preached the Power of the Gospel as the Main Message


You might be shocked to find that the teacher's main message in the largest church in the USA is not even close to the main message of Christianity. Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest US Christian church, basically teaches and implies that our main goal in life is to feel positive. And after reading about John Piper's Christian Hedonism, you might be shocked to learn that the Apostle Paul emphasized gospel power, not personal pleasure, and the great privilege of sharing the gospel for God's glory out of gratitude for what Paul had already obtained in Christ. And if you were to watch a YouTube video of Paul Begley, you might be convinced that understanding biblical prophecy and being an End Times watchman are the most important aspects of life for a Christian, as opposed to embracing and sharing the simple gospel. And if you are following teachers dedicated mainly to helping the poor and bringing justice through a progressive social gospel, you might be shocked to learn that this is also not the main intended focus and purpose of life.

All of these teachers are offering good things: being positive, finding pleasure in God, understanding prophecy, as well as helping the poor and enabling justice. But none of these outline the main intended points of focus in life, according to the Apostle Paul. And while it is important to study the whole of scripture and to know the whole counsel of God, it is also important to be a doer of the word and not just a hearer of the word (James 1:22). Of course no one is perfect, but spiritual teachers should at least try to guide people with accurate messages and goals.
 
This subject of the powerful gospel was addressed in a good sermon that I heard on Sunday, and it came to mind when I read about an ex-Luciferian, Jacob McKelvy, who was recently drawn to Christ and became a believer after a church intentionally prayed for him. The pastor of their church made a clear statement that it was better to pray for this lost soul than to picket against him. And in August 2016, the fruits of their prayers were understood when McKelvy felt compelled to walk into Spring First Church, where he asked to meet with Pastor Robert Hogan. And this is a summary by the Luciferian's ultimate choice of Christ:

 “(W)e were once covered in darkness and bound to each other in Luciferian covenant,” Jacob McKelvy said. “We were mired in the shadows of the adversarial influence and knew no love outside of each other. Today I rebuke, denounce and break the satanic covenant by the blood of Jesus.”

This subject offers a good opportunity for all of us Christians to reflect on our lives and ponder whether we have our life priorities and goals in line with God's priorities and goals. And to ask if our main message in line with God's main message, and the message of the powerful gospel. Ultimately, the purpose of existence can be summed up in four words: "To give God glory." (Revelation 4.11), and this is described in a different post, linked here. And another post outlines the core essentials of the Christian faith, linked here. But this post focuses on our great privilege and priority of sharing the gospel message in this life.

Philippians 3:10 outlines the priority of knowing God:

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,"

1 Corinthians 2 outlines the central power of the gospel:

"And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. God’s Wisdom Revealed by the Spirit We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God."

Because there are so many people misrepresenting Christianity and the gospel, this is a very important subject to study and learn about. Many will claim that you need to join a certain organization or denomination in order to be considered a true Christian and to receive eternal life. But this is not presented anywhere in scripture. And other people will try to add extra burdens and legalistic demands onto the Christian after receiving the gospel, but Colossians 2:6 makes it clear that this is not an appropriate attitude. When asked about why he does not preach about sin in his church, Joel Osteen emphasized that he only wants to say positive things. And when asked about homosexuality as a sin, he stated, "There's a lot of things, Larry, and I don't understand — so I just don't want to preach on it, preach about it," - however, if we don't mention the concept of sin, then in reality we can never offer the concept of the gospel.
     
While Osteen's approach in avoiding the concept of sin is egregiously heretical, if we are not careful to study and consider the whole of scripture, then we can end up misrepresenting scripture with more subtle heretical errors, as is the case with John Piper, linked here. Both the Old Testament and New Testament confirm that God is a holy and jealous God. And it is a bit shocking to me the manner in which teachers are willing to misrepresent God in order to try to entice more people, and perhaps to sell more books as well. People won't be feeling very positive in hell, if that is where they end up due to a watered-down, feel-good message that avoids the concept of sin.

The Christian gospel Paul preached was not a humanistic egocentric gospel based on personal pleasure, it wasn't a health and wealth gospel based on personal improvement, and it wasn't a heavily activist socially-oriented gospel, it was a healing gospel of power that was able to restore man back to his original state of relational fellowship with God, and cure mankind from the terminal disease of sin and spiritual death. A wise person once said: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

The gospel message is both very simple and very powerful.

1. Through Christ alone: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)

2. A gift by grace: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)

3. Perfect righteousness from God by faith: "...and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." (Philippians 3:9)

4. The power of a spiritually transformed life: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1.16 NIV)

5. To continue to live in freedom and grace: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him," (Colossians 2:6 NIV)

Questions:

Am I living to know God and to make God known as my main priorities?

Am I accurately presenting the gospel as a Christian?

 
Tags: main purpose of Christians, main goals of Christian life, the simple power of the gospel, simple truth of gospel, false teaching, main focus of life, main message of Christianity, sinless gospel, gospel without sin, Osteen heresy,

Related:

How can we Most Glorify God in our Lives?

Core Essentials of The Christian Faith

Powerful Gospel Video Sermon by Jeff Durbin on YouTube


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