Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

The Danger of Leaving Out Any of the Gospel

I am now “facebook friends” with the one-and-only Dr. R. Albert Mohler, the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  After he “accepted my friend request,” I took the opportunity to shamelessly appeal for him to read one of my poems, “It Was For Joy That You Died For Me.”  After the shameless ploy, I decided to read the poem with my “Dr. Mohler Goggles” on- meaning that I decided to read it, as best I could, considering his perspective.

I have received from my brother an understanding of the Gospel, in its most basic form, as “God, man, Christ, response.”  As Dr. Mohler is one of the 4 founders of “Together 4 the Gospel,” I assumed that, if he read the poem, he would be looking for the Gospel.  With the help of my “Dr. Mohler Goggles,” I soon realized that there was no mention of “response” in the poem.  There was no call to believe in Jesus, to repent of sins, and/or to persevere in faith. 

Although I jokingly shared the “Dr. Mohler Goggles” concept  and my realization with others, I did not change the poem.  Whilst enjoying my kicks and giggles, there was some serious contemplation as well, whereupon I stumbled upon the seriousness of leaving out any of the four major parts of the Gospel. 

If we leave out God, or if we leave out that He, as our just Creator is sovereign over us and will judge us, or minimize either Him or His authority over us, then I think the greatest effect is that the need is not, or at least not fully, realized.  Only when a sinner realizes that God is real and that He will judge us, combined with the obvious reality that we are guilty before Him, will he or she realize that Jesus truly is, as He said He is, the way, the truth, and the life.  And only then will the sinner realize that the only hope is to believe in Jesus, repent of his or her sin, and persevere in faith.  If we have sin, Christ, and response, then our greatest danger, I think, is those who either disbelieve in God or throw Him in their backseats or on their bookshelf or dresser with their Bibles until it’s time to go back to church.

If we leave out sin, then the need is once again minimized or unnoticed.  Only when a person realizes that his or her virtue in comparison with others carries no weight before God, that our sin makes us guilty with God, and that the wages of our sin is death will he or she acknowledge that we are under the wrath of God and only have two options.  1) We pay the penalty for our sins with our blood and our death, and spend eternity suffering our just due, or 2) we trust in Jesus and trust that He paid our penalty in full, becoming our substitute and suffering the wrath of God on our behalf, and in exchange we receive His righteousness which enables us to be reconciled to God.  If we have God, Christ, and response, with no sin, then our greatest danger is people who trust in their own righteousness before God because they are “good” compared to those around them.  Nobody is capable of absolutely fulfilling both the positive and negative standards of righteousness of Christianity; not because they are impossible, but because we are infected with sin.

If we leave out Christ, then there is no hope.  Christ is vital as the only answer to the situation in which we find ourselves, because He is the only solution for the problem that we have as “sinners in the hands of an angry God” (Jonathan Edwards sermon).  Also, it is impossible to have a correct understanding of the proper response without Christ.  The only saving faith is faith in Christ Jesus, and repentance must be both a turning away from sin and a turning to Christ.  I think that this is probably the least commonly left out of the four, at least when there is only one of these four vital aspects of the Gospel left out.  If Christ is left out, then at least one of the other four is most likely also left out. 

If we leave out the proper response, as I did in the poem, then we leave open the door for universalism.  If we sufficiently proclaim God, sin, and Christ, without clarifying that salvation is contingent on the sinner responding to the Gospel with faith, and a faith that is obedient, leads to repentance, and perseveres until the end, then we run the risk of people believing that Christ has either redeemed all people or redeemed all who intellectually assent to Christianity, but do not have to make any changes to their lives.  It is true that we are saved by faith alone apart from works, but it is also true that faith without works is dead.  We are saved by faith alone, but the only saving faith is that which leads to obedience and repentance, and which perseveres until the end.  By leaving out the only right response to the Gospel, we also leave the door open for those who would believe that Christ is one of multiple ways to God.

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July 20, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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