Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ashamed of the Gospel Chapter 6 "The Power of God Unto Salvation"

Romans 1:16 (NASB95)


For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

MacArthur begins this chapter discussing how those in the seeker movement believe that we live in different times and therefore we need a different message.  The argument goes like this: people don't have the stomach to listen to strong bible teaching today.  They want a message that is only encouraging and positive.  He talks about how pastors are encouraged to survey their congregations and communities to find out what people's felt needs are and then shape their sermons positively around these things.  They are encouraged to keep their messages short (20 minutes) and full of anecdotes and light.  MacArthur rightly points out that no message like that will have much biblical power!  I love the way he sums up the futility of market driven preaching:

The simple reality is that one cannot follow a market-driven strategy and remain faithful to Scripture. Preachers who concern themselves with user-friendliness cannot fearlessly proclaim the whole counsel of God. Those who aspire to preach a timely message will find themselves at odds with the timeless truth of the Bible. Ministers who take their cues from USA Today rather than from God’s Word will quickly discover the message that seemed so relevant last week is now yesterday’s news. Preaching that conceals the unchanging gospel behind the fleeting issues of our time cloaks the very force that makes good preaching truly powerful. After all, it is not our anecdotes, applications, how-tos, jokes, catchy titles, clever outlines, or other contrivances—but the gospel that is “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16).

MacArthur goes on to show how in the book of Romans it is clear that Paul's whole life and minister is committed to the preaching of the gospel.  He considers Himself a debtor to every person (Jew and Gentile) because he has been given grace as the greatest debtor (in his mind).  His debt owed was to preach the gospel to everyone.  MacArthur points out that the gospel is not just the "ABC's" of the gospel, but the whole message of Christ in scripture.  Paul saw it not only as his obligation, but also as his joy to preach this gospel.  He was "eager to preach the gospel."  Why was he so eager to preach the gospel.  Because he believed that is was the "power of God unto salvation for those who believe."  The problem with shaping out sermons around felt needs is that people really don't know what they need, and added to that they don't want the treatment they need for the problem they have.  God does know what we need and He is generous in His prescription for us!  We need the gospel!

MacArthur goes on to show that many have subverted the message of the gospel by making it a man centered gospel.  The seeker driven gospel is this "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."  It is as if God is just hoping that you will consider him because you are so special and he can't live without you.  When in actual fact God does not need us, but we need Him!  The problem that we have is that we were created by God to serve Him and bring Him glory and we have turned our back on Him and gone our own way.  Because of this we deserve His wrath forever (Romans 1:18ff).  There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves from this wrath. God's righteousness must be honored.  Because of this the guilty must be judged.  But there is good news (gospel), God has chosen to provide righteousness for us in His Son.  This is why Paul says that in the gospel "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith."  Jesus is the perfectly righteous Son of God and the Son of Man.  He died in the place of sinners, was buried, and rose again.  In doing so He satisfied the righteous demands of a Holy God by taking sin's curse upon Himself.  He offers all of His righteousness in exchange for all of our sin if we will turn to Him.  This way God can be "just and the justifier of sinners." Then the just shall live by faith!  God desire us to be righteous as His children.  We are given that righteousness through Christ through His righteous life and His sacrifice, and then we are given the power as Christians to daily put off unrighteousness and put on His righteousness.  This is why we need the gospel to be preached to us every day in its full orbed explanation throughout scripture.  

Because of this we cannot have a steady stream of man centered "self-help" messages from the pulpit.  We need the gospel of God unfolded throughout scripture in full strength.  The seeker driven church does not want a steady stream of messages that point out our sin and our need for a Savior, but this is what we need!  We need the gospel!  MacArthur reminds us that we don't need a different message today: 

If church history teaches us anything, it is that different times and different societies do not require different messages. Those who preach anything other than the unadulterated gospel forfeit the power of God in their      ministries.

Charles Spurgeon said the modernists of his day were trying to devise “a faith fashioned for the present century—perhaps we ought rather to say, for the present month.” He wrote,

The idea of a progressive gospel seems to have fascinated many. To us that notion is a sort of cross-breed between nonsense and blasphemy. After the gospel has been found effectual in the eternal salvation of untold multitudes, it seems rather late in the day to alter it; and, since it is the revelation of the all-wise and unchanging God, it appears somewhat audacious to attempt its improvement. When we call up before our mind’s eye the gentlemen who have set themselves this presumptuous task, we feel half inclined to laugh; the case is so much like the proposal of moles to improve the light of the sun.… 

  Do men really believe that there is a gospel for each century? Or a religion for each fifty years?

Spurgeon clearly understood that those who desired to be embraced as “relevant” by a changing world could not and would not long remain faithful to the unchanging Word of God. He quoted approvingly from a letter written by Henry Varley to the editor of a periodical titled Word and Work. Varley wrote, “Revelation, which is unchanging, is not fast enough for an age of which it may be said, ‘Change is its fashion.’ All the more necessary, therefore, does it become to ‘hold fast the form of sound words,’ and contend earnestly … ‘for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’”

May we be faithful to only preach the only message that has the power of God unto salvation today: the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous

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