We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Does the Gospel Require?

This past Sunday our pastor was teaching on Romans 1:16-17, and just what defines the Gospel.  During his sermon, he told about a conference for pastors he had just attended.  While he didn’t state as much in the sermon, I learned later that it was a conference put on by the Evangelical Free Church.
It seems the keynote speaker at this conference said churches today have the message all wrong.  Pastor Steve told us that the keynote speaker said, “Churches are filled with weak, apathetic Christians whose lives do not differ from people outside the church.  Therefore the issue must be the message.” 
So far, I had to agree with the speaker - to a point.  Sometimes the message can be perfect, yet the people just don’t listen or don’t apply it.  I see it often.
Steve continued telling us what the speaker said: “He went on to explain to us that the Gospel required more than faith - it requires life change.”  Steve then said that the pastors and colleagues around him were all shaking their heads in agreement - much to his amazement.
Well, the point Steve made, and what discerning Christians should know, is that there is only one thing required by the Gospel for salvation - faith in Christ’s work which paid for our sin.  Salvation is by “faith alone”!  We don’t have to change our lives to be saved; a person may not even have a chance to change his life if he gets killed soon after believing the Gospel (such as in combat). 
Too often people confuse sanctification with salvation.  We don’t need to change our lives to be saved, but once we are saved we will naturally change our lives to conform with our profession.
What is sad, is that people I talked to afterwards said they never would have caught that erroneous teaching, which put them right there with the other pastors at the conference.    
I read once that discernment isn’t the ability to tell right from from wrong, rather it is the ability to tell the difference between right and almost right.  And that is certainly what was needed in this case.
What about you - can you tell the difference between right and almost right?  If not, you need to get back into the Word.

14 comments:

A Watchman on the Wall said...

In the days in which we live each of us must be as the Bereans and check all things out to see if they be true.

Deception is most subtle in its pursuit.

Hermana Linda said...

I caught it right away, but my pastor drives home that point often.

Debra said...

Thanks, Glenn for commenting on this all too common movement within the Church right now.

Lordship Salvation is everywhere and growing at a breath-taking pace. It blurs the lines between justification and sanctification. It often aligns itself with Calvinism . . or comes out of hyper-Calvinism, but not always. And it is not static. . . it morphs into a more virulent type over time. Just in the last six months I have heard, at my church alone, teachers and authors claim that you may not be saved if you are not a member of a local church body, if you are undisciplined in your Christian walk, if you do not define the sovereignty of God as Calvinists do, and if you do not adhere to the "five points of grace" in your understanding of soteriology. Those are just the reasons given to "reexamine your salvation" that I can remember. I heard one person say we should reexamine our salvation on a daily basis. I even read one author who claimed that Paul did not believe the Corinthians were true believers since he said they were carnal. LS followers must deny that there are such things as carnal Christians, so now they claim the books of I & II Corinthians were written to non-believers.

I would love to see you do an article on the issue of Lordship Salvation. I have lived in a very personal way the damage these doctrines can do to the security and peace of true, committed believers. Thanks again for pointing this issue out.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Debra,

Thanks for visiting and your comments.

As for doing an article on Lordship Salvation, there are so many commentaries about that on the net that I don't know if I could add anything to it, and I really haven't studied the issue into any depth.

What I have studied often misrepresents some of the teaching I have heard. For example, some people teach - and I agree - that if you are saved you will change your life; it is impossible for one in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit to continue in a lifestyle defined by sin so one really does have the right to question one's salvation if there has never been any change in their life - faith does indeed result in works. Some people's lives will change more slowly than others because sanctification is a process which affects different people in different ways. But that is a far cry from saying that one must change their lives TO BE saved.

There is such a thing as "easy believeism" which I agree is prevalent today - say a little prayer, sign a paper, and - poof - you're saved, so go about as normal and never give it a second thought. A person who never gives it a second thought obviously was not serious about what they subscribed to. Too many testimonies have been told by people who went forward at altar calls (which I am vehemently against as being unbiblical) due to peer pressure!

Having these opinions has in the past gotten me labeled as a proponent of Lordship Salvation, which totally misrepresents my beliefs.

I see a lot of the L.S. theology coming more from Calvinists, and I think that is part of their "perseverance" ideology; those people are not living a persevering lifestyle so they are obviously are not saved. Leastways that's how I see it. But I may be wrong in that assessment..

Anonymous said...

I guess you could accuse me of being a proponent of "lordship salvation" and perseverance ideology. There is a real fine line between all of this...Glenn, when I read what the guy said it sounded to me like he was right in his theology but his communication was not as clear as it could have been. We do not believe that you must change in order to be saved. You are saved by grace through faith. BUT repentance (a change of heart) is the other side of the coin of faith. They go together. Real faith includes repentance and a new heart. See Jeremiah 31:31. God grants a person the grace to repent and believe the gospel. Repentance and faith go together, they are of one piece. In fact, in the Bible the words often go together and sometimes are used interchangeably. Perseverance is nothing more than believing that those whom Jesus died to save will continue in faith until death or rapture. He is faithful and keeps us in Him until that Day. Our faith cannot fail because Jesus Christ cannot fail. He didn't fail to save anyone and He cannot fail to keep them until the end.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

No, the guy's theology was NOT correct.

The gospel does NOT require life change for salvation. Only faith is required for salvation. Yes, in order to have the faith that Christ paid for sins, one must acknowledge that they are a sinner and repent of their sins, but they are not required to change their lives before they can be saved. Period.

Anonymous said...

According to your quote, the man didn't say, "...the Gospel required more than faith for salvation..."

No, he said, "the Gospel required more than faith." Period.

This is an important distinction. The Gospel may only require faith for salvation, but in terms of living our lives it requires a good many other things:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Unless you think these things (and others like them) are merely optional suggestions, to be followed or abandoned at one's own whim, then the Gospels do indeed require more of us than faith.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,
How about defining the Gospel? The Gospel is that Christ died for our sins and was raised again from the dead, and in order to acquire that payment we must put our faith in Christ. That's it. Just faith in Christ. The gospel says nothing about sanctification or works, etc; it speaks only of salvation. Don't confuse the gospel with sanctification!

Anonymous said...

You don't consider the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to be part of "the Gospel"?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

You are equivocating with the word "gospel." Yes, the first four books are called "gospels" because they give the account of the Gospel. Read Paul's definition of the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15 and tell me where it says that the Gospel message includes changing one's life in order to be saved. What about Rom. 10:9 - where does it say, "And, oh, by the way, this doesn't count until you've changed your life first.

The point is that salvation does NOT require a changed life - the changed life comes after. To say other wise is to make a works-oriented gospel.

Anonymous said...

Your whole premise is based on your opinion that he's stating:

“He went on to explain to us that the Gospel required more than faith for salvation - it requires life change.”

But that's not what he's saying. His sentence doesn't contain those two italicized words.

And I'm not equivocating with word Gospel. It's commonly used to mean the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. That's a fact. Just as it's a fact that they require us to do things like:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Unless you think these things (and others like them) are merely optional suggestions, then the Gospel does in fact require more than faith.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

My whole premise is base on first-hand information from someone who was there and fully understood what the speaker meant; i.e., that the gospel requires more than faith for salvation.

The Gospel is ONLY about salvation, not sanctification. That is the problem with your thinking. So because it is ONLY about salvation it is only by faith. It does not require a life change to accept the gospel. The life change comes about BECAUSE of the gospel.

Again, you are equivocating with the word “gospel.” It means two different things here. Speaking of the “gospels” of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the word refers to them because they tell the story of the gospel. But the gospel itself is as Paul out line it in 1 Cor. 15. There is no such thing as works being required to accept the gospel.

I think we’ve beat this horse into the ground; end of discussion.

Anonymous said...

"My whole premise is base on first-hand information from someone who was there and fully understood what the speaker meant; i.e., that the gospel requires more than faith for salvation."

We could have avoided beating this into the ground if you'd merely clarified this six posts ago.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I thought it was VERY clear in the original post, and in all the comments responded to yours!