A Great Recovery is Needed
Across our nation and around the world, masses of believers are praying for revival, spiritual renewal, and reformation. The little prefix “re” in all the aforementioned words, means “back to the original place”. If we go back to the original place, what will church look like?
At the height of the Cold War, Billy Graham visited Russia to meet with their political and religious leaders. Many conservatives in the US criticized him for not taking a more prophetic role. One accused him of setting the church back 200 years. Graham responded, “I am deeply ashamed. I have been trying very hard to set the church back 2,000 years.”
I assert we need a Great Recovery. The dictionary defines recovery as, “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” What is it we need to recover to be healthy, vibrant and victorious?
In my humble and sometimes accurate opinion, we need to recover the whole gospel that was proclaimed by the early church.
Professor Scott McKnight says, “I fear our churches are losing faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We no longer believe in the power of Jesus Christ to change people’s lives. As a result, churches have become political action committees, lobbying politicians to support various moral platforms to make our nation more “Christian.” Sorry, but no politician can do that. Only Jesus can.
“I’m not saying don’t be involved in politics. But we should do so, however, fully aware of the limitations of our government. While governments may punish bad people, governments can’t make good people.”
Martin Luther's counsel to pastors in modern terms was simple: "First we need to get the Gospel into their heads and then just keep pounding it down into their hearts."
The power of the Gospel is complete. Nothing "poses a threat" to the Gospel. The Gospel is God's power loose in the world. It will not be prevailed against. R.C. Sproul said, "You can't improve upon the Gospel because God put His power there."
My dear friend, Dudley Hall reveals the passion for the gospel that the Church must recover: “My passion is the gospel. I have been captured by the gospel as portrayed in the New Testament. I believe it exalts Jesus in a way that supernaturally transforms those who hear it. It presents Jesus as God's glory. It makes sense of the rest of history. It gives hope to all who have been defeated by the lies from hell. It is worthy to give your life for. It is the most powerful thing humans can handle. I am energized when I talk about it. I am enlightened when I read it. I am empowered when I preach it. I want every person to hear it. I want every Christian to unpack it. I want every sermon to feature it. I want every preacher to love it. It is what the young must embrace if they are to ever find their destiny. It is what every baby-boomer (believer) must rediscover if they are to make any difference in their lifetime. It alone offers change for those snared by powers beyond their control. It should be the theme of our singing, the subject of our conversations and the reason for our living. It doesn't need to be adjusted, or altered, in order to be relevant. It doesn't need to be "spun" in order to be marketed. It doesn't require additions or subtractions to make it attractive.”
When a partial gospel is substituted for the whole gospel, we Christians and churches begin looking for top-down solutions found in social activism backed by the strong arm of civil government, or in the ultimate top-down event – the Second Coming of Christ, where He uses omnipotent power to force all sinners into acknowledgement of His Lordship and then hurls them into hell. Far too many preach and teach that the gospel truth is not as powerful as Satan’s lie, and that sheer force must exempt saving faith if disciples are to be made of all nations.
A partial gospel says the power and the glory is not for us in the kingdom NOW, but for them in the Millennial Kingdom THEN. It says the Church mostly loses in the nasty now and now of history, but mightily wins in the sweet by and by of Heaven. It says supernatural gifts ended with the apostles and healing and deliverance is not for today. It says the best days are behind us and the worst is ahead. It sets forth little stories that have some meaning, but no Big Story that gives everything meaning. It expects little success in history and has not been disappointed.
It's time we repent of preaching a truncated partial gospel and recover the whole gospel that declares that the THEN of the kingdom has come currently, is coming progressively, and will come ultimately into the NOW of History! We need to recover a whole gospel that declares that the greatest event in history is not the Second Advent of Christ but the First. We need a recovery that embraces the “Big Story” gospel that will bless the nations with salvation, and not blast them with damnation!
The great recovery we need will take us back to the Bible to embrace a whole gospel that is God-enthralled, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, hope-filled, joy-charged, victory-oriented, sin-paying, disease-healing, devil-stomping, demon-delivering, and world-changing.
This type of recovery that embraces and expounds the whole gospel will transforms hearts, homes, and homelands. We pray for the Church of the Living God to recover the whole gospel – the one that got Peter and Paul killed, that caused world governments to tremble, and that set all hell on red alert!
Great God in heaven, let your Church recover a whole gospel that hurls them forth to the ends of the earth as kingdom ambassadors, marching from victory unto victory until all people groups on the earth have been turned into disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Lord, let thy Kingdom come more fully, thy will be done more freely, thy name be hallowed more pervasively – as it is above in Heaven so let it be here below on the earth, and all this for the fame of your great name!