The Church’s Loss of Faith in the Gospel
This article is a collection from numerous other men’s writings that concur with my belief that the major issues of the world exist because the Church of the Living Christ has lost faith in the power of the gospel. We are 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.
Presbyterian Pastor, Chris Strevel, asserted in a sermon back in 1998: “To our shame, we have lost our faith in the transforming power of the gospel. Few Christians sincerely believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most powerful force on this planet. We are willing to give the gospel a certain relevance and power in a few scattered individuals, but what we see it do in a few, we do not believe it can do in the majority. In so thinking, we self-consciously believe that the forces of evil are too powerful to be dislodged, unbelief too stubborn to be overcome, and unbelieving human authorities too numerous and well organized to be resisted on a broad scale successfully. This loss of faith in the power of the gospel is outright rebellion against Christ, treason against our Prince, and faithlessness to our solemn charge. If Christ has given us a command and instructed us to have a certain expectation, not to obey and believe is sin, betrayal, and cowardice. The fruit of our unbelief is the pagan culture of these United States. Christ has not done a mighty work here in recent times because of our unbelief. We have a culture of our own creation, the creation of an unbelieving, ashamed, and compromised Church that would rather be tolerated, respected, and prosperous than confront wickedness in high places, call heresy, heresy, and unashamedly stand for Christ's interests regardless of how the newspapers, general public, or even its members respond.
“We have constructed various eschatologies that undermine the historic faith of the Christian Church, our Standards, and the plain teachings of Scripture. These have in common their lack of faith that the gospel of Christ. They have abandoned the Scriptural contention that Christ has given the Church everything she needs to make disciples of the nations and convert this world to himself.”
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. I think more of us should run for public office and serve in civic life. All of us should be aware of the issues and in conversation with our political leaders. 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.
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. Ever. 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.
“It needs to be identified and announced. It does its own work. We have sufficient numbers of vocational ministers. I don't think we need more people offering religious platitudes and dispensing good advice. We need to see Jesus as the central figure of God's world. His story needs to be told with confidence. If we ignore it, we will burn ourselves out trying to do what the gospel would have done if given a chance.
“Those who hear and embrace this good news will find themselves caught up in a whole new culture -- living to give, begging to serve, bowing to worship, rising to speak -- and ready to die in this wonderful experience of eternal life. The gospel is good news to the lost and better news to the saved.”
Rev. J. Marcellus Kik has said: “The Word of God is just as powerful in our generation as it was during the early history of the Church. The power of the Gospel is just as strong in this century as in the days of the Reformation. These enemies could be completely vanquished if the Christians of this day and age were as vigorous, as bold, as earnest, as prayerful, and as faithful as Christians were in the first several centuries and in the time of the Reformation."
Great God, in Heaven, enable your Church to recover faith in the gospel of God and begin to tell it out and shout it out, and let the whole world know – Jesus saves and changes everything, beginning from the bottom-up, not top-down. The gospel believed personally and applied pervasively will begin to impact the culture locally, then nationally and internationally! I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief!