The Unity of the Gospel

What unites us as evangelical Christians in Northeastern Colorado? What common bond do we share that will help us truly impact this community?  We may have different worship styles and denominational affiliations, but there is one foundation that binds us together.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am afraid that we are living in an evangelical culture where the gospel is being assumed and whenever this happens, the next generation almost always suffers a drift into liberalism, pragmatism, and a down-grade on the most important message we are called to share. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul reminds us that the gospel is of first importance. He writes, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

The gospel is good news that we are to announce and receive. The gospel is the glorious message of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and the all the implications that flow from this. The gospel by its very nature is news that is to be broadcast. It is to be announced. It is to be shared, preached, taught, and communicated so that sinners who are under God’s wrath will repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

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The Awe of the Gospel

The glorious gospel of grace should evoke within us awe, passion, and thanksgiving. As those who have been saved by God’s amazing grace, we should be the most thankful people on the planet.  I want to share with you seven awe-inspiring reasons why I am thankful.

First of all, I am thankful that God sovereignly overcame my spiritual inability and depravity.  Romans 3:10-12 says, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” I was enslaved to sin and Jesus rescued me out of this pit of destruction and granted me saving grace.

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False Conversions

Do you have a category in your mind for a person who professes to be a Christian, but actually possesses no genuine faith in Christ? Is there such a thing as a false convert?  In Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus gives two parables that clearly illustrate the fact there are indeed those who may appear to be a follower of Christ, but in reality, have not been soundly saved.

In Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus tells the story of four types of soil which represent four types of people who all hear the word of the gospel. The first three soils hear the word, but it never takes root and therefore produces no fruit.  These are people who may appear to receive Christ for salvation or make a public profession of faith, but in actuality, have never been saved. They may have gone through a religious exercise or undergone some type of ritual, but did not experience the transformational power of the gospel deep within their hearts.

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The “Sinner’s Prayer” and “Altar Call” Evangelism and David Platt

At Emmanuel, we do not employ the use of the “sinner’s prayer” nor the traditional “altar call”. Both of these techniques are a product of 19th century revivalism and 20th century pragmatism. I don’t fault pastors, evangelists, or churches who uses these as ways to

evangelize, but we do not see any evidence in Scripture of a person being led through a sinner’s prayer where there are asked to “bow their heads, close their eyes, and repeat after me”. Nor do we see any type of altar call where sinners are called to the front of a sanctuary or stage to “make a decision for Christ”.

What we do see in the New Testament is a clear, bold articulation of the gospel and then a command issue for all people to repent and believe in Jesus.

In teaching our people to do evangelism and missions, we make sure that we focus on getting the gospel correct and then instructing them to ask people to repent and believe. We dont’ want to coerce a decision out of any one and we also believe in sovereign regeneration that God by His grace will open the eyes of a sinner and irresistibly draw him or her to Himself through the proclamation of the gospel.

David Platt, pastor of Brookhills Church, gives some great insight into this subject with precise pastoral wisdom and theological accuracy.

Below is a transcript from his article ”

Sinner’s Prayer & the SBC (Part 2 of 2)

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Summer Reading List

I am an avid reader and cannot get enough of consuming good books. As a pastor who has a seminary education, I have read my fair share of books. We can be profoundly influenced and mentored by Christian authors that the Lord has used to advance His kingdom. With so many choices out there in the evangelical sub-culture, how does a Christian discern truth from error—especially when it is in print?

Part of our spiritual growth as believers is to build a good library of doctrinally sound and theologically solid books that will encourage, challenge, motivate and stimulate us to love and good works. As evangelicals, we adhere to Sola Scriptura which means that Scripture alone is our sole rule of faith and practice. There is no other authority above the Holy Bible and we are to measure every teaching of man against God’s revelation in Scripture. Yet, God in His providence, has given gifts to His church through godly men and women who have written books for the growth of God’s people.  We should realize that all humans are fallible and no one author or pastor or theologian is above reproof or correction and can at times be wrong.

As we begin the summer of 2012, I want to recommend to you my reading audience “Sean Cole’s Top Seven Summer Reading List”. These are books that have profoundly influenced me and I believe that every Christian should own. Some are more accessible and readable that others.

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A Lengthy but Engaging Post from John Piper on Repentance

 

Letter to a Friend Concerning the So-Called “Lordship Salvation”

February 1, 1990 | by John Piper | Topic: Regeneration / New Birth

 

Introduction

Explanatory Note: In the February, 1989 issue of The Standard, the journal for news and comment of the Baptist General Conference, I published a very affirming review of John MacArthur’s book, The Gospel According to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988). One respected and effective minister of our fellowship responded to me with serious concern about what I was saying. The gist of his concern is seen in a few excerpts from his letter. I am going to change a few details so as not to draw attention to any one individual, because my friend speaks for many.

He said, “Near the age of fifteen I accepted Christ as my Savior. As I look back on my life, I can see He had powerful influence during my late teen years and early twenties. In my late twenties I began to be aware of the concept of Christ as Lord. As I investigated that concept and struggled with it, I realized that for Christ to be Lord, I had to submit everything to Him. In my early thirties I did just that. The concept of ‘lordship salvation’ that you support would mean that had I died at age twenty-two, that is, before Christ was Lord, I would not have gone to Heaven.”

Dear Friend!

Thank you for taking time and interest to respond to my review of John MacArthur’s book, The Gospel According to Jesus. I have heard of your love for Christ and your faithfulness in evangelism and discipling. This is plain also from your response. And I thank God for it. I hope these things can be discussed in a way that will minimize widespread misunderstanding. If you see any misrepresentations of your thinking please let me know.

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The Father’s Bargain

I love to read the Puritans. Here is a tremendous quotation from John Flavel on the amazing transaction that took place before the foundation of the world between the Father and the Son.

Here it is:

Here you may suppose the Father to say, when driving his bargain with Christ for you:

Father. My son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls And thus Christ returns.

Son. O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shalt thou require it. I will rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

Father. But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them, I will not spare thee.

Son. Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: and though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, (for so indeed it did, 2 Cor. 8: 9. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor”) yet I am content to undertake it.

Blush, ungrateful believers, O let shame cover your faces; judge in yourselves now, has Christ deserved that you should stand with him for trifles, that you should shrink at a few petty difficulties, and complain, this is hard, and that is harsh? O if you knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in this his wonderful condescension for you, you could not do it.

~ John Flavel