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.
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 ”
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.