Archives For gospel

It is biblical to speak of “obeying the gospel,” although I’m sad to say that the way I’ve most often used that phrase is not very biblical. I’ve often said, when someone was baptized, “He obeyed the gospel,” as if obeying the gospel was something that was accomplished by being baptized. That is not a very biblical way to speak of someone “obeying the gospel.” It is so much more than being baptized, because a person is never finished obeying the gospel.

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Welcome to Radically Christian Q&A, the two-minute show where we answer your tough Bible questions with honest Bible answers. This show is brought to you by RadicallyChristian.com and Baker Heights church of Christ. Our question today is, “What about those who never hear the gospel? Will those who never hear the gospel be lost?”

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Keeping the Message Relevant

Wes  —  February 12, 2013

As it pertains to Christianity, and specifically preaching, a term I hear more and more is, “relevant.” I am constantly hearing, “Congregations need to keep their preaching and teaching relevant, if they want to grow.” I certainly don’t disagree with that sentiment. Obviously, the opposite of relevant would be irrelevant; I don’t think we need irrelevant sermons and lessons. So, should we endeavor and strive for greater relevance in a hope to retain and gain people in our pews?

Mirriam-Webster defines Relevant as, “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand.” Certainly, that should define the message we preach; it should always have bearing on the matter at hand.

But, isn’t the message we are supposed to be preaching the gospel? The gospel of Jesus Christ was relevant in the First Century and is just as relevant in the Twenty-First Century. We must understand it is not the job of Christians to make the gospel relevant, but to help the world see the relevancy of the gospel!

That will always be a struggle. The Christians of Paul’s day struggled to help the world see the relevancy of the gospel, just as we struggle to help them see it today. Paul said the wise men, the scribes, and the debaters of his age considered “the word of the cross” to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-20). In other words, they saw the message and the messengers as being completely (and laughably) irrelevant. Yet, Paul did not change the message to suit the people. He didn’t try to make the message hip, cool, or wise. He simply preached the gospel,

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).

The worldly minded will always see the message of the cross as foolish and will always see Christians as fools! When we try to make ourselves seem wise, cool, hip, and eloquent – we miss the whole point! Paul said that he was not sent to preach the gospel “with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17). In other words, when the messenger becomes what’s relevant, the message becomes irrelevant.

In an effort to be relevant, many have changed the message and are now preaching a completely irrelevant message. They are eloquent, they are cool, they are popular, and they have essentially “emptied [the cross of Christ] of its power.” They have crafted and customized a palatable and relevant message for the people, instead of helping the people to change their perspective and understand the timeless relevancy of the gospel.

The Bible is being treated, by many, as a practical self-help guide to life. The Bible, to many, is simply a guide to what they need to do to have God make them more happy. After all, that’s the relevant message people want to hear. In their theology, it seems God exists to bring happiness to man, rather than man existing to bring glory to God. This self-centered theology may be socially relevant, but is eternally irrelevant.

We could spend our time trying to make people think we’re funny, witty, cool, and up-to-date with all the latest technology. We could make people believe the message is all about them and their happiness. Or, we could spend our time showing people the spiritual transformation which can happen in their lives through the power of the gospel. Let us preach Christ and say to the world, “Put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

May we never become a people who are socially relevant and eternally irrelevant! Instead, let us do whatever we must to show the world the eternal relevancy of the cross!

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

Hundreds of inmates in a Mississippi prison, which houses illegal immigrants, rioted this past Sunday. One prison guard was beaten to death; several others were seriously injured. Many would read this story and think about our country’s illegal immigration problem. Others, would read this and blame the company that runs the prison. However, in some ways, I honestly blame myself; myself and thousands of other Christians.

Many of us are guilty, because we know the solution, yet are doing little to deal with the problem. The real solution is not in electing new officials, passing new laws, or even enforcing old laws. These things may very well be necessary, but only deal with the symptoms of the problem. The real problem is that these souls have made themselves slaves of sin (Romans 6:16). They are trapped in a hopeless and meaningless existence.

There is only one solution to their problem, and chances are you know the solution. You know that their only hope is the Gospel; the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is only by hearing, believing, and obeying the Gospel, that these violent men can be “set free from sin” (Romans 6:7).

Young kids, growing up on the streets, in this country and around the world, need to hear the message of God’s grace. They need to hear about Jesus Christ. They need to hear about salvation. That’s what will keep them out of prison in the first place.

[box] Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”[/box]

And for those who are already in prison, this may be the best time of their life to hear the gospel. Many of them have hit rock bottom. They are desperate for a change of life. Plus, they often have the time to sit for hours studying the Word of God. If we would only reach out to them with the Gospel, many of them would receive it gladly.

Thankfully, there are congregations of the Lord’s church who are teaching and preaching to those who are incarcerated. J. Randal Matheny wrote a post recently about the Baker Heights congregation, in Abilene, Texas. That congregation recently baptized eight souls, from the Taylor County Jail, into Christ. I am so thankful for Christians who understand the urgency of reaching people with the gospel.

The question is this, if we know the gospel is the solution to this horrible problem, how do we not shoulder some responsibility if we fail to teach and preach it?

[box] Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”[/box]

Events like this prison riot are a sobering reminder that the responsibility for changing the world belongs to those who know the Good News; we must share what we know with a lost and dying world!

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

 

Several times this week I have been asked, “Will those who have never heard about Jesus go to hell?” Certainly neither you nor I are in charge of who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. However, I believe we can look at the Word and determine the answer to this very chilling question.

Tribal Man

In order to determine the answer to this question we must realize several truths:

1) All have sinned (Romans 3:23). Whether a man has heard about Jesus or not, he has committed sin. There are people in the world who are kind, sincere, and even religious. However, there is not a single person walking the face of the earth who is “good” (Mark 10:18). Every person living has sinned and is need of the good news of Christ Jesus.

2) It is only “in Christ Jesus” that redemption is possible (Romans 3:24). If salvation were possible outside of Christ, He died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). Why would Jesus command His followers to spread the good news of salvation to ALL mankind (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16) if there were people who did not need to hear it? Everyone needs Christ and the spiritual blessings that come from being “in” Him (Ephesians 1:3).

3) Faith is necessary to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). If one must hear the word of Christ in order to have faith (Romans 10:17) and he must have faith in order to be pleasing to God, then he cannot be pleasing to God unless he has heard the word of Christ. Undoubtedly there are many kind and wonderful people throughout the world, some of whom may have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, no amount of kindness can earn them a place in the kingdom of God, for it is only “by grace through faith” that man can be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).

4) People can find the truth if they will search for it (Acts 17:27). Paul told those in Athens that God has “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope thatthey might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

It would be comforting to think that those living in remote places, who have never heard the gospel, were not responsible for obeying it. It would be nice to think that evangelism was not that important because God will have mercy on them who have never heard the gospel. However, Paul says that Christ will return “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

There may have been a time when God “winked” at ignorance “but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30, KJV). Our job, to take the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) is of the utmost importance because it is only him who “believes and is baptized” who will be saved (Mark 16:16).

Let us take our responsibilities seriously and go and teach the lost!