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The differences between the contemporary American gospel and the biblical gospel are vast, deep, and profound. They represent the distance between heaven and hell and are as stark as the differences between life and death.
The biblical gospel starts with God.
The American gospel starts with me.
The biblical gospel focuses on the cross.
The American gospel bypasses the cross.
The biblical gospel calls for repentance and transformation.
The American gospel offers enhancement and self-improvement.
The biblical gospel points to our need for a Savior.
The American gospel portrays Jesus as a glorified life coach.
The biblical gospel calls us to crucify our flesh.
The American gospel caters to the flesh.
The biblical gospel says that as fallen human beings, we are wretches in need of God’s amazing grace.
The American gospel says that we are amazing and that God would be honored to get to know us.
The biblical gospel holds us accountable to God.
The American gospel holds God accountable to us.
The biblical gospel says, “This is who God is. This is how He feels. And we are here to please Him.”
The American gospel says, “This is who I am. This is how I feel. And God is here to please me.”
As I noted previously, “Over 70 years ago, A. W. Tozer wrote his famous article on ‘The Old Cross and the New.’ In it, he explains, ‘The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect.’”
The modern cross goes beyond that. It does not redirect the sinner. It empowers the sinner. “Come to Jesus and become a bigger and better you!”
The biblical gospel pronounces us guilty before God, worthy of eternal judgment.
The American gospel rejects such talk as “religious” and condemning. “One must never make the sinner feel bad” is the unspoken rule.
John Newton (1725-1807), a former slave trader and author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” also wrote these words, describing his conversion experience: “My conscience felt and owned its guilt, And plunged me in despair; I saw my sins His blood had spilt And helped to nail Him there.”
The American gospel cannot relate to any of this.
According to the American gospel, the lost sinner should not feel guilty, only affirmed. There should be no despair, only encouragement. And it was not our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross as much as the affirmation of our worth.
With preaching like this, no wonder we have had so many shallow, false conversions in recent decades. The contemporary American Jesus doesn’t save. He enhances.
He is the convenient, pain free, always available additive that makes life go better.
As for a Savior, who needs one? We are simply good people who have been hurt by others and have lost our way.
But we ourselves are not lost. We need understanding, not saving.
This mentality offers pretty band-aids to people with heart disease.
This is why the American gospel cannot cure the patient. It fails to recognize he is terminally ill.
All this stands in stark contrast with the true gospel, especially as it is preached during seasons of revival and spiritual awakening.
As the British author Arthur Wallis (1922-1988) wrote in his book “In the Day of Thy Power,” “This overwhelming sense of God, bringing deep conviction of sin, is perhaps the outstanding feature of true revival. … To cleansed hearts it is heaven, to convicted hearts it is hell, when God is in the midst.”
The arrows strike deep. The recognition of sin and guilt is intense. The cries for mercy are loud.
But the revelation of God’s love that follows is overwhelming. The discovery of His mercy is indescribable. The experience of His forgiveness is absolutely liberating.
As for the conversions, they are real and they are lasting. Bondages are broken. Lives are transformed. Sinners are redeemed. Jesus is glorified!
This is the biblical gospel.
This is the reason for the cross.
This is the expression of God’s infinite love.
As Paul wrote, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), the greatest preacher of his day, once said, “A spiritual experience which is thoroughly flavored with a deep and bitter sense of sin is of great value to him that hath it. It is terrible in the drinking, but it is most wholesome in the bowels, and in the whole of the after life.”
He added, “Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Savior. He who has stood before His God, convicted and condemned, and with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honour of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.”
Enough with the contemporary American gospel which saves no one and misplaces the faith of multitudes.
May it be spoken of no more, except in the annals of identified false doctrines and heretical teachings, and may the counterfeit be replaced by the truth.
To quote Paul again, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
It is high time we get back to the biblical gospel.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries and is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.