Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What Gospel Are You Hearing? The Powerless Gospel

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7 NKJV

16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile Romans 1:16 NLT

 We've been engaged in a study of what the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is and what it isn't. What is the true Gospel? As Thayer's  Greek word study defines, it is the glad tidings of salvation through Christ. The proclamation of the Grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ. 

What isn't the Gospel? We have seen thus far that the Gospel isn't a hopeless message. It isn't angry or sad tidings. We saw last time it isn't a hyper-holiness message. Today, I sense the leading to look at two extremes masquerading as the Gospel. When anyone takes a truth to the extremes, or out of the boundaries of clear Scripture, all your left with is an error.

The Prosperity Gospel

 What do I mean by the "prosperity gospel"? First, there is only one Gospel, and that is the Gospel of Grace. Allow me to define what this "prosperity gospel" is.
11 If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures. 12 But if they do not obey, They shall perish by the sword, And they shall die without knowledge. Job 36:11-12 NKJV
This is the modern "prosperity" message. The idea is that if you just live perfectly upright all your days, you will never have a problem or never go through any trouble and only have a life filled with ease. Elihu spoke these words to Job, attempting to prove this. 

 This "prosperity" message is erroneous because it adds to the Gospel. This message places much emphasis on the efforts of men. One's performance is essential in receiving what is promised by the peddlers of this message. 

 The "prosperity" message promises all who adhere to its claims will be rich and trouble will be far from you. Of course, all this is contingent upon how much money you can give, and keep giving consistently. When the responders give and give until they have nothing to give, and don't see what was promised, the proclaimers of prosperity, are quick to point out some flaw in performance. 

 In essence, the message then relies completely upon your giving, and your ability to live a sinless, perfect life. The Cross and Finished Work have little to do with meeting your needs. This isn't good news. We don't add human effort or perfect performance to the Gospel. We don't add outlandish claims that all who hear will be a millionaire to the Gospel.

The powerless gospel

 I wanted to dispel the extremes of the "prosperity" gospel before I begin to shed light on this opposite extreme. If the "prosperity" message adds to the Gospel, then the "powerless gospel" takes away from the Gospel. Now, before you accuse me of some type of religious double talk allow me to point out the truth of the Word.
8 Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. 1 Timothy 4:8 VOICE

 The Gospel of Grace has promise for our life in the here and now as well as the one to come. This is the good news. The powerless gospel offers some hope for the life eternal, but rejects any promise that pertains to our life in the here and now.  Let's look at some characteristics of this powerless gospel.

1. The powerless gospel focuses on the struggles and trials in this life. 
 Jesus clearly stated that in this World we will have tribulation. The powerless gospel focuses solely upon these words. All this message proclaims is a struggle, trials, and hard times. There is no peace or comfort or any hint of victory in Christ in the message. Jesus did say we will face tribulation but He prefaced it with a promise of peace because He has overcome the World. We rest in Christ's triumphant victory. He will bring us through any trial or struggle.

2. The powerless gospel proclaims the Gifts of the Spirit and the power of God have ceased for today.
 The powerless gospel is a weak, impotent message that leaves the believer without access to God's power. God's sovereignty is taken to the extreme where any and everything that occurs on this planet is somehow ordained or caused by God.
 The nine manifestation gifts spoken of by Paul are simply regulated to a time past that are not for us today. The proponents of this message use circular reason to prove their stance. Why no gifts for today? Well, we haven't seen any in operation. Why aren't they in operation? Well, because they have ceased. In reality, it is faith in the power and operation of God in the hearts of some that has waned not the Gifts of the Spirit!

3. The powerless gospel attributes healing and miracles to the work of the enemy and not to God.
 Because life is designed to be hard and full of suffering and the Gifts of the Spirit have ceased operating, than any healing or miracle reported must be the work of the enemy. The powerless gospel removes the hope of a better life and of healing from its hearers. 

 This powerless gospel is not the good news. It takes away the hope the Gospel brings. It removes God's power from the Gospel message. It exalts suffering and pain and infirmity as the standard for the Christian experience. 

 The Gospel of Grace isn't a message of man-made extremes. The Gospel of Grace is extreme in its scope by virtue of the awesomeness of God. The Gospel of Grace offers extreme forgiveness for all our sins, past, present and future. It offers extreme wholeness in every area of our lives. It surpasses our greatest expectations of hope and peace and deliverance. It reveals the extreme love and mercy and faithfulness of our good Father in Heaven.

 The Gospel of Grace is not a message that if you empty your bank account and give to an organization or man you are guaranteed to be made a millionaire. It isn't a message that all you can expect in this life is disease, depression, destitution and defeat. 

 The Gospel of Grace has made provision to answer all our needs in this life and the life to come. He provides for us peace and comfort if, by virtue of this fallen world, we go through some trial or tribulation. He has promised to supply our need by Christ's supply, not our works or efforts. By virtue of the Finished Work, He has made us healed and whole. He has made us the very righteousness of God in Him. His once for all sacrifice means we will never experience condemnation or ever perish. This is the true Gospel of Grace.