Reading through the “MacArthur New Testament Commentary” on Philippians, I came across this comment from Pastor MacArthur: “Tragically, evangelicalism today seeks to remove the effects of preaching on sin and repentance, holiness and humility, in an effort to make the message more acceptable to fallen, depraved human nature. A growing number of churches intentionally play down the biblical elements of salvation and the demands of true discipleship.”
Tragic indeed. Even more frightening is the fact I have witnessed this trend in churches over the past 20-30 years. No longer do you hear the old “fire and brimstone messages”. Is it because we are better off now and less in need of a Savior than in the days past? Far from it, I would say. The need has not waned, but the conviction has.
Why don’t we hear more about Hell and the consequences of following our desires? I have visited many churches and must confess the wrath of God is rarely, if ever, preached. We hear about the love of God, and God truly is love. So great is His love for us, that it is incomprehensible. As we bask in God’s love, though, we must never forget our great God is not one-dimensional. Every emotion we possess (and presumably multitudes of unknown other emotions) finds its source in God. He is love and also fury and justice, and when we break His laws and live outside His design, there will be consequences.
In the name of winning “converts”, we have neglected to preach the whole gospel. For true repentance to occur, people must understand what sin is, how reprehensible it is to God, and how lost we are without Him. Salvation is not only about eternal life, it is about turning away from a life of destruction (sin) and towards a life of unabashed service to our Lord and King. You cannot accept Christ and continue to live as you always have. The Lordship of Christ demands a turning away from your old life, from your philosophies, preferences, convictions, and habits.
We don’t need more converts. What we need are more disciples. We need more who will turn their back on the world, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus, no matter the cost. If we want to see the will of God done on earth as it is in Heaven, we’ve got to stop trying to make our churches look so much like this world. People need to hear the truth of God’s Word, not more feel-good psychobabble about how to live a great life in the here and now. What we need are messages informing us of the enormity of God’s love, His unfathomable holiness, and the dire consequences of not submitting to His Lordship. In short, we need preachers who will preach the whole truth of the gospel of our great King.
Salvation is costly and rejecting it is fatal. Perhaps you came to Christ without understanding the full gravity of what a commitment and surrender to Jesus meant. Maybe you didn’t realize it would cost you your life. Many have come to the foot of the cross lured by promises of health, wealth, and security. I promise you, especially in the East, but more and more in the West as well, pursuing salvation through Christ is far more likely to cost you your life than to land you in the lap of luxury. You need to understand why you believe, and your love for Christ must surpass everything following Him will cost you. Salvation is free, but it will cost you everything. If it doesn’t, you haven’t yet understood what following Jesus really means.