Has anyone else noticed? Sin is no longer sinful. Neither are its wages any longer "death" [physical and spiritual]. Instead of the promise that an angry God has been reconciled toward man and that man can be forgiven and reconciled to God, the focus has become "if you just 'got Jesus' you can be happier, richer, and feel good about yourself."
This new emphasis still seems to convey the idea that people need to be "saved." But the need for redemption is not because one is lost and without hope, but because they are unhappy, unhealthy, or without much money. The end of the new "gospel" has become temporal happiness and good health on earth rather than righteousness before God. The emphasis in a growing number of "churches" is the promotion of equality for all, protection for illegal immigrants, the evils of capitalism, embracing of gay and transgender clergy, global warning, or mostly criticism of Donald Trump
The historic Christian view of sin as being an affront to God, ruinous of the soul, and that which required the Savior's suffering and death so that humanity might be forgiven is nearly forgotten. "Sinfulness" is now defined and measured by our lacking faith to receive God's bounty, or an unwillingness to claim victory over Satan or our circumstances. This post-biblical, feelings-driven, and celebrity-focused "new Christianity," sees "sin" mostly as attitudes that keep us from material abundance, physical health, and the good life.
Traditional Biblical doctrines such as mankind's redemption which is assured through trust in Christ's sacrifice at Calvary, universal human sinfulness, the inability to save oneself, and eternal punishment for the unredeemed are rarely mentioned. The preaching which proclaims God's absolute holiness, the eternal condemnation of the lost, God's wrath, divine judgment, and so forth, is decried as needless fear-mongering. Such preaching is often condemned as archaic and detrimental to the hearer's "self-fulfillment." "Truth" is no longer defined by a sound explanation and faithfulness to God's eternal word, but more so by how "good" the teacher makes a person "feel." It doesn't seem to matter if the "teaching" is biblical and Christ-honoring, or even if it's logical.
I am convinced that the danger and appeal of these beliefs in this day of carnality, chaos, and confusion offers a more significant challenge than Christianity's former confrontation with total pagans. I say this because a succession of recent popular "church" teachings has transformed Christianity into something that bears little resemblance to the faith revealed in the Bible. We must now attempt to evangelize a people who consider themselves Christian, who fervently believe they are devotedly religious, but who have no connection or similarity to historic Christianity.
The message of many "new light churches" has become "God wants you to be happy" or "try Jesus" or "only Jesus can solve our problems." And what is "our problem?" Many now think the "Gospel" is for those lacking money, or who are enduring some loss, or who might be suffering from disease, or who are merely unhappy with life.
A question? What happens when these people seeking happiness or material or emotional success and are not interested in spiritual forgiveness are disappointed in their search? These will claim they have "tried Christianity" and it is nothing better than otherworldly schemes. Take a bow, Joel Osteen et al.
I submit that it makes these "converts" almost impossible to ever win to Christ. Perhaps even more tragic is when some do get these physical or material or temporal blessings and have not repented and trusted Christ as their Savior. These have, in fact, been vaccinated against the true gospel. A whole generation of sinners has been Gospel hardened by telling them they should "try Jesus." Yet they have never spiritually thirsted for the "Water of Life" or hungered for the "Bread of life." They have never sought the great physician of the soul since it is not spiritual healing which they have desired. Our churches are filling with those claiming to be "saved" who are clueless about why they need to be saved.
What then is to be done? We must clearly and consistently identify false teaching and distortions of the old-time gospel. Then there must be a refocus and return to the historic and plain message of the Gospel of Christ. Namely, that God, has through Christ's shed blood, death, and bodily resurrection, been reconciled to man. The timeless message of the gospel must ever be that forgiveness of every sin is available to any who will repent and look to Christ alone as God's only way of salvation.
William "Ed" Nicholson is pastor of the Grace Baptist Chapel in the village of Little Summit in Dunbar Twp. He has earned graduate degrees in both Bible and Education and is a life member of the amputee chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. He can be reached at Willien@hughes.net or on Facebook at the Grace Baptist Chapel.