False Ideas Make the Gospel Irrelevant

Question: Is sharing the gospel difficult today in the United States?

Answer: As our society becomes more secularized, the gospel becomes more irrelevant.  More and more young people are growing up not understanding the beliefs of Christianity.  Some don’t have a clue why Christians celebrate Christmas or what happened at Easter.  Going to church on Sunday just gets in the way of having fun on a day off.  The Bible holds no higher position than the latest bestselling fictional novel.  The language of the gospel cannot be comprehended because it is so foreign to secularized minds.

What is the gospel?  The transliterated Greek word is euangelion.  It means “Good news.”  Giving the New Testament’s clearest explanation of the gospel, the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”  The good news is that a person trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection will receive forgiveness of sins.  The gospel informs us Jesus paid the penalty for sin we deserved and we need to place our faith in Him.  Outside of the Christian Church, many people cannot grasp this teaching.     

John Gresham Machen wrote this many years ago concerning this problem:

False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.[1]

Secularism continues to remove any semblance of the Christian religion from the public square.  This leaves our society open to multiple false ideas to how we can live a flourishing life.  Everyone wants to be happy and you can reach a nirvana type state without ever understanding the truth about Jesus.  The two major outlets of information the media and our universities have created such a negative view of Christianity, trying to share the gospel gets lost in translation.  When I get in discussions today I almost never get to the gospel.  I spend my time clearing objections and false ideas that get in the way of the truth.

The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ in the United States makes little sense to people who are living for themselves and believing the lies perpetrated on television, movies, radio, internet, music, and just about any media outlet.  Today when you tell someone Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for his sins, he may respond “I’m sorry to hear that; he really didn’t need to do that.”  They may ask you, why do I need forgiveness of sins if I don’t sin?  I don’t live by your definition of moral wrongs.

What can be done to bring the gospel to people who don’t know they need to hear the good news of forgiveness?

  1. Churches need to do a better job of equipping people to share Jesus in today’s society in a language they will understand.  We have to be sensitive to the words we use to communicate the truth of the gospel.  We cannot use “Christianize” a specialized language known by people who attend Christian services.
  2. Churches today preach to felt needs and making people feel comfortable rather than raising up an army of case makers who can tear down false ideas.  Apologetics is the discipline that can accomplish that goal and more sermons and classes need to be offered equipping believers to better communicate the truth.
  3. We need more emphasis in our churches on evangelism.  The church has pulled out of the public square and many of the Christians I know don’t share their faith.  I attend a very strong Bible believing church and we should be leading the way in evangelism and we are not.  Without emphasis from up front on how to reach the culture for Christ, people will continue to seek the least risky endeavors, such as not getting in spiritual conversations.  Evangelism was at the heart of the early church.  They felt compelled to tell people Jesus rose from the dead.  God calls us to be ambassadors for Christ as if He were making His appeal through us.  The more churches look inward, instead of outward to people in their sphere of influence, the more people will be lost for all eternity.
  4. Raise the preaching bar and teach theology.  Too many people in our churches are spiritually immature and not moving to maturity.  The lack of knowledge inhibits courage and boldness needed to get into spiritual conversations.  The writer of Hebrews lambasted this mentality in Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”  Spiritual immaturity was a problem during this time period and it is a greater problem today.  How can we change the minds of the people entrenched in secular society if our people inside the walls of our church buildings don’t know what and why they believe what they believe?

The Biblical Worldview Academy web site exists to fill the gap and equip Christians to have an understanding of their beliefs and how to go out and share that truth.  God wants people to live lives of purpose and joy and this can only happen through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The gospel is the good news but if we don’t make an effort to brush away the many objections society has, we will be spinning our wheels when we try to share the gospel to people who have no clue why they need it.

[1] J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, p. 389.

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