Why the traditional gospel message needs a makeover


During the past 20 – 25 years almost everything about evangelism has been questioned and evaluated in the dual lights of Biblical teaching and cultural alignment. And we have adjusted what we do. We’ve challenged everything, everything that is, except what we actually say to non-believers – the traditional gospel proclamation.

What do I mean by the traditional gospel proclamation? The typical approach to the gospel begins with the proclamation that humanity is alienated from the creator because of sin. It continues with the announcement that a Holy God requires payment for sin before we can be forgiven. It declares that Jesus died on the cross to make payment on our behalf and concludes with a call to respond to God in the light of what He has done for us. Given room for some differences in style and specifics, this is the backbone of almost every message the church sends to non-believers.

I believe this traditional proclamation, while telling a biblically true and wonderful story, needs a total makeover. It needs to undergo a fresh evaluation in the light of biblical example and cultural development because it no longer is properly understood by our audience. Here are 4 reasons that is necessary.

1.  It assumes things about God that are no longer accepted as true by non-believers:

The Christian Gospel makes certain assumptions. We assume the existence of a personal God who has both the right and the inclination to decide what is right and wrong for everyone throughout history. The whole logical flow of our “gospel” is built on this. If this premise is not accepted, the whole presentation collapses. The result is many conversations that never get off the ground.

2.  The concept of sin is wildly misunderstood:

The idea of sin has been diluted from a violation of the eternal word of a holy creator, to a kind of simple human miscalculation. It is seen as the inevitable result of the imperfect knowledge of an imperfect person. The concept that any sin results in a permanent separation from God seems more an indictment of God than an attribute that inspires awe.

3.  In a democratic society, law is a reflection of human wisdom not divine holiness:

In our society, humans make laws based on the common consent of those governed. Some laws change, and not all laws carry an equal punishment. No one would argue that a speeding ticket and murder should exact the same penalty. That would be unthinkable. But the Law of God is different because it demands compete obedience. It doesn’t matter which law you break, you are guilty of all!

4.  Atonement and justification are the right story but non-believers are the wrong audience:

The wonderful and powerful story that Christ died on the cross to take away sin is an amazing and life changing Truth. But a careful reading of the Book of Acts reveals a very challenging fact: No one ever described the meaning and the power of the death of Christ to non-believers. Not once! That story was reserved for teaching believers how God could forgive them once they had repented and believed in Jesus. We are telling the right story, but to the wrong audience.

All of this begs the question: If we don’t tell non-believers about why Christ died, what do we tell them? And if no one in the New Testament explained why Christ died to non-believers, what did they explain? That is the point of my next blog…. Your thoughts?

1 comment for “Why the traditional gospel message needs a makeover

  1. August 27, 2014 at 10:34 am

    God chose men, humans, to be His heirs. The evil one did not like it. In fact, he so
    despised the choice of God that he rose up in rebellion against God and vowed to prove
    that God’s choice was wrong and because he judged God as being capable of making a
    mistake, he deemed that he was better capable of being God, then even God Himself. A
    creature, imagining himself to be greater than his Creator. When God chose humans as
    His heirs, God knew that He would have to raise them up so they could be His heirs.
    These creatures would test the love of God, for He would give them intelligence, He
    would give them the right to choose. And they would choose and God knew ahead of
    time that their choice would separate them from God. And in order to redeem them and
    bring them back to this eternal purpose, known in the mind of God before the foundations
    of the world, God would have to sacrifice Himself to save them. So the Lamb was slain
    from the foundations of the world. Jesus according to thefirst book of Peter, Jesus was
    the Lamb who was slain from the foundations of the world.
    But the plan of God was more than just the redemption of man, and the plan of God to
    redeem him in the fashion of coming to him and including him, or saving him; the
    manner of saving him would be to include him in the person of God. For God would
    come as a man, He would live as a man, and then die. He would be resurrected from the
    dead and at that point He would no longer be a man. He would be what He always was,
    He would be a Spirit, this Spirit would be known as the Christ, the Anointed One. So
    when God set out to make man, He made him to be a spirit, a spiritual being. And the
    origin of the human spirit came out of God Himself. But it vested in the body of a man,
    Adam was the first of this type.

    So when the Son of
    God came to the earth, He Himself began to preach the kingdom of heaven, long before
    He died on the cross; He first began to preach the kingdom of God, the arrival of the
    kingdom from God. He demonstrated the truth of this kingdom by healing the sick,
    raising the dead, working various miracles, and forgiving men’s sins. It was this that got
    Him in trouble; it was the fact that He forgave sins. Well how could He forgive sins? It’s
    one thing to heal the sick, it’s one thing to raise the dead but it’s another to forgive sins.
    That meant the year of Gods favor had come to the earth and that man could no longer be
    separated from God because he sinned. Sin was no longer an impediment because sins
    could be forgiven and Jesus went about declaring the forgiveness of sins.

    John 9:41 that Jesus forgave sins and He retained sins because the kingdom had come.
    “God has
    translated you (God has picked you up from) from the powers of darkness into the
    kingdom of the Son of God.” You’ve been picked up out of darkness and set down in the
    kingdom of God. Clearly the kingdom came because there was something for them to be
    put into. And then to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them that this prerogative to declare
    the kingdoms forgiveness, to declare that in the kingdom your sins are forgiven; this
    prerogative is clearly conferred upon the believer who goes out to present the message of
    the kingdom, when it is said that, “We are ambassadors of Christ, as though God Himself
    was making His appeal through us.” I Corinthians chapter 5, “Be reconciled to God.” So
    we are commissioned and sent.

    who needs to know about the kingdom, tell them about the kingdom and if they accept
    the kingdom, declare to them what is already true. If one accepts the kingdom, his sins
    are forgiven. You tell them that their sins are forgiven and watch how that knowledge
    will transform their lives and their existences.
    Religion has made it easy but in the process it’s has removed your need to trust God, it’s
    removed your need to hear God. You’re well able to discern where people are because
    you have the Spirit of discernment in you, there is no set speech, there is no set spiel. Say
    and do, in every situation, what the Holy Spirit leads you to say and to do. Because
    above all you are qualified as an ambassador of Jesus Christ because you are a witness of
    the grace of God, you are the walking, living testimony of what is true and in an instant
    you are capable of giving that, if you would only believe that the Spirit is able to lead
    you. this has been the message on the gospel of the kingdom not the gospel of evangelism .

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