Saturday, June 28, 2008

Which One Is the Gospel?

I was sent one video that is supposedly about the Gospel. Can you tell me which one?


MarieP said...

Neither one! Well, sadly I can't tell much of a difference between them. Which is scary because one is some sort of Calvary Chapel-esque service and the other is from the LDS.

Neither have the Gospel. Neither speak of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, nor about finding forgiveness in Him by grace through faith alone.

Howard Fisher said...

Marie P wins first prize. Your reward is in the mail.


Cory said...

This one's tough in some ways. Obviously, nothing in either videos resembles I Corinthians 15:1-5 for example or even Revelation 12 which talks about the word of the testimony of those who live and die for the lamb who was slain.
I witnessed a service recently that was even more blatant than the first clip. If I hadn't known better I would have guessed that Christianity was all about getting what you want from God through obedience, bible reading and prayer (a gospel that, I think, we have imbibed due to our insecure need to sell Christianity - as if Christ and His Word can't change and persuade people).
I am SO not this guy but I think we've got to be careful not to dismiss the first clip as God working in His church. Of course, it is an emotional appeal to Christianity, of course, it could be seen as a selling point of Christian religion rather than a desire to exalt the risen Christ and of course the Gospel is about salvation from sin not cancer - BUT - here's the depth of my own sinfulness - sometimes I'll defend the gospel while disregarding or not caring about the work of His Spirit in people's lives (if that is what's genuinely happened in the first clip - surely it has in many of the cases). I think if there's a litmus test it would be to ask, "Do you now hate your sin and love your savior, not because he's healed you, not because you feel comfortable in his church, not because your marriage is better or your finances are stable, but because He died in your place on the cross that you might proclaim the mercy of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
I'd like to think that with such an understanding of the Gospel, His Mercy in every aspect of our lives might magnify Him too.

Paul said...

You said it well Cory. Defend the Gospel of the slain Lamb; also rejoice in the changed lives of God haters to God lovers.

Howard Fisher said...


I agree that we ought to see changed lives. The Gospel certainly takes God-haters and changes them into God-lovers. I do not wish to take away from that. Yet this kind of testimony takes away from the Gospel because the Gospel is assumed in this kind of presentation.

The New Testament doesn't parade Peter out with a sign saying, "I denied Christ. Now I...." or "I was a lousy drunken fisherman and now..." They always preach about what Christ did. They always preach about the risen Savior. That in turn drives their message to call men to repentance. On the flip side, changed lives do give reasons for people to see the Christian faith as having substance.

You raise an interesting point though with your question, "Do you hate your sin?"

As Reformed Baptists, we generally see the OT Law as applied under New Covenant in a very strong manner. Hebrews 8 would be a passage we would use to support such a claim as with many other texts.

So yes, Christians should always be working out their salvation. Yes, we must have the Law written upon our hearts. But Justification and Sanctification must always remain clearly distinct. One IS the gospel. The other is the result of the Gospel.

Taking the AA 12 steps and adding the "Jesus factor" is not the Gospel. It is not even sanctification. Discipleship ought to be within the confines of the church. It ought to be under the ministry of the Word. It ought to be a body of believers coming together. If I lead a man to Christ, I ought to be an automatically appointed mentor if I am a mature Christian. If I am not a mature Christian and I lead someone to Christ, then I ought to be discipled with the new convert by a more mature Christian. We ought to be studying God's Word and learning to meditate on His Law and Gospel day and night.

I talk too much.

I think I post a quote by Martin Lloyd-Jones tonight if I get the chance on this subject.


Thanks for the comments guys.

Cory said...

Do you honestly think you know enough about what goes on in that church to say the gospel is assumed? I never stated that I thought the clip was exemplary of the gospel (in fact I think I said the opposite). You know I'm normally a nazi about this stuff, especially from the pulpit. In fact, I totally agree with your assessment of the nuts and bolts of what was in the clip. But, based on the fact that I have no surrounding context to this clip I thought it was right to extend it a little grace.
I agree it's not the gospel - I just thought the post could have been more gracious, that's all.

Cory said...

I'm just re-reading my comments here and realizing how hard it is to be sensitive with blog comments. In anycase, I hope my above comments didn't come off all whiny and everything. Incidentally, I was re-reading your response as well...and the thought crossed my mind (so I'm going to share it despite the fact that I haven't thought it through and I'm all doped up on nasal spray)...isn't there something to be said for the fact that Paul incorporated the polarity of who he was after his conversion into some of his writing and speeches? He brings it up several times in the New Testament. I think perhaps, I'll look at that later tonight.

Howard Fisher said...

"Do you honestly think you know enough about what goes on in that church to say the gospel is assumed?"

Great question and perhaps I am in error. I guess I should not stereotype. Can you blame me though? I have yet to see a church that would practice this and not have the Gospel assumed.

So often I get these emails that have this stuff. Yet no one (outside of our reformed camp) would ever send me a sermon by John McArthur or a Piper explaining the Gospel. It is all about what can Jesus do for me. That would have to be the foundation for this kind of thing. Why else do it?

To be gracious to those that have produced this video, they truly do see this as lifting up Jesus through the changed lives.

BTW, I do agree with your comments.

My main point was really simple. The Gospel must be different from Mormonism or anythingelseism. Lifting up changed sinners to becoming better sinners could have been done by anyone. Atheists have their own "ways" of dealing with many of the sins in the video.

I stated the term "ways" simply because non-Christians are often offended when we speak of Jesus as the only way. Their understanding of the term is exactly what is in these videos. They have morality. These videos actually pit different moralities against each other. Christians just add the "Jesus factor" to theirs with the same end results.

I certainly wasn't trying to critique your comment. Just adding some thoughts to them. If I sounded like I was disagreeing with you, I wasn't. Perhaps starting off with your name gave some impression that I was disagreeing. Again, I wasn't.

God Bless

Howard Fisher said...

"isn't there something to be said for the fact that Paul incorporated the polarity of who he was after his conversion into some of his writing and speeches?"

I wanted to deal with this separately since I too have been thinking about this. Rereading Acts 26 I think is a great place to go.

Paul indeed does give his own testimony. Yet it seems to me that he does so in order to defend his right as directly appointed by Christ as an Apostle to declare the message Christ has given to him. So this seems to be a credibility issue, not about a "I'm a better sinner issue".

Notice the heart of Paul's testimony actually comes from the prophets and Moses that Jesus is the Christ and he was raised from the dead.

Then notice verse 26. These things (Jesus' life, death and resurrection) were done for all to see. Paul actually testifies to historical events. That seems to me to be the heart of Paul's testimony.

So I agree, that Paul does give a personal testimony at times. I don't think that is wrong. But his personal testimony is based on real historical events where God has directly intervened in history.

As 1 John says,

1Jo 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life--
1Jo 1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us--
1Jo 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

So in conclusion, I disagree with the Hymn that says, "You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart."

I realize that he does live within me, and I do know in some sense He lives because of a certain inner experience of regeneration. (We now have the ability to believe God's revelation.) Yet, the real knowledge is the historical truthfulness of Scripture. We know He lives because God said so and history was done before all to see. These things were not done in a corner.

God Bless