There have been a lot of things over the years that I have been able to put up with in the evangelical movement. But a distortion of the gospel is not one of them. Turn on the TV on Sunday morning and you will hear anything but the message of the cross. Every week I try not to burn iron marks into my shirt while a smiling Joel Osteen tells me how I need to think nicer thoughts about those around me and then slips in a prayer at the end of his "sermon" so that I can begin my "Best Life Now."
Or take a recent discussion I have been having on an email list I am on. We have been discussing Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. His gospel presentation, found on page 58 consists of "Believe God loves us and made us for his purpose" and "Receive Jesus into your lives as Savior and Lord by praying this prayer." What follows is even a corruption of the sinner's prayer: "Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you." That's it. You're now a Christian.
Is it any wonder that, according to the Founder's Ministries blog, the Southern Baptist Convention reports that they have over 16 million members and only 6 million in attendance? Is 37% follow-through acceptable? Or is this an indication that in our desire to be relevant, we have lost the gospel.
How often are we willing to take the time and effort to share the gospel like Paul did in Romans? He spent 11 chapters detailing to the church in Rome the gospel that He was going to be preaching when he got there. Did you ever sit down and read those 11 chapters straight through? It will probably take more than an hour. No fast-food gospel here.
When was the last time we heard about the holiness of God. We must remember that when Jesus presented to good news to the Jews, their background was the Old Testament. The Old Testament is filled with the holiness of God, especially the Law, and they were very aware of it. Why do we not use the Law when presenting the gospel to show people that God is holy and we are not? Is the practice of our Lord not good enough for us? (See Matthew 5-7 for Jesus' use of the Law.)
What about the cross and the need to repent and believe? Why are we afraid of giving the message clearly? Is it because we would not be popular? The modern evangelical presentation of the gospel has turned into a feel-good message that leaves out anything offensive. Is it any wonder 63% of the people who are members of evangelicalism's largest denomination don't even go to church?
We are told in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God. If we want to see real revival, and not just temporary emotional responses to big stadium events, it's time we get back to preaching foolishness and the power of God.