A. We must restore the power of the gospel.
The following studies in the gospel will turn the tidal wave of decline of faith in the society of America, as well as in all those societies throughout the world where we would seek to build the body of Christ. We say this because much of the religion that has led to the decline of the American church, has through missions, been propagated throughout the world. For this reason, some “mission churches” that adopted the religion that was propagated out of America in the last two centuries are now in the same decline, if not already dead. Therefore, the following emphasis is gospel oriented. The gospel must be restored if we are going to preserve faith in this present world:
If the confidence of our faith is in our religious heritage, then it is based on man, and not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those churches that are fading away in the society of America are those groups who have often placed more faith in the traditional heritage of their religion than in the gospel of Christ. We appreciate the faithfulness of those who have kept showing up on Sunday for the past decades. But there is a real need for a paradigm shift from the same-old-same-old to something that touches the hearts of the people in a modern world. Keep in mind that heritage focuses on the head, but gospel focuses on the heart. If our struggles to maintain the “church” are focused on persevering our religious heritage, then we have almost guaranteed the demise of our heritage as upcoming generations change. It is only the gospel that permeates time.
Today among people of faith, there is a desire to restore faith in Christ alone, apart from any baggage of the traditional religion of the fathers. We see this as a positive move. However, we must understand that in this rebellion of the past, the future must be guided by the word of God, wherein we discover the gospel of God’s grace. If our faith is not so directed, then in a few generations from now we will end up where we are now, that is, in a religion that bases its authority and the heritage of the fathers, we being the fathers who passed down to our grand children another heritage, not the gospel.
B. We must restore in our behavior the inherent nature of the gospel of grace and peace.
The gospel is good news for the souls of despondent people. Since it is good news, then it is something that must be broadcast throughout villages, towns, cities, of every nation of the world. If we believe that people will on their own come to us in the buildings wherein we have housed our religion, then we have deceived ourselves. Satan works in every way possible to keep people “out of the church house.” He uses every tool to dissuade people from considering faith in God as an answer to the problems of life.
There is too much beer and liquor sold in the world in which people can drown their problems. And now, there is too much opioid remedies prescribed to give some relief to life. We might add that there is also too much money to provide a pseudo-happiness to those who are afraid to be idle. There are too many people who live after the ways of the world and can offer a party of like-minded despondent people in the same situation. In other words, Satan has every distraction possible to dissuade people from showing up at some assembly of religious people.
Gospel is not religion. The gospel of the incarnation, sacrificial love offering (the cross), hope in giving a final resurrection, empowering ascension, and coronation of King Jesus is a way of life for those who have believed and obeyed the gospel. Once we take the message of the gospel to the discouraged, then the tidal wave of people moving away from faith will change. When we stop “going to church” as a symbol of their faithfulness and start being church in our communities, then the community will have a daily opportunity to come into contact with the power of the gospel. It is the gospel behavior of Christians to “love their neighbors as themselves.” Communities need the example of the gospel light (Mt 5:16). People need the preserving leaven of our gospel-driven leaven (Mt 13:33).
[Next in series: Jan. 15]