Over the past few years, we have seen many professing Christians recanting their faith, claiming that it does not make sense anymore. Those who have done it have given reasons, but we need to ask why such things are becoming rampant. Is there a problem with God or with men? Is faith is failing, or that pressure is mounting at an alarming rate? My argument is that part of the reason this is happening is the focus on man and his abilities, not pure focus on Christ. Why is it that many young people raised in a reasonably Christ-believing environment opt out once they interact with the world years later?
MISPLACED FOCUS- CONVENIENT GOSPEL
Paul said to the Corinthians that his focus was nothing else than Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). His teaching was not on man and how he would achieve or destined to have in this physical world. The danger of focusing on people other than Christ is that eventually, the people will get tired of the very things they have. They are rarely satisfied, and it will not take too long for them to want something that truly satisfies them.
The Gospel of convenience is the type that makes people feel comfortable and tickles their fancy. When we fill people with messages of making more money and gaining business prowess and not Christ, we tell them that God is not the prize in the Gospel but their prosperity and posterity- this approach is problematic in many ways;
a. It does not settle the heart on firm convictions but flimsy and fleeting things. Material gains never gave anyone eternal hope. That is why the rich will scoff at the Gospel when we make them the centre of the message. They are already feeling central and empty at the same time. The poor will always feel inadequate and unwanted by God, for they have not received the ‘blessing of God’ (Money, wealth and health).
b. It does not fill the deep longing of the human soul; instead robs the heart of the opportunity to exercise the muscles to handle profound truths that will keep it safe through turbulences. It skews the realities of life and the fact that suffering is a critical part of the Christian life and, as such, breeds doubt in the heart instead of encouraging faith in God.
c. It does not challenge people to pursue what is higher than themselves. Their vision is made blurry, and their desires are based on worldly things; instead of helping people see and seek God as they live, having a mind that is focused on the life eternal.
The Gospel is about the Son of God, who came to save sinful humanity from the wrath of God and the grip of sin on man. His sacrifice is what atoned for our sin, and his perfect, sinless life vindicates Him before the Father that makes him the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. He is the one the Father loves to behold because, in Him, the wrath of the Father is satisfied. When his Gospel is preached, it convicts the souls of men of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). Listen to this kind of Gospel, and your soul shall learn endurance to the end.
MISREPRESENTED TRUTHS- SALVATION BY GRACE
Secondly, when the message is focused on convenience and appealing to the comforts of men, it will go without saying that salvation will cease being a gift but a reward. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that salvation is by grace through faith and not works. The more we keep hearing things like; you can make the heavens stop for your sakes; you can command the hosts of heaven; you are gods; therefore, speak those things to exist and much more outlandish gibberish, Christ will become dim before our eyes.
Such conversations teach us how to trust our works and abilities and not the finished work of Christ on the cross. What is the danger? That one day, when the world deals us a hard blow and everything we thought we could command seems elusive, we shall point the finger at God and then walk away discouraged.
Salvation is not on merit but graciously given. Knowing that God has done all the work and provided for the rest of the journey of salvation builds up our faith and confidence in him. Who walks away from a gift? However, if I conclude that what I have was due to my abilities, then I will walk away and try to find another workable plan. In this kind of deception, many go round in cycles and circles without finding an exit. It tires the soul and embitters the heart eventually. But salvation is beyond our purchasing power; therefore, listen to the Gospel of God’s grace and receive it. You will preserver to the end of the road.
MISUNDERSTOOD SECURITY- WORKS OF THE FLESH
Finally, when we keep telling people that their busy-ness in the church or fellowship is what guarantees their eternity, we mislead them profoundly. For instance, many churches teach about money given for projects as evidence that God will receive us into his glory. Other fellowships give members the right to share in the Lord’s supper only if they have a card filled and catechism class attended as the way for salvation, mislead their flock. Others encourage their congregants to serve, so they flock to the ushering department or social services ministries. But that does not assure any security. My security hinges entirely on adoption into the family of God by grace and faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-39).
When one grows up thinking that his busy-ness worked the magic- gave him the right to be called a child of God, they will fall flat when life roars and growls at them. Many things will not make sense unless we see them with the spectacles of Christ. Works of the flesh cannot lead us to a firm faith. Our works will tire us at some point. When that happens, we need to find greater hope beyond what we did. Jesus is ready to deny those that did things in their strengths and abilities, thinking they were serving him (Matthew 7:22-23).
A great falling away is anticipated (Matthew 24:5-12, 1 Timothy 4:1-3) for many reasons. As that happens, may we be found faithfully anchored on the eternal truths of our saviour. If we hope to last to the end, we need to focus on what and who matters most- the Gospel of Christ. When billows roar and tempest beat against you, will your anchor hold, or will you capsize? Let us be aware of the man-centred deceptive Gospel. Amen.