If you want to see the premise of this post, then look at Part 1from a week ago. I want to jump right into these “strategies” or admonitions that MacArthur uses in his book, Hard To Believe. The second point he gives is found in:
2nd Corinth 4:2 - “We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness or handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
The admonition is: We Will NOT Tamper with the Message.
This admonition builds perfectly on the first strategy - if I am ashamed of the message or too cowardly to present it in truth, then the tendency will be to tamper with it…to weaken it or to change it to fit my comfort level. We see this a great deal in our day but, in truth, I think there has been a tendency to do this in every generation. I will tie this second admonition, along with MacArthur’s third one, together in this blog because they fit so well together and, most of the time where you see one, you inevitably see the other. The third admonition is found in the next two verses:
2nd Corinth. 4:3-4 “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
The Admonition is: We Will Not Manipulate People To Get The Desired Superficial Results.
MacArthur rightly points out that the problem here is “the soil - not the seed.” A wonderful friend of mine was telling me about a program he saw on the Discovery Channel - it was discussing farming and crops (I have no idea what drew him to this program, but that is beyond the intent of this blog). This friend said the documentary explained that the only way something can grow in “dead/bad soil” is if it is created from a synthetic seed. This describes what has happened all too often in our churches - and sadly, it has happened many times by well intentioned people - they are just not gospel focused. So many churches and pastors become decision focused and “results” obsessed. That is why muscle bound men in wife beater tee-shirts can come in and rip phone books and give a cute synthetic gospel presentation - then can claim hundreds saved. To the casual observer everyone wins! The church is happy (if they are Southern Baptist they may get an award), the preacher gets noticed, the muscle bound men get paid and feel good that they saw such a “movement of God” (their definition), and it is good entertainment! If you dare to protest this by pointing out the fact that, though you baptized 100 people the next Sunday - you probably won’t be able to find them in a week or two – you are somehow cold, calloused and not evangelistic! Never mind that there was never a call for real repentance, no concept of counting the cost, no discussion of Lordship or surrendering your life to Christ - only some magical special prayer that God is now obligated to come through on since you repeated it. Again - if you actually have the unmitigated gall to point this out - brace…brace…it’s about to get ugly because you, my friend, obviously don’t care if people get saved! Some well meaning person will point out that if even ONE came to Christ and all others were false, it was worth it. To that I say, NO! The damage done by a false gospel and a false hope IS SIN!
Some of those who tamper with the message in order to get some desired results, no doubt have a desire to get people to come to Christ…but I am guessing that, too often they forget the reason they are sharing is not to “make a sale,” but to deliver truth. As children of God, our number one calling is to glorify God in all we do - the only way I can do that in witnessing is to get the Gospel right! It is not my message to change (it is arrogance to believe I can give it the way I want), it is simply my task to deliver it! It is exciting to see the ever growing passion at Trinity for this great task.