Food for Thought About the Gospel

“Sinners must hear the gospel, they must believe the gospel, and they must embrace the gospel.” – John Macarthur

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” – Phil 1:15 – 18, The Apostle Paul

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The Goal of Our Evangelism

We’ve all seen them – the reports of such and such evangelistic event having resulted in X number of decisions for Christ or professions of faith. In recent days, another mark of success has become the number of ‘spontaneous’ Baptisms that occurred immediately after the preaching, if not the very next Sunday or first opportunity to engage in a little dunking.

And while there is nothing wrong about those reports themselves (if they accurately report decisions, professions, and dunkings), they are most often used to measure success in terms of actual salvations that occurred at the event to which they refer, from large stadium and megachurch events to small church events and everything in between. Events are successful based on numbers of ‘decisions’ and/or ‘professions’. The same sorts of statistics appear in short introductions to Christian authors and ads for their books.

The goal of personal evangelism isn’t to obtain a decision for Christ or hear a profession of faith. The goal of personal evangelism is for God to save His people from their sins. Therefore the goal of the ‘evangelist’ should be to faithfully present the gospel message that Christ died for our sins. (NOT our self-fulfillment, as do many these days).

And while you are praying for opportunities to share the gospel, don’t just pray for an open door, or favorable circumstances to share the message. Pray that God would open hearts to receive it – the Lydia prayer. If God opens a heart to hear the gospel, no power in Hell can stop it from being heard and received with a glad heart. Whatever resistance to the gospel might be seen initially seen, the mighty hand of God will overcome it and souls WILL be saved.

Blessings to you as you continue to share Christ with those around you who know him not!

ALL Lives Matter!

America is burning and the fires have many names I won’t discuss. We all can probably name them and each one of us probably has a ‘hot button’ or two; I know I have. What I will say is that ALL lives matter, black ones, white ones and every color in between. Soldiers serving our country and police serving our citizens (even the ones who want to kill them). Unborn babies matter, as do the mothers who don’t want them and the abortionists who carry out their murders. Self-serving politicians who care more about their careers and/or legacies than our country. ALL lives matter! Skin color just seems to be the #1 issue at the moment.

ALL lives matter because, as human beings, we were created as ‘image bearers’ of God (Genesis 1:26-31). At the same time, we are greatly flawed human beings; image bearers of God yet tragically flawed – by SIN. We have ALL sinned ‘in Adam’ (Romans 5:12), and we are ALL sinners in our conduct (Romans 3:23). In other words, we ALL sin because we’re sinners, and we’re ALL sinners because we sin.

My friends, SIN is still the problem and Jesus Christ is STILL the answer. It’s really that simple, although many will disagree. I’m talking about the Christ who died for our SIN (1 Cor 15:1-5), not for the many other reasons we like to talk about, like ‘our best lives now’.

Fellow believers, I guarantee you that those who perpetrate evil (of any kind) won’t address the sin problem – they love their sin (John 3:19). Sadly, there are a whole lot of professing Christians and alleged evangelical churches, who have the answer but won’t talk about sin.

What can we do about it? That’s easy. It’s up to us to join the conversation and ‘take it to the gospel’ – the gospel that has the subject of sin at the center and Jesus Christ as the only answer. Brothers and sisters, what an opportunity we have to do just that! America is burning and people are screaming for answers!

I’ll say it again. SIN is the problem and Jesus Christ is the answer!

Do we want racial reconciliation? Christ is the answer!

Do we want an honest government that cares for the Constitution and the people it serves? Christ is the answer!

Do we want stop all the crime and violence? Christ is the answer!

Do we want to see mothers stop killing their babies and abortion doctors put out of business? Christ is the answer!

Yes, America might be burning and yes, everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong. Most of the opinions miss the point and fail to get to the ‘root cause’. It’s time for us to join the conversation and ‘take it to the gospel’.

Are you with me?

Sharing Jesus Part 5 – The Response

So far we have discussed with our friend ‘Pat’ the problem of evil in the world and the source of that problem in Adam’s sin against God. We discovered that the root cause of the evil deeds of men is also called sin and that it’s a problem we all have, again thanks to Adam rebelling against God. We also discovered that God presented a solution to the problem of the human sinful nature, in the person of Jesus Christ, his own Son, whom he sent to die on behalf of those who would repent of their sin and believe the message of the gospel – that Christ died for the sins of men. The message of the gospel requires a response.

Understand that as you approach the need for responding to the gospel, you and Pat are standing on ‘Holy Ground’. Approach the moment with much prayer – prayer that the Holy Spirit will let you know when the moment has arrived, and prayer that God will continue his supernatural work of drawing Pat to the foot of the Cross.

Be gentle, and don’t apply any pressure. Don’t ‘push’ for a response. That means forget emotional appeals. Let God do HIS work. It’s entirely possible that in the course of your conversation Pat might have privately trusted in Christ for salvation but just not told you. You might have to part ways before getting to a response. Don’t fret. God began the work in Pat and will bring it to pass.

With that in mind, and as one pastor (Allistair Begg) suggests, a couple of simple questions for your friend might be appropriate:

1. Based on what we’ve been talking about have you personally trusted Christ or are you still on the way?

If God has already brought Pat to a place of repentance and belief, you will find out and you can rejoide together. If you hear something like “I guess I’m still on the way.” You might ask:

2. How far along the way are you?

It’s a simple question that will require some thought to answer. Maximum sensitivity is needed here! (Satan hates this and will try and disrupt things.) Real difficulties in peoples’ lives sometimes surface. Your friend might want to go and think about it. Don’t push. Say something like “If you must leave, that’s fine.” Continue the conversation!

3. If you hear “I’m pretty far along the way, you can something like:

“Would you like to become a real Christian and be sure of it? Remember, you are standing on holy ground at that moment. When the answer is “yes”, you need to add one more thing to the conversation before leading in a prayer of response.

The last part of the conversation before a response should be about cost of becoming a Christian. Very few ‘methods’ ever talk about this all important subject. With the goal of obtaining a ‘decision’ for Christ, many of us charge right ahead without even mentioning it. However, obtaining decisions isn’t our goal. Our only goal is that a lost sinner repents of sin and genuinely trusts in Christ for salvation.

You can say something like “The moment you become a Christian, you MUST become a Christian. Are you ready for a revolution? To say no to sin, self, and secrecy?”

If God has done His work, the answer will still be ‘yes’. You might be asked to explain what the ‘revolution’ would look like. Be ready to lovingly share passages of scripture that talk about some of the ‘challenges’ facing the Christian who is open about his/her faith ((Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). Be familiar with , which talks about the attitude of the world system toward Christians. The one whom God, not your clever speech, has brought to the Cross of Christ will be inwardly readya for the challenge.

It’s then that you can lead in a serious and solemn prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit that I’m a helpless sinner before you. I’ve tried to clean up my act so many times and failed. I believe that the Bible is true when it says that you are the savior for my sin. I’ve considered the revolution that will come. I ask you to come forgive me of my sin and enable me to turn from sin and turn in faith to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Give me a desire for your Word and to share the good news with others. Number me among those who are your own. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Be mindful that a prayer like the above example is not part of a ‘formula’ for or ‘method’ of evangelism. Such a prayer is a response to a message that by nature demands a response. Such a prayer summarizes the conversation that has been going on for days, or weeks, or perhaps months. Therefore the content of the prayer is what’s important. It restates the problem (sin), the solution to the problem (Christ’s substitutionary death), and contains a personal plea for mercy and forgiveness, trusting that God will make good on his offer of salvation.

Also remember that the ‘Amen’ at the end of the prayer is just the beginning for the one who has now cast himself/herself upon the mercy of God and believed in Christ for salvation. There is now new life in a new creation in Christ, for the Bible tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Cor 5:17

And finally, be ready to walk with a new believer and help him/her grow!

Christian songwriter and musician called this new life in Christ “The Great Adventure”. It’s a great description of what awaits the believer:

The Great Adventure

Saddle up your horses

Started out this morning
In the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head
Of all I had to do today
Another time around the circle
Try to make it better than the last

I opened up the Bible
And I read about me
Said, I’d been a prisoner
And God’s grace had set me free

And somewhere between the pages
It hit me like a lightning bolt
I saw a big frontier in front of me
And I heard somebody say, “Let’s go”

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure, yeah

Come on get ready
For the ride of your life
Gonna leave long faced religion
In a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons
Just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for, yeah

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

We’ll travel over, over mountains so high
We’ll go through valleys below
Still through it all, we’ll find that
This is the greatest journey
That the human heart will ever see

The love of God will take us far
Beyond my wildest dreams, yeah
Oh, saddle up your horses
Come on, get ready to ride

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

Come on, this is the great adventure
Saddle up, saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through God’s amazing grace!

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem

Sharing Jesus Part 3 – The Sin Problem: How Bas Is It?

Sharing Jesus Part 4 – The Solution

Sharing Jesus, Part 4: The Solution to the Sin Problem

Armed with a biblically understanding of ‘spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ‘dead men walking’, and knowing that our friend ‘Pat’ realizes that the issue if sin is the root cause of evil in the world, we can offer Pat the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.

Since the conversation is reaching ‘critical mass’ there are a few important things to remember.

First of all, pray that God would open Paul’s heart to receive this all important part of the message of the gospel. Secondly, remember that God alone saves and you are just the messenger. It’s not your job to get a decision or otherwise ‘close the deal’ – the Holy Spirit does a fine job of applying the solution to a God opened heart! As one evangelist expressed it:

“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch. He is the soul-winner. People are not won by us for Him. They are won through us by Him. He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say. But He has chosen to work through us and with us.”     Leith Samuel

Spend a few moments going over a few things with Pat. You might want to briefly summarize where the conversation has gone up to this point:

  • The world is full of ‘bad stuff’ (evil).
  • The Bible calls the bad stuff ‘sin’.
  • Sin is a human problem that began when Adam blew it and disobeyed God.

Once you and Pat are on the same page it’s time to address the solution. You might want to ask Pat what he/she thinks is the answer to the problem. The answers you receive might be good answers even if they are just about temporal things like passing more laws, doing a better job of raising our children, raising the quality of our schools, easier access to higher education, and/or government programs to get rid of poverty. If so, talk about them, acknowledge that they might solve problems, but that they are only external answers and cannot really address the inner problem of sin that we all have.

This is a good place to introduce, in simple terms and directly from the Bible (not a 25 lb. Schofield reference Bible, but the small one you tend to carry around with you), God’s plan for dealing with sin. Be gentle! This is a conversation, not a used car lot!

Here are some suggested passages of scripture that were all written by the Apostle Paul. You can even introduce some or all the following scriptures by telling Pat that this guy named ‘Paul’ who absolutely loved to kick Christians around all over town wrote them! Make sure to tell Pat how each passage relates what you have already discussed.

The problem:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Rom 3:23

The natural consequences of the problem:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord..” – Rom 6:23

God’s plan to punish his own Son in our place:

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8

The applications of God’s plan – believe and call on the name off the Lord:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Rom 10:9

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Rom 10:13

The result of believing and calling on the name of the Lord:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Rom 5:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Rom 8:1

The above passages are by no means a set method that must be followed. You might want to use other passages of scripture that also talk about the problem of man’s sin and God’s solution. John 3:16 is a good example and a passage we probably all know by heart. It also expresses God’s solution to our problem.

Always anticipate questions, and be ready with an answer or willing to find an answer. Be able to talk about the Biblical context of passages you use in the conversation. This communicates that you didn’t just memorize a few passages, but you know and are convinced of the truth of scripture. That’s huge!

In the next post we’ll talk about the response to God’s offer.

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem

Sharing Jesus Part 3 – The Sin Problem: How Bas Is It?

Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem

This is the second of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’. In Part 1 of this short series of posts, we talked about starting a conversation that can lead to sharing Jesus and the message of salvation with a family member, friend, co-worker, or anyone for that matter. The goal of the conversation was to arrive at the conclusion that the reason people do bad things is because they have an inner problem that the Bible calls ‘sin’.

Sharing Jesus – Part 2, The Sin Problem

Before we start talking about ‘sin’ let’s give our conversation partner a name. We’ll call him/her ‘Pat’ (good gender neutral name).The next step in the conversation we are having with ‘Pat’ is to define the extent of this ‘sin’ problem. And just like we asked a lot of questions when we started the conversation (the Colombo technique), we’ll continue our discussion with another question:

“So ‘Pat’, what do you think sin is?”

The first answer you will get will most likely have to do with bad things we do and/or mistakes we make, which is the most immediate and natural response. You might get the same answer from the vast majority of believers, but that’s another post.

You might also hear that sin means NOT doing things we ought to do. We do have a natural sense of what the ‘right’ thing to do would be at certain times, but we fail to do it.

And since we left off the first part of our conversation agreeing that we all have an ‘inner problem’, you might even hear an answer that talks about our natural selfishness and/or inner tendencies. And that, my friends, is where we want to go now – the sinful human nature, or tendency to sin. Once you’re there, you can ask the big WHY question:

“So Pat, since you have rightly recognized that we have an inner problem, a natural tendency to do bad stuff, and sometimes to NOT do what we know would be right, WHY do you think we have a natural tendency to sin?”

It’s the natural and logical next question. Regardless of the response, this is the opportunity to discuss what the Bible has to say about the WHY. We did the same thing earlier in the conversation when we said that the Bible calls man’s inner problem ‘sin’. And remember that you are sharing the ‘Christian worldview’ and not trying to convince Pat of your personal opinion. Just share what the Bible has to say and let God do the convincing. It would be good if you have a Bible handy to share straight from scripture.

In sharing what the Bible says about our sin problem, you can take it all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the story of creation and the fall of man. After all, that’s where our sin problem started – when the first couple disobeyed God. The point is that God created everything good, and it went sour because of man’s disobedience. Adam’s sin impacted the ‘nature’ of every human being born since then.

Regardless of what we think about the fairness of Adam’s sin affecting the rest of the human race, it did. We are told several things about the ‘natural’ man that describe him in rather ‘dark’ terms.

The entrance of sin into the world rendered the human heart deceitful beyond all things[i] and desperately sick, the human mind blind to spiritual things,[ii] hostile to God[iii], and unable to please God.[iv]

It’s really important for us who share Jesus with others and for those listening to our message to grasp just how bad the sin issue is. It’s in knowing just HOW bad the bad news is that we can most fully understand and appreciate the good news of what God has done in sending his Son to die for OUR sins. The main point about sin is that it’s more than what we do or don’t do, it’s part of our very nature as sons of Adam.

Sadly, much of today’s ‘evangelism’, both in churches and person to person, minimizes the real issue of our sin problem and in some cases, omits it entirely. We would rather attract sinners to Jesus with our ‘changed lives’ rather than speak the truth about our bondage to sin while trusting God to open stone cold hearts and effectually draw men to the cross. Are our lives irreversibly changed when we have trusted in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and in his death on our behalf? Of course they are, but as a result of the cross, not as the reason for believing in Jesus.

And once the reality of sin has, with the help of the Holy Spirit, sunk into Pat’s heart, the conversation can move on to the consequences of, and a solution to the problem. Stay tuned for Part 3.


[i] “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “Jer 17:9

[ii] “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor 4:4

[iii]“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Rom 8:7

[iv] “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.. Rom 8:8

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

This is the first of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’. As believers, many of us want to share Jesus with others, but hesitate out of nervousness and even fear. On the other hand, some of us aren’t nervous or fearful, so we charge right in using a particular method we found somewhere or were taught by someone. My friends, it doesn’t have to be so hard. How hard is it for us to talk about other exciting things in our lives? Sharing Jesus can and should be as natural as talking about a new house, car, smartphone, or even having just been married to the man/woman of your dreams. Having said all that, let’s begin.

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Here’s the scenario.

God has placed in your heart a desire to share Jesus and the message of the gospel with a relative, friend, co-worker, or even someone you just met (it happens). You know it’s a real because 1) God has given you a burden to reach the lost around you and 2) you asked God to point you in the right direction. And although you’ve studied various ‘methods’ of personal evangelism, you don’t know which one to use, or how to start. You are afraid of using the wrong method. How do you proceed with this important task?

Well, like the title of this blog post suggests, start a conversation, after having asked God to open a heart to hear a hard message!

Now what that conversation might sound has a lot of possibilities, depending on the specific situation, your relationship with this person, and what you know about his/her level of spiritually. Never mind all that for now, just start the conversation with a few things in mind as you press toward the final goal of the discussion – the point at which it’s time for your conversation partner to consider responding to the message of the gospel you are about to share.

First of all, you need to identify and understand the root problem before you offer a solution. Jesus didn’t come to earth and die on a cross for ‘your best life now’, or any variation of that theme. He came to die for the sins of God’s people (See Matthew 1:21). Our ultimate goal is to share the Christ who died for our sins, I don’t know anyone who wants to hear they have a sin problem.

Does that sound tough, or what? Yes it does, but remember that you have already prayed that God open a heart to hear. The problem of sin IS the main issue the message of the gospel addresses. We have all sinned, Christ died for those sins, and that ultimately deserves a response. Never fear, you don’t have to quote Romans 3:23 at the start of the conversation, but you do need to somehow take the topic of the conversation to the main issue..

Actually, you don’t even need to use the dreaded “S” word, not yet anyway. You can start this most important conversation just like you might start any other conversation. Just choose a hot topic from the news. If you don’t listen to, watch, or read the news it’s time to start. Think of something ‘bad’ that was reported. There’s plenty out there. It could be local crime, dirty politics, another mass shooting or terrorist attack anywhere in the world. Pick one.

You might ask, “Did you hear about what happened at/in ________________?” “Why do you think that guy did that?” Just ask about something specific everyone probably knows about and ask a “Why do you think…..” question. You’re sending the message that you are interested in a thoughtful response, the other person’s opinion.

The answer most likely will be on the lines of “He was nuts…….just plain mean……he hates, etc., a specific possible reason. Take the reason given and ask another “why do you think” question. “Why do you think he’s nuts, mean, hateful, etc. That’s a different level question that goes to the motive for the ‘act’. You might get an answer or you might not.

What you would like to hear is something like “Well, I don’t know for sure, but maybe there’s something inside that caused him to …….” If you get that response, you can take the conversation to a still deeper level by asking another question along the lines of “What do you think that ‘inner’ problem might be?” Or, if you didn’t hear something about an inherent human problem, suggest the possibility of an ‘inner’ issue. The entire goal of the conversation is to agree that there’s an ‘inner’ problem with all of us humans.

At this point it’s time to identify and name the problem. People attribute bad acts to psychological problems, growing up in a bad home, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and even genetics. The Bible calls our problem ‘sin. This is the moment in the conversation to bring that up. The conversation has officially begun!

The discussion might continue, or be left for thoughtful consideration. The problem has been identified; the next part of the conversation will be to understand the problem. We’ll address that in the next article.

Do you see where this is going? Some have called this the “Colombo” technique (Think Peter Falk and all his question asking). All you are doing is having a friendly conversation with the goal of taking the conversation to the main problem we all have – sin. You don’t really have to open a Bible until you get to the part where you suggest that “The Bible calls our problem sin.” That’s the time to read directly from its pages (Romans 3:23 for example). Reading text from the pages of scripture leaves little or no room for receiving a “that’s your opinion” response.

So that’s how you start a conversation with an unbeliever. It might only take a single conversation to get to the main issue, or it might take longer. You asked God to open a heart before you began the conversation and you continued to pray during the conversation. Now pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, would water the seeds you planted.

At the right time, you might hear “Remember what you were telling me about. . .” (The door has just been blown wide open.), or you can ask about the last BIG conversation. Just move at a perfectly natural pace. Remember that the goal of personal evangelism is, as Alistair Begg defines it:

“…to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.”

May God add his blessing to your sharing Jesus with a lost world!

P.S. It’s quite possible that you might be sharing Jesus with one person, and someone else will stop you one day and share that he/she overheard you talking and met the Savior because of it. It happens. I know this one.

Gospel Invitations

We use them all the time.

“Come to Jesus today. It might be your last chance.”

“You just need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”

“Open / give your heart to Jesus.”

“Ask Jesus into your heart.”

“If you pray this prayer, you will be saved.”

Has anyone ever found anything resembling one of the above (or others) in the New Testament? All I can find are commands or statements about repenting and believing.

If ‘gospel invitations’ we use have no scriptural basis, why do we use them?

I really want to know.

Recognizing a “different” gospel – a practical exercise. . .

In a  previous post  we suggested using a “3 S” model for recognizing a “different”, or false, gospel.

1. What is the teaching’s SOURCE of truth?

2. What about the SAVIOR?

3. What are the requirements for SALVATION?

While some false gospels recognize the Bible as the ultimate source of truth and acknowledge Jesus as the Savior, they present the requirements for salvation (what one must believe) in attractive but sometimes incomplete manner.

Using the words of Jesus and Paul, followed by those of a very popular west coast Pastor, we offer you a challenge. Examine them both and put on your spiritual thinking cap.

Jesus, at the beginning of his earthly ministry said:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

The Apostle defined the gospel message quite clearly:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15:1-4)

In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose”, the popular west coast Pastor (Rick Warren) leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this:

“Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don’t want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for.”

Warren goes on to say:

“Now if you’ve just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”

On page 58 of “The Purpose Driven Life” Warren gives perhaps his most complete gospel presentation. He states,

“Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for . . . all you need to do is receive and believe….

First, believe God loves you and made you for his purposes. Believe you are not an accident. Believer you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you.

Second, receive. Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose.”

Again, he offers a sample prayer,

“I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” He promises, “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose for your life.”

Based on what you have just read, do you think that Rick Warren presents a complete gospel message, a “different” gospel, or something in between? You can keep your thoughts to yourself, or you can share them here. Perhaps we can have a good discussion!

No Other Gospel

“6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)

In the above passage, the Apostle Paul is speaking to four local churches he had planted during his first missionary Journey in the Galatian cities of Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Not long after he had planted those churches, false teachers arose in Galatia asserting that in order to really be a Christian, one had to also follow Mosiac Law. Paul was astonished that believers in Galatia had departed from the gospel of faith alone that he had preached to them and had turned to ‘another’ gospel that was really not the gospel. In fact, Paul accused those believers of turning away from Christ himself, not just the message of justification by faith.

Paul also had some very harsh words for those who would preach ‘another’ gospel. He first says in verse 8 that if he (Paul) or his companions preached a different gospel that they should be ‘accursed’. In verse 9 he broadens the group of those that should be ‘accursed’ to include anyone who would preach a different or false gospel.

The word ‘accursed’ literally means ‘devoted to destruction’. The term was used in the Old testament in connection with the fall of Jericho. It was a term used for the city of Jericho itself and for one Achan, who had stolen an ingot of gold, a quantity of silver, and a costly garment during Jericho’s demise. When Paul states that those who preach a ‘different’ gospel should be ‘accursed’ he is pronouncing that they are deserving of condemnation.

Since preachers of false gospels deserve condemnation, we need to be able to spot a ‘different’ gospel and avoid it, along with its purveyors, like the plague. First, let us define the true gospel according to Jesus and Paul.

Jesus, at the beginning of his earthly ministry said:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

The Apostle defined the gospel message quite clearly:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15:1-4)

So what are the marks of a false gospel?

Well, the list could be quite long, and would become even longer if we named some of today’s false teachers, many of whom appear regularly on ‘Christian’ TV. Rather than get into the weeds however, allow me to suggest three questions that can be asked of any teaching that you might come across.

1. What is the teaching’s SOURCE of truth?

2. What about the SAVIOR?

3. What are the requirements for SALVATION?

If you can remember three key words, SOURCE, SAVIOR, & SALVATION and what they mean, you will be well on your way to being able to spot (discern) just about any ‘different’ gospel on the street

What is the teaching’s SOURCE of truth?

Is the ultimate source of truth for the teaching you are listening to the Bible or something else, such as the teachings of Ellen G. White for Seventh Day Adventists, the Book of Mormon, or a human institution outside of the Bible. If the Bible is not the ultimate source of truth there’s a problem.

What about the SAVIOR?

Another way to ask this question is “Who is Jesus according to this teaching/teacher?” Is the Jesus of this teaching the Jesus of the Bible? Is he the eternal Son of God and equal member of the trinity, or is he just a good man, great teacher, a man who somehow attained ‘godhood’? Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus was ‘a god’, not God. Mormonism teaches that Jesus is the creator and savior of mankind, but that he is one of many gods, a created being and elder brother of Lucifer.

What are the requirements for SALVATION?

This question gets to the heart of Paul’s argument in the book of Galatians. If anything is added to Christ’s death for OUR sins (substitutionary sacrifice), there is a ‘different’ (false) gospel. In the case of the Galatians, it was adding the keeping of the Mosaic law. For Mormons and JW’s salvation is based on believing the ‘right’ things according to their respective doctrinal statements and having achieved a certain level the ‘right’ works.

Sinners are in fact justified (declared righteous) before a holy God by works, just not human works, but the perfect work of Christ on our behalf.

If you are reading this, by now you are probably thinking about other religions or even Christian denominations that might be categorized as teaching a ‘different’ gospel. If you are, I encourage you to apply the three “S” questions. If you still have honest questions, leave a comment and perhaps we can shed more light or point you in the right direction for a satisfactory answer.