On Sale Now: The Gospel?
The ancient writer of Ecclesiastes said thousands of years ago, before the internet, before the NFL, before bluetooth, and iPhones, and sound systems, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9. This was made fresh once again as I was reading a 100 year old sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This is what he said:
Our Christianity has the appearance of being an adjunct or an appendix to the rest of our lives instead of being the main theme and the moving force in our existence...We seem to have a real horror of being different. Hence all our attempts and endeavors to popularize the church and make it appeal to people. We seem to be trying to tell people that their joining a church will not make them so very different after all. "We are no longer Puritans," we say, "we believe that they over-did things and made Christianity too difficult for people. They frightened people with their strictness and their unnecessarily high standards. We are not so foolish as to do that", we say, and indeed we do not do so.
Instead, however, we provide so called "sporting parsons", men of whom the world can say that they are "good sports" - whatever that may mean. And what it does so often mean is that they are men who believe that you can get men to come to chapel and church by playing football and other games with them. "I'll fraternize with these men," says such a minster. "I'll get them to like me and to see that I'm not so different from them after all, and then they'll come to listen to my sermons." And he tries it, but thank God, he almost invariably fails, as he richly deserves. The man who only comes to church or chapel because he likes the minister as a man is of no value at all, and the minister who attempts to get men there by means of that subterfuge is for the time being guilty of lowering the standard of the truth which he claims to believe.
For this gospel is the gospel of salvation propounded by the Son of God himself. We must not hawk it about the world, or offer special inducements and attractions, as if we were shopkeepers announcing an exceptional bargain sale...
The world expects the Christian to be different and looks to him for something different, and therein it often shows an insight into life that regular church-goers often lack. The churches organize whist-drives, fétes, dramas, bazaars and things of that sort, so as to attract people. We are becoming almost as wily as the devil himself, but we are really very bad at it; all our attempts are hopeless failures and the world laughs at us. Now, when the world persecutes the church, she is performing her real mission, but when the world laughs at her she has lost her soul. And the world today is laughing at the church, laughing at her attempts to be nice and to make people feel at home. My friends, if you feel at home in any church without believing in Christ as your personal Savior, then that church is not church at all, but a place of entertainment or a social club. For the truth of Christianity and the preaching of the gospel should make a church intolerable and uncomfortable to all except those who believe, and even they should go away feeling chastened and humble.
Nothing new under the sun. Jones said that 100 years ago. And oh how prophetic this sounds for our own day. Let us not be those who hawk the gospel. Let us be those who uncompromisingly proclaim Christ as the only Savior of the world and let the chips fall where they may.
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