The Gospel of Mark ends with a simple command to the disciples of Jesus Christ, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:14) The term “gospel” simply means “good news.” Sadly, this instruction to the Church has been misrepresented by many well-meaning Christians today.
In an attempt to see membership increase, some modern churches have strayed into non-Biblical practices that actually eclipse the presentation of the true gospel message. These types of conversions require no understanding of God, sin, judgment, nor atonement.
Absent are the core elements of the true Gospel that it leaves the hearer to determine for themselves which Jesus they choose to believe in. For many, this leads to a metaphysical, self-validated experience that ultimately does not bring these new “believers” into a real understanding of the Biblical conditions for reconciliation with God.
This is a wide-reaching, experience-based Christianity, which seems to allow each participant to follow their own emotions as a guide to truth. The immersion of the senses is at the heart of this type of religious experience. Entertainment and excitation become key elements in their church services. This literally becomes showtime for the sheep.
It also engenders a type of Feel-Good-Factor-Faith Christianity that appeals to those who are looking to basically improve their current life situation. Health, wealth, and prosperity are the key inducements for these followers. There is no downside with this gospel message. The hearer only needs to embrace the abundant life that is promised by these preachers.
Sadly these alternative gospels present a man-centered message that often presents a cross-less Christ. A Christ whose sole purpose it to bless and benefit mankind. This is in stark contrast to the command of Jesus where He states in Matthew’s Gospel,
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Matthew 7:13, 14
The apostle Paul warned the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians 11:4 that these dangerous practices would create confusion in the Body of Christ. Jesus warned that having religion does not necessarily indicate a relationship. In Matthew 7:21-23, He states,
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
It was Paul who clearly defined the true Gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4. He stated,
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
Herein we see the true Ministry and Message of Reconciliation. Every disciple of Jesus Christ has been commissioned with a ministry that has a specific message. The apostle Paul tells every believer in 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19,
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
The message of reconciliation can be divided into two parts.
- The first part focuses on the NEED for reconciliation. This is the BAD News, and it must be communicated first. It is established by understanding the knowledge of God (His existence and character), the Law (God’s terms and conditions), and the character of Man (His feeble, fallen state of existence). This was the method Jesus used with the rich-young-ruler, which is recorded in Luke 18:18-23. It is only after the hearer acknowledges their need for a Saviour that the Word of Reconciliation can have its full effect.
- The second part gives us the WORD of reconciliation. This is based on the foundational WORK of reconciliation. The Good News is that this work is all done by Jesus Christ. Paul pointed out that this was the first aspect of the Gospel when he told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.”
The Importance of the Cross to Christianity
The legacy of lawlessness has been handed down to all mankind since the fall of Adam. The ultimate problem for all mankind is their unredeemed condition of sin that carries the eternal penalty of God’s righteous judgment. The apostle John writes in 1 John 3:4,
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
The Cross of Christ reveals man’s greatest shame, and it unveils God’s greatest solution. The Cross of Christ is where the problem of man meets the Love of God.
The Levitical system of atonement was familiar to every Jew. The sheading of blood was required to cover man’s sin. Therefore, it is interesting to note that John the Baptist introduced his cousin Jesus by stating in John 1:29, “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The apostle Paul instructed the Galatian Church. Chapter 4:4, 5,
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Therefore, the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind would be carried out through the submission of Jesus to the will of His Father. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed (Matthew 26:39), “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” By the Cross, Jesus was conducting a transaction that would pay the penalty for all our sins and impute to us the righteousness of God.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
It is only through the Cross of Christ that mankind can enter into and enjoy the peace that is from God.
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
The proclamation of Biblical GOOD NEWS to this lost world must begin with a clear declaration of the victory won at the Cross of Christ. Given all that the apostle Paul did during his life and ministry, it is interesting to see the emphasis he places on the Cross of Christ. He states in 1 Corinthians 2:1,2,
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
May God bless you as you seek Him through Jesus Christ alone.