What Is/Isn’t The Gospel?

One thing that seems to lack in ministries is the gospel message. It didn’t really pop up much as being foundational in our recent articles as being central to the ‘Fire It Up’ ministries.

Now we all have different backgrounds and experiences. So…

1. What is the gospel message?
2. How simple should it be?
3. Can/Should it be changed to adapt to different audiences?
4. Does our understanding of the gospel message vary in how we met God individually?
5. What parts of the gospel are crucial and must be preached that we all agree on?

I think we may be surprised with other people’s responses.


85 thoughts on “What Is/Isn’t The Gospel?

  1. Whenever I hear that expression “what is the gospel?” my thoughts always go to John Piper who expresses it so well –

  2. Does anyone on here believe in the seeker-sensitive approach or fire and brim-stone approach?

  3. what is the gospel? that’s the question.

    most say it is about sin and being forgiven. but i don’t think that’s enough (as piper says in that nice little video). but it’s more than even what piper says there.

    we are not saved as individuals, we are saved into a collective. it’s not about the redemption of one, it’s about the redemption of community. in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes the extraordinary statement of what the good news was: Matthew 10:7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
    this was i think a collective call. we are called into the kingdom to be representatives of the kingdom. in order to do that, we need to get real with our cosmic status in relation to God. When we get real about that, we repent. When we repent it is heard—the cross and resurrection are testimony to the hearing of our cry—and we can then “Love God. Love people. Love ourselves.”
    we enter into a new reality where, yes it’s great for us as individuals, but it also comes at great cost. and that cost is our responsibility to serve those around us . . . completely.

    how simple should the gospel be? dunno. we’ve got four accounts of it in narrative form. if it was as simple as the 4 spiritual laws would imply, then i’m sure Jesus wouldn’t have spoken about it in parables 🙂

  4. Jesus spoke in Parables so that the people wouldn’t understand.

    Check me out on that. It’s difficult to accept. But it’s true.

    What is the good news? (gospel meaning good news)

    Why is it such good news?
    I can’t watch the video here so I might cover much of the same ground but here goes.

    Under the Law of Moses, the people of God had rules about how to become clean, and the holy so that they could approach God in the temple. These rules of about cleanliness, righteousness, holiness were very exacting. There were many promises of blessing for Israel as well as curses for Israel.

    The most well known curse/blessing here would be the one in Malachi 3 of course. (paraphrased) “Bring your tithes into the storehouse and I will pour out such a blessing that it cannot be contained.” And if you don’t bring your tithes you, your children, grand-children and great grandchildren will be under a curse.

    That’s just one example. Now Jeremiah, who has a very gloomy reputation which is undeserved, proclaimed the coming of a New Covenant.
    Jeremiah 31 (I think … and it’s paraphrased again)
    “Behold, I will make a new covenant. I will put it in their minds and write it in their hearts and their sins I will remember no more. No longer will Fathers eat sour grapes and their childrens teeth be set on edge … instead, every man will be responsible for their own sins.”

    Go look it up.

    Jesus came to proclaim and initiate the New Covenant in His Blood. (I agree He is The Word, RP. The LOGOS)

    He proclaimed the Lord’s Jubilee. (In the Jubilee Year, all debts were forgiven and all property was returned to the original owners. Like a reset switch.) This meant that this wasn’t just good news to sinners, it was fantastic news! Sins were to be forgiven and forgotten.

    It didn’t sound so good to the religious sects. The Pharisees had spent lifetimes trying to be the best Jews ever. Now here comes Jesus saying all the effort was for nothing. Pride was the one thing they couldn’t deal with.

    Jesus was telling the people to seek God’s mercy and to stop trying to become self-righteous like the pharisees.

    Later on, Paul builds on this by saying explicitly … “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all.”
    And …
    “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    Saved from what? Hell? … No, that’s a bonus thrown in.

    Jesus came to save us from our Sins. All of them. Saved from their power and influence on our lives.

    We can be truly free of Sin. Now that is good news. Free not to sin.

    I haven’t experienced that freedom fully yet, but I am getting there.

    I’m not what I could be,
    I’m not what I should be,
    But Praise the Lord!,
    I’m not what I was!

    Shalom

  5. My summary would be thus:

    God created humanity to have relationship with Him and each other on a relatively equal footing. (Why? Because He wanted to.) By that I mean that as part of the design plan we have been created so we choose or not choose to live in that relationship and all it means. Only in having that full, unfettered, relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (which mirrors the same relatioship that they have between each other) can we be fully who we are, all who we were made to be, have life abundantly and live up to the image that we were created in.

    A fundamental part of that design was that we had the choice to live in that relationship and within the design parameters that God set for – we could choose to, or not.

    Our forbears for reasons of their own which we could all enunciate slightly differently decided we could live better without God, and in doing so become God ourselves – each individually. We call it sin.

    The Gospel then is that God had a plan – as Piper said – to restore that relationship with God through the death and resurrection of His own begotten Son – both fully man and fully God – as an atonement for that act of rebellion and relationship breaking on our part, and to enable us to live beyond our biological limitations. This is a free gift to us if we want that relationship.

    The only proviso (but count the cost) is that we acknowledge we ourselves in fact are bound up in permanent rebellion to God, that Jesus died and rose again to pay the penalty for that rebellion and allow us to live, and change the way in which we live to exclude those things that break relationship with God and include those things that allow us to live in and maintain that relationship (repentance and sanctification).

    I hold to the both sovereignty of God, pre-destination, ordained before the world and full free will of man. How can we have both? Cause God is much smarter than us!! That’s why He is Almighty God, creator of the universe plus everything else etc, and I clearly can’t understand how God does all the things He does.

    The bible is a guide book.

    I’m sure you will all pick theological holes in it, but that’s life.

  6. Incidentally for the Gospel completely and totally is real or not real based on the historicity of Christ and to a lesser extent on how I have experienced God in my own life.

    Let me explain before I get jumped on.

    The single thing at the core of the Gospel – whether there is such a thing and whether it can be relied upon for me is that the God/man Jesus walked this earth, died and then rose from the dead 3 days later.

    Without this there is nothing – 1 Cor 15.

    The Gospel can never be dependent on this, but nevertheless for it is meaningless unless I can see, experience, feel, acknowledge that there is a God through the experience of my own life. The universe can only ever be perceived through the “I”. This is true for every living person, and while I can shre my experience, “knowledge” and views with others, everybody has to make up their own mind based on their “experience”.

  7. Do I believe to be factual, and historically true that there was a man/God named Jesus who died and rose from the dead?

    Yes.

    From my own observation, experience, comparing Scripture what says and teaches to the things that have happened in my own life, overtime I have formed the view that the God of the Bible has been at work in the world and in my own life. Further I have formed the view that He is interested in me and wants to have a relationship with me as Father and friend that allows me to be all that I can be beyond what I can imagine. Further in that relationship with Him my capacity for relationship with others is also extended and magnified in all the best and good ways, enabling us all to be who He made us to be, and to glorify Him, and glory in through that.

  8. To me, I found I could summarise the gospel in five words. The gospel is about:

    The King and His Kingdom

    After that, depending on the audience, I can expand specifically on certain details about this King (Jesus) and His Kingdom (Israel/Church/Called-Out-People). It is so simple and so deep, like love.

    I’ll post again later once I’ve goathered my thoughts and views on the various aspects to the ‘gospel’ of the New Testament.

  9. Bull:

    Jesus spoke in Parables so that the people wouldn’t understand.

    Check me out on that. It’s difficult to accept. But it’s true.

    True but not difficult to accept. It was an act of love and an act that we should follow. Actually as I read it we were instructed to behave similarly when we were told not to throw pearls before swine.

    The problem with humans, and especially religious humans, is our tendency to make tribal judgements. We take in a small amount of information about a person and (usually) write them off. We end up with a small amount of people who are “like us” and who validate us and another group who are “them” or worse.

    So if Jesus came out and said “thanks for coming everyone – by the way I am God and I am going to die and …” he would pretty much have been relegated to “them” or worse and written off quick smart. Those that wrote him off would have little chance of listening a second time.

    Instead Jesus gave people parables that were, perhaps, confusing but contained truths would stick in their minds. Concepts they could think about in small amounts and digest that would change them over time. This way could get the truth in small amounts. When their perspective changed (“repentance”) then they could accept the whole shebang.

    Kind of like when you come across dying men in the desert (as you do). The loving thing is to give them tiny sips of water over time because giving them a bucket will kill them. Until the body changes the way it works the thing that should bring life actually brings death. Its a funny old world.

  10. “Jesus loves you” – Is this a gospel message that works and that should be preached?

  11. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the Power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed. A righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written ‘the righteous shall live by faith’ ”

    I have heard only one preacher who has said that the Love of God is not to be preached to unbelievers, but only believers. It is an ‘in’ subject. It is a pearl.

    Tell people about God’s Love and they immediately ask you “Why does God allow suffering in this world?” and “Why would a God of Love send anyone to Hell?”

  12. An interesting commentary of the ‘Hillsong Gospel’ from The Briefing

    Having looked extensively at Hillsong books and publications, listened to a range of audio and televised sermons (especially those that purported to deal with these subjects), and visited Hillsong church on serveral occasions, Nathan Walter arrived at some unsettling conclusions. These three core subjects are certainly touched upon and discussed, but the content and emphasis is disturbingly different from what we might expect:

    – when sin is spoken about, which is not often, it is usually in terms of immorality in the world or else negative thinking and attitudes that destroy God’s purpose in our lives, and limit our potential;3 there is no concept that we are under God’s wrath or condemnation because of our personal rebellion against him, or that there is a connection between sin, death and judgement;4

    -it is asserted that Jesus is God’s perfect Son and even that he died ‘for us’ or ‘in our place’, but what this means is not explained; not a single example was found expounding Jesus’ death as taking the penalty for sin on our behalf so that we might avoid God’s wrath on judgement day; instead, Jesus’ death and resurrection is usually quoted either as an example (of overcoming difficulty and living with purpose),5 or explained as the source of healing and empowerment for living an abundant and healthy life;6

    – our response to the Christian message focuses heavily on the power of choice God has given us, on the need to change mental attitudes and thought patterns so as to live in the blessing God has for us, and on the biblical ‘law of cause and effect’— that if we obey Bible principles we will succeed and flourish in life, as God intended.7

    Nathan Walter summarized his findings like this:

    In their understanding of humanity and sin, Hillsong distorts the diagnosis: it’s not so much that we’re sinful rebels against God our creator, and therefore objects of his righteous anger and judgement, under the sentence of death; it’s more that we have allowed all kinds of bad choices and negative thinking to get in the way of reaching the purpose and potential God has in store for us.

    This means that although Hillsong still believes in and proclaims the historical events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they understand these events differently. They do not proclaim Jesus’ death as a substitutionary atonement, turning aside God’s wrath so that I can receive forgiveness and be saved on the day of judgement—rather, Jesus’ death and resurrection function as an undefined entry point into the life of blessing that God has for us, and serve as an example of what a fully devoted life in tune with God’s purposes looks like (effectively a ‘moral influence’ view of the atonement).

    And because they have twisted both the problem and the solution in Christ out of shape, their account of how we should respond to the gospel is also badly flawed. It’s not about clinging to Christ in faith for forgiveness of sins, and pursuing holiness through the work of the Spirit—it’s about choosing to change how you think, and obeying the Bible’s principles, so that you can move into a period of success and flourishing in every area of life.8

    If Nathan Walter is right—and it certainly squares with everything we saw at Hillsong Conference, as well as our own subsequent research into Hillsong teachings—this is a very troubling diagnosis indeed, both for pentecostals and for evangelicals.

    Traditional Pentecostalism was an offshoot of Evangelicalism. It had some important distinctives (such as belief in ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ as an experience subsequent to conversion evidenced by speaking in tongues, and the continuance of miraculous gifts today). But in nearly every other respect its doctrinal position was straightforward Evangelicalism. A quick look at the ‘Statement of Faith’ for the Assemblies of God (UK), to take one example, bears this out.9

    However, it seems that Hillsong-style ‘contemporary Pentecostalism’ is becoming both less pentecostal and less evangelical as time goes on. The pentecostal distinctives are being watered down or dropped, and the underlying evangelical heritage seems already to have been left behind. (It’s an interesting exercise in this connection to do a close comparison of the UK Assemblies of God ‘Statement of Faith’ and the Australian one, which happens to be identical to the Hillsong version.)

    http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/briefing/library/3883/

  13. well, that is very upsetting actually.

    It rings true, that’s what is so upsetting. If the emphasis is on doing things in order to receive blessing … what is the difference between Hillsong and the Rabbinical Judaism 2000 years ago?

    Isn’t this, in essence, legalism?

    This is a result of shear pragmatism. Bums-on-seats must not be the gauge of success. It gives a distorted view, and isn’t objective anyway. The point is, people might be in church for all sorts of reasons, without actually being believers.

    Pastor: “How do we get our people to stop doing bad things? How do we get them to do good things?”
    Answer: “Give them a list of dos and don’ts … and tell them they will receive blessing here and now … not rewards in the hear-after.”

    Now, is that the Hillsong answer?

  14. RE – on Hillsong’s website, they do say that:

    “We believe that sin has separated each of us from God and His purpose for our lives.”

    They later say,

    “We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives.”

    So in their statement of belief, they do mention both sin and repentance. Where or whether this is communicated in the rest of their meetings, I don’t know.

    But – this bit concerns me:
    “…and submit to His will for our lives.”

    In the sense that we make Jesus our Lord, then that seems fine. But if they also believe that God’s will for us is imparted via the Senior Pastor’s vision at our church, and that submitting to the pastor’s vision or bidding is submitting to Jesus’ will for our lives’, then you can see how it could become distorted. Or if they believe that Jesus will for our lives includes that we tithe – then if we don’t tithe we aren’t saved – Brian Houston has actually said that he doubts the Christianity of those who don’t tithe.

    Plus even though we make Jesus our Lord – or intend to – all of us fail to ‘submit to his will’ at verious points in time – does this then mean we are not saved? Isn’t that why Jesus died – because we were unable to submit to God’s will for our lives, from the days of Adam and Eve? So I think that this submission bit could become a form of being saved via works; through self-effort (albeit effort at being obedient to God), rather than resting in God’s grace. It’s not that submission to God’s will in so far as we understand what that is for our lives is not desirable, but that this is not part of how we achieve salvation.

    That’s my fear about Hillsong’s gospel. (Apart from the prosperity doctrine stuff, which Nathan Walter described somewhat.)

  15. So Bull – I guess our fears are the same – I fear that the bit about ‘_and_ submit to His will for our lives’ is legalism, and more about works than faith.

    Unless it is just poor phrasing.

    Perhaps they are mistaking the fruit of salvation (good character and works of various kinds) for the means of salvation.

  16. We used to call it “works” – you get to heaven by being a good person….

    very scary, because…

    the Bible says no-one is good, no – not – one…….

    since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    Of course we’re much smarter than that aren’t we? Paul is talking about those people on the other side of the tracks, or is he….

    What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:
    “There is no one righteous, not even one;there is no one who understands,no one who seeks God.
    All have turned away,they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,not even one.”
    “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
    “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    A gospel that does not acknowledge the depravity of humanity, and the gaping chasm between us and God on that basis cannot be the Gospel.

    Clearly it is not where we stop, but it is something that we must come to grips with at some point in time.

    Grace in the absence of that ownership is cheap and meaningless.

    Coming to terms with it floors us and grants us I think a much truer, majestic, humbling, awestruck, fall on my face with gratitude view of God’s love.

    Not in a way that God lauds it over….you know….I’ve got to make you feel so bad, so that you can see how great I am and my love is…ha!

    But….

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

    And in the face of our turning still what, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
    “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Now that is the Gospel, and if what Hillsong teaches is less than that – well it is very much their loss.

  17. The Gospel then in those terms is this:

    That God sought me out and gave His all through Jesus for me – even though I am as depraved in my own natural state as those words indicate – whether I have in deed done those things or not – that He loved me/you/all of us that much, that I/we/you might have the opportunity of being restored to an eternal relationship with Him, and live the abundant life He intended for us.

    Can’t help myself here with another couple of gems….

    As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    and

    …do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

  18. “For God bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all.”

    I am really enjoying this thread.

  19. Here is my theory which have may have no basis in fact:

    The predominant demographic in Hillsong is middle class aspirational. Some of the people may be have been one generation away from impoverished circumstances, broken families, violent households, mental illness, uneducated parents, poor migrants etc etc.

    They view the causes and consequences of sin as inadequate schooling, poor life skills, poverty, lack of wisdom, ‘wrong’ or negative thinking or lack of ambition.

    As in most heresy there is a grain of truth in this. The Book of Proverbs is full of warnings about the consequences of poor life decisions. Unfortunately the idea is overextended.

    The churches that teach prosperity theology makes its appeal on this basis.
    Consequently, the Bible is viewed as a book on personal development, Jesus as an iconic example of wisdom and sacrifice and church worship is looked upon as a motivational session (albeit with a ‘spiritual’ flavour).

    Helping people to develop their human potential is a good thing but not at the expense of watering down the true redemptive message of the gospel. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? But a man whose soul is saved doesn’t need the world.

    As our minister has said, if financial or professional success* was the mark of the true Christian then this immediately invalidates the faith of millions of Christ’s follower in the developing world. For them they may never have any opportunity to change their circumstances on this earth However, their hope can only (and rightly) fixed on what is imperishable and eternal.

    When taking a global perspective, the Western world is incredibly wealthy but spiritually impoverished. It is the Afro-Asian church that is growing the most in numerical terms. I am sure that the relative rich Christians in this country have enough money to assist in this ministry and physical needs. Does this make us more spiritual or shows us that we are more in God’s favour? Probably not. As the Bible says ‘the last shall be first’. We have much to learn from the faithfulness of our brethren who endure constant hardship and persecution whilst we live in the relative comfort and safety of this country.

    * similar arguments have been applied based on mental illness, popularity or social success

  20. RP: “They later say,

    “We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives. …

    But – this bit concerns me:
    “…and submit to His will for our lives.””

    That is very Oneness Pentecostal (heretical movement teaching): If you don’t submit to God, fear his wrath and the flames of hell.

    But that entire statement before the one above concerns me. I would say Hillsong swallowed a HUGE lie:

    “We believe that sin has separated each of us from God and His purpose for our lives.”

    Not any more through Christ.

    Those in Christ are now reconciled to God and the world through time is being reconciled. Sin can no longer separate man from God because the gospels declare that Jesus came to take away the sins of the whole world – Jesus has taken that separation away! It was the ultimate act of forgiveness and connecting the world to God again.

    That’s what makes the gospel so amazing yet so incredibly controversial and why he rescues people like me, Franc, Saul and the drug addict down the street.

    And it seems MN that while we may agree on what the ‘anointing’ is together, our understanding of the gospel is very different. I don’t believe in the ‘gap theory’.

    Christ is with the unbeliever at all times, but not ‘in’ them. The Spirit of Faith and Peace is waiting and wanting to simply move in and expel their doubt and hostility towards God. It is Christ’s work that has reconciled the whole world to the father through the finished work of the cross. People only need to know that they are forgiven by God for everything they have done and accept that truth to enter His Kingdom. It is Christ’s Spirit that births them from there old hostile nature towards God with the righteous Christ-nature of God.

  21. It’s funny. CCCOF doesn’t seem to have a statement of beliefs…

    But it looks as though they have had more success then Hillsong ind branding their image nationally and internationally.

  22. S&P:

    The Spirit of Faith and Peace is waiting and wanting to simply move in and expel their doubt and hostility towards God. It is Christ’s work that has reconciled the whole world to the father through the finished work of the cross. People only need to know that they are forgiven by God for everything they have done and accept that truth to enter His Kingdom. It is Christ’s Spirit that births them from there old hostile nature towards God with the righteous Christ-nature of God.

    Amen

    As RP just said to me then the problem is us moving away from Father in our shame as in the garden, not him separating himself from us.

    The “reconciliation” is us to him, not him to us. (Or perhaps the reconciliation is back to the original kingdom)

  23. RE – have to agree with all the points in your ‘theory’.

    Based on their website, I don’t think Hillsong really teach the gospel. It may have in earlier days. But now Hillsong does not, because their version of salvation depends on more than just Jesus. That teaching takes away from the good news, effectively eliminating Jesus work on the cross, and putting works or law back. That is, if they teach what is written on their website.

    Of course I have friends who have attended Hillsong in the past, and these are wonderful genuine Christian people. So I think perhaps this emphasis is relatively recent.

    S&P – I too was taught traditional ‘gap theory’. Yes, I was given the bridge illustration and specifically taought that God could not be near us because of our sin. (He was too holy to have our impurity in His presence.) In recent years I came across the teaching that it is us who could not bear to be near God in His Goodness and Holiness because of our sin rather than the other way around.

    As Heretic pointed out, I found the convincing example of this for me to be the Garden, when Adam and Eve hid and covered themselves after they sinned. God, who must have known full well what they had done, still called out to them and found them in the Garden. (Interesting that they did not seek any form of ‘covering’ before they sinned, either.) Plus there are other times when God has approached men, but for their sake they have not been shown his entire presence because they could not bear it.

    Exodus 3…
    ” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”

    Anway, the difference in the two understandings affects the way we present the gospel, and possibly our understanding of the nature of God in some respects. (It did for me.) However, whichever way you look at it, Jesus is still our Reconciler, without whom we would be separated from God, and God sent Jesus out of His incredible love for us, despite man’s history of repeatedly sinning. No wonder Jesus said we should forgive one another seventy times seven. He has forgiven us so much more. As we have been loved, so we are to love.

  24. Heretic: “They put it in a very obscure area – you really have to hunt for it.”

    Obscure? They’d want to hide their ‘beliefs’ from the public anyway. That’s what there new website’s are promoting anyways. I’m angry that they don’t mention Jesus once but glorify Phil and Chris Pringle! The site really glorifies sophists and hypocrites – everything but Jesus. They’re awful!

    http://www.myc3churchglobal.org/

    And what the heck is the point of this video intro? This made me feel horrible. It look’s as though CCC are trying reconcile the world to it’s stage and ‘house-prisons’ with their church planting. People are clapping a stage-show for Pete’s sake!

    RP: “S&P – I too was taught traditional ‘gap theory’. Yes, I was given the bridge illustration and specifically taought that God could not be near us because of our sin.”

    Churches tried to teach me it from an early age. I vaguely remember myself trying to get it. It was at the age… I think 19 I finally got it and laughed at it. To me it was so wrong. I knew it was wrong because I crossed nothing! God ‘crossed’ that ‘bridge’ to me. I had no concept of separation from God when I was a child. I had a happy relationship with him, slaying dragons with Holy Ghost armour for Jesus.

    RP:“(Interesting that they did not seek any form of ‘covering’ before they sinned, either.)”

    VERY valid point RP. Incredibly valid must I say. I would say that is something the Apostle Paul would have used, to dispel the ‘covering’ doctrine today in the church.

  25. Sorry! I said:

    “It look’s as though CCC are trying reconcile the world to it’s stage and ‘house-prisons’ with their church planting.”

    I meant church re-labelling.

  26. I started following this thread a couple of days ago. Now it’s breaking my heart.

    Here’s my question: Have any of you been praying for the churches whose theology you are dissecting and vilifying?

    Here’s why I ask: None of us have a complete handle on the Gospel – neither in theory and certainly not in practice. It’s possible that they are trying desperately to follow God and we can’t see past our interpretation of their actions and doctrine.

    If you believe that they are saved but deceived, you should pray that God would reveal himself to them more fully in truth. And if you believe that they are not in relationship with God, you should pray that their eyes are opened and that they respond to the Holy Spirit leading them towards and teaching them about Christ.

    Who knows? You might see a change in them. And you might see a change in yourself.

  27. Bryan – read some of the other threads, they are very contraversial. What you find here are people escaping from the very people (not all)your site promotes.

    I can only speak for myself as a 22 year attender of a seeker-friendly, gospel-not lite but almost zero church. It’s only by God’s grace and sovereignity we left. Pray yes, but when you rely on man’s methods of church growth and not God’s way, you end up with the very sad situations some of us find ourselves in.

    Change? Hopefully, with the next generation getting back to the reformed way of thinking (and praise God many of the young leaders are.) Your site promotes a lot of the new books glutting the Christian market now. Self-help gurus with themselves at the centre rather than Christ and Him Crucified.

  28. Bryan, I know you present reasonable arguments for giving but can you really accept the young lady’s comments at the bottom of your article? You have said you don’t wish to argue on the subject but this is really bad theology.

    “Hey Bryan! Been following your blog for a week or two but first time I’m commenting.

    I totally agree with everything you mentioned above. Good for you for laying out your reasons and openly explaining it. While I agree that you can’t manipulate God, Malachi 3 does explain that if you don’t tithe you are under a curse and if you do tithe, you are under God’s blessing. So it’s not manipulating, it’s very clear – if you obey God in this area, He WILL bless you. It’s one of the few times in the Bible that God says “Test me.” Actually, He says “Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

    Just wanted to add that point to your post. :)”

    You response –

    “Hey Martina,
    Thank you for your comment. I very much appreciate it and I certainly agree with you. God will absolutely bless you – that’s in the Book too.

    Thanks for posting your comment.

    — Bryan”

  29. Interesting what Bryan said “none of us have a complete handle on the Gospel”

    Um, some people seem to, ones I know who have been Christians a long time are now living good decent lives, looking after their families.

    Charismatic churches don’t appear to preaching the full Gospel, are they aware of it?

    Prayer is a start but studying the Gospel, like the Bereans, is a good thing. I have asked the question before, do these preachers “know” they are preaching false doctrine?

    Some people here have said yes, some no, doesn’t matter really because they will be accountable to how they feed their sheep.

  30. Bryan said:

    “Here’s my question: Have any of you been praying for the churches whose theology you are dissecting and vilifying?

    None of us have a complete handle on the Gospel – neither in theory and certainly not in practice. It’s possible that they are trying desperately to follow God and we can’t see past our interpretation of their actions and doctrine.”

    We may not completely fathom the implications of the Gospel for our individual lives but it is incorrect to say that its central tenets are indecipherable.

    But as you say our desire should be to see that these organisations learn to preach a true gospel (and not a false one). Clearly forums such as these will not be how one achieve would this.

    But one doesn’t need to belong to a particular church to harbour these beliefs. These ideas are probably more prevalent than we realise partly because they are intrinsic to our Western secular culture. Unfortunately, just being zealous doesn’t get you anywhere. The Pharisees were obsessed with being ‘right with God’ but they completely misunderstood the Grace of God that was going to bring them righteousness.

    Perhaps the title of the thread should rather be ‘What isn’t the Gospel?’. This will stand in contrast to the magnificence of God’s foolishness that has completely defied the fabricated wisdom of man.

  31. Brian: “Here’s why I ask: None of us have a complete handle on the Gospel – neither in theory and certainly not in practice.”

    Would you say that the Apostle Paul did, Brian? I would say some do have a complete understanding about the gospel and they aren’t scholars. The question is, where do we start with the gospel?

    Brian: “Have any of you been praying for the churches whose theology you are dissecting and vilifying?”

    Yeah I do. Unfortunately close friends and family go to them. I do not like what the church is turning some of them into or what the church has done to them. However, there are some in leadership, specifically the young ones, who I desperately pray for and sincerely believe in, can rid these churches of anti-gospel messages.

    I’ve given this kind of church a new name: estuary church.

    Brian: “It’s possible that they are trying desperately to follow God and we can’t see past our interpretation of their actions and doctrine.”

    The genuine drive of desperation iI have found are (broadly speaking):

    1. God
    2. Personal Insecurities – the solution to beat them by surrounding themselves with status, glamour, popularity and other things and methods to feel they are accepted by others and themselves.

    I generally find that the 2nd one rules more then the first and swings between the percentage of 40% to 80%. There are some times when greed, insecurity and self-centredness have there way for a season when certain speakers, conferences or events come about. Both in leadership and in the congregation.
    These are observations, and I could be wrong. But I’m pretty cluey and have ratted those out who use God as an excuse to get there own way.

    Brian: “If you believe that they are saved but deceived, you should pray that God would reveal himself to them more fully in truth.”

    That is why I get involved occasionally with those who I believe are deceived. I want to know what God has been doing with my prayers. It does work. He allows unusual coincidences to happen to bring them out of deception or triggers in the sermons of the person talking. A friend’s eyes are open and they ask me questions and I thank the Lord and don’t say “This is the right way”, but lead them to discover for themselves the answer by providing all the scriptures necessary for their journey out of deception.

    All I do is hand them the plate with the food on it, and then they usually read everything in context and digest the contents well. So prayer, combined with engagement works. Families are being restored too.

    Sometimes I don’t go for a while, and when they are on my heart, I pray for the church and it’s leaders. Then in a few months or so, I go back and am either shocked, disappointed and praise-filled when I see progress. But what I usually see is a church cycle, and a lot of churches have them. And this how you can tell, a church isn’t living in the gospel because of this repetitive cycle. Some churches have monthly cycles. Both Hillsong and CCC have it about every 3 months- 6 months.

  32. Agree again with RE’s comments.

    Plus, I do understand your questions, Bryan.

    In answer to them – yes, absolutely, I do pray for these churches and the people in them. Particularly since I’ve been a part of some of them and have friends in them. I pray for the leadership in particular at times. I don’t think one can write about them and not pray for them at some stage as well.

    Mostly I believe that they predominantly Christian but are deceived in some area by popular false doctrines. Its the popular false doctrines that are the problem. I know they are full of people who are very keen to follow God, and I pray that those who are ready would be set free from these burdensome falsehoods in God’s time. I also pray that God would reveal to me where I have it wrong; its not that we have it all right, but that I and others here are genuinely concerned about the harmful effects of these false teachings upon the body of Christ.

    I also think there are some leaders out there who are pure charlatans, but I can’t tell exactly who these are as I can’t see their hearts. Fortunately we don’t need to tell that, as long as we can distinguish truth from falsehood independently.

    As for changing church culture – its very unlikely this site would do that, although nothing is impossible for God. This site is really for people who are asking questions and want to talk about them with others doing a similar thing.

    It’s also pretty unlikely that any of us can change these cultures from within – some of us have shared our views but most of us have found that a polite non-reaction is the best reaction we will get. The other extreme is to be called rebellious or divisive or a troublemaker if you share your dissenting views with others in your church. Some people even get asked to leave. I was certainly disqualifed from leading anything because I let them know that I disagreed with tithing doctrine, not that I aspired to leading anything.

    So prayer is the only thing we can do to change these existing cultures; God however may choose to move amongst Christians within and without of many churches in a broader sense to ultimately free more of the body of Christ from some of these falsehoods. We here would be some of those latter Christians, and this is a gathering place for this kind of person, but it is God who draws us, not sites like this or any man made strategy.

  33. I agree with S&P that in one’s personal relationships, one does sometimes have the opportunity to share about these false doctrines. I’ve been asked for my views a number of times, sincerely, by people genuinely questioning. As in anything, I think its important that we don’t force our views on people, but due to circumstances sometimes people arrive at a point where they do want to ask about alternative views. And then they make up their own minds when they are ready.

  34. Hey Brian!
    What is the gospel?
    If you tithe faithfully, I am interested to see your views on what the pure gospel message is.

    I’ll attempt it when I can find the time.

  35. Having said all that, I’m concerned because of Hillsong’s actual website, that they are moving from being deceived in some areas of the gospel (prosperity doctrine related) yet still teaching Jesus saves, to being deceived in those same areas of the gospel, but instead teaching that Jesus saves IF we work at it!

    I don’t think this is what CLC used to teach, before it became Hillsong, but perhaps someone with more experience historically in that movement can confirm that for me.

  36. “I don’t think this is what CLC used to teach, before it became Hillsong, but perhaps someone with more experience historically in that movement can confirm that for me.”

    I can most definitely tell you that this wasn’t what old CLC used to teach. It was between the time Frank Houston joined the Australian AOG and when his son Brian took over, that these teachings started to come in.

    I believe, that they came in to CLC not long after he joined the Australian AOG. The AOG might have already been circulating these teachings around, but I think it is more to do with what the churches of the world were accepting from the mouths of American astors; those like Hagin.

  37. S&P – do you mean that that is when prosperity doctrine came in or do you mean that that is when they started teaching that ‘and submit to His will for your life’ is part of salvation doctrine?

    I think you can maybe have prosperity doctrine but still preach salvation by grace not works, even though I don’t agree with prosperity doctrine.

    But when you start teaching salvation through any kind of works then you start preaching ‘a different gospel’. Paul kind of wrote the letter to the Galatians about this, though of course he was referring to the Law of Moses. I am suggesting that any kind of works mentality resurrects a kind of law, whether it be of Moses or not.

    Refer to Galatians 1:6 and 2 vs 16 & 21 for Paul explaining that salvation by works or adherance to law is not the gospel:

    Galatians 1:6
    I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting (L)Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a (M)different gospel;

    2:16 16nevertheless knowing that (AO)a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by (AP)faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since (AQ)by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

    2:21 21″I do not nullify the grace of God, for (BA)if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

  38. Of course, sometimes people misinterpret the grace position to say that those who believe that works are unnecessary believe that they can do as they please, and live how they like. Clearly this is wrong; its just that works of various types (‘good deeds’) and good character are amongst those things that result from our salvation, rather than being a precursor or a requirement for it. Maybe Hillsong is trying to address the issue of people saying that they accept Christ, and then living however they please. What do people think?

  39. That came out wrong – we can ‘do as we please’, but if we really have Jesus as Lord, then we are born again, and will want to please God, so we won’t just do things that are knowingly offensive to him. The desire to walk with God means that we won’t happily walk a path which we know is not of Him. But we have free will, and aren’t governed by any law except that which He has written in our hearts. Which we do get confused about at times, and need the Holy Spirit to help us with – reference the other thread on the Anointing.

  40. RP: “do you mean that that is when prosperity doctrine came in or do you mean that that is when they started teaching that ‘and submit to His will for your life’ is part of salvation doctrine?”

    the prosperity doctrine bit…

  41. Thank you specksandplanks for calling me out. I should have had the distilled Gospel on my blog. I had some posts that pointed to parts of the Gospel and the effects of the Gospel but nothing well defined – I have fixed that. You can see it at the link below.

    To answer your question, I do tithe faithfully for the reasons listed on my blog. I don’t tithe out of obligation or to “get something from God”. I consider it a privilege to be a part of the body of Christ and to be able to give.

    To the rest of the community, I appreciate your comments and questions. I certainly have much to ponder and believe that God will continue to grow me more into the image of Jesus because of your input.

    I do apologize if I misunderstood the tenor of the discussion or made a blanket assumption.

    Also, thanks again Teddy for the John Piper video. Very cool.

    http://bdentzy.com/2009/08/17/jesus-is-the-center/

  42. I think Bryan gives a good set of reasons for tithing and also a good set of non-reasons for tithing. He seems to be a good example of someone who tithes because of the meaning it has for him, rather than law.

    I hope that this freedom is also the freedom to use any amount for regular giving that seems appropriate to the giver, depending on their circumstances and what they feel God is saying to them, which may change over time.

    I also thought that Bryan’s gospel summation was good. (I know I’m personally exploring different views on the gospel, but they are different nuances, rather than a complete contrast to the traditional one.)

  43. The tithe …

    it’s difficult, because if the Lord says to an individual “give 25%” then that isn’t a tithe … a tithe is 10%.

    25% would be binding for the individual but not the community. Similarly, if people give infrequently, and different amounts, then they are not second class christians, though some would imply this.

    Back to my latest visit to C3.

    While the word tithe wasn’t emphasised in the offering talk, I have now had a good look at the offering envelope blurb.

    I was depressed when I saw it. You could indicate if your offering was a tithe or an additional offering for the ‘building’ fund. You could also give by credit card.

    Well, no wonder the church has a full time debt counselor!

    So, the church membership is expected to tithe. That is shear legalism. It is the Law of Moses making a comeback but I have been saved from that covenant. I am in the New Covenant … Thank GOD!

    Well, at least the church is awash with cash. I can see that I will be having that battle in my church in the coming six months.

    Shalom

  44. We live under a New Covenant. Tithing is part of the Old Covenant. From the time of creation – eeverything we own, everything we know, everything we are able to do, everything we ever achieve – belongs to Him.

    How much belongs to him? 100% How much do we need give to earn his favour? 0%. When we understand this we are then truly liberated to give. if we don’t understand this then anything we give is still done under law – and is worthless.

  45. Totally agree RE.

    S&P can we start a new thread on the Emerging church?

    The ones on the Gospel and ‘the Anointing’ have been excellent. We could have one on the Prosperity Gospel as well, but we are all pretty much in agreement there and we have done it pretty exhaustively in the past …

    Could we have a sticky on Dodgy teachers as well? And which dodgy stream they are associated with?

    e.g.
    Todd Bentley => NAR, Elijah List | Adultery | unverified healings
    Peter Popoff => televangelist | exposed by James Randi as a fraud | done jail time for it
    Creflo Dollar => Prosperity Gospel | …
    Ted Haggard => Prosperity Gospel (?) | Used Methamphetamine and Gay prostitutes

    that kinda thing? or would that be too much? Stuff that is in the public domain and not speculation.

    It could at least start a talking point and maybe we could revise it in the face of further evidence.

    Am I in need of a nice cup of tea? Or should I drink more coffee?

  46. “Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

    Mt 24:4-8

    “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Nor in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
    “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

    Mt 24:36-44

    I believe that the end times have begun since the day of Pentescost. The number of people claiming to be the Christ are and will be countless. Christ didn’t specify who these people would be, what they would look like, when they would come or whence they would come from. But he gives a general warning, ‘keep watch’. If we abide in Him and be informed by God’s Word through the Sprit , then we we will know the false teacher from the true Christ. We don’t need anything or anyone else. All teaching (in my church, in your church or anybody else’s church) will always need to be measured up by the infallible yardstick of Scripture. That is the only reference point upon which we can truly rely upon.

  47. Completely agree with your succint comment, RE.

    But, Bryan was the first tither I’ve seen who listed things that were not reasons to tithe, which was good.

    If someone does want to give 10%, and feels that’s a scriptural example that they are comfortable with, then I’m OK with that. (Hopefully they just see it as a guideline, because if they were to get legalistic, they might find they need to give 23%, or feel very guilty if they ever can’t meet their goal, due to circumstances beyond their control. That would show they forget their freedom in Christ.)

    Not OK if they expect it to be the minimum for everyone else out there. Bryan didn’t really indicate whether he expected others to give a 10% minimum the same as him; hopefully not. (OK – maybe I’m being optimistic here.)

    Someone on the average wage (in Australia, about $60K) might be very comfortable giving 10% regularly, but someone else on that same wage might not, depending on their circumstances. So one might have no dependents or commitments, beyond rent or a modest mortgage. The other might have a mortgage, a stay-at-home wife, and small kids to look after, and live in Sydney with huge travelling costs just to get to work each day. 10% is going to mean something very different to each of those people. So legalism really has no place in giving; it is contrary to the law of Love. Who knows – these two people may be the same person at different times in their life. Heaven help the poor person hit by the GFC, on the dole, with dependent kids and a mortgage, trying to pay a tithe off welfare. I jolly well hope no one feels obliged to do that.

  48. Bull – the offering envelopes at my ex-C3 had similar helpful blurb. It was irritating. Not everyone used the envelopes.

  49. Funny thing you said about tithing welfare. I have heard commented in private conversation that if everybody in our church were on unemployment benefits and they tithed 10%, that the offertory would be greater than we have now. To be fair although there are a lot of white collar professionals in our church, we also have a large student ministry in . Having been there you actually do feel flat broke most of the time (e.g. eating boiled rice in the Uni refectory followed by a 10 year HECS debt). However, it is an interesting observation about this Western condition of affluenza.

  50. Yes, absolutely RE.

    “All teaching (in my church, in your church or anybody else’s church) will always need to be measured up by the infallible yardstick of Scripture. That is the only reference point upon which we can truly rely upon.”

    Absolutely. Better try to make sure that we do our best to understand it though and humbly admit that our understanding can change over time. It’s hard to read anything without the distortion of our own views and perspectives.

  51. RE – I keep replying to your posts one post behind the latest one!

    I hope no one in your church is tithing the dole!

    I was involved in a student ministry at uni. It was always broke. It received a small amount of funding from an external church (CLC), but was theoretically supposed to fund itself from the students. That just didn’t happen. Most students would have been tithing off their meagre earnings to their home churches off campus, and had nothing left. The two leaders were so poor. It was a wonderful ministry with relationships that have lasted some of us through the last 20 years. The focus was usually discipleship and missions.

    If your church doesn’t teach tithing then unfortunately the offerings will almost inevitably be much lower than in a tithe teaching church. How to teach generosity without legalism? It is a real dilemma for churches that don’t teach tithing.

  52. Indeed.

    The truth is, under cheerful giving, we should be giving much more than 10% instead of far less.

  53. Bull

    interesting post about McLaren fasting during Ramadan.

    Don’t want to be overly critical here but in the spirit of this being a Gospel thread I would have thought emulating Christ would be better than immersing oneself in Islamic or other religious customs and traditions.

    Or is that what they are saying they are doing?

    Can’t come to terms with that one myself.

  54. Bull: “S&P can we start a new thread on the Emerging church?”

    I’ll see what I can pull together…

  55. “Could we have a sticky on Dodgy teachers as well? And which dodgy stream they are associated with?”

    Been working on that for a looong time!
    Might be a bit longer…

  56. By joining in the Ramadan fast, they are effectively saying that Mohammed is a real prophet of God. In fact, they are saying that very thing.

    Paraphrased: “we want to come alongside our Muslim brothers and sisters …”

    Do I need to say any more? Adopting Mohammed and the Koran means losing everyone between Jesus and Mohammed.

    Goodbye apostles … and the apostolic letters. So long John, Paul, Peter. Goodbye ACTS, ROMANS, HEBREWS, Timothy and Titus, REVELATION.

    Re-write the Gospels and in fact the old testament as well. You end up with the Koran.

    Every source of ‘divine revelation’ is one of three possibilities:
    1) Divine Inspiration
    2) Human Imagination
    3) Demonic Deception

    Since we believe that Jesus is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life … where does that leave Islam?

    2 or 3. Take your pick but I suspect it is the third option here. Which would mean that Brian McLaren is joining with demonic deception.

    Shalom

  57. By talking about Muslim Brothers and Sisters, the implication is that Islam and Christianity are sister faiths … same Father.

    But I have already gone into the differences between Allah and Yahweh. They are not the same. In same way that Yahweh and Baal are not the same … Baal Zebub (the Lord of Flies) is a name of Satan. I believe the same can be said of Allah.

    We must not join in with this thing, and anyone who does is essentially crucifying Jesus afresh.

    Shalom

  58. Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

    1Cor9:20-23

    In a Christian sharehouse of four, several of us decided to make it a ‘alcohol-free’ zone for the sake of a brother who struggled with this. Were we under law. No. But we exercised our freedom under Christ to win a brother so that he might not stumble. This is love not law.

  59. Do you think its possible that Brian McLaren might regard them as his brothers and sisters because they are fellow human beings, rather than ‘Christian brothers and sisters’, or has he stated that it is a religious unity?

    RE’s verse, 1 Cor 9:20-23 can be said to say that we walk alongside others as brothers to win them to the gospel.

    I like hearing about acts of love like the one in RE’s house. That’s so good. Too often, the opposite happens. (Relating to earlier examples of the opposite in my life as a young Christian.)

    I’m not saying that what Brian McLaren is doing is right or wrong, but I’d be interested to know more about the context.

    The seeker sensitive churches were probably motivated by that same scripture at least to start with. The issue becomes when do we become what we walk with? We need to be strong in our faith AND in our understanding to carry through in that walk at times.

  60. RP said:

    “Better try to make sure that we do our best to understand it though and humbly admit that our understanding can change over time. It’s hard to read anything without the distortion of our own views and perspectives.”

    A minister once said that the key to healthy doctrine is good exegetical preaching. I used to think that this was a bit dry. I just wanted someone to tell me what to do. The problem with a lot of churches is that it is all done in reverse. They have already worked out what the lesson is and then reapply it to the original context. We need to remember that we are looking into a real life historical interaction between God and his people. We can’t understand the implications for ourselves until we understand what it meant for the original listeners. This requires a good grounding in Biblical theology and salvation history that appreciates God’s word as a whole, rather than a set of fragmented messages unrelated to one another.

  61. I love good exegetical preaching. When you’ve been without it for a long time, and then enter an environment where you hear it again, its like water in the desert. (Talking from personal experience here.) Even if you don’t agree at the time, at least you’ve got something to ponder, and look up if your views are challenged.

    I think a lot of people what someone to tell them what to do, because we are so time poor. We barely have time to reflect or pray or to listen to God. Having it all packaged up for us lets us think that we don’t need to ponder things through for ourselves; we can just trust the pastor and it will all be OK.

    A fast food meal isn’t going to hurt every now and again, but most people who don’t cook real food for themselves regularly will end up with health problems. And a lot of people don’t have the skill or discipline to choose the healthy food when they eat out a lot. That takes education; sometimes the result of having to treat health problems.

    “The problem with a lot of churches is that it is all done in reverse. They have already worked out what the lesson is and then reapply it to the original context.” – RE

    Yes, often using a patchwork quilt of scriptures taken from all over the place.

    One teacher I know of has a very interesting point that we interpret much of what we read through the Platonic world view that has dominated Western society. The Hebrew worldview was very different. I’m still trying to understand it. It does change how we understand scripture.

  62. Hey Bull, do you know anything about Suzette Hattingh? And if she associated with the Latter Rain/NAR mob in America? She seems to have some connections, but I’m not sure…

  63. RP sent:

    “One teacher I know of has a very interesting point that we interpret much of what we read through the Platonic world view that has dominated Western society. The Hebrew worldview was very different. I’m still trying to understand it. It does change how we understand scripture.”

    The Greeks had such a dominant effect on Roman and later European thought that it is hard to escape. it percolates into every subject that we study at school. The Greeks brought many useful things into our world but they had a different world view from the Jews.

    It is easy for the Western church to forgets that the OT has to be understood in a Jewish context. In this regard, they make the same mistake as the secular West with regard to their foreign policies.

  64. Totally agree RE.

    E.G. The Arab-Israeli conflict will never end. Until one side or the other is dust at any rate.

    Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. But any territory that once belonged to Allah must be recaptured at all costs.

    Muslims in the face of overwhelming strength can agree to a truce. This can last up to ten years, by which time they MUST attempt a military solution again.

    So … the trouble there will never end.

    We also don’t have a handle on the Hebrew roots of our faith. Jesus was, is and always will be a Jewish man. He is King of the Jews. He is the Son of David. He will be coming back to reign over Israel (and the whole world).

    But we have made him into a blond haired, blue eyed boy that looks more like the 80’s Jon Bon Jovi than Jim Caviezel (in Mel Gibson’s film).

    Ah well … rant over. Time for a cuppa.

  65. One thing that the good news completely does is offend tremendously other faiths.

    In ancient times, the argument was about does God exist. Arguments raged who’s God was greater.

    For the God of Israel to come to earth as a perfect sinless man and FAITHFULLY and LOVINGLY humble himself to the point to die like a criminal to serve humanity; to demonstrate powerful signs and wonders and proclaim FORGIVENESS and MERCY over the whole world by word and action; to be raised from the dead to be proved He is God; to ascend to the heavens to the Father’s side and be given all authority on earth and heaven as both God and man; to promise and baptise us in His GRACE when we believe in Him with His Spirit so that His life is in us (thus burying our dead nature and birthing our new righteous nature in Him)…

    That IS enough to shame ALL pagan God’s and enough to make people believe or hate what we claim to be true.

  66. All other faiths offer religion, rituals/works and navel-gazing.

    Our Christian God offers Himself and His works so that we may receive His life in us, His love for us, His grace through us, His faith at us, and all these and other things of Him eternally given to us!

    No one and nothing can offer such wonderful gifts like these in this world!

  67. It is an offence to man’s pride to believe that we need God to do something for us to be right with Him rather than the other way round.

  68. And I will shout AMEN to that RE! The sinful man always wants to get the glory for making themselves equal with God.

    If that ever happened, have you ever thought how evil that would be?

  69. This thread is worth reviving.

    Reason 1:
    I have re-read Bryan Entzminger’ article here:
    http://bdentzy.com/2009/08/17/jesus-is-the-center/?utm_source=subscriber&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

    and was inspired and challenged to bring this topic up. I encourage you to read it. (Since their are many new members toSignposts02.)

    Reason 2: I have a greater and appreciation in what the gospel truly is. So I would like to know if people’s understanding of the gospel has changed since this thread was put up last year and hear new member’s insights on this topic.

    Reason 3:
    I’ve come to discover that many of Frank Houston’s teachings were associated with Latter Rain and Dominion Now theology. (Much to my disappointment. The scales have fallen off.) And that he, I believe ignorantly, preached the tithe doctrine. In spite of that, he was still very gospel focused each service in spite of these set backs.

    With this understanding, it only makes sense why C3 and Hillsong have gone down their separate roads.

    Reason 4:
    I’ve been really challenged how the gospel should combat false gospels. Since the title of this thread is ‘What Is/Isn’t The Gospel’, I thought this would be a good time to discuss as well.

  70. @Specks – I love your thinking and I love this subject

    What the Gospel IS = “good news”

    What the Gospel IS NOT = “good advice”

  71. There is so much truth in that advice Mosco it’s frightening. Often that ‘good advice’ is adding to the simplicity of the gospel.

    Don’t flock to discuss this revived thread anyone! 😀

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