Presenting the truth without compromise is not popular in many religious circles today. With a great volume of "feel good" and "happy" half-gospels being offered, those who buck the trend and offer messages laced with words such as "sin," "judgment," "holiness," "Satan," and "repentance" are commonly viewed as narrow, old-fashioned or even Neanderthal. Actually, the preaching of the whole, authentic Gospel, with all of its convicting themes, never has been "popular." What is different now than in times past is that yesterday's Evangelicals were primarily interested in winning and then building strong, righteous disciples. In our day, however, many have decided to market themselves in such a way as to engage in a sort of popularity contest. This is symptomatic of the last days. Doesn't it make sense that, if one is attempting to use marketing techniques like we're seeing now, sermons pertaining to righteousness and surrender - let alone sin and hell - wouldn't be considered? These themes are relics from a bygone era and are considered counterproductive to the prevailing wisdom churned out by today's gurus of church growth.
The Modern Church Growth Movement has literally formulated "another gospel" by dictating that the stated goal (growth) cannot be achieved unless these and other biblical themes are sufficiently toned down or simply eliminated. With the pressure to be "positive" - and to fill the seats - countless pastors are now caught in what is nothing less than a web of compromise. Over the past 20 years, many leaders have become at least somewhat aware that the world is growing increasingly hostile to Christianity. This, coupled with eschatological views that fail to recognize just where we are in time, seems to be the crux of why Evangelicals have steadily shifted to user-friendly themes instead of sound Gospel preaching. They said "the numbers are shrinking" and instead of holding steady with God's Word they fashioned a solution based on man's desires instead of God. With the approval of their peers, many pulpiteers have settled on what works instead of what is right. The rude awakening ahead is that, regardless of how much tinkering is done with presentations or how nicely packaged Christianity is made to be, the majority in the culture just isn't going to buy what even the best salesmen in the Church Growth business are selling. The world is gearing up for what will eventually become a full-blown rejection of biblical truths. To try to stave off this inevitable end, the "feel good" preachers will continue to drift further away from the Bible and eventually find themselves completely entwined in what is commonly referred to as "the kingdom of the cults." In the end, nothing is going to attract the world to our doors - nothing except a Holy Spirit-born reality that they are hopeless and destitute without the forgiveness and cleansing found only in the Savior.
One of my favorite quotes concerning this comes from a collection of essays known as The Old Cross and the New by the prolific 20th century Christian writer, A.W. Tozer. He stated, "We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world.
"We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum."
Count me in with Tozer - Amen!
So, if your pastor has fallen for the siren song of the incomplete, counterfeit "positive" gospel, pray fervently that he would have a holy encounter with the righteous God. If your pastor has avoided the enticing, compromised counterfeit and is holding onto the real, authentic gospel, pray that he would stay close to God, full of His Spirit, and remain strong in conviction and character. At a time when the world is demanding we offer up something less than the truth to gain their approval, may the people of God instead rally around the preachers of righteousness - regardless of how unpopular to some the message may be.
It is these things that our ministry tries to instill in the Christian leaders of today - and tomorrow. Thank you for your support and prayers to see this goal realized - one man, one woman, one church at a time.