The Insufficient Gospel

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The Insufficient Gospel

Have you noticed that biblical evangelism is a lost art? While many big ministries have carefully crafted statements of faith that comply with biblical doctrine (vetted by their lawyers and scholars to make sure there are no loopholes!) in practice they do NOT preach a sound gospel message of salvation.

One case in point is the "salvation message" of Kenneth Copeland, to be found in one of his recent magazine issues ("Voice of Victory") and also at this website: Heaven or Hell?

The prayer of salvation according to Copeland is as follows:

Heavenly Father, I come to You in the Name of Jesus. Your Word says, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

I am calling on You. I pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord over my life according to Romans 10:9-10. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." I do that now. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.

I am now reborn! I am a Christian - a child of Almighty God! I am saved!

You also said in Your Word, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13).

I'm also asking You to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, rise up within me as I praise God. I fully expect to speak with other tongues as You give me the utterance (Acts 2:4).

Begin to praise God for filling you with the Holy Spirit. Speak those words and syllables you receive - not in your own language, but the language given to you by the Holy Spirit. You have to use your own voice. God will not force you to speak.

Now you are a Spirit-filled believer. Continue with the blessing God has given you and pray in tongues each day. You'll never be the same! Find a good Word of God preaching church, and become a part of a church family who will love and care for you as you love and care for them. We need to be hooked up to each other. It increases our strength in God. It's God's plan for us.

To summarize, you (a) believe and say that Jesus is Lord, and (b) ask for the Spirit, and start speaking in tongues. Then "I'm born again" - but ARE YOU?

This prayer is wrenching scriptures out of their context and presenting them as a ritual - doesn't the Bible warn us against such superficiality? Even the demons believe that Jesus is Lord, and they tremble! Of course Jesus is Lord - and confessing it (in the sense of saying it out loud) is no magic cure for sin. It is only to state the obvious.

First of all, the scripture from Acts used in the above prayer is in the context of the destruction of the last days and the Coming of Jesus, when men will seek deliverance from wrath:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:20-21)

This scripture comes originally from the book of Joel, (2:31-32) and was quoted by Peter at Pentecost, and by Paul in Romans 10. In Joel, the great and terrible Day of the Lord causes everyone to make a decision either to deny Jesus and to look to humanity and other gods for deliverance, or to humble themselves under the hand of God Almighty, acknowledging their sin, their culpability, and their total inability to save themselves.

Nobody in that crisis situation would be unaware of the power of God, the wrath of God, nor the penalties for sin. Nor would they be unaware that Jesus Christ was indeed the Lord, the Messiah, the Savoir. Therefore, whoever consciously and deliberately turned to Jesus and called upon him for deliverance would be rejecting all hope in human means of salvation. By their calling upon Jesus they would be acknowledging their desperate need, which no other Person but He could satisfy.

All this is a far cry from the casual, emotion-driven, self-centered "call" which a reader might make after reading the Copeland page! This trivializes the promise of salvation and turns it into "one-stop-shopping".

Confession of Jesus as Lord is MUCH more than a form of words, a mantra, or a "positive confession" . It must come from an intelligent examination and an understanding of what that Lordship entails, and what it implies. It must come in the context of having heard the full gospel message, understood it, and believed it.

Let's put that scripture of Copeland's into its biblical context (Rom 10:12-17)

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? ... So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Confession is Not Just Words

The term "confess Christ" in the bible is NOT just "making a positive confession". Far from it. It is not about words, but about a binding covenant, intelligently agreed between two consenting parties.

To make confession is in Greek HOMOLOGEO. It is made up of two Greek words 1. HOMOU (together) and 2. LOGO (to speak); thus to "assent, be in accord with, agree together with".

This means that a person needs to KNOW and UNDERSTAND the meaning of the life and death of Jesus Christ, before he can possibly AGREE with that meaning personally. In order to confess Christ, a person has to see the need for redemption from sin, and see that Jesus is the only Way of Salvation.

To confess means that a person gives unqualified allegiance to Jesus as LORD (over every part of his or her life) and to accept him as GOD - that is, putting him in first place in worship, love, devotion and obedience.

For a first-century Jew to confess that "Jesus is Lord" he would have to deny his culture, synagogue, heritage, religion and probably his family, too. (Maybe even his life).

John 9:22 ... the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he [Jesus] was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 12:42-43 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Being Re-Born is Not Trivial

I take issue with Copeland in leading a person to say "I am reborn" simply because he or she has repeated the prayer above, probably without understanding the deeper issues.

To be "reborn" is to experience a Second Birth - and that event can be as momentous and traumatic as the first birth. The Holy Spirit of God is involved. God is being asked to bring the person's spirit to life in a crucially important and everlasting way. This cannot be treated lightly. It is a very solemn moment in anyone's life, not to be taken for granted. There is no looking back from the point of rebirth, and it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

If anyone were to repeat Copeland's prayer, lacking understanding of what this entailed, he would not be "born again", yet he would THINK he is. Then his REAL problems would begin - especially if immediately afterwards he is led to "begin speaking in tongues"!!!

The Dumping Down of Conversion

The whole trend in the Church seems to be to trivialize the salvation offered in Jesus. It is often claimed that "thousands are saved" at renewal meetings and the like. No doubt something is happening to "thousands" but is it the salvation we read about in the Word of God?

Are these people really reborn? Or is it that the eager thousands feel the need to be part of an exciting event, are swept up in the thrill of a powerful new movement, sense their inadequacy as human beings, see that God can offer them more out of life, and sign up to "get" what they can out of it?

These fair-weather Christians are like the plants that result from seed sown upon the pathways. They spring up quickly, but as soon as the heat of the sun strikes them they wither away and die.

If the decision has not been taken in the full light of reason and intellectual consideration, knowing all the implications, and taking stock of what it might mean, then the commitment to Jesus will wear off at the first trial.

Feelings fade; faith never does if it's genuine. Feelings of satisfaction soon pale into boredom, and the next thrill has to be even greater to keep the new convert's interest.

It's not hard, at a large meeting, to engage a person's feelings (because most people do have secret feelings of guilt, longing, despair, inadequacy, loneliness and so on). It's not very difficult to persuade a trusting soul to come forward and get a blessing, but that blessing seems hollow the next morning after the razzmatazz and noise and excitement of the meeting are over.

Then what? That poor trusting soul is as empty as before, but now he or she has to keep up a charade of "being a Christian" and "going to Church" in order not to appear hypocritical or a failure.

When they tire of this new form of religion, and lose interest in meetings, how loyal will they be to the Savoir? (Or, indeed, to their fellow church-goers?)

When persecution arises, and they are called upon to lay down everything for Him, how "Christian" will they be then? As Jesus said "they have no root..." and that's because they have never been introduced to the roots of the faith that they profess.

The real blame is in the leaders, who are manipulating the "thousands" to rush into something superficial they are not really ready for, which they neither understand nor fully appreciate.

And the real problem is that afterwards these people - now church-goers and nominal believers - will resist any further efforts to evangelize them because they think they "are reborn".

Some of them will turn into liberal scholars who will dissect the Bible and tear it into shreds; some will grow bitter against Jesus and the Church and turn into open enemies of the gospel; some of them will simply plod on - confused, inwardly despairing, and frustrated - and they will plunge ever deeper into "spiritual experiences" seeking the answer they can never find.

Pity them! Pray for them! But also beware of them because the Church is filling up with disaffected, brooding, bitter, repressed souls that will take out their anger on YOU if you give them half a chance!


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