Lately I’ve been thinking about the millions of believers, especially in America , who have been brought up in what I would consider “nominal” Christian churches. Churches that have either abandoned sound doctrine in favor of more palatable liberalism, or those that use the Bible as a moral “storybook” instead of propositional truth.
How do we “re-evangelize” these people who have grown up thinking they have understood the Gospel, when actually they have been fed a watered-down, humanized, liberalized or out-right false gospel? Many have never read the Bible in the meaningful way, and many don’t have any concept of mission or doctrine. We are not coming to these folks as Christ came to the scribes and Pharisees, who had studied the Law and then wielded it as a weapon over the weak and ignorant. Yes, these are people who believe they have salvation figured out, but it isn’t based on knowledge, only on a false presupposition based on liberal or slanted biblical interpretation. They responded to an alter call, prayed a prayer, “accepted” Jesus (two words never found together in scripture), they got wet, and now they live the rest of their lives trying to be “good enough” to earn their way into heaven, as if that was even possible. These are people who don’t know about the Mosaic law, the redemptive history of Israel, and they have no concept of their own depravity and the sovereign grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is my story, and the story of countless others who grew up in the church.
We must approach these individuals from a posture of humility and gentleness, and we must treat the church gently as well. She is the bride of Christ, and though she has been faithless, He is faithful.
Evangelicals need to admit that we have failed to effectively address the state of the American church in a way that brings the focus back to the character of God in the Person of Christ. We need to repent of the fact that we have substituted a clear, Biblical presentation of the person and work of Jesus Christ for “good news” that is not the Gospel. This “good news” had more to do with trendy programs, catering to human emotion, and packing our extravagant church buildings than it did with presenting the revelation of crucified Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King for all nations of people.
We need to take God at His Word and live our lives for His glory, and the completion of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), taking great risks with our families, health, money, careers, and lives. The children of God need to be on mission in every back alley, every side street, every ghetto and rough neighborhood, on every corner, cul-de-sac, and gated community in every city and town on the face of the earth.
We need to live lives showing that we are completely dependant on God, because most of us live like we aren’t. The truth is, we need to hear and know the Gospel everyday to remind us to pick up our cross daily (Matt. 16:24-25), and reaffirm our hopeless state and desperate need for God in our lives. The crucified life Paul talks about in Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6:6, is a life spent trusting fully in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and the Spirit of God in us to restore relationships, communities, and churches to clearly present the character of God, for His glory.