Some churches are guilty of not only failing to preach the gospel, but to add in some poor substitution for the gospel. I love what Kevin DeYoung said in a recent post on this very issue:
It is possible to transmit the gospel in a way that never really gets to the root of the problem. Sometimes we share Jesus in such a way that we simply invite people to receive more of what they already want.
“Come to Jesus, you’ll feel better about yourself. Come to Jesus, your marriage will improve. Come to Jesus, you’ll be a better student. Come to Jesus, you’ll find friends. Come to Jesus and he’ll bless you with more stuff. Come to Jesus and your life will improve.”
Now there is a way to many of those statements true. But you really haven’t given the gospel until you also tell people: “Come to Jesus and repent. Take up your cross. Follow him as your Lord, no matter the cost.”
It’s tempting to give a gospel which amounts to “Everything you could ever want! Right now!” Come to Jesus, and I’ll throw in this extra ShamWow! There are whole churches built on this type of infomercial-Jesus, this type of methodology, claiming time is running out, so come now!
Yes, you do receive incomparable blessings when you come to Jesus. But we must also hear, to paraphrase Calvin, that true Christian faith is built on denial of ourselves. This is why some folks have such a hard time hearing the gospel. We think, “God is love, and if God is love then he wouldn’t ask me to do something I don’t want to do.” But what good news is this?
The good news is that God is going to give us more than we could ask or imagine. But the reality of Christianity is that it only comes by a cross. Unless a seed falls to the earth and dies, it does not bear fruit.
When Jesus calls a man he bids him come and die.
That he might truly live.