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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

There Is No ‘Proclamation-Free’ Gospel

Jun 30, 2019

For many decades now in the West we have been told that there is no truth, or at best, truth is simply what you believe it to be. Belief in absolute truth, like in absolute morality, is seen to be the height of intolerance, arrogance and divisiveness.

We are told that what is preventing us from all getting along is any firm beliefs and values. We must hold everything tentatively, and champion relativity instead of absolutes. This will somehow make for a loving and peaceful world with no more strife and conflict. Yeah right.

While most folks in the West are now relativists, you can bet your bottom dollar that there are plenty of absolutists still out there who are more than happy to push their agendas – especially on all the wishy washy sheeple out there. They are absolutely convinced of their plans to enact a coercive utopia, and are more than willing to steamroll all these clueless relativists.

We have seen that time and time again whether with the Communists or the Nazis or Islam or the militant secular left or the homosexual lobby, etc. They sure have not abandoned their absolute beliefs and they are working overtime to push them onto everyone else.

Up until recently most Christians realised that they adhered to an absolute faith which allowed for no relativism. The gospel message was believed to be a true message and we knew we had an obligation to share the good news with those around us. But as the surrounding culture has become more steeped in relativism, so too has the church.

We of course have indications of this everywhere around us, be it Christians falling for interfaith foolishness, or refusing to speak out on homosexual marriage or the sanctity of life. And of course the latest battle surrounding freedom fighter Israel Folau is another obvious example of this.

Not only are many Christians a bit suspect about this devout Christian and his bold affirmation of biblical truth, but some are even standing against him! Talk about believers who have totally sold out to the world and been conformed to its image!

It comes as no surprise that when the church so heavily drinks from the waters of the surrounding culture that even the importance of evangelism will soon disappear. Not only will these worldly Christians not share their faith, but they will actually believe it is wrong to do so.

A few months ago a piece appeared in Christianity Today telling us just this: more than half of all Christian millennials do not approve of evangelism! Wow. As the article says:

New research from Barna Group and the creators of the Alpha course offers some disappointing news regarding the 20-somethings and 30-somethings now on deck to carry on the faith: nearly half (47%) of practicing Christian millennials—churchgoers who consider religion an important part of their lives—believe that evangelism is wrong.

They’re more than twice as likely as their parents and grandparents—Boomers and Elders, respectively—to say that it’s “wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.”
www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/february/half-of-millennial-christians-wrong-to-evangelize-barna.html

So do they think they have anything at all to share with their non-Christian neighbours? Well, if they do, they think it can be caught, and not taught. They think they can just live nice lives and that will be enough. Somehow masses of non-Christians will want to embrace Christianity if they are just nice people. The article concludes:

But evangelism remains a sticking point among a 21st-century crowd which sees tent revivals and tracts as a thing of the past. “Evangelism is often presented as an old school, out-of-style idea with little value or relevance in our fast-paced, urban world,” wrote Hannah Gronowski, the founder and director of Generation Distinct, for The Exchange last year.

Younger folks are tempted to believe instead, “if we just live good enough lives, we can forgo the conversation entirely, and people around us will almost magically come to know Jesus through our good actions and selfless character,” she said. “This style of evangelism is becoming more and more prevalent in a culture constantly looking for the fast track and simple fix.”

Um, I don’t think this is exactly what we find in the New Testament. Sure, there is no doubt that our walk must match our talk. Sure, we must live lives that reflect the beauty of the gospel. But nowhere do we find this idea in Scripture that we can just remain silent, and hope that folks will somehow embrace the faith.

Just the opposite. We are specifically told that people will not get saved if they do not hear the gospel proclaimed. As we read in Romans 10:13-15:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Can it get any more plain than that? And in the Great Commission Jesus told us in no uncertain terms just what he expected of his followers: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

And that is NOT going to happen by remaining silent and hoping that by just being nice, people will flock to the faith. The two main problems with that line of thinking should be obvious. One, Jesus was the nicest, most loving and most gracious man to walk the earth. Yet they still crucified him. Just being nice will not cut it.

Two, everywhere the early disciples went, they talked about the gospel, they proclaimed the gospel, they evangelised – with words. Sure, their lives were living epistles of their inner faith, but they NEVER just relied on some sort of silent witness. Wherever they went they used words – they verbally communicated the gospel.

At this point some of you might be thinking of the saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi in which we are admonished to preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words. But there are two big problems here. One, it is not even certain that he ever said this, and two, as noted above, it is just NOT biblical.

But I have examined this in much more detail here: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/12/15/if-necessary-use-words/

In Romans 12:2 the Apostle Paul makes it perfectly clear that Christians should NOT allow themselves to be conformed to the world around them. Yet it seems that half of all millennial Christians have done exactly that. They have so bought into the lies and deception of the world, that they refuse to engage in one of the most important and vital duties they have – sharing their faith.

Imagine Christians being so afraid or so unwilling to evangelise. That is just like living amidst a group of starving people, while you have heaps of surplus food. Yet you refuse to share that food with others, for some stupid and worldly reasons such as fear of offending them, or being seen as intolerant, or not being inclusive.

It is time for these carnal, cowardly and clueless Christians to repent and get back to one of the most important jobs all Christians have been tasked with: sharing the good news of Jesus Christ – and with words. People all around us are going to hell, and they desperately need to hear the truths of the gospel.

Israel Folau knows this full well, and so should we. Until the church becomes what it is meant to be, we will be of no use to the world. As Vance Havner once put it, “The first step towards the evangelizing of the world is the  christianizing of the church.”

Or as Martyn Lloyd-Jones rightly said, “There is no better test of our spiritual state and condition than our missionary zeal, our concern for lost souls. That is always the thing that divides people who are just theoretical and intellectual Christians from those who have a living and a vital spiritual life.”

But one more stirring quote, this time from Catherine Booth, cofounder of the Salvation Army, as found in her book, Aggressive Christianity:

People say you must be very careful, very judicious. You must not thrust religion down people’s throats. Then, I say, you will never get it down. What! Am I to wait till an unconverted, godless man wants to be saved before I try to save him? He will never want to be saved till the death-rattle is in his throat. What! Am I to let my unconverted friends and acquaintances drift down quietly to damnation, and never tell them about their souls, until they say, ‘If you please, I want you to preach to me?’ Is this anything like the spirit of early Christianity?

[1529 words]

19 Responses to There Is No ‘Proclamation-Free’ Gospel

  • Thank you. Very relevant.

  • Doesn’t really surprise me i wish it did …I have six Facebook pages 32,000 approx I regularly ask people to set up other pages in their own countries and communities guess what my response rate is??? As for the churches in my area the rate is almost but not quite the same .Our town has around 3500 and 4 evangelical churches with an attendance rate around 20 per church at best..and when you mention Salvation or evangelism some get upset.. we have as a society begun to take our eyes off the Gospel and The Great Commission ..I feel so ashamed sometimes

  • Catherine Booth’s book may be found on line at: https://archive.org/details/aggressivechrist00boot in an edition reprinted for American readers.

    Certainly, the champions of the latest crop of false gospels are not backward in coming forward with their particular versions of ‘do what is right in your own eyes”… No wonder too many go astray, following their own noses like so many sheep on the loose.

  • Comparing homosexuality – Christianity and Islam

    Christianity – Belief

    Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. * * 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV)

    Christianity – Actions
    Note: The reactions are described in the future tense.  Note also: The theological terms used and the means of sanctification offered.  Christianity supports the separation of church and state.

    If you are offended by this Christian theology  – ignore or debate.

    Islam – Belief

    When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes. Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to. * * Abu Dawud 4462 and al-Tirmidhi 1456

    Islam – Actions
    Note: The reactions are described in the present tense.  Note also: The violent response. Islam being a theocracy has Fatwa and Sharia laws.

    If you are offended by this Islamic theology – typical responses are ‘head-the-sand’ or concern.

    Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Grand Mufti of Australia said that any attempt to call out these Islamic teachings (on homosexuality) could lead to radicalisation of Muslims.

  • In the beginning was the WORD. Not the action or picture or lifestyle. Hmm I need to speak more.

  • When people are unwilling to tell others of the chance of having eternal life away from all the troubles and sicknesses and trials of this world and in the presence of almighty God, as His sons, you really have to question whether they have the slightest amount of faith at all. How do they think that God’s love is meant to be shed abroad?

    The fact is it is by faith we are saved and even though we cannot be saved by our own works we can certainly demonstrate, by our inaction, that we do, in reality, not have faith. That fact is very clear in scripture. Our actions, or inaction, and our words will be what illustrates whether we do or do not have faith.

  • That’s correct Bill.

    The Gospel of the Good News must be preached. The DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. the GOSPEL that the Apostle Paul PREACHED as in 1st Corinthians chapter 15 verses 1- 4.
    KJV. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the GOSPEL WHICH I PREACHED UNTO YOU, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; 2. By which also YOU ARE SAVED, if you keep in memory what I PREACHED unto you, unless you have believed in vain.
    3. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES; 4. And that He was BURIED and that HE ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the scriptures.

    Matthew chapter 7 verses 21 – 23. states that Jesus had no time for the self righteous people .

    verse 21. Not every one that says unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22. MANY will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name DONE MANY WONDERFUL WORKS?
    23. AND I (JESUS) WILL PROFESS UNTO THEM, I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YE THAT WORK INIQUITY. (wow, now that is scary)

    verse 21 ……..”but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven”….. and what was/is the will of the Father, John chapter 6. 40 tells us what the Will of the Father is:
    NIV. For my Father’s Will is that EVERYONE who looks to the SON and BELIEVES in HIM shall have ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise them up on the last day. Amen.

  • Great Bill. The situation we find ourselves in, in the West and much of the world, is precisely because the ‘church’, the Bride if Christ, has lost its voice!

    On the Folau front, I praise him for his goodness and unabashed declaration of his trusty in Christ. However we must be mindful that he is a Oneness Pentecostal, but sitting the Trinity or salvation by faith but requiring also baptism ‘in the name of Christ’ only and extended of speaking in tongues before you are saved. Read his Twitter thread and you’ll find his challenge to protestant evangelical Christianity that we aren’t saved. Oneness Pentecostalism is heretical.

    Nevertheless all followers of Christ simply MUST engage our culture, using words, to ensure it is unquestionably challenged about its beliefs and unambiguously presented with what the Bible says regarding Creation, sin, salvation, faith, etc.

  • Thanks Mark. Yes he was raised in anti-Trinitarian Mormonism but then left it. If he is now into Oneness Pentecostalism, he is still way off orthodox Christian teaching. We need to pray for him and hope that those biblical Christians near him can steer him out of it. But the issue of religious freedom remains, as well as that of being able to quote Scripture outside of work.

  • Further proof of the need of pro-active evangelisation is Peter Fitzsimons latest rant this morning at:
    https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/wallabies-great-peter-fitzsimons-goes-ballistic-over-israel-folau/news-story/54e8d8c6f0a6614848367e5a5ab8ac58

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison is overly optimistic if he thinks he is going to get a bipartisan agreement on anti-religious discrimination legislation as he appears to be hoping for (starting at 4 minutes 3 minutes in) at:
    https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6053219934001

  • Dear Bill, perfect timing for this piece following on from what we see from the Falou affair. You speak of ‘absolutes’ a term sliding from vocabulary. So many parts of society’s foundational structure are built upon absolutes. In my early life I went to many meetings of men who knew these things Eric D Butler being one of them. All predicted the fall if the west is these ‘absolutes’ were abandoned. My journey on those foundations began over forty yesrs ago, how the long march is continuing. Edmond Burke ‘the only thing necessary for evil to prosper if for good men to do nothing’
    You are not doing nothing Bill and it is stirring people. Well done
    Mark Bryant

  • Hi Bill. Yes, he’s very much a Oneness Pentecostal. Even as late as 2:55am on 18 Jan 2018 he tweeted, “Jesus Christ was the vessel of God, God is a Spirit. He formed the body of Jesus Christ and was in Him. And the holy spirit(sic) is the characteristics or functions (sic) of God. But it’s not 3 or the trinity, but just him alone.” He then added the Bible reference but not the text for Isaiah 43:10.

    On the same day he tweeted: “To be born again you MUST, repent of your sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and then prayed upon, asking God to receive the holy spirit (sic). If you’ve done it a different way from this then you aren’t born again”. He then lists a few Bible verse references, including: John 3:3,5; Acts 2:38; Acts 19:1-6.

    On 31 Dec 2017 he tweeted, “To my fellow Christian brothers and sisters. If you think your (sic) saved because once in your life you’ve said a salvation prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart. Then your (sic) decieved (sic), most churches today are misleading people through this.”

    As you said, we need to encourage those around him to minister God’s Word and truth to him and encourage him to remain faithful, courageous and evangelical…but for the true Gospel and true Christ!

  • Thanks again Mark E. Getting the Trinity wrong has always been a major departure from biblical Christianity, so we must continue to hold him to account here on this. Getting this basic Christian teaching twisted and distorted is serious business indeed. But his third point is actually something I and many others often say: simply raising your hand in the heat of the moment at a meeting twenty years ago is no guarantee you are one of His. We demonstrate our saving faith by a continuing walk of obedience and growth in holiness. See more on this here eg: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/10/16/2022/

    And here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/09/13/just-as-i-am/

  • Repentance means a change of mind.( change your mind about God and His Word, go the opposite direction, from yourself to God. You can’t turn from your sins before you are Born Again, because which sins do you turn from and how do you know whether you have turned from all of your sins, and you’ll always be wondering whether you have turned from all of your sins. First, You must be Born Again John chapter 3. (spiritual Birth 1st). by Believing/Trusting on the Lord Jesus Christ that what He says who He says He is,( The Son of God). That He died in our place on the Cross and shed His precious Blood for our sins. He paid the price for our sin debt because the wages of sin is death. He did it all in our place, took our punishment that we deserved upon Himself and set us free. Believe first then, then you become a child of God. (saved) Once you are His child, God works on our sanctification, and that takes a lifetime, its a process. Yes you must have the correct Gospel and the Correct Jesus. 2 Corinthians chapter 11 talks about another Jesus, another Gospel, another Spirit. So believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and youll be saved. Its ALL OF CHRIST AND NOTHING OF ME. SALVATION IS A GIFT THAT WE RECEIVE WE CANT EARN IT BY GOOD WORKS etc. NOR ANY OTHER WAY. WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE, GOD’S FREE GIFT. UNMERITTED FAVOUR.

  • Thanks Helena. Yes but we need to be a bit more theologically clarity here. Justification is indeed a free gift – the very first and vital step in the salvation process. Sanctification always must follow however, and is the joint work of God and the believer. See here for more on this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/03/22/sanctification-cooperating-with-god/

    And repentance is not mere emotion, but neither is it just mere mental assent. See here for more detail on this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/03/11/is-repentance-merely-a-change-of-mind/

  • Bill, I recently discovered that the funeral of a member of one’s own family is a God-given -maybe a once in a life time – opportunity to present the Gospel to a captive audience, especially to one’s own unsaved family members . My sister died Friday 14th June and her funeral was held last week. The vicar officiating allowed me to give the address:

    JANET MY SISTER

    ‘Good Morning, I am Janet’s younger brother, David.

    I would like to take this opportunity of sharing with you conversations I had with my dear sister, during the last month or so of her life.

    She was clearly fading and was obviously distressed by her condition. As Janet lay helpless on the couch she said she no longer had any purpose and felt she was of no use to anyone.
    However, on one of my visits, I reminded her of how she had once saved my life.

    I reminded her of when I was nine years of age, I fell in the river Stour, at a particularly fast flowing loop in the river – a dangerous location that had claimed the lives of many. I could not swim and was terrified of being caught by the long reeds that could easily become entwined around my legs and drag me under.
    But my big sister, Janet, was on the river bank and she reached out and pulled me to safety.
    I felt that if ever there was a time to repay her for saving my life by reaching out a helping hand, it was now.

    I shared with her the true story of when Christ was crucified and was being jeered at by the crowd of onlookers. There were also two thieves who were also in desperate situations, hanging on crosses either side of him. One of them echoing the taunts of the crowd, mocked Him, tempting him to save himself. He railed at Christ “If you really say who you are prove it by saving us all.”

    But the other thief rebuked him, saying, “ Have you no fear of God. We deserve everything we are getting and more. We are guilty but this man is innocent of any wrong doing”.
    This penitent thief was completely helpless. There was nothing he could do to save himself, or to save anyone else. Instead, he turned his gaze on Christ and said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today, you will be with Me in Paradise.

    I believe those two thieves represent the whole of mankind, and especially us in Britain, today. As it is written: “ No one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

    I spoke to Janet about the fact that for my wife and I we are prepared for death because we know in whom we trust and that when we die we are confident that we will be home with the Lord for all eternity.

    I spoke to Janet of a parable Christ had said, about a wedding banquet, where God had invited people to come but how many of them made excuses or simply refused to come. How then he sent out into the lanes and byways, inviting anyone, good and bad to the wedding feast, with the one condition that they put on white spotless wedding robes, which were beyond price and which he alone could supply. Without them there could be no entry. Again I explained to Janet that Jesus Christ is the only way, the truth and the life. He alone can clothe us in his spotless robes and thus make us presentable to Father God.

    My wife and I know the way and wanted Janet to be there, waiting ahead to greet us. But she had many doubts, perplexing and unanswered questions. For instance; how will heaven contain all these people. There will be no room for her.

    So I read Janet parts of the hymn Just as I am

    Just as I am, without one plea
    But that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bid’st me come to Thee
    O Lamb of God, I come! I come

    Just as I am, though tossed about
    With many a conflict, many a doubt; fightings within, and fears without
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come

    Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
    Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve, because Thy promise I believe
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Jesus Christ made a promise, “Come unto me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”, I asked Janet do you want to come and she said faintly through tears, “ I want to come too”

    I believe that in that moment God heard the cry of his child and no matter how faint that cry, parted the heavens and reached down and plucked her from the deepest depths and relieved her of all her fears.

    As it says in Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    That which lies before is no longer Janet. I believe through faith alone in Jesus Christ that Janet is truly home, home with the Lord and that one day, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call, Janet shall be transformed with a glorious new body that can neither fade nor decay. As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

    To Christ’s bidding for Janet to come to him, as the hymn says, “just as I am without one plea but that Christ’s blood was shed for me “ , she responded faintly through tears by saying “ I want to come too”. I pray through God’s grace that will be the response of all our hearts’.

    I had also been inspired by the image of Dirk Willem reaching out his his hand to save the life of his jailor.
    https://www.goshen.edu/mqr/dirk-willems/

    Judging from the response from those present, God’s word had not returned void. We underestimate the power of God’s word that says in Hebrews, ‘ The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    David Skinner UK

  • Excellent Comment David Skinner UK . Beautifully said. Thank you.

  • After reading your article as above Bill, the reason that most millennials are not preaching/teaching the Gospel is because many do not even know the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ themselves, just ask them and they do not know. They have not been taught the Gospel message. There are many false converts in the churches. They also need the Gospel of Salvation preached and taught to them.

  • I once saw a picture from a gay pride parade in which a ?man? on a float was holding a sign that read, “Bring back the lions.” Appalling as that was, I now wonder how long before we see interfaith parades wherein some carry a sign saying, “Bloody Mary had the right idea; bring back the stakes and kindling.”

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