Regrettably, we often present the gospel incompletely. Those in biblical counseling see the bad fruit produced from a bad root. “What is the principle culprit you ask?”–the spirit of revivalism would be my answer.
Revivalism collapses the Christian life to a moment, to a single decision…to a single act of faith–which in turn decimates the need for sanctification (the process whereby one actually becomes more like Jesus).
The Bible is clear: sanctification is not optional!
“…now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Just the three verses above alone are enough to declare that sanctification is crucial. You must be changed. You must become more and more like Jesus. You must live (today) by faith (cf. Col 2:6).
Were you told that truth when first someone first witnessed to you? Did you know that you must learn to respond like Jesus, by faith? Were you aware that when you would be sinned against, you could not sin in return? Did you consider that you must treasure God and thus please Him in all decisions for the rest of your life?
I would imagine many never were led to count the costs…and thus we see people everyday who are not aware of the demands of growth. Below are my specific concerns with a very popular gospel presentation…again, principally because it can lead people to believe that they can be saved and never grow into the likeness of their Savior.
1. The diagram leads one to believe that I can and do the walking to God across the bridge, rather than the reality that God must empower every step
2. The diagram leads one to believe that God has always been the desired destination…and now the bridge gives me access, rather than the reality that God saved when I desired Him not
3. The diagram leads one to believe that Christianity is a matter of a once for all act of faith, rather than the reality that Christianity is a hundred million (low estimate) responses of faith
4. The diagram leads one to believe that the problem is one of decision rather than desires. My problem is worse than merely making bad decisions; our problem is rooted in self-serving desires
5. The diagram leads one to believe that the Spirit’s influence is limited, rather than crucial. One must be born again before a faithful response occurs (cf. 1 John 5:1)
6. The diagram leads one to believe that God may be needy… that He may be incomplete without me, rather than the reality that He is self-sufficient and self-existent
Beloved, it matters (eternally so) what direction we point people in our gospel presentations. Please love robustly and point people to the ever-present need of gospel grace to empower gospel faith to treasure the Lord, the gift-Giver, more than His good gifts.
10,000 Blessings in THE Wonderful Counselor,