By Pastor Greg Wilson
The “gospel” as proclaimed in many so-called evangelical churches today
is a gospel that little resembles the one preached by John the Baptist,
our Lord, or the apostles. Today’s gospel is little more than an offer
of escape for those who wish to avoid the punishment of an eternal hell.
The sinner is told to walk an aisle and to repeat a prayer after a counselor
at which time he is declared to be a child of God.
The gospel found in Scripture is a far different affair. James, in his
epistle, warns that mere intellectual assent to the facts does not avail
to salvation (James 2:19). He notes that the demons are well acquainted
with the truths concerning God—but this knowledge does not save them.
The Biblical gospel rather points those to Christ who have already been
brought to see the awfulness of their sins and their dire need of a Savior
by the regenerating Spirit of God. To such God grants the twin graces of
repentance and faith.
Repentance is more than realizing that we are lost, though that is a
part of it. It is more than being sorry for our sins, though that too is
a part of it. Repentance occurs when the Lord causes us to change our minds
about our sins and come to view them as God views them. We come to loathe
our sins and earnestly desire to forsake them. We no longer make excuses
for them or desire to continue in them. True evangelical repentance is
always evidenced by a resulting change in behavior. John the Baptist demanded
that the Pharisees bring forth “fruits meet for repentance” before
he would baptize them (Matthew 3:8). Fruit invariably follows repentance.
This fruit can only be produced by the regenerating Spirit of God and not
by mere human effort. The “gospel” preached by many today contains no repentance,
and thus we hear of such anomalies as “born again” sexual perverts, fornicators,
pornographers, strippers, night club singers, brewers, rock stars, etc.
The Bible clearly establishes that the genuine new birth—the one that comes
from above—will bring about changed lives (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians
6:9-11). Without repentance, there is no genuine faith (Matthew 21:32)
and there can be no salvation (Luke 13:3).
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this modern false gospel is that
it inoculates people against the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They have
the idea that since they walked an aisle, or prayed a prayer after someone,
or gave intellectual assent to the truths concerning Jesus Christ that
they are now saved and heaven-bound; though there has never been any change
or even a desire for change in their lives. When confronted with the true
gospel they give it no heed, and respond: “Oh, I already did that.” Some
preacher managed to add another chalk mark to his statistics and another
sinner has been made “twofold more the child of hell” (Matthew 23:15).
The Biblical gospel calls God’s elect to repent from their sins and
trust in the atoning death of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15). These twin graces
are granted by God alone, they cannot be manufactured by mere human effort