God’s Word is clear: you are either giving yourself over to Him, or you’re giving yourself over to evil. There’s no in between. You can’t half-commit to Christ. By consequence you can’t “think he’s a great teacher with some good wisdom” and yet ignore his message. Either his words were true, or they were not when he said:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:6-7
You’ll note that after that, the disciples were confused. They didn’t know what he was saying, didn’t understand. They didn’t take him literally, told Christ basically “okay cool, well show us the way to the father, we’re good!” — watering down what he said in their lack of understanding. This wasn’t intentional, but the disciples were hoping for a great teacher to bring about change in some worldly way they thought might be good. They weren’t prepared for what happened next. And that’s the whole point of the gospel: to prepare God’s people for what happens next.
We can’t do this is we water down the Word. We can’t do this if we downplay the supernatural aspects of Christ, who he is, and who the enemy is. It’s not about some modern-culture making sure everything is hip and cool and with it to feel good. God programmed us with chemicals in our systems that it does feel great to worship him, don’t get me wrong, and we should certainly give him our praise — but there is more to the Gospel than that. We are at war with the forces of evil and eternal souls are at stake. That’s not going to feel good all of the time.
I warn you, brothers and sisters, do not give into the temptation to allow half, out of context messages from your lips. Do not be afraid to clarify when you see that the world misinterprets (oft intentionally) the word of Christ to fit their worldly purpose. When the apostles came back with words that showed they did not understand the words above, Christ elaborated and made it very clear. He’s not just some “good teacher who advocates peace and love” he wasn’t just some hippie walking around in sandals taking abuse. He is the supernatural, the true essence of power, God the Father himself: How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority.Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
When people hear or see someone say things like “Whether you believe that Jonah actually was swallowed or this was just a metaphor”, which I heard someone state in a church, it sends a clear message: “I know this sounds weird and you don’t have to really believe it.” That is preaching to the world. You don’t gain anything from that, they don’t gain anything from that. They will abandon the lessons if they receive meaningless words like these. Nowhere in the Word does it say that these lessons are meant to be taken as mythological metaphor. Non-believers have tried to convince us that for hundreds of years, in an effort to bring down the church. I never want to hear words like that uttered again from believers, as the end result of that line of thinking is: if God is incapable of that, then was Jesus just a metaphor as well? We need to rebuke this reasoning. It is heresy.
An organization downplaying that message, the supernatural aspects of existence, or any of the difficult moral positions that Christ ordered us to follow is not teaching the Gospel, but a mutated form of it. They are not focused on Christ, but focused on the world. Churches have been doing this regularly in recent years, and it’s because it’s the easy path, one that they believe will generate increased attendance numbers, and increased revenue. Every time, they find that’s fleeting, as they’re not focused on their core mission, and therefore they have nothing to offer anyone that the world doesn’t already offer better. When an organization abandons its purpose, it has no purpose, and that comes across.
Vox Day mentioned this in conjunction with NASCAR and its troubles with its core mission this morning on his blog: “whether it is a sport or a church, the desire for growth combined with a disdain for traditional supporters always results in the same consequence, a rapid and unexpected decline.” That is indeed the consequence every time. It applies here.
I was very happy to hear my pastor state “I will never water down the gospel.” He was firm and clear, and God’s presence was revealed through those words. You could see it in the congregation when it happened, and it was powerful. He cited what Paul told the Church in Rome at the time, when the Apostle was dealing with his own groups that were downplaying or twisting the Word in this eternal struggle. I’ll leave you with that scripture, as it cannot be said better. Learn it, live it:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” – Romans 1:16