The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message that from the beginning destroyed human traditions, social customs, and cultural norms. Wherever you find the Gospel clearly taught and truly believed you will find upheaval of well guarded and carefully controlled man-made systems of belief and ritual.
By its very nature the message of the Gospel brings man into a conflict that he may have never even realized existed. It overturns the tables of our cultural worldview, it attacks the traditions that have for so long hidden our societies sins, it demolishes institutions built to honor man, it bulldozes well worn paths of acceptable and habitual sin, it threatens the prosperity of those who earn an income on immorality, and it smashes our hopes in anything and everything that is not the ROCK of Jesus Christ.
And it is exactly because of this that the true Gospel preached in power and clarity will always be met by some and sometimes by many who oppose it with a fever unrivaled in this world. They are not simply opposed to the logic of the message but they are against the very nature of it. They attack the Gospel because they know the Gospel is attacking the very foundation upon which they have built their lives.
Yet, it is exactly this destructive aspect to all that is not Christ within man that is at the root of the power of the Gospel. There is perhaps no better Biblical word that brings to light the conflict that the Gospel produces and the positive results that it obtains in those who respond in faith that the word REPENTANCE!
It is about this word repentance that I want to talk to you today. The understanding, the idea, and the practice of repentance is something we desperately need to bring back into all Gospel loving communities. Sadly repentance has not only disappeared for the most part from our vocabulary, but it’s practice is foreign many churches.
The Gospel without a clear call to repentance is like trying to swim without water, fly without leaving the safety of the ground, or climb a mountain without ever having to go up a hill! The gospel preached without a call to repentance is nothing more than an intellectual exercise in futility!
And yet so many have tried to modernize, tenderize, and sterilize the Gospel message in a desire to make it more acceptable, more tolerable, and more presentable. They may have good intentions and they may justify their tactics as a way to get more people to believe the message of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless a deboned, sugar coated, deep-fried gospel will in the end do more damage than good!
Repentance removed from the gospel is a dull blade, a blade that can no more penetrate through bone and sinew to the heart of man than can a good joke, an entertaining sitcom, or a few holes of golf! Too many have exchanged a gospel that pierces the soul and to reach the hidden sins of our inner man for a gospel of couched terms, positive affirmations, and neutered theology!
We need a return to the Gospel preaching of John the Baptist, of Peter, of Paul, we need to preach as Jesus preached!