Our local newspaper, the Citrus County Chronicle bills itself as “Florida’s Best Community Newspaper Serving Florida’s Best Community.” Besides featuring local news, it carries columns not always found in big-city newspapers.
In addition to “Letters to the Editor,” the Chronicle has a “Sound Off” column where readers can call a hotline number and anonymously air their personal concerns, criticisms, and complaints. Or offer their commendation for something they like.
The other day a reader who said they had been residents for 8 years shared they visited 24 churches during their first 3 years, never finding a church to their liking.
“What has turned us off,” they said, “is that every church is playing footloose and fancy-free with the gospel.”
“We take Christianity very seriously and don’t go to church for fun. When churches get back to the Bible, we’ll get back to church.”
No doubt, their complaint is legitimate.
However, I wish I knew who voiced this concern so I could share with them ThePreachersWord and invite them to the West Citrus Church where we worship.
While many people may be looking for churches that are glorified country clubs and preach a watered-down gospel to ease their conscience, not everyone is so inclined. There are sincere seekers of truth who desire to attend worship for the purpose of…well, worship, and not entertainment.
Too many churches, pastors, and preachers have become sidetracked by right-wing, or left-wing politics. Others are trying to appease people by meeting their physical, psychological, or emotional needs instead of their spiritual needs. Some refuse to condemn sin, preaching only a positive message to make folks feel good. While I haven’t witnessed it, there are those who preach an entire sermon void of any Scripture.
We need a return to the gospel proclaimed by Peter, Paul, and the first-century preachers and apostles.
The word “gospel,” found 100 times in the New Testament, is spoken of in a way that demands respect, faith, and adherence. The gospel is identified as…
…The gospel of Christ (1 Thess. 3:2).
…The gospel of God (1 Pet. 4:17).
…The gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15).
…The gospel of the grace of God (Ax. 20:24).
…The gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4;23).
…The gospel of your salvation (Eph. 1:13).
…The faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27).
…The truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:5).
The gospel is of divine origin. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to inspire men of God to write it down. It has been preserved through the ages for us to read, study, understand and apply to our lives (Eph. 3:3-5). Furthermore, it is the only means by which sinners can be saved from their sins. Paul expressed it this way.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16-17).
Paul further warned not to pervert the gospel by preaching a different gospel. Those who do so will be condemned (Gal. 1:6-9).
Churches and preachers are “playing footloose and fancy-free with the gospel” when they…
…Add to it human traditions, or personal opinions, (Matt. 15:1-9; Rev. 22:18).
…Subtract from its contents divine edicts (Rev. 22:19).
…Refuse to preach the whole counsel of God (Ax. 20:27).
…Redefine the gospel to conform to culture (Rom 12:1-2).
…Fail to preach and practice “sound doctrine”(Titus 2:1) regarding the work, worship, and organization of the church (Eph. 4:11-16; John 4:23-24; I Tim. 3:1-13).
…Preach “words of human wisdom,” and rely on their own eloquence instead of simply and accurately preaching the Truth (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
…Pervert God’s plan of salvation by offering what their church teaches instead of what the Bible commands (Mk. 16:15-16; Ax. 2:38; 8:26-40; 22:16).
…Ignore Bible warnings about the consequences of sin (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Gal. 6:7-9).
…Neglect to instruct people about Christian conduct, and righteous living (Rom. 12; Col. 3).
…Dilute the message with social, political, and environmental concerns instead of spiritual issues (1 Cor. 2;13; Col 1:9; 1 Cor.15:1-3).
I’m sad for people who’ve been turned off by churches who’ve “played footloose and fancy-free with the gospel.” Let’s elevate our regard, respect and reverence for the gospel.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman