Weak, self-centered, trivial, superficial, shallow gospel presentations do not bring people to a true knowledge of the gospel, do not bring them to true salvation, but they make some kind of response to that superficiality and when there is no real transformation in their lives, they depart thinking that they’re inadequate understanding was an adequate understanding and the gospel proved to be impotent. In the most popular Christian book, The Purpose Driven Life, you will look long and hard in this book on the purpose driven life to find the gospel. Now I don’t know how you could ever live a purpose driven life if you didn’t know how to get into the Kingdom of God, or how to be saved. And as I went through the book, this is the gospel presentation, the only one that I found. “First believe, believe God loves you and made you for His purposes. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you. Second, receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Receive His forgiveness for your sins.” Is there anything missing there?
What might be missing there? Repentance. “So I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity. Jesus, I believe in You and I receive You.” What Jesus? Who did what? Where’s the resurrection? It goes on. “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations, welcome to the family of God.”
How does he know who’s in the family of God? No repentance, no judgment, no hell, no heaven, no self-denial, no discussion of sin, no laying down of the Law of God against which the sinner is broken, no sense of guilt, no sense of condemnation, no fear of eternal torment. That is an inadequate gospel. That is a gospel that I will tell you will contribute to apostasy. It will contribute to defection because people are going to come to that which they think is the saving message and when it doesn’t do anything, they’re gone. A shallow gospel presentation that doesn’t present the reality of eternal judgment, the reality of the Law of God, the reality of condemnation, eternal hell, does not warn of God’s wrath, that does not crush the sinner under the weight of his violation of the Law of God, that does not make him stand before God guilty. The gospel presentation that doesn’t do that isn’t a faithful gospel presentation. And then to tell somebody, “Welcome to the family,” as if you knew. This is fantasy. The stronger the gospel message, listen, the harder the gospel message, the more demanding…the more law is incorporated into it, the more guilt is produced by it. The more the sinner trembles, the more conviction, the more fear, the greater the understanding of hell and judgment, the less likely it is to generate a false response.