We have the gospel and the gospel changes everything!
The gospel is more than a one-way ticket to heaven, the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for the sinner, was buried and then three days later rose again from the dead. It is this good news that causes radical life change!
It not only saves a life but it transforms a life. A proper perspective and proper preaching of the gospel calls for humility, repentance, and faith. After salvation, the effects of the gospel continues to teach us and remind us that we were/are sinful, we need to repent and by faith, we are being transformed into the image of Christ.
Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying, once a believer places their trust in Christ, positionally they are “In Christ” and righteous, but practically we are being sanctified and the Lord is rooting out our sins and making us like Christ.
Thus, a clear and Biblical understanding of the gospel changes a person from the inside out. True heart change is the only lasting way a person truly changes. In a world that is so divisive and full of hurt…it can be cliche to say, “They just need the gospel!” especially when others are looking at Christians as being the ones that are doing the hurting and causing the division. So what is the problem?
I think the saying, “They just need the gospel!” is absolutely true, but I think the problem is that the effect of the gospel hasn’t fully taken root in many churches and/or it isn’t being applied for life transformation. Often, this is at the fault of the pastor, for his preaching lacks the clarity of the gospel application on the daily lives of the believers. Or is it because of a lack of study, personal politics, or fear of the reaction of the people he is preaching too? It is hard to say, but every facet of the gospel (redemption, justification, forgiveness, mercy, grace, etc.) teaches us something about how to live out our interpersonal relationships in a Christ-like manner. “The gospel changes our worldview—meaning that according to the truth of the gospel we are to walk uprightly or in accordance to it. At salvation, every believer already has a previous world-view (based on culture, upraising, school, etc.) in which they interpret the world and the things around them. But also at salvation, the truth of the gospel should become our new world-view and we start to interpret everything according to it. This will have drastic changes in our lives.”
The focus should be on the proper preaching of the gospel for salvation and then on the effects of the gospel because this is where radical change truly comes from. The Victorious Christian Life is choosing to live out the truths of the gospel and all of its implications. The gospel truly is the answer for the world today!
Even Against Racism
The gospel is not about racism, but the effects of the gospel absolutely deal with racism. (Note: The cross wasn’t for societal liberation of the oppressed instead it was for the salvation of mankind from the problem, penalty, and presence of sin for the glory of God.) With recent events, “racism” has been pushed forward into the forefront of the conscience of our nation once again. “Racism is the unjust treatment of ethnic groups different from your own because they possess different human traits and capacities, often causing one to see himself as superior and others as inferior.” But racism isn’t just an American problem, it has been a problem in all three countries I have lived in. It is a human problem. It is a sin problem. As cliche as that may sound to say, it is no less true. “All racism is sin because all mankind is from the same human race that is created in the likeness of God and thus each is of equal importance.” But the gospel changes everything! “Believers are called to reject the evil thoughts and actions of racial prejudice, discrimination, and are called to love others as themselves.” (See these verses to understand the effects of the gospel and racism: Ephesians 2:13-22; Colossians 3:11; Galatians 3:28; James 2:4, 8)
Or at least the gospel should change everything!
So why are some professing Christians not changing? Because they are simply not being taught the scriptures correctly or they are disobedient to the truth.
When I was in China, I preached against racism. It was needed. I plan on doing the same here in Taiwan. Why? Because racism is sin and believers are not to live in sin, but instead we are to be radically changed by the gospel, which includes all cultural upbringings or traditions that are contrary to the Bible. The same gospel than can convert Chinese atheist/communist to becoming a follower of Jesus who endures persecution, and the same gospel that can change an idol-worshipping Taiwanese man into a follower of Jesus never to bow to an idol again, can also change a racist American into a follower of Jesus who has a love for all people despite their skin color.
As believers, we need to remember the gospel is always the main thing—because Jesus is always the main thing. If someone claims to be a Christian and yet you think the sin of racism is deep within their hearts, you need to confront them with the gospel. A person can not claim the gospel and habitually not live of the gospel.
Preaching the gospel and its implications in our churches may cause some to leave…then so be it! Who wants church members who aren’t Christlike and have no intention of becoming like Christ? Church membership is supposed to be made up of those that are under the blood…and if you are under the blood we are of the same body (but with many skin tones). The unity of the body in truth is of greater importance than any skin color or political party.
Our culture, our nation, our world needs proclaimers of the truth. Small or big advancements in society might change over time, laws may assist to make sure that people are treated more fairly, and reforms are important…but there is only one thing or should I say One Person that can truly change or “make new” the deceitfully wicked human heart…His name is Jesus!
Don’t let anyone tell you anything else: Jesus is the answer for the world today!
Preachers, let’s do our job!
Believers, let’s do our part.
Salt. Light. Go.
A Pitfall That Leads To Disunity
I believe there is another pitfall that is being flippantly used to cause division and if we aren’t careful, it can enter into the church and cause division among believers. It is the idea that just because of a person’s skin color (white) or because of their place of birth (America) then they are part of systematic racism even if they are not aware of it. You don’t need to be thinking racist/biased thoughts, do racist/biased actions, but just because you are living, growing up in, and participating in a system that is deemed “racist/biased” by some, then you, therefore, are also guilty. Thus, just by living your life as certain skin color (white), you are being racist/biased. Therefore, you need to repent of your racism or the less incendiary word “biases” that are deep within your heart (even if you are unaware of it). Some take it even a step farther and are calling you to repent for the sins of racism committed by your parents or grandparents.
From a Biblical perspective, this has many problems. First, mankind is born sinful and the potential to commit any host of sins is completely possible, but being born of certain skin color or in a certain location doesn’t make one racist or biased (this in itself is biased). Second, as New Testament people of God, we are to repent of our sins, not the sins that we didn’t commit or the sins of others (including our grandparents, etc). Third, false accusations are often lies dressed in emotional tirades, not factual presentations of the law of God, which causes one to know their sin and leads to true repentance. Fourth, the goal of true repentance is an authentic heart change, not just an outward change because of societal pressure or social media angst.
As far as I am aware, Jesus didn’t call out all Jews to national repentance for their mistreatment of Gentiles to accomplish social justice or vice verses, but when Paul saw the wrong actions of Peter, he called him out on the spot (Please read this study on Galatians 2:11-21). Real and identifiable actions/words/thoughts of racism or basis should be called out and dealt with. And we have a Biblical process for that as believers. (A healthy church practices church discipline. Jesus gave the church instructions on dealing with believers who have fallen into sin. The goal is to restore and reconcile the believers and purge out those who are the unrepentant or not real believers. Matthew 18:15–17; 1 Corinthians 5:6–7, 12–13)
- Read Romans 12 & James 3 & 1 Peter 3:8-17
- Vengeance is the Lord’s. (Romans 12:19)
- Love God and love others. (Mark 12:30-31)
- Listen first and then speak. (Proverbs 18:13)
- Don’t hang out with the angry. (Proverbs 22:24-25)
- Don’t let your anger lead to sin. (Ephesians 4:26-27).
- Hatred is guilty of murder in the heart. (Matthew 5:21-23).
- What is good? to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. (Micah 6:8)
- Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)
- Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
- Wisdom from above: pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17-18)
- He that says he hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. (1 John 2:9)
- Brethren let’s dwell together in unity. (Psalm 133:1)
- Search my heart oh God. (Psalm 139:23-24)
- Love–it covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:7-8)
- Let us not offend each other, bad consequences. (Proverbs 18:19)
- Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. (James 1:19-20)
- The sentence against an evil work should be executed speedily. (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
As a side note: Speaking Truth in Love
I have heard some within our circles who say that as they travel that some pastors have felt uncomfortable with or even turned down a fellow preacher/missionary from preaching in his pulpit just because of his skin color. Brothers, this ought not to be! It has been said that the pastor was afraid of what the church people would think etc.! Brothers, are you not leading your flock? Are you not teaching the Word of God correctly? Your church people ought to think what the Bible thinks. You are there to declare, “Thus saith the Lord…” May those within our ranks who misrepresent God’s Word or peddle in the sin of racism, repent!