Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
- Mark 1:14-15

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? book by Walter Chantry

Despite numerical reports of the church’s success that paint a bright picture of health and growth, there is a stark realization that the church has little power in evangelism today.  Too many of God’s people are consumed with the modern thinking that being relevant, having intellectual and social respectability, and unity are the keys for evangelism today.

Walter Chantry says the problem with unity is that churches water down the Gospel by compromising the truth and trying to find "the lowest common denominator” in which all churches can agree upon.  The Gospel has been so diluted and the truth spread so thinly that the world can scarcely see it.   Peace and compromise are preferred over conflict and truth by churches not wishing to offend other denominations, their own missionaries, and even their own Sunday schools and other programs.  Why?  They believe unity is the key to success, and that the world will marvel and be won over by the combined power of their evangelistic efforts.  

Chantry speaks against the church that has forgotten its Protestant roots from Luther: “The evangelical wing of the Protestant church is saturated with doctrine and practices which have no biblical foundation.  Many teachings and habits touching the gospel are…the products of human invention and tradition.”  The Gospel message preached today not only cannot be traced back to the Reformers and their creeds—it cannot even be traced back to the Bible itself.  Modern evangelism has twisted the Gospel like the cults and Satan himself who use verses and half-truths from the Bible to deceive its listeners. 

Many sincere men are “preaching a dethroned Christ” instead of the true Gospel.  They get “decisions” for Christ that mean little to nothing because the overwhelming majority of those making the decisions fall away from the faith, giving evidence that they were never saved in the first place.  Slick marketing and manipulative questioning methods are modern evangelistic methods that have no Biblical basis.  Many of those making those preaching a synthetic Gospel as well as those making “decisions” will realize that they have been fooled when they hear the scariest words in the Bible from Jesus in Matthew 7:23: “I never knew you; Depart from me.”

We have inherited ways of preaching salvation that we assume to be correct but fail to be seen throughout historical Christianity and in the Bible.  They are modern inventions and traditions based on secular thinking that tries to improve the message of the Gospel to make it easier for people to make a “decision.”  Chantry challenges readers to look closely at the methods and message that Jesus preached and says, “Though the answers may be painful, you must ask yourself if your church, your evangelists, your Sunday School teachers, and you, yourself, are preaching our Lord’s Gospel.”

What I shared was the introduction to the book.  Chantry, with the main part of his writing, uses the example of how Jesus preached to the rich young ruler, and he compares and contrast with today's "quick fix" evangelism, which would look at the well-to-do, sincere, clean-cut young man and have him repeat a prayer and pronounce him saved in less than five minutes.  Jesus didn't do thatHe started by preaching the character of God, then preaching the law of God, and included the essential elements of repentance, faith, true Biblical assurance, and dependence upon God.  It is short but powerful book and I can give it my highest recommendation and hope you would read it too.


  1. Hi Coach,
    I agree we need to distinguish between the "crowds" (who make quick decisions and seek unity on the smallest foundation) and disciples (who make new disciples by teaching everything Jesus commanded).

    In Mt. 13:2,10-11, Jesus tells parables that the crowds who "follow" him do not understand; only his disciples are given the explanation and understanding of the new king and kingdom. The soil (crowd) among thorns (13:22) is like the rich young man, who prefers his treasured possessions over obeying this new king.

    In Mt. 19:21 the repentance and faith Jesus demands from the rich man is specifically selling treasured possessions, giving to the poor (so that one then has treasures in heaven), and following him. This is an important part of Jesus' gospel of the kingdom, but is rarely part of churches' messages and calls for decision.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I really didn't get into the meat of the book which talked about what you said about repentance and faith being the keys to salvation. Matthew 13:20-21 is one of my favorite verses to contrast true and false conversion. Those who hear the word and receive the word with joy will fall away because they heard a Gospel that did not include repentance. This repentance will cause brokenness, not joy, as the Holy Spirit reveals to us how sinful we are in contrast to a holy and righteous God.

    1. Certainly the repentance in 13:20 is shallow, having no root (13:21). The main problem is the trials or persecution that arises "on account of the word." Jesus' word of the kingdom (13:18) announces a new kingdom (and king, himself) that is different from the kingdom (and leaders) of Israel. Since those leaders loaded the people down with many burdens (Mt. 11:28), the rocky soil (crowds) find joy in the gentle kindness of this new king (11:29). But when they start spreading the word about a new king (and kingdom), their leaders become upset. So the ruling scribes and Pharisees add more burdens by silencing them. Because their repentance was not ready for such opposition, they are quickly "scorched" by this "hot sun" (13:6).

      Only true disciples are blessed when they meet slander and persecution on account of Jesus; they can (continue to) rejoice, for their reward in heaven is great (Mt. 5:11-12). As fruitful soil (13:23), they reproduce the seed (word) of the kingdom many more times. Opposition does not silence them.