The season of Easter is one in which a lot of churches seek to increase their membership. That’s a good thing. We should all be attending a local church to meet with and join our fellow Believers in worshiping the one, true living god, but we should also be aware that not all are the same.
A pastor in my area recently posted a letter in a local newspaper enticing readers to attend his church. The following is an excerpt from it:
“The resurrection of Jesus was more than someone dying on the cross and rising three days later. You and I have a second chance! God cleared the slate for us. He believes in you! The experience of Easter weekend is a reminder we have a second chance. God has everything you need. The right method for your pending project, the right people for your organization, the ideas to catapult you to a new level, the joy to sustain you and the right words to fill your heart.”
No doubt this pastor, or for that matter anyone like him who would write such a thing, means well but I’m afraid I have some bad news for them all. The bad news is Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, did not die on the cross to help you, me or anyone else to realize their human potential. He did it to provide a way for anyone who accepts him as their personal savior then lives their lives acting like they meant it to achieve an eternity with him in the afterlife. In short accepting Him and walking the walk provides real “Good News!” You might call it a “Get Out of Hell Free” card. There is nothing you or I, or anyone else can do to earn this. It’s a totally free gift but one has to choose to accept it.
So, if someone wants to resurrect a lifelong dream, or has a pending project, or needs the right people for their organization, or needs ideas to catapult themselves to a new level of success they need to look elsewhere because Christ never promised such things. That’s the imaginings of man known commonly as the “Prosperity Gospel.” It sounds wonderful but it isn’t biblical. As a matter of fact that lifelong dream may have been something Christ concluded you shouldn’t pursue. Maybe that pending project was a bad idea in His opinion too. Maybe, just maybe your human ambitions aren’t Christ’s.
There are other false gospels out there as well. Perhaps you’ve heard or witnessed of some of them:
“We have televangelists who boldly proclaim to millions that we are little gods. We are taught that churches must change their appearance and message in order to attract unbelievers — all the while compromising the gospel. The error of universalism, that all people will be saved, is creeping in little by little and gaining converts. The Scriptures are increasingly seen as a collection of good stories, suggestions by which we can gain wisdom rather than the inspired, authoritative word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Jesus is not uplifted as the only way to salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), but the “main way to God” and that, if you are sincere, do good things, and seek God in your own way you too can make it to heaven. More and more churches are teaching that we maintain our salvation through doing good works (Isaiah 64:6). Homosexuality is increasingly seen as an alternative lifestyle instead of the sin against God that it really is (Rom.1:26-27). Some churches are advocating theistic evolution – the idea that God used evolution to get us here – thereby denying the reality of Adam and Eve and The Fall. Much of the literature sold in Christian bookstores promotes man-centered theology while reducing the majesty of God, turning him into a cosmic “buddy” who is hip and cool, yet lacks the greatness of God’s Holy Character and sovereignty (i.e, The Shack). Christians seem more interested in following the super gentle, easy-to-follow, blonde haired, blue eyed, Caucasian surfer Jesus instead of the one that beckons us to pick up our crosses, follow him, and seek the lost (Matt. 10:38). And, women pastors and elders are becoming more common despite the clear biblical admonition to the contrary in 1 Tim. 2:12-13 and Titus 1:5-7.”1
No, the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth isn’t about any of these false teachings. If you or anyone you know or love attends a church, a Sunday school, or bible class where such things are taught you need to leave it. That’s because they aren’t teaching what Christ taught. What Christ taught was we, you and me and anyone reading this are sinners. We are in need of His redemption. We can accept Him as our eternal savior then live our lives like we really believe it in times of famine or wealth, good times or bad. Or, in the alternative deliberately reject Him, or be a fence sitter on the matter then un-expectantly die and suffer the consequences, an eternal existence totally away from Him or anything of Him. But don’t take my word for it. Read about it yourself in the ultimate owner’s manual; the Holy Bible.
This is the most important decision one can ever make in their life. It is an adult sized one because it will determine the destination of one’s eternal soul. It’s more important than deciding whether to buy a car, a home, attend college, move out of the country, make a run for political office, join the military, or anything else you can think of. I hope you have made your choice because today could be your day to meet Christ.
- Matt Slick, “Tolerating Spiritual Leaven,” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, carm.org.