Distractions to the Gospel
Today Christians, and those professing to be “Christ-followers,” are forsaking the preaching of THE GOSPEL and the teaching of THE SCRIPTURES for things that make them “feel better about themselves.” I will readily agree that we need to be concerned about the many needs that affect people in our world and willing to do our part to help in those areas. However, we also face the very real danger of making too many of these things, even though they may be noble things, the main things, rather than secondary things we do in order to get THE GOSPEL to people. For example, if a person is hungry, you may have to feed them or even make long-term provision for feeding them in order to reach them with THE GOSPEL, but don’t feed them without giving them THE GOSPEL. If you do, then you’re just sending them to hell on a full stomach. The main thing is not that they are hungry. The main thing is their need for the Living Bread of THE GOSPEL, so they can be in eternal fellowship with the Living God Who created them. So let’s look at some of these distractions so pervasive in hindering our focus on and the spread of THE GOSPEL in the early part of the 21st Century.
People love to point out that Jesus prayed to His Father in John 17 that His people would be one (vv. 11; 21-23). This is true. But it is unity in the truth (John 17:17, 19). There can be no unity that is not found in the truth of Scripture.
Furthermore, the unity Jesus prayed for is a spiritual unity, rather an organizational unity, as is clear from the whole context of John 17, as well as from the specific word of Jesus’ prayer.
Not only can we not find unity with the systems of 7th Day Adventism, Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, or the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), we most certainly cannot unite with the systems or the people of religions outside of any semblance of Christianity, such as Islam or Hinduism. Yet teachers like Rick Warren, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallace, and others are promoting the idea of Christians uniting with all sorts of groups, including homosexuals and Muslims, to promote religious unity and social change. These teachers should consider the words of 2 Corinthians 6:15, “And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”
Another distraction from THE GOSPEL is environmental activism. While we should try to be good stewards of our environment, many of the so-called “earth-care” or “creation-care” groups feature only a thin veneer of Christian (or pseudo-Christian) spirituality over their nature worshiping, pantheistic, or panentheistic worldview. They view the earth as our “mother,” which is a totally pagan idea, and not a biblical one. The earth is not our “mother” and time is not our “father.” See Links below for more information.
I like clean air and water as much as anyone else, and I want the same for my extended family, friends, and neighbors. However, I’m not nearly so concerned about a cow crapping in an Ozarks stream as I am about nuclear and other toxic waste being pumped into food and other products that we purchase from places like China. Yet all the activists seem unconcerned about the worst pollution and the worst polluters in the world. I hear nothing of the pollution in India, China, Cuba, Pakistan, and other Communist or Islamic countries. Instead, they seem intent on destroying the American economy, the American way of life, and America itself.
Furthermore, if these folks think mankind is messing up the earth, then they should take a look at what God Himself does to the earth and the heavens in judgment for mankind’s sin during the Great Tribulation Period (Revelation 6-19).
Social activism takes many forms, and I won’t try to cover all of them here. But I do want to address a few of the most prominent “social” concerns being circulated in the American church today.
Social justice is a term used, even by well-meaning Christians, that primarily deals with using the government to steal money and property from those who have earned it, to give it to those who didn’t earn it. Instead of these folks giving to others out of their pockets, they stick their hand in someone else’s pocket to give to others. To be more precise, they use government to put a gun to the head of those who have, in order to steal their money and give it to those who do not have. In its most virulent form, it is called Marxist-Communism, and in its more unobjectionable form, it is called Socialism or Fabian Socialism. It’s still stealing, and it’s still evil. So why are Christians buying into the lie that justice must come in the form of Socialism? Socialism is not just; it is unjust on its face. In fact, there is coming a time when the whole world will be under the control of a world government, and one will only be able to buy or sell by pledging total allegiance to that system (Revelation 13).
I’m all for doing what we can to stop abortion, but the reality is that we will not stop it at this point in time by laws. The country and the church are too far from God for that. But we can stop abortion one person at a time by leading people to repentant faith in Jesus Christ. When people really come to faith in Jesus Christ, they will stop practicing those things the Bible calls sexual sin, which is sex outside of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. In fact, we can know that abortion and other forms of murder won’t stop because it is one of the things listed in Revelation 9:21 for which people in the Great Tribulation Period will not repent.
Stop Human Trafficking
Human trafficking too is a great evil, whether for purposes of sex slavery, or any other kind of slavery. However, I don’t usually hear the folks protesting human trafficking or slavery mentioning the African countries governed by Arab Muslims where this is prevalent and even legal. Even Saudi Arabia is a nation of slavery, although it’s behind the tent coverings of the royal family. Human trafficking too is a practice that will continue into the Great Tribulation Period (Revelation 18:13). What’s the best way to stop a person from being involved in this evil practice, either on the buying or the selling end of things? Give them THE GOSPEL of repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ!
War On Drugs
As a former drug and alcohol abuser myself, I am radically opposed to the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of all drugs and alcohol. In fact, I’ve been a teetotaler for almost 35 years, and I’m fine with that. But the use or abuse of drugs too is one of the sins mentioned in Revelation 9:21 as continuing into the Great Tribulation Period. It is usually translated as “sorceries,” “magic arts,” or sometimes even “witchcrafts.” The Greek word is pharmakeia, from which we get words like pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, and pharmacist. It refers to the practice of using potions or drugs to control someone, and in essence casting a spell on them. Biblically, the use of mind-altering drugs for that purpose is the practice of witchcraft, even without any of the other trappings of what we commonly think of as witchcraft.
Again, the best way to get a person away from this practice is to give them THE GOSPEL of repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. When people truly commit themselves to Jesus Christ, they will leave the practice of sin behind. While they will still sin, it will not be the practice of one’s life, or the motivation for one’s living.
So what should concerned Christians do about these things? Should we stop being concerned for the poor, oppressed, oppressors, sick, and so forth? No! Absolutely not! Yet it isn’t that important how it makes us feel to do something good for someone else. It is about helping that soul in need and glorifying the True and Living God in the process.
We must remember that all the things we tend to focus on, such as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, murder, gossip, stealing, cheating, lying, abuse, disease, poverty, drunkenness, drugs, and so on, are not THE PROBLEM.
These are SYMPTOMS of THE PROBLEM.
THE PROBLEM is SIN, which can only be dealt with by THE GOSPEL of repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ.
If we focus on giving THE GOSPEL of repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ to others, then giving the cup of cold water or doing any other good work will accomplish the purpose of ministering to the physical needs at hand and glorifying God in the process.