Ted Haggard recently wrote a very poignant blog post over on the Ted Haggard Blog. Here is a quote from the article that I especially appreciated.
“Sadly, it seems many churches have become toxic. We have too many poisonous churches with pastors who don’t know how to apply the Gospel, who teach certain behaviors prove salvation, that we should hide our weaknesses, and that we should appear contented.” (Ted Haggard, Ted Haggard Blog)
This is so very true because evangelical Christianity has developed a different gospel than the one that Paul preached. It is an unholy mixture of Old and New Covenant that ultimately elevates self-righteousness to a virtue, and reduces the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to a onetime point of entrance that may or may not be efficacious. It only becomes effective in view of current evangelical doctrine if the person begins to live the law showing the fruit of a changed life.
What did Paul say in Philippians? In chapter three he said that when it came to law righteousness he was blameless. He went on to say however that he would count it all dung to be found in Christ Jesus, having the righteousness of God rather than his own righteousness from the law. It is very clear what Paul meant in this passage. He called those who were Judaizing dogs and evil doers. Finally he stated the following: Php 3:18 “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” This can be equally true for the way that the evangelical church views and teaches about righteousness today. In essence they have become enemies of the cross.
But it is more than that, in reality they become unbelievers. They are not willing to believe the true gospel of God’s grace. When one demands law obedience to prove salvation they in effect make the cross ineffective and present a different gospel. What is the gospel you ask? I think that it can be summed up quite nicely in this passage from Second Corinthians: (2Co 5:18-21) “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The underlined portion is a clear concise statement of the gospel. Verses 19 & 21 become the statement of the gospel.
This is especially pointed at those who are self-proclaimed judges of others and experts on the truth. The fact is that they have missed the truth completely as they are devoid of the love and mercy of God.
The true gospel will allow people to rest in the finished work of Jesus on Calvary. Once they truly believe and are completely resting in Jesus… real love for God and Jesus will be an automatic result, and this real love for God will produce a transformation into a loving being that desires to please God. If the church would teach the true gospel then, in community, others could walk along side and encourage each other to good works and the obedience of faith out of love. Anything short of resting in Jesus is really unbelief.