The Symptoms of Falling Away

Today I'd like to talk about the gospel...the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is my contention that many who profess to be Christians are no longer (or have never been) so.  It's really not that controversial if you think about it.  Jesus said that the way is broad that leads to destruction and many are on that road (Mat. 7:13-14).

This post seeks to give encouragement to those holding onto the faith and a warning to those who are falling away.  It also seeks to clarify what the gospel is and what it is not, something that those falling away may not realize they are doing.  It is also to help us as believers to understand where we may compromise the gospel, thereby denying Christ, if we aren't careful.

The good news of Christ is simply this:

1)  Man and woman were created in perfect relationship with God (Gen. 1-2).

2)  Both the man and woman were tempted and sinned against God bringing suffering and death into the world (Gen. 3).  As descendants of Adam & Eve, we have inherited the same sin nature and have all sinned (Rom. 3:9-23)

3)  To redeem man, Christ (God's only begotten Son, and very nature God Himself) was sent into the world (foreshadowed through Old Testament sacrifice for sin) to offer Himself as a sacrifice on behalf of our sin (in the same way that bulls, goats, sheep and other animals were used as substitutions in the Old Testament).  (Heb. 10:1-25)

4)  Christ rose three days later to show His power over sin & death and give the promise of eternal life to all who follow Him, declaring Him Lord & Savior.  (John 3:16-17; Romans 10:9-13)

5)  Someday Christ will return to bring to heaven those who have trusted in Him and to bring righteous and final judgment to all who have not believed in Him.  (John 3:16-18; Romans 3:9-26; Heb. 10; Rev. 20-22)

Deny any one of these facets and you have effectively destroyed the gospel.

For example, if we deny facet #2 that the original sin of Adam & Eve really happened (or believe that we are basically good people), then there is no need for the redemptive work of Christ.  Or if we deny that sin is the cause of suffering and death, we make the sacrifice of Christ worthless (for what did Jesus die for then, if sin is not the cause of death as He said?).

If we deny that Christ is the Son of God and the very nature of God Himself (stated as #3), then we are left only with a good teacher with no saving power.

If we deny that Jesus rose from the dead (#4), then His sacrifice was not accepted by God and the power of sin and death still rule over us (1 Cor. 15).

Everywhere around the world where Christians are, there is a temptation to deny one or more of these facets.  The Gospel of Christ is scandalous to every culture, nation and family.  In Muslim countries, the idea of Jesus being the Son of God and God Himself is foreign to their understanding of Him.  They will have Him as a prophet, but not greater than Muhammad.  Those who convert in those countries are often pressured to recant their belief in Christ for the sake of peace or family or persecuted, sometimes to death, because of these differences.

Here in the United States, we face a different temptation.  While there are some for whom believing in Christ as Lord and Savior will cause unrest and division religiously (those from a Muslim, Mormon or Jehovah's Witness family), the vast majority of those turning away from the faith are doing so because of a different reason.

The loosened standards of sexuality, specifically living together and the LGBT movement are causing those who are professed believers to abandon the gospel for the sake of those whom they know living in these conditions.  For the sake of close relationships, they are abandoning Christ or accepting a Christ that accepts everything they or their loved ones already believe and practice.  It pains me to see so many who have liked, loved, thumbs upped and even written on teachings and comments that run contrary to the teaching of who Christ is and what followers of Christ believe.  Often times, these are friends or family members who are close to the one professing faith in Christ.  However, studies show that there is a huge correlation to changing one's definition of sin, especially sexual sin in America, when a family member or friend is involved because it has become acceptable culturally.

We have to be aware that when we loosen the standards of God, we are actually redefining the gospel so that it will cost us less.  Paul experienced the same temptation with the Jews who wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised (Gal.).  He actually inferred that if he had just complied to circumcision for the Gentiles, he wouldn't have been persecuted (Gal. 5:11).  Paul's counsel to the Galatians was that for them to be circumcised was for them to miss out on the benefits of Christ (Gal. 5:2-4).  This wasn't a matter of small differences, it was a matter that involved the heart of the gospel itself.

We were told by Jesus that we were supposed to love Him more than even our closest family members to be worthy of Him (Mat. 10:34-39).  Many today who are being put to the test through their family and friends are choosing them instead of Christ.

If you are tested with this trial, I pray that you will choose Christ for He is the only One who can impart life to you and offer that same hope to your family and friends, no matter what it may cost you in the meantime.  Because compromise isn't an easier gospel...its no gospel at all.


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