Guard the Treasure
Category: God’s Word
It’s a scandal! Somebody has been quietly and subversively sneaking into the vault God has asked us to guard and stealing the treasure . . . right under our noses!
These sneaky snakes are replacing diamonds with pretty glass and spray-painting gold enamel on aluminum cans . . . and then calling it the Gospel. The Gospel of salvation is being replaced by a freestyle, slick, pseudo-gospel that promises everything but delivers nothing.
See if you recognize four popular but false gospels that have crept into our Christian lifestyles:
- The Resource Gospel. You’ll spot the counterfeit message in this one right away. “I noticed you were looking at my watch. You could have a watch like this. Have you seen my car? My house? You could have that, too.” Sadly, people flock to the false message that Jesus wants us to be wealthy. This deception hit the church about fifty years ago. Now, it’s front and center stage in the Western world. Just flip through your TV channels. But try to preach that gospel in the third world or among the persecuted church. Those people will laugh you right off the stage. Or perhaps instead they would shake their heads and go to their knees on our behalf.
- The Relevancy Gospel. Since when does Christianity pattern itself after TV commercials? You know the ones I’m talking about. You get some toothy, beautiful actress to hold up a tube of toothpaste and say, “I use Whatever-Brand and made it to the big-time, so can you!” So some perhaps well-intentioned, but totally wrong people adapt this message to the Gospel and say, “See this body builder? Look at his arms! He just bent that steel. But wait . . . he has a message. He loves Jesus. Maybe if I love Jesus I could have muscles like that.” Now, for sure, I praise God for people in every segment of society that come to know Christ. But parading people around who barely understand their faith for themselves serves no good. In fact, it just appeals to our flesh. The Bible says that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. The love for status can’t partner with the gospel. In fact, it can’t exist in the same heart. The true Gospel only makes sense to those humble of heart. (Look at how Jesus described Himself in Matthew 11:29.)
- The Relational Gospel. This one is a sensitive because it’s rooted in truth. The relational gospel says, “Hey, I like you. Maybe we could get to know each other and be friends. If we become really good friends, then I can tell you about my friend, Jesus. You like me, don’t you? It just so happens that I like Jesus. If I like you and you like me, don’t you think that you might like Jesus?” The truth is that it’s great to develop relationships with those who don’t yet know Jesus Christ as their Savior. Where this gospel goes south is when you take a co-worker to a baseball game for fifty years, hoping to get a chance to share Christ with him, and it turns out he’s not interested at all. All the while, your neighbor’s whole life is collapsing around him. This “technique” elevates the messenger above the message. It’s not about you . . . it’s about Christ. Let the Gospel be what they accept or reject.
- The Reasonable Gospel. This approach appeals to the mind. “Let me just share the reasonable gospel with you. Jesus loves sinners. You’re a sinner. Don’t you want to be forgiven? You can have it right now. Think about it for a minute. It’s just so perfectly plain and clear.” This false gospel reduces salvation to a mental transaction. “A + B + C + D. Add it all up, get the right total, and you’re in the kingdom.” But embracing the Gospel isn’t complete until it moves from your head to your heart. Mental agreement doesn’t constitute salvation. Instead, salvation involves repentance from sin, being undone before a holy and righteous God, coming broken before Him, helpless, and in need. The true Gospel calls for you to fall to your knees before Him by faith, asking Him to do for you what you could never do for yourself.
I’ve heard a lot of people wonder why they aren’t joyful or “successful” in their Christian life. I believe in part it’s because many do not truly know Christ. They have embraced a false gospel. This is why I risk sounding so negative about all these different ways people are trying to communicate the Gospel. Here’s the point: we don’t need to sanitize or simplify or strategize the message that God uses to transform lives. You don’t need to help God clarify His message—you just have to be willing to share it. And protect it from being miscommunicated.
Look at 2 Timothy 1:14: “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Guard the treasure. If we don’t protect the gospel, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will inherit a counterfeit message. It’s our calling. In the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, I challenge you to guard the treasure which has been entrusted to you.