Don’t Church It Up!

Grace-Filled Evangelism in Preaching and Teaching

It has been said by many that Christianity is always one generation from extinction.[1] Thus the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone must go out clearly and succinctly to fulfill the task of evangelism that God has called us to as His ambassadors.[2] We must also be diligently mindful of what the Apostle Paul proclaims with vigor:
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed![3]
We must pay special attention to the presentation of the gospel message lest we fall under the curse[4] that Paul proclaims for those who bring a message that does not line up with the simple message of faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life.[5] We cannot fail to preach the Gospel, for Jesus has commanded us to make disciples in Matthew 28:16-20 and Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 9:16 that we are compelled by God to preach the gospel.
Since we are compelled to present the gospel message of eternal life through faith in Christ, and since God is keenly interested in keeping that message profoundly clear of works and completely centered on His gracious offer of eternal life through the work of Christ[6], it becomes our highest mandate to maintain a truly free offer of eternal salvation in our preaching and teaching ministries.
This mandate is achieved through a two-part process that must guide us in all of our preaching and teaching: we must (1) understand the text that we are preaching, and (2) communicate it clearly and simply. 
These two concepts will be fleshed out in subsequent posts, but for starters let us ask the question of how we fall off the beam. How have you seen the gospel message “churched up” and because of that obscured?  Have you done it yourself or been subjected to it in church, Sunday School, or elsewhere?  How have you stopped it in your own teaching or confronted it in ministry?

[1] The origin of this saying is hidden in the past, and has been attributed to different authors, speakers, and theologians. Perhaps it is best to simply see it as an axiom of the church.
[2] 2 Cor 5:20
[3] Galatians 1:6-9, NASB
[4] The term ἀνάθεμα (anathema), which Paul pronounces upon those who bring a different gospel, refers to that which has been cursed. (BDAG) In the LXX it translates the Hebrew חֵ֫רֶם (herem) as a rule, which refers to something that has been “devoted” to God and is therefore unable to be reclaimed. Paul’s likely intent here is to have the Galatian church remove anyone from their church who taught them a different message than that which they had received from him.
[5] Cf. Gal 3:26.
[6] Ephesians 2:8-9

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