By James A. Stewart
DURING THE PAST THIRTY YEARS we have noticed a gradual, subtle shift in the emphasis of the 'Gospel of the glory of Christ,' which amounts to a complete perversion of the blessed evangel. The emphasis in our modern day evangelism has shifted from that of the lordship of Christ to an easy 'believism.' This shifting of the emphasis has led to an adulterated Gospel and changed the message and the ministry of the Church.
Both movements and men have so often given the impression that the acceptance of the lordship of Christ is a second experience of grace, or a sort of optional addendum to the Christian life. Peter declared in his apostolic message, 'Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.' (Acts 5 : 31). Christian workers today have reversed this Scriptural order and set forth Christ as Saviour first before His office as Prince. This teaching is nothing less than a complete sell-out to the world, Modernism and Satan. So great has been the perversion that many congregations are astounded when they hear the true Gospel of the lordship of Christ. They believe that we are preaching a new gospel. We know of a certain faithful evangelist who is preaching the same old Gospel which was taught him in his denominational seminary twenty-five years ago. Today that same evangelist, with his message, is rejected by the evangelical churches of that denomination. And for what reason? They accuse him of preaching a new gospel which is but the old Gospel of the lordship of Christ.
Satan has employed every seductive and deceptive force at his command to cause God's messengers to bypass, or omit altogether, the lordship of the Redeemer. The reasons for this change of emphasis are not difficult to understand. May we mention some:
First, they want to preach a popular gospel of easy 'believism' in order to attract the world to God's message. They set forth the joy of belonging to Christ, while deliberately omitting the dark background of man's total depravity. The inference is thus: 'That which our fathers taught is old-fashioned. They had a narrow view of the Gospel. It isn't necessary to give up the pleasures of the world and sin. Just believe and be saved.'
Second, many honest and sincere Christian workers are so anxious to rescue lost men and women from eternal damnation that they seek to meet the sinner half way. 'Yes, it is true,' they say, 'that Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, but don't let that upset you. You need not receive Christ as Lord now; just receive Him as Saviour and all will be well.' How many times have we been severely pained when some eager evangelist or personal worker has cried out, 'Do you believe that? Then you are saved!' Such a parody of truth must not go unchallenged. A sinner can 'believe that' and go to hell. A sinner can believe John 3:16 and other Gospel passages and still go to hell.
Third, in our feverish haste to multiply results by mass production, we lower the standard of the Gospel proclamation. This is a great day of religious machinery, and the machinery must show huge, immediate results for its propaganda and organization. As never before the Christian press is panting after sensational news of great results from our evangelistic endeavors. Unlike our Master many workers fail to warn their audiences to count the cost. (Luke 14 : 25-33). A preacher's success is judged today mainly by the size of the crowds he draws. In John, chapter six, the Saviour preached His crowd away! 'Many therefore . . .when they had heard. . . said, This is an hard saying who can hear it ? From that time many . . . went back, and walked no more with him.' (John 6:60-66).
Fourth, as a sop to Modernism we have compromised. There is a definite diabolical master-plan to wed evangelical Christianity to Liberalism. In order to do this there must be a ground of union, and so the doctrine of the lordship of Christ is thrown overboard. These Modernists deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Like the Communist in the use of the word democracy these deniers of the Faith have coined evangelical phrases. They have now their own evangelists conducting their own evangelistic campaigns. They will unite with Fundamentalists in union campaigns with popular evangelists, but we soon discover that 'Their rock is not as our Rock.' (Deut. 32 : 31). It soon becomes evident that what they believe concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the death of Christ, and the contents of the blessed Gospel, is not the same as our evangelical Faith.
On every hand we are told by evangelicals in this God-dishonouring compromise that we must be charitable and not judge the belief of others. 'After all, doctrine is not so important: the salvation of souls is the all-important aim.' One evil leads to another. When you deny the lordship of Christ in this compromise, then other evils are allowed in. For example, we know of an outstanding evangelist who declared that although he personally believed in the virgin birth of Christ, it was not an essential belief to salvation. Others are taking part in evangelistic efforts with evangelicals who do not believe in the first five books of Moses as the inspired Word of God. Others do not believe in the atoning, penal death of Christ.
The obvious effect of this unholy wedlock is the lowering of the standard of the experience of regeneration. Another well-known evangelist heatedly insisted that some of the sexiest Hollywood film stars were born-again Christians. What blasphemy! How the angels must weep!
The conclusion to this situation is quite logical. If we can compromise with these Philistines for a month or six weeks in an evangelistic effort, and it is well pleasing to God, then surely we can continue to compromise with them for a life-time. Why not be charitable and invite them to become principals of our seminaries and Bible schools, serve on our foreign mission boards, and preach at our Keswick and holiness conventions?
The desperate need of the hour is for another Charles Haddon Spurgeon to sound the alarm, and raise the banner of God, and fight the foes of the Gospel. The Samsons do not like it revealed that it was Spurgeon's battle with the religious Philistines that broke his heart and sent him to an early grave. It was the failure of evangelical leaders to stand with him in stemming the awful tide of false doctrine in evangelical circles that caused him to pass through great conflicts with Satan which few have experienced.