A Harsh Gospel?

There is a troubling trend found more and more within the ranks of Christendom, particularly within the American version. I already know that there are those on both sides of these issues that will disagree with me, some may even do some vehemently. This post is not really an attempt to change everybody’s mind but written with the prayer that the rhetoric will be toned down and that more will realize that while true biblical doctrine divides, principles and practices should not.

There is a huge difference between the ministry of the Old Testament prophets and the work of the early New Testament Church. First and foremost, there should be a clear understanding that the Old Testament national Israel was not, is not, and never will be the same as the New Testament Church. They are two distinct entities and each of them have a special part in the sovereign purposes of God, but they are not the same.

Second, the Old Testament prophets were with very few exceptions sent to proclaim a specific message of judgment to the tribes of Israel. Those messages of judgment were not given to the New Testament Church. So, whether we are looking at Elijah, or Jonah, or Zephaniah, we must be careful that we look at each prophet in the context of their message and the people to who they were called.


Strangely, when we arrive at the New Testament era, we find a unique message and ministry started by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. While He called out the religious rabble with firm words and righteous anger, His approach to unbelievers brought a message of hope, faith, and love.  The hope was found in following the truth that Jesus Christ is God. The faith was that which the Holy Spirit gave ears to hear and that faith was subsequently placed solely on Jesus Christ for salvation. The love was shown ultimately in the way that Christ died on the Cross because God so loved the world. Yes, the sacrifice was given to appease the wrath of God the Father, but there was still love from Christ towards mankind. Even in one of His final sayings on the Cross, we hear Him saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Zacchaeus found himself in a tree straining to hear Jesus Christ. He was approached by the Messiah with a message of hope that saw the salvation of a hated tax collector.

On several occasions, even the Gentiles came to hear Jesus Christ. Some of them believed the words and placed their faith in the Messiah for their salvation.

While on a walk through the country of the hated Samaritans, Jesus Christ sat beside a well waiting for a woman to approach. In the conversation, there was conviction of sin, hope of being able to worship something that she did not presently have, and ultimately faith was placed in the Savior. This woman then left her pots and went to the city to share the truth that there was a Messiah who could save them.

We could give many more examples, but I use these few to point out a vast difference between the love, gentleness, and compassion found in the New Testament with what I am seeing transpire today.

This post is not written with the intention of trying to stop any ministries from taking place. If you are under the authority of a local church and believe that God has placed a particular burden on your heart, then by all means, fulfill that to the best of your ability. Being part of the local church should help each person to be accountable to the means whereby God has given gifts. Today, there are far too many Lone Rangers who refuse accountability. Their best answer to troubles or questions about their style is normally best answered by simply unfriending the offending individual on Facebook or writing comments in a vitriolic manner all the while spinning strawmen to cover their lack of Biblical principles and Scriptures in defense of what they are doing.

So, what am I referring to? Let me give a few examples.

First, I firmly believe that the Great Commission is the responsibility of every blood-bought child of God to share with others the wonder of who Jesus Christ is and the message of hope that brings no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. However, I do NOT believe that each person is given the same task of how they go about doing that. Some may knock on doors, while others will pass out tracts at every opportunity they are given. Still others will stand on street corners and proclaim the wonders of the Savior.

None of these are wrong in and of themselves, but it is wrong for me or anybody else to declare that EVERY believer must do it JUST like me. There is NOT one example of the entire early New Testament Church all striving to exhibit their gifts in identical fashion on a Tuesday afternoon in the cities of Ephesus, Rome, or in the churches of Asia Minor. Paul makes it clear that we all have gifts differing one from another.

Second, in our messages, we are not the ones who are called to produce the judgment of God upon sinful creatures. We must be mindful that if it were not for the grace of God that we would each still be trapped in our sins. Ultimately, the only judgment that can be handed out will be from God. However, this does NOT mean we are to refrain from pointing out the COMING judgment to a lost and dying world.

Third, we are in error if we forget that the world is going to act exactly what it is – LOST. This means they will be willing to do, to live, to act, and to speak in every way that alienates them further from a holy and righteous God. Lost people do NOT act like believers. Lost people do NOT believe like Christians. Lost people do NOT care about God. Lost people do NOT care about the law of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, we must remember that our message must be one of compassion. I have seen many ministries through my own years of ministry that have stood on corners, pounded on doors, and screamed at places like abortion clinics for the wickedness that is found within. Sadly, all the yelling and lack of love will only make us look like nutjobs from Westboro Baptist Church holding their picket signs. The world mixes us together when our lives and our words do NOT reflect Jesus Christ.


The unregenerate person will NEVER like the message we proclaim, but it should be the message they hate and hear that brings them to conviction through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now with these few thoughts in mind, let me be a little more pointed.

Jesus Christ did NOT stand at the bottom of the tree and scream at Zacchaeus, “You filthy tax collector! You collaborator with those nasty Romans!”

Jesus Christ did NOT sit at the well in Samaria and scream names and nastiness at the woman who came for water and left with living water. He never yelled, “Hey, you adulterer, you two-bit low life!”

Jesus Christ did NOT hang on the Cross and belittle either of the two thieves and murderers who hung on either side of Him with words like, “You two thieves are just the scum of the earth! You deserve to hang there and pay the penalty for your crimes.”

The apostle Paul did not launch a campaign to go and picket Mars Hill. He was invited by divine appointment to stand and share the truth of the gospel. When he was done, some wanted to hear him further, while others left mocking the message. Not once do we find Paul blogging on the Jerusalem net about all the ones who rejected the call to salvation. Paul did not picket the coliseum in any city, and neither are we given any record of anybody else in the early Church doing that. Paul did not offer to take Onesimus back to Colosse and stand on the street corner outside of Philemon’s house railing about the evils of slavery and how Philemon MUST repent or they would never be able to fellowship together.

No, no, and a further resounding NO!

As believers, we are called to share the message of salvation. We are called to love the Lord Jesus with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Further, we are then called to love our neighbor AS OURSELVES. There is no third law to love ourselves. We do a great job of doing that already because of our sinful nature.

However, the message we share must be given with love and compassion. If the best we can do is shout and call names at those who pass us by, we will never accomplish what we have been called to do. We are NOT Lone Rangers, but we are Ambassadors of the Most High. Therefore, we MUST conduct our business for the Master in a way that reflects such love and grace as has been shown to us.

In conclusion, I do not wish for anybody to misunderstand my words today. I am NOT calling on anybody to stop standing outside of abortion clinics. I am NOT calling on street preachers to desist. I am NOT calling on individuals to stop passing out gospel tracts. I am NOT calling on anybody to stop warning about the judgment to come.

What I am calling for is more grace, love, and compassion in the way we minister. You will never be able to witness to the Mormon or the JW or the liar or the adulterer or the woman who had her baby murdered or the drug addict or the drunkard or anybody else when you are not willing to love them for who they are right now. It is not up to us to change them in order for them to become a new believer in Christ. That job belongs to God ALONE.

PS — Remember that we each will give account to God for what we do for Him, not to each other, and certainly not to the faceless comments on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media. We can each fulfill our ministry by being the part of the body He has called us to be, but that does NOT mean we cannot still fellowship with others who are a different part and who have a different role.

1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”


Fruit of the Spirit (Part 1): Love

For a couple weeks now, I have been planning to write a series on the fruit of the Spirit. As I was reading Galatians 5:22-23 and thinking about what I would write, I found it fitting that I start this week with the first fruit mentioned, which is Love.

There is so much I could say on this topic, as there are different types of love which we show to different people; however, I would like to focus on the greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.


These two really go hand in hand. John tells us in 1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

One of the most popular passages of Scripture which talks about love is 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

It can be easy to “sacrifice” in the name of “love” and, yet, real love is giving of ourselves on behalf of others–loving them in tangible ways. We need to know our friends and family so well that we know what will bless them. They will be able to tell if our actions are token or if they come from the heart.


Not everyone is easy to love but Jesus went so far as to tell us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Love is not an option. Jesus gave us the greatest example of love, and we are to follow that example: “Greater love has no man (or woman) than this, that he (or she) lay down his (or her) life for a friend.”

Truly, friend, if you don’t have Love, you don’t have anything. Everyone wants to receive love but we also need to be willing to give it: to those we like and to those we don’t.

It bothers me that many never know how much they are loved. Once a person dies, people line up to share how much that person means to them but the person being talked about never hears the kind words that are spoken. How much more important is it to tell our friends and loved ones how much they mean to us now, while we are still walking this road of life together. If you’re not used to saying, “I love you,” it can be really hard at first but I encourage you to begin to tell people. As you do, it will be easier, and you may find yourself loving more deeply and better able to genuinely serve because it is no longer about yourself but about those you love.

What Happens If……? — Part 3

The scene is all too common. Bell-ringers for the Salvation Army stand outside shopping centers and supermarkets waiting for the pots to ring with their yearly intake of funds. Standing a little further out, people dressed in poor clothing walk up and down speaking with those coming out of the stores with bags of full of goodies, and they are asking for some kind of a charitable handout.

Somewhere in the middle is the average consumer who has more than he or she deserves and feels awkward because they have been accosted once again to give of their plenty. The problem is that this middle group normally falls into two main groups – 1) Don’t care and don’t bother me, or 2) How do I know this person is for real? If I give them a couple of dollars, will they spend it on drugs or alcohol?

The first group cannot really be helped because they only care about one person in life – themselves. The second group finds adherents in the rich, the middle class, and even in those who are maybe just barely in a more fortunate position in life than the one asking for the handout. This second group normally includes Christians, some of whom have a growing desire to help those less fortunate. They are hearing pastors speak about the need to care for the widows and orphans. They hear that we are in the top 7% of the world’s population and that because we have been given so much that we therefore have the God-given responsibility to make sure much of that wealth goes to the bottom 93% in some form or another.

So, with that in mind and for maybe a short period of time, the Christian goes home with a guilty complex. He or she reads another book that espouses the need for clean water, better food, education, medical clinics and more. They do a little searching on some internet search engine, finds the one that appeals most to their own likes or their emotions, and without further ado sends monthly checks to an organization that they really know nothing about. They truly think that the money is going in its entirety to the designated need. In time, they hear that this is not the case, they become jaded in their outlook and may even become cynical. Their passion runs cool and they decide that it is not really worth trying.

Or, they find out the corruption that is found in many “charitable” organizations or the level of funds that is actually kept by the organization for “administrative purposes” and they realize that they have been just as duped as the person standing on the street corner that they had studiously ignored.

On the other hand, the pastor might hear about a particular group that appeals to their emotions or that falls in line with their own philosophies and goals of ministry. The pastor then stands before his people, preaches a message or does a series of messages on the Beatitudes and brings heavy attention to the “Blessed are the poor” passage. With a few songs, bulletin inserts, and a few tear-jerking stories and accompanying stories in a Powerpoint presentation, he manages to convince a few in the congregation that this is the way that God does missions. They then begin a small portion of their finances to a social endeavor and many times these endeavors are actually holding hands with anybody regardless of their doctrine. In the end, churches and pastors are endorsing humanitarian aid to the world’s masses and have rejected the Biblical doctrine of not working together with those who run and believe contrary to the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

Then, one day a missionary with biblical goals and principles comes to town and struggles to raise the necessary support because he doesn’t have a flashy presentation. He doesn’t have lofty goals of raising the standard of living in the country to which he has been called. Standing before each congregation, he speaks as Peter and John who said to the man who was found at the temple, “Silver and gold (or medical clinics, education systems, clean water, better food, etc. etc) have I none, but such as we do have we give to you – in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” The goal of the crippled man was no longer to receive a handout. He was seen walking and praising God. Peter did not then turn to the people and start offering a better way of life. In fact, we could probably say that he failed to win many friends and influence by some of his next words – you “killed the Prince of life…”! Notice that while he offered hope, it was prefaced by the exclamation of Who made it possible – the Lord Jesus Christ! This man is not sent on his way healed in order to give praise and continue worshiping his pagan gods.

What was the conclusion? From Acts 4, we find that the religious groups had the disciples arrested. They then are the recipients of a similar strong gospel message and come to the conclusion (in all their earthly wisdom) that these are just “unlearned and ignorant men.” However, they also noted that they had been with Jesus. They are threatened with punishment and the disciples state that they ought to obey God rather than men.

The entire history of the early church is recorded as being a concerted effort to preach the gospel, train disciples, and to look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. You might ask though how this comes into play with passages like those found in James where we learn that if a man has nothing and we merely say to him, “Be warmed and filled” that we do not have a real faith that works.

I believe the Scriptures and church history shows that the church took care of her own members. Too much that is done today is outside the realms of the local church and this is part of the problem. The truth is that churches should be seeking to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans, but the apostle James is speaking to believers. He is dealing with the problems found IN the local church setting. He is not giving a blanket statement for the church to take on the world’s issues and make sure that the world ends up with good meals and clean water.

Can churches choose to help those less fortunate in their neighborhoods through soup kitchens, or a food pantry, or clothing bins? Yes, and would not be breaking any biblical principles to do so. The problem is that when many seek to help these individuals they will make a point to tell their more zealous members NOT to bring up the name or Person of Jesus Christ unless one of the poor unfortunates asks them, and even then, they are told to keep it short and non-intrusive.

So, how do we know which ones to support? How do we know whether our churches are actually obeying the commands of Scripture in their outreach ministries toward the less fortunate of the world? I believe there should be several things to consider when choosing where to send your money.

First, is the primary objective, first and foremost, to preach the gospel and to reach the lost at any cost? Included in this objective, do their stated purposes include the planting of new churches and training pastors? If not, then I do not believe they qualify as a charity seeking to operate under the command of the Great Commission. Does this mean, for example, that medical missionaries or those seeking to provide humanitarian aid do not qualify? No, I believe providing humanitarian and medical aid is a wonderful testimony of the grace of God to a people who are in need; HOWEVER, I believe the underlying principles of the medical and humanitarian aid staff should be to reach the lost not just with medicine and supplies but with Christ. Christ should ALWAYS come first in the struggle for souls, and not just by “living the story of love” but by telling forth the message no matter what the cost.

Second, how does the group define the gospel? It is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior. If the group does not and refuses to define what the true gospel is, the group is not worth supporting. It would be poor stewardship of the Lord’s money, on the part of the believer who gives and on the part of the church that doles out the funds, to give to any organization that seeks to circumnavigate the gospel message. In other words, we cannot be faithful to the Scriptures while avoiding the passage in Galatians that Paul reminds us that those who teach or preach another gospel are accursed.

Third, what affiliations does the group insist on keeping? Are they in league with groups like the World Council of Churches, or any other ecumenical group that would hold hands with Catholics, Mormons, etc. just to see an improved standard of living? Do a search on the internet for social interaction groups, then call them and see if you would be allowed to work with them? Ask them if you send money, if you are allowed to designate that it only be used in an area where the clear Biblical message of the gospel will be preached? The answer will be NO! These groups will NOT permit this for any reason.

Fourth, are all the funds that are being given being sent in totality to the work that is in need? Most people are unaware that many so-called religious groups and most social gospel organizations will keep up to as much as 90-95% of the received monetary gifts for the upkeep of western offices, high salaries of executive staff, etc., etc. This is one of the biggest issues I have with fundraising. It is disingenuous to raise funds for a cause and then keep any portion of that when you have stated that the money is going to be used for a stated project. As an example, instead of giving $100, call the organization and ask how much they keep for themselves and how much ACTUALLY arrives for the project. If it is 60%, then tell them you will only be sending $40 for the project itself as you choose not to support the administrative offices. I do not believe you will get very far with that request.

Fifth, does the group have a problem with their volunteers or paid staff clearly proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord? If so, it should not be considered a candidate for the money coming from true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sixth, here is one of the biggest issues that we could deal with at great length later, but are the missions endeavors an outreach of a local church? Far too many organizations have risen up and sought to take away the responsibility and the authority from where it rightly belongs. The Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples to spread the gospel but it was to be done through the local church of which He alone is the Cornerstone. Christians are nowhere commanded to be lone-ranger types when it comes to spreading the message of the gospel. Nor are they commanded to avoid the authority and accountability that comes through being a member of a local assembly. When an organization studiously avoids coming under the auspices of that authority and accountability, they are striving to be like the world instead of following the Biblical mandates for missions and outreach.

In conclusion, there is much that is done in the name of missions that does not really qualify as missions as God sees it. The preeminent focus must be on proclaiming the name of Christ. It does not matter whether anybody else does it. We will not answer to a board of directors for how we spend our money, but we will give an answer to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not ask how much we dropped each Christmas in the coffers of the Salvation Army bell-ringer who is actually getting paid to stand there in the cold. I believe that we will be called to account as to how we worked to help with the spread of the gospel.

There are a few organizations with the above stated goals and purposes, but the number is growing smaller all the time. Prayerfully seek the Lord and ask Him to help you find a needy group of people in the world that you can help directly through a local church in that area. If you have a desire to help the unreached, then why not pray and see if the Lord would have you to go to that area and preach the gospel for His honor and glory?

Charity is a wonderful gift and should come from a heart of love. However, that heart of love must show forth the truth of Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” The only way we can make an eternity of difference is by the preaching of God’s Word. Romans 10:14-15 concludes, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”