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Has Man Outgrown the Gospel?

Times change. Today's "new" is tomorrow's "old," this morning's breakthrough is this afternoon's castaway, this year's popular is lost in next year's "latest." The up-to-date is soon out-of-date.

Truth doesn't change. It reads the same today as yesterday and as it will tomorrow. It is "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Some feel they have outgrown the ancient Gospel. The idea that there is a standard which is absolute is, to them, obsolete. The concepts of sin and spiritual death are replaced by the exaltation of self and sensuality. The idea of selfdenial now to gain heaven later is given a passing thought-and then passed on. Bible conceptspower in the blood, a virgin-born, sinless, sacrificial, miraculously raised Savior--are but myths of a bygone era. Post-modems have "grown-up."   They don't need the Gospel anymore. Or have they'?

HAS MAN OUTGROWN THE GOSPEL?

NOT UNLESS HE HAS FOUND ANOTHER FOOD FOR 'THE SOUL. Vegetables and fruits have been on kitchen tables since Eve prepared meals in the Garden, but no one is calling them outdated. Noah must have grilled the first T-bone just after the Flood, but, though several thousand years have passed, steakhouses still do pretty well. What nourishes the spirit'? The Gospel fills those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Mt. 5:6). Baby Christians first take the "sincere milk of the word" (I Pet. 2:2), and progress until they can eat "strong meat" at God's table (Heb. 5:12-14). No one has found a substitute for God's  "soul food."

NOT UNLESS HE HAS FOUND ANOTHER CURE FOR MAN'S MOST SERIOUS DISEASE. Medical treatments have been around at least since Moses (Lev. 12:1-4; Dent. 23:10-14), but nobody's in a hurry to close hospitals and pharmacies. A cure for sin (forgiveness) is still man's most basic spiritual need (Rm. 3:23; 6:23). We all have ancient Israel's contagion: "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isa. 1:6). The only antidote has "Gospel" on the label (Rm. 1: 16).

Look around-if anything, sin has greater influence now than it did with ancient man. Violence, greed, lust, selfishness, drunkenness, drugs ... no society yea, no individual-has mastered sin. Paul would say today what he said in A.D. 57: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rm. 3:23). Mankind has not conquered carnal desires. We are still prone to give in to the lusts of the flesh, the Just of the eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn. 2:15 17). We cannot overcome without the power of the written Word (Heb. 4:12). Jesus used its power to defeat Satan in the "showdown in the desert" (Mt. 4: 1 -11); Paul urged Timothy by it to "make a good warfare" (I Tim. 1: 18); and we can only beat our adversary with the same timetested weapon (Eph. 6:17).

Since the eternal God is the One who determines what sin is, sin does not change from culture to culture or with the passing winds of time. Men may change what they consider sin or what they call it (Isa. 5:20), but it will not alter reality. Sin is still transgressing God's law (I Jn. 2:4), violating one's conscience (Rm. 14:23), omitting a duty (Jas. 4:17), and, in general, "all unrighteousness" (I Jn. 5:17). We've all done it; thus we all need the cure that only the Gospel can give.

NOT UNLESS HE HAS UNEARTHED ANOTHER MAP TO HEAVEN. This world is not all there is. It is but the prelude to the main performance, the foreword to a great book, the entrance foyer to a grand hall, the gestation period of an endless life. Jesus used another figure. It is a short trip to an everlasting home. He plainly mapped out the road that leads to life (Mt. 7:14). He stated the conditions by which man can reach salvation. He must believe in Christ (Mk. 16:16), change his sinful life (repent, Lk. 13:5), confess Christ's name (Rm. 10:9, 10) and be immersed for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; Rm. 6:4). Some have tried to invent their own ways to heaven, but their maps will only get a person lost. If we follow the "Faith Only Lane" or "Works Avenue," or "Direct Spirit Leading Way," or the popular path, "Once Saved Always Saved," we are traveling the various lanes of the interstate Jesus called a "broad way that leads to destruction" (Mt. 7:13). Jesus is the "way, truth, and life"-and His way is only found in His Book (Jn. 14:6).

NOT UNLESS HE HAS FOUND ANOTHER WEAPON SATAN FEARS. The old lion isn't dead. he is still "roaring... walking about seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8). The serpent is not hibernating he still lurks to entice, entrap, and engulf the simple (Gen. 3:1-7: 2 Cor. 11:3). Man is still in danger; therefore he needs the one weapon which makes Satan cringe. A lion does not fear a rock in the hand of a child; Satan does not fear man's strength in man's hand. He does fear God's power in man's hand ("it is written," Mt. 4: 1 -11: Jas. 4:7).

NOT UNLESS HE CAN MAKE HIS LIFE MEANINGFUL WITHOUT IT . The Bible is able to make us "complete" (2 Tim. 3:17). Its message fills the void found in every heart. It has the power to convert (change) a person. The Gospel has power to "translate" us from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son (Col. 1:13). In every case of conversion in the New Testament (see the Book of Acts), someone preached the Word, which produced a change in the hearers.

An American skeptic visiting the jungle came across a native reading the Bible. He told him that "over in America people no longer read that old Book." The native said nothing for a moment and then responded in broken dialect, "This Book teach me not to eat you!" Would the writings of Hume. Voltaire, Ingersoll, Paine, Russell, or O'Hare have had such effect on a cannibal?

A stewardess came down an aisle asking what each passenger wanted to drink. Several in a row said, "Make mine a martini." Coming to the next seat, she noted a man with an open Bible. Somehow it seemed inappropriate to ask a Bible-reader if he desired a martini, so she said, "Tomato juice, Sir?" He later observed, "Now what other book could I have been reading that would change a martini into tomato juice?"

Those who change the Gospel put themselves under God's curse (Gal. 1:69), and will find that it will meet them in judgment unchanged (Rev. 20:12). Those who choose to ignore it will find it was the one great essential of their earthly pilgrimage (2 Thes. 1:9).

Let's not cast away the only Book God ever wrote!

Allen Webster
House to House/Heart to Heart
Volume 8, Number 4
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