Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Gospel Onslaught Against Discipleship

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 14, 2010

Meet Jim. He is in the midst of a very disturbing problem that torments him day and night, the kind of problem he never dreamed would inflict a believer. But he often says to himself: “maybe I’m not a believer after all.” In desperation he went to his pastor for help. His pastor seemed shocked and perplexed in regard to the revelation, and suggested that they pray about it (James 2:15-17). But Jim had already been praying intensely for many days with no end to the problem in sight.

Now we find Jim at a larger Baptist church on a Sunday morning; “more resources to help people” had been the reasoning that brought him there. He walks into the spacious foyer and peruses the many well-dressed people engaged in pleasant conversation. As he works his way through the crowd, he scans the faces of many people walking about while looking for something in their demeanor that would indicate that they could help. He then walks up to the Information table and opens a brochure about the church. He reads the information regarding the pastoral staff and wonders to himself: “Can these men help? Do they know what God would say about my situation? And if they can, will they have time? After all, they look like very important men and are probably very busy.”

Then Jim hears a call to worship through the elegant glass doors between the foyer and the large sanctuary. The sanctuary has a pricey, new, and contemporary feel which is impressive, but does little to arouse a glimmer of hope that Jim is looking for. Jim suffers through the praise music that lifts up the God that seems so far away from him, and anxiously awaits the sermon which may convey the answers he is looking for. The message is about the gospel. Is this what Jim needs? “Perhaps,” Jim thinks. “Maybe I missed something the first time; I certainly don’t feel saved!” But Jim has re-examined his original commitment to Christ and what he believed over and over again. Not only that, when he relocated from New York, he didn’t tell his present church that he was a Christian, but made a new profession of faith and was baptized, just to make sure. Jim gets in his car to go back to the chamber of dread he calls home, and as he watches the cheerful parishioners leaving for their own destinations, he wonders: “Why can’t I be like them? Whats wrong with me?”

Even as a new believer I found it bazarre: the whole evangelical mentality of “get people to come to church so we can get them saved” routine; it just didn’t jive with everything I was learning in the Scriptures as a new believer. Getting people saved was all that mattered while members in “good standing” were living with others out-of wedlock, and Christian couples who were married talked to their pets with more respect than they did each other. My first Halloween party as a Christian was also a dose of reality as I arrived at the church dressed like Moses holding a wooden image of the Ten Commandments, only to be mocked by vampires and werewolves. But most telling was the time I led a married couple / schizophrenics to the Lord and demanded that they be baptized and accepted into membership the following Sunday. The church reluctantly agreed, but I was approached by the church leadership afterward who stated the following: “Now that they are saved, we need to send them away where they can get help.”

This “gospel only, bag-em and tag-em (sanctifi-what?),” mentality that began in the 1950’s started to see the chickens coming home to roost around the time I got saved in 1983. Christians were not looking to the church to solve any of life’s deep problems, but were gathering at the well of philosophy with the rest of the world while chanting “all truth is God’s truth.” That’s when Dave Hunt published his book entitled, “The Seduction of Christianity” which sent shock-waves throughout the Evangelical community. While his book was a huge, and necessary challenge (he refuted the idea that Sigmund Freud was smarter than the Holy Spirit), it only stated the problem and offered no specific solutions.

How to use the Bible to help Christians with deep problems came via Dr. Jay Adams in the early 1970’s, but his biblical approach didn’t really pick-up steam until the 80’s. Barely anybody who is aware of the impact that this biblical counseling / discipleship approach had on the church will call it anything less than a reformation. But what was the church’s response to this rediscovering of biblical sanctification? While the first gospel wave made so much of salvation that sanctification was forgotten, the second wave claims that salvation and sanctification are the same thing. If you can’t beat-em, join-em together. Hence: “The same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you.” “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday.” “So brother, you really think you’re saved by the gospel and then you move on to something else?” [envision person saying that with knowing smirk on their face].

Either way, the results are the same. The church wants to sell the idea that God has the power to save our souls, but He can’t save a marriage; the idea that he can save schizophrenics, but must leave them in their present condition (First wave). Or, the idea that mediation on the gospel alone empowers the Christian for holy living (Second wave). Trust me, the world ain’t buyin’. Christians should get a grip because “gospel” means “good news.” “News” means the same thing in the Greek as it does in English: it’s something that you hear that you haven’t heard before; once you embrace it as your own, it’s no longer “news.” This would seem fairly obvious. Furthermore, 2Corinthians 5:18-21 makes it clear that the gospel is a ministry of “reconciliation” entrusted to those who are already reconciled. Therefore, if we are already reconciled, do we “move on to something else?” Absolutely, and please take Jim with you.


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