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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” Jer 14:13 ESV
With heads bowed and eyes closed, the music was just right. The preacher shuffles and gently casts his gaze over the reverently silent congregation before he beckons, “Put your hand up if you have tried everything and now you want to accept Jesus into your heart. See, you have a God shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it.” A hundred to two hundred hands go up in the air. They ask Jesus into their hearts that day-a decision they may well repeat a few more times through that year.
A major denomination which has 11,500 churches throughout the US – in 1991, their first year of what they called “the decade of harvest,” they got 294,000 decisions for Christ. They found that only 14,000 remained in fellowship. That is, they couldn’t account for 279,000 of their decisions for Jesus. And this is normal modern evangelical statistics when it comes to crusades and local churches. Many converts don’t fall away. They get followed up and squeezed into a local church where they’re surrounded by a good social life, and they stay within the church given assurance they’re saved when there is no grounds for their salvation, because they do not have the things that accompany salvation. –True and False Conversions by Ray Comfort
When we hear Christian clichés like ‘Accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour;’ ‘Ask Jesus into your heart;’ ‘Invite Christ into your life;’ or ‘Make a decision for Christ’ and find that such theology is not scripturally based then we realise something must have been omitted. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38).Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance and trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, Heb 6:1). How could it sound so right, yet be so un-right? Yeah. Welcome to the shaken and stirred Gospel Lite!
A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine…the offense of the cross has been removed. Gal 5:9-11
A short but memorable adage that holds some important fact of experience is that Gospel Lite has “Great taste, but less filling”. Gospel Lite is the diluted gospel. It preys on the scripturally illiterate and could it then be another gospel?
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Cor 11:4
A new nationwide survey done by The Barna Group revealed:
Most self-described Christians contend that their religious faith has significantly impacted their life. Almost six out of ten adults (59%) said their faith had “greatly transformed” their life, while 29% said their faith “has been helpful but has not greatly transformed” their life and 9% stated that their religious faith “has not made much of a difference” in who they are and how they live.- The Barna Group, Ltd, 2009.
Gospel Lite comes in many flavours to suit your taste. Another tangy flavour is “Come to Jesus and he will give you love, joy, peace and happiness”. Or “God loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life”. This tangy smoothie assumes the sinner has no sin and there for doesn’t need to change. A sinner without a transformation therefore begins to bear good bouncy fruit. Well, these promises in themselves of course are half truths. They stem from the fruit of the Spirit that a believer will have as mentioned in Galatians 5:22. But should that be the launch pad for an evangelistic approach seeing that the sinner is dead to God and blind to spiritual things. Is that the whole of the gospel message? What is Christianity without the cross? What is salvation without knowledge of sin and a saviour?
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1Cor 2:2
Half truths are harbingers and easily pave the way for deception. Some have sadly been in the vineyard of half truths and gleaned small bits of “godliness” mixed with the leaven of material gain. And Voila! Prosperity De-Lite was born; decaffeinated and smooth. The most fatal of all Lites. And I will show you a still more excellent way to deception.
Described in Proverbs 5:3-6
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.1 Tim 6:10-11
Prosperity Gospel De-Lite is the potent umbrella portion touted and purveyed by over eighty percent of Christian Broadcasters, media outlets and publishers, televangelists and at present is fast gaining notoriety in many mega churches of the West and the shanty poverty stricken suburbs of Latin America, Africa and of late South eastern Asia. Selling out faster than Starbucks coffee, with more outlets than MacDonalds and glossier than your Sunday flea market. The Bible clearly has several words to describe such “exciting and colourful” messengers, who “think that godliness is a means to financial gain” calling them “men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth” (1 Tim 6:3-5).
“Jesus will give you health, wealth and prosperity” is the promise. How it works is really simple. Be obedient (read donate) and faithful (read pay regularly), and give to the Lord bountifully (read give to the prosperity preachers and their ministries). The more money you give, the more you will prosper financially, the more your health will improve, the more success you will have and the more your family and relationships will be blessed. Financial prosperity is a sign of spiritual success, “name your seed”, “hundred fold blessing returns”, “debt breaking anointing”, “debt cancellation offerings” are concepts that form the bar codes for the Lite. You can have your cake and eat it too; live your blessing filled best life now. These are concepts that are not scriptural. The flipside to this is error is that if you are poor, sick with illness or lost your means of earning then you have little faith.
On January 4, 1987, Oral Roberts launched his most notable campaign to date. Roberts told his followers that if he did not raise a total of 8 million dollars by March, God was going to take his life. Roberts begged not to let Satan defeat him.
“God clearly told me he needs me here on earth. And here’s why — because of all the ministries, this ministry is the only one God has on this earth that owns a medical school.”… Some time later, his son, Richard, took pen in hand to warn of his father’s impending doom. Without “the additional $4,500.000.” explains Richard, “God will not extend Dad’s life” He then pleads, “Partner, we cannot let this man of God die. There is no reason for him to die” … After sternly warning, “IF YOU NEGLECT TO PAY ATTENTION … then Satan will take advantage and hit you with bad things and you will wish that 1985 had never come, ” Roberts closed his letter with a hard sell. Sending a seed-faith gift will not only enable you to “STOP SATAN IN HIS HATE TO BRING YOU DOWN,” it will also “help you get your hundredfold return.” (Roberts raised the money and did not die.) – Christianity In Crisis, Hank Hanegraaff
For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:21
The earliest proponents of positive thinking were spiritual innovators like Phineas P. Quimby and Mary Baker Eddy, founders of the New Thought movement and Christian Science, respectively. By the turn of the 20th century, Essek William Kenyon, a pastor and founder of Bethel Bible Institute, had incorporated similar ideas into his preaching on the finished work of Christ. Kenyon wrote that Christians could make a “positive confession” to bring emotional and physical desires into being. “What I confess,” he is purported to have said, “I possess.” –Christianity Today Magazine
“Rhema Doctrine”, “God told me”, and “Word of Faith” spin-offs of Gospel Lite are convenient, positive sounding and winsome aberrations. Just like any Lite brand always appear hypoallergenic, more tolerant, and market-savvy. It makes “Christianity” more appealing. Lite requires a partial spiritual contribution to the things of God and never a total commitment. Mainstream Christianity is becoming increasingly affected by it. The notion that God rewards faith with money is spreading in both conservative and moderate churches. This is part of that age old battle between Good and Evil; God and Satan; Jesus and mammon.
2 Tim 4:10
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19
Gospel Lite excuses or better still excludes sin, the depravity of man and God’s wrath. Its indeed easier to talk in broad strokes and shades of a “God shaped hole in your heart” than to say “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”. Lite does not call the wretched sinner to repentance. It does not address pertinent issues of righteousness and coming judgement. It does not talk about the Law of God. How would we know that we had sinned had it not been for the Law of God? With a hopeless sinner on collision course with a Just God; Gospel Lite numbs the conscience of the sinner by encouraging good works of service and charity.
The good news of God to man is that for our sake on the cross, Jesus became a substitute in that he was made to be sin (who knew no sin), so that in him by faith we might become imputed with his righteousness.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2: 8-9
A pastor of an African down town church was asked about selling out and changing his message. He would triple his membership by promising wealth. “But if that is all I am teaching, then I have lost the message,” he says. “The kingdom of God is built on the Cross, not on bread and butter.”
Lite adds a smooth spin and a laid back buzz to Christianity. There is no cross to carry and therefore no self denial. Life is easy as can be. Be positive, live positive and confess positive. Speak faith to your situation the buzz rings. It leaves the “believer” with more pseudo mystic lingo and spiritual terms like “He saved you for greatness, to fulfil a destiny or a purpose that is beyond anything you could ever ask or think!” This pursuit of self esteem, self respect, self dignity, self worth and potential are the pearls of spiritual fruitfulness making the Lite franchise a multi million motivational golden calf both among the secular ponds and Luke warm niches. Humility is not a virtue but becomes a vice.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matt 16:24
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. Matt 13:15
With unrepentant hardened hearts and dulled ears, tightly shut eyes its only the grace of God that can rouse any way ward Lite-ists remnants from such deep slumber. When the Holy Spirit exposes sin in light of God’s Law the first words that the awakened heart has always whispered have been “Woe is me. I am undone. God be merciful to me, a sinner.” It is at this point that the soil is moist and the seed of the Word begins the process that will take it through the seasons of life with gratitude till it yields forth fruit worthy of repentance.
Gospel Lite never yields any fruit worthy of repentance- it’s just fizzy and has Great Taste, Less Filling. It is a some what modern day reiteration of that same old saying in Exodus chapter sixteen,“Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
In the 1930s Kenneth Hagin Sr added E.W Kenyon’s teachings to his Pentecostal beliefs to create the “Word of Faith” and “Rhema” movements which taught that christians could get rich by mustering enough faith. “Say it, do it, receive it, tell it,” he said. He touted the “Rhema doctrine,” which held that words spoken in faith must be fulfilled, spawning slogans like “name it and claim it.” In 2000, three years before he died he wrote in The Midas Touch: A book that denounced prosperity gospel, the concepts of “name your seed”, “hundred fold return” and “debt breaking” anointing.
“There is not one bit of Scripture I know about that validates such a practice. I’m afraid it is simply a scheme to raise money for the preacher, and ultimately it can turn out to be dangerous and destructive for all involved.” TheMidas Touch, Kenneth Hagin sr.
Beloved, God desires truth in the inner parts. All this deception will not endear us to God. There is a great need to get back to basics of searching the scriptures and being Bible Based in doctrine like never before.
And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. Jer 14:14
Editor’s Note: “If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Saviour from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible . . . Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Saviour from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else”