Monday, February 07, 2005


The Simple Gospel

Adrian Warnock has an absolutely marvelous post on a Sunday School lesson his wife taught this past weekend.

In it, he makes the point that the gospel is really a simple message and he breaks it down into 10 points:

1. Everyone has Sinned
2. God hates sin
3. Sin must be punished
4. Jesus took the punishment instead of us on the cross
5. Admit you have been naughty
6. Believe that Jesus took your punishment
7. Say sorry to God
8. Ask God to be in charge of your life
9. Be baptised (note the order here)
10. Receive the Holy Spirit

He then asks for comment from people that cannot believe any or all of it, and why people want to complicate it so much.

I certainly agree with his point that the gospel is simple, and that we tend to overcomplicate matters. I can hear the debates happening now. "After all, aren't some of these points more important than others?" "What is the good news for this culture at this time?"

First of all -- this is a great summary. Second of all, ALL OF THE POINTS ARE IMPORTANT.

I'll be honest --I really miss points 5(naughty) & 7(sorry). It seems like all I ever hear about it God's grace, and never about what I have to do to appropriate that grace.

In the last 7-10 years, I have probably heard more sermons on the prodigal son parable than any other passage of scripture. ALL of those sermons (15-20), absolutely all of them, had one common aspect -- None of them discussed the attitude of the prodigal when he returned to his father.

Every time I hear one of these sermons, and I heard another one very recently, I want to stand up and ask, "What would happen if the son came home and instead of asking to be a servant in the household, he assumed his sonship would be restored to him." "What if he came back and just asked for more money?"

Certainly all the preachers I have heard tend to assume today that people have some sort of innate understanding of their depraved status. In this self-image obsessed culture, I think convincing people of their depravity is the largest obstacle to the gospel message.

What I really wonder is why we ignore the unpopular parts of our simple message? If people do not confess all 10 points, can we say we have reached them? I am not calling for old-fashioned fire and brimstone damnation preaching here. All I am saying is that God's grace requires appropriation -- and we can only do that appropriation on our knees.

If we do not remind people of the proper posture when approachig the Throne of Grace, can we be assured they have reached it?


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