The so-called "gospel" being preached in our day falls far short of that "glorious gospel" (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 1:11) of the New Testament. We are living in a time when preachers are telling sinners that they can be saved without repenting, without forsaking their idols, and without surrendering to the Lordship of Christ. The Bible doctrine of the sinfulness and depravity of man has been thrown to the winds. "Another gospel" and "another Jesus" has gained popularity, and "another spirit" is being received instead of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 11:4).
We need to unmask the "modern evangelism" of our day. To do so, let us look very candidly at what is popularly being preached and believed as "gospel truth." A few of the favorite religious sayings of today will prove the great difference between the true gospel and the false one:
"Accept Christ as your personal Saviour"
This is probably the most popular cliche in the religious world today. It has elements of truth in it, but that is what makes it all the more dangerous! Christ is indeed a "personal Saviour" to those who know Him. And He is to be "received" (John 1:12) by faith. However, the modern preacher perverts the biblical meaning of "receiving Christ" by implying that it is in the power of the sinner's "free will" to savingly come to Christ. This is grave error, as v. 13 clearly shows: the "power" to come to Christ, believe on His name, and receive Him, is the result of the sinner having been "born of God." In other words, God Almighty must first quicken dead sinners to life in order that they may believe on Christ. Modern evangelism denies this very truth of the gospel.
"Make your decision for Christ"
This is similar to the first statement, but goes even further to twist and pervert the true gospel. No preacher in the New Testament ever preached this to sinners! Search the Word for yourself to see! This giving mere "mental assent" to the facts of the gospel is not what the Bible calls "believing to the saving of the soul" (Heb. 10:39). The Christ of Scripture is LORD, and He must be received and bowed to as LORD: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus THE LORD, so walk ye in Him" (Col. 2:6). When Paul wrote to true believers in his day he knew nothing of those who had made "first-time decisions" for Christ, but still needed to make "second and third decisions" to follow Christ.
"Make Jesus the Lord of your life"
This saying is continually gaining in popularity, especially among those of "Charismatic" persuasion. But, is it true? Let the preaching of the apostles answer that question: "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses... Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:32,36). God the Father has already made Jesus "Lord," so no one was ever told in Scripture to do what the apostles said God the Father had already done! The name Jesus is already "highly exalted above every name" (Phil. 2:9), and is "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion" (Eph. 1:21). Here is the gospel: Christ is already Lord, and sinners must come to Him as such, bowing down before His sovereign majesty, as did Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:4-5).
"God has done all He can to save you, the rest is up to you"
What kind of "God" is this? Men are being told through every means of communication today that God is unable to do anything for man, that if men are to be saved, it is entirely their choice that makes it a reality. This is heresy of the deepest dye. That men must exercise their wills in coming to Christ is not denied, but the truth is that men, who are wedded to their idols, cannot of themselves "come to Christ" in saving faith. The salvation needed by sinners is impossible unless God puts forth His mighty power! Just as Lazarus could never come forth from the grave unless Christ gave His mighty call, "Lazarus, come forth' (John 11:43), so must dead sinners be given life through the Omnipotent Christ today. It is not that "God has done all He can to save you, now the entire matter lies in your hands, sinner." No! The truth is that no man would ever come to Christ if he were not drawn (John 6:44). And all those who are thus divinely drawn do come to Christ—"It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (John 6:45). In other words, all the elect of God shall be effectually called.
We will not here discuss other religious sayings so prevalent in our time, such as "Come to the altar," "Simply believe on Christ," "Smile, God loves you," or "Let the Lord save you." All these are nothing but religious jargon that easily fit into the four statements given above. It just proves how far the religious world is from believing the Bible and the one, true gospel.
It seems we are religiously drunk today on a man-centered, watered-down gospel. Few preachers really thunder forth the deep truths of God. Few churches really take an uncompromising stand for Christ and His gospel. Ours is a day when many of our big churches seem only concerned with "the numbers game," where the idea is "let's see who can grow biggest quickest." The glory of God seems to be a secondary thing. Popularity is all-important. Religious "show biz" has won the day. That men are soundly converted is looked on as old-fashioned. That the Lord Jesus Christ is truly honored is missing. We have sadly come to the time when men "will not endure sound doctrine' (2 Tim. 4:3)—the doctrine set forth here concerning modern evangelism! Where do you stand?