Losing the Gospel

Recently I spoke to a man from the depressed neighborhoods surrounding my church, a man who, sadly, had utterly no understanding of the gospel—and a man who recently became a baptized member at the nearest Southern Baptist Church.

Many leaders of the SBC have been troubled by this widespread problem, too, and the recent “Great Commision Resurgence” document is part of their response. The document recognizes that parts of the SBC are in danger of losing the gospel. I pray that the GCR call to Bible and gospel fidelity will be heeded.

Of course we Independent Fundamental Baptists must be just as mindful, lest we lose the gospel ourselves. Here’s a Twitter tweet I recently read from the feed of an IFB college president, an elder brother who stands significantly to my right:

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He was relating the testimony of someone who was on a mission trip to the southeast Asia. But does that make it more or less likely that 200 public school children were truly and miraculously regenerated?

Jesus let the rich young ruler go. And He said the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure for which you are eager to give up everything. But the gospel this man preaches has been co-opted by or mingled with an easy-believism which refuses to let go of those who won’t heed Jesus’ all-encompassing call of discipleship.

Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit in regeneration is like a wind blowing where it wills (Jn 3:7-8). God’s Spirit can blow life into the hearts of 200 public school kids through one translated sermon. I pray that He has. But I cannot in good conscience claim that “there was over 200 saved” until it’s clear that those 200 aren’t merely those who “anon with joy” received the word but those who “bear fruit” (Mt 13:18-23).

And what is fruit? It’s the evidence in progressive sanctification of the regeneration which God’s Spirit has brought about. It’s the thoughts, affections, and actions which God promised would spring from the heart of every member of the New Covenant. It’s obedience to the one who said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

I’ll be preaching to about 20 public school kids tonight. I pray that God would bring fruit for His glory from those hearts, fruit that remains.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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