Peter BeckPeter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
- 2009 May 27
Karl Marx once said, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; the point is, however, to change it.” The same should be true of Christians. We have and should proclaim a world-changing faith.
Unfortunately, according to pollster George Barna, less than half of the so-called “born again” share their faith in any given year. There are many reasons that could be proffered for such a dismal level of obedience to the clear commands of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). One such reason revealed in surveys is that many Christians simply do not understand the nature and content of the Gospel message itself.
For the benefit of our church, our children, and our future, we would do well to consider once again the nature of the Gospel. In Romans 1:16-17 we see three crucial elements of this Gospel that we must proclaim: it is the work of God; it leads to salvation; and, it requires faith.
First, the Gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” That is, it is the work of God. All humanity desperately needs spiritual help (Romans 3:23). Yet, Paul writes that no one seeks it (Romans 3:10-18). Many texts could be cited to document God’s mighty role in salvation but two familiar verses go a long way toward explaining it. John 3:16 speaks of God’s loving motivation while Ephesians 2:8 tells of His gracious work in our lives.
Second, the presentation of the Gospel leads to “salvation [for] everyone who believes.” Salvation, like so many other subjects in theology, can be spoken of in an already-not yet fashion. Those who believe are saved from the sins of their past (Romans 6:23). They are saved from the power of sin in the present (Romans 7:17-18). And they are saved for the future (1 John 3:2).
Third, salvation is for everyone “who believes.” The kind of faith that Paul speaks of is more than mere head knowledge or mental assent to the facts of Christ’s life. The demons possess such knowledge yet they will not be spared God’s wrath (James 2:19; 1 Peter 2:4). Paul calls for the kind of belief that results in trusting God to do what man cannot. One must “confess … Jesus as Lord” and “believe that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9-10). That kind of faith only comes from the Lord (Ephesians 2:8). And it is that kind of faith that is absolutely necessary, for “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
There is no doubt that our world needs changing. The answer cannot be found in deprivation or legislation but in evangelization. Evangelist D. L. Moody said, “The Gospel is like a lion - just open the door and get out of the way.”
Are you standing in the way of the Gospel or do you have a world changing faith?