I was recently at a large church outreach event, where the music was wonderful, the testimonies were powerful, and the harvest for salvation was ripe. As I listened to the invitation to come to Jesus, something didn’t feel right. I had seen altar calls so many times, and heard the familiar words so frequently, a year ago I would have missed it. The call for the people to come to Jesus went something like this:
“Today is like no other. You are here tonight by a divine appointment. Some of you here tonight are looking for peace inside. Some of you are looking for a way out of your drug and alcohol addictions. Some of you are silently suffering in a failing marriage. And some of you feel an emptiness inside your soul, and just need to know for sure that you are loved. My friend … you are. I love you, and God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life. He didn’t create you to be in pain and suffering, but to know Him and be filled with peace, love, joy, happiness, and lasting fulfillment. He simply wants a personal relationship with you because He knows that what you need to be truly happy.
“But something keeps you from having this relationship with God, and it is called ‘sin.’ Let’s face it, we’ve all made honest mistakes. You’re not perfect, I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect. But God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, that’s why He sent His Perfect Son — so that you could have that relationship with Him again.
“If you will just admit your honest mistakes to God and say ‘yes’ to Jesus as your Savior, He will come into your heart and you will become a child of God. You will never be alone again, because you’ll have Jesus, the ultimate friend riding ‘shot-gun,’ guiding you through life. That is eternal life — the abundant life Jesus came to give you. Would you like to have that life, that peace, that joy, that friend?
“If you want to know Jesus and find what you’ve been looking for, then invite Jesus into your heart. He’s been waiting for you. He’s been waiting for this very moment. Come now and simply accept Him.”
Now you may be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?” What’s wrong is that it’s not the gospel; it’s a recipe for disaster. Sin is not an honest mistake and Jesus did not die to make you happy. Sins aren’t accidents and God is not a lovesick celestial being, hoping for some nice person to ask Him into their heart so He can make them happy — as though He has a man-shaped hole in His heart that only we can fill.
The first problem with the false modern gospel is a watered-down definition of “sin.” Sin is not an “honest mistake”; it is an honest choice from a sinful heart to do what you know is wrong. Would a good judge describe the crimes of a vicious murderer as “honest mistakes”? While it sounds ridiculous to call murder and rape “honest mistakes,” God sees hatred to be as wicked as murder (1 John 3:15), and lust as deceitful as adultery (Matt 5:28). In God’s world, those who lie are liars. If we have stolen, we are thieves. If we have broken God’s Law in any way (in word, thought, or deed) we are Lawbreakers.
God defines sin in His Word: “Sin is transgression of the Law” (1 John 3:4). We are on the hook for our sins, and God doesn’t view us as innocent misguided victims of our “honest mistakes.” In God’s holy eyes, our hearts are “desperately wicked and deceitful” (Jer. 17:9) and we are “by nature, children of wrath.”
Ignorance of God’s Law is no excuse, because He has written it upon our hearts (see Romans 2:15). We have a conscience. We know right from wrong. When we lie, it isn’t an honest mistake. Stealing and lusting, hating and blaspheming, idolizing, coveting, and dishonoring our parents are not honest mistakes either. Scripture says that we have actually angered God by violating His Law, and made ourselves “enemies of God,” and therefore, are “by nature, children of wrath,” “storing up wrath for ourselves that will be revealed on the Day of Wrath” (see Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:1-3 and Romans 2:4-5)
We are not doing sinners any favors when we minimize the seriousness of their sin. George Whitefield, a famous preacher once said, “First, then, before you can speak peace to your hearts, you must be made to see, made to feel, made to weep over, made to bewail, your actual transgressions against the Law of God.” It is only when a person sees his sin as wicked and understands the seriousness of offending his Creator, that he can find a place of true repentance and surrender to the Savior.
Within the last 100 years, a new gospel has crept into our churches. It has been designed to not offend you. It has been carefully crafted not to be too “in your face.” It gently suggests that you open your heart to Jesus if your current lifestyle isn’t working for you, and try God “when the time is right for you.”
This “seeker centered” and “no offense” approach is no gospel at all; it is “another gospel.” If we continue to define sin as “honest mistakes,” we will continue to fill our churches with “backsliders” and false converts who fail to repent because they don’t see the seriousness of their sin. We will give them a cruel false hope, and make them comfortable aboard the “Jesus loves you” pleasure cruiser, singing songs to the Captain, while they blindly speed toward the iceberg of Eternal Justice.
The Captain has already lowered the life boats of salvation, but they are mostly empty. God help us to stop the music, and sound the air-horns. We must tell the passengers about the iceberg and direct them to the emergency exits of repentance. Time is slipping away, and those who die in their sins will perish. If we are faithful servants to the Captain of our Salvation, we will obey his Commands and preach the pure gospel, the only gospel that can save souls.
Copyright 2011 Kirk Cameron. All rights reserved.