. . . And had a fresh start at being Christians in this sinful, sad world. Could we do better than those who went before us if we made a change?
It’s been more than a week since I read a post that concerns me, and at last I’ve decided to respond. Mel Wild, of In My Father’s House blog, posted about a hypothetical island where we could start again by preaching a minimal Gospel (four passages about God’s love) to the inhabitants and with it build a vibrant Christian community from the ground up.
“What if you only had ten minutes to show a group of people on a remote island everything they needed to know in order to grow into a vibrant Christian community, and you could only give them four Bible verses (they have no Bibles)? What would you share with them? To keep it simple, we’ll assume these islanders have heard about Jesus and a few popular Bible stories…
“Here’s what I would share. And I believe, if they followed it, I could reasonably expect to come back 2o years later and find a strong authentic Christian community, filled with believers living out a vibrant faith in Christ…”
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)
19 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15:9)
23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23)
Questions and thoughts.
Has the Church truly failed? Have God’s children down through the ages failed to win the world because we’ve preached that man is a sinner instead of chiefly stressing God’s love? Did William Carey, pioneer of modern missions, fail because he saw so few converts initially? Did the Apostle Paul fail when Agrippa wasn’t persuaded to be a Christian? And ultimately, knowing how many people rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, did He fail?
Will more people come to the Lord if we simply major on love? This passage from Romans is the testimony of Scripture about unregenerate human nature, and since it is true of all people, it will be true of the islanders – those Mel would be preaching to.
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
We were all blind to our sinfulness before the Lord drew us to Jesus. How can people be saved unless they learn of their guilt and need for the Saviour? The Cross is our message. It is the demonstration of God’s love to sinners.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Corinthians 15
15 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
To be loving is to preach both our need and God’s Good News, and we can’t do this with a few verses. We certainly can’t make disciples that way because this contradicts Jesus’ command: “19 ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
So preaching about sin is essential. The Lord commands all men everywhere to repent for He has fixed the day when He will judge us. We must warn others. This is love.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Again, if all that the people on the island have are a few verses instead of the whole counsel of God, they will not grow up into Christ. In the comments on the post, one reader stated, “Like you said they have no bible and neither did the early church,” and Mel agreed with this. But the early church did have Scripture, the God-breathed Old Testament, and the epistles and Revelation as they were written and disseminated.
Mel is optimistic about his Christian ‘experiment’ that “. . .I could reasonably expect to come back 2o years later and find a strong authentic Christian community, filled with believers living out a vibrant faith in Christ.” But because of human nature – as well as the reality that there will be tares among any wheat – we can be sure that the island community will have the same evils as we have.
Men will hate love itself when love must be on God’s holy terms, and we need to warn them of judgment and not give them a false sense of security in ‘God’s unconditional love.’
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.