I read a recent article in a church newsletter that mentioned how a missions conference motivated the church to "reach out to a hurting world that really need Jesus." This newsletter also claimed that having a "relationship with Jesus" is "not a life style that no person who is happy in the world or his religion would not like to embrace." This approach to the world without Christ has become quite systemic to the modern church. What would have been a definite no-no just fifty years ago has become the norm in the modern church. This "modern church" has taken what the Bible says about this world and started rewriting it in order to soften the blow on unbelievers to make the gospel message a bit more acceptable and non-confrontational. There has been this attempt to make the gospel less offensive to the world.
What does the Bible say about those who need Christ? What is the basis of their need? Do they need Jesus because they are hurting? It is at this point that we need to look at what theologians call original sin. The phrase original sin does not refer to Adam's first sin. Traditionally it has meant the sin that is ours as a result of Adam's fall. This doctrine would be better understood as inherited sin. The reason why inherited sin may be misunderstood is that we do not inherit our sin from our parents. Our sin is inherited or imputed to us from the original sin of Adam's fall. The guilt belongs to us because it belonged to our first father, Adam. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Rom 5:12 NASB)
The effects of Adam's sin are of such a nature that God thought of all of us as having sinned when Adam sinned (Rom 5:12-21). It is futile for us to claim that it is unfair, when we deal with an omniscient and all-powerful God. We cannot even begin to claim to know better than God does. "18So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will? 20On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, Why did you make me like this, will it? 21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?" (Rom 9:18-21 NASB)
If it were unfair for God to count Adam's sin to our account, then it was also unfair of God to count the righteousness of Jesus to our account. Yet, this is exactly how God gets it right in His almighty justice to get us away from having to keep the law down to the final iota for our salvation. If it were not for this system of God of one for all, we would have had to keep the whole of the law for our salvation. The result would have been that no one would ever be saved. Therefore, if we are so happy to accept the work of one man on the cross to pay the ransom for our salvation, then we should not be hesitant to accept the sin of one man to our account! Apart from the fact that Adam's guilt was imputed to us, it also remains a fact that each one of us has committed many actual sins, and we will be judged for those (Rom 2:6; Col 3:25), because we are guilty. Adam is our representative in our sin, in the same way that Christ is our representative in salvation.
We have not just inherited the guilt of Adams's sin, but we have also inherited the corruption of that sin. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me." (Ps 51:5 NASB) In this passage, especially verse one to four, David shows how our nature has a disposition to sin. This disposition can also clearly seen in Eph 2:3, "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." (NASB)
Naturally, the tendency of humans to sin does not mean that human beings are all as bad as they could be. God has put many constraints in this world to prevent us from being as bad as we could be: civil law, family and societal expectations, and human conscience (Rom 2:14-15)
We totally lack any spiritual good before God. It is not just some parts that are sinful; rather sin affected every part of our beings: intellect, emotions, desires, etc. "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." (Rom 7:18 NASB) "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Tit 1:15 NASB) "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jer 17:9 NASB)
Due to the effects of sin on our lives we are totally unable in our actions to please God and neither do we have the ability to come to God in our own strength. "5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:5-8 NASB) "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (Is 64:6 NASB; cf Rom 3:9-20) "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1 Cor 2:14 NASB) Man, in and of himself "would not like to embrace," to use the phrase from the newsletter I read, "a relationship with Jesus" nor can he understand the need for it.
Apart from having the guilt and sinful corruption imputed to us, we are also sinful before God in practice. There is a universal sinfulness in mankind. "They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one." (Ps 14:3 NASB) The fact is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23; cf Rom 1:18-3:20).
So, what is the result of sin on man? The final result of sin is God's wrath against the sinner. "30Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Ac 17:30-31 NASB) The day will come when judgement will come upon sinners, those who have not believed in Jesus (Mt 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36; 25:31-46; 1 Cor 4:5; Heb 6:2; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6) "5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation." (Rom 2:5-8 NASB)
Man was created in God's image, but because of the sinful fall of man, he has become unable to please God or to come to God in his own strength. Man has become totally unable to approach God, and is therefore doomed to endure God's wrath unless.... unless he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Since the natural man cannot understand nor accept "the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him," he takes offence at the gospel. The natural man does not run to find Christ, nor does he go looking for the gospel, since Jesus is "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED" (1 Pet 2:7 NASB) and "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed." (1 Pet 2:8 NASB) By taking the natural offence out of the gospel in our preaching when we try to soften the blow of the gospel to the world, we in effect have stopped to preach the gospel! By removing an element from the gospel, in this case its offensiveness, we have made the gospel less than it really is; therefore, we have made it no gospel at all! As a result, our gospel may not be offensive to the world any longer, but it definitely is offensive to God! "8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." (Gal 1:8-10 NASB) Any gospel, but the gospel of Christ, is an accursed gospel and those who preach such a gospel "is to be accursed!" Paul is clear in this passage, that if we preach a gospel that we have made pleasing to men rather than God, we can no longer call ourselves "bond-servant[s] of Christ." This is a huge indictment against the modern church of Jesus Christ!
It is absolutely imperative that we preach the gospel of the Bible, not some pseudo-Freudian, psycho-babble designed to make a sinful, evil, rotten world think that it is in fact okay! The fact is that the world is not okay and if we preach a softened, false gospel to them we are indeed doing them a disservice. By preaching such a tempered down gospel, we in fact make the world think that it is acceptable, and suddenly we have a world of victims-since nothing is their fault anymore-instead of a world of sinners in need of salvation!
My plea to every Christian is to preach the gospel-the whole counsel of God-to a world stewing in a cauldron of ever deepening sin and gross evil. Honour God by preaching only the gospel that He gave us to preach!