Once again chookwatcher shows himself to have a poor grasp of the purpose of the gospel.
It’s not the first time, but you would think that a critic who repeatedly asks commenters, “What is the gospel?’, would have some kind of understanding of what the reason for and result of the gospel is for those who believe and receive the good news of Jesus Christ.
In an exchange where commenter Arline gives a good report about Pastor Andy Stanley and his emphasis on ministering the gospel and preaching for change, chookwatcher comes back with an extraordinary response.
Arline: “Now we are at one of Andy’s churches bc we know we will be a part of something that isn’t church for church’s sake but for God changing lives’ sake.”
*Chookwatcher: “And that’s why you need to leave. Church is not about changing lives. It’s about preaching the gospel to see people saved.”
Excuse me? Church, says chookwatcher, is not about changing lives. What kind of gospel are the chookwatcher clan preaching?
And telling Arline she should leave a church that preaches the gospel and does it so that God can change lives is surely working against Christ. Chookwatcher wants Christians to leave churches that preach for change. Astonishing!
What does Jesus say about change?
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repent! Jesus preaches for repentance. So what does ‘repent’ mean?
metanoeō; to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction):— repent; to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.
So to repent is to change one’s mind with a view to a change of lifestyle and heart. Jesus is preaching for change, and He is sending His disciples to preach the same message. Change is very much the desired effect of the gospel on the hearer.
Further to this, Arline talks about ‘God changing lives’. The emphasis isn’t on the Church changing lives as much as God changing lives through the obedience of the Church to preach the gospel.
Two or three witnesses
All things should be confirmed by two or three witnesses, so let’s look at a second witness to this.
Mark 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.
Emphatic. ‘Repent and believe the gospel.’ In other words, have a change of heart and believe the gospel. The gospel is absolutely about change.
If Jesus, our example, is preaching for change, then certainly His Church should be preaching for change.
As an example, Peter, at the start of the early Church, definitely continued preaching for change.
Acts 2:37 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
That’s three witnesses, two from Christ Himself and one from the Apostle Peter. They preached for change, which is the essence of repentance.
Peter stood up in those days as one of the leaders of the Church. If, as chookwatcher claims, the Church should not preach for change, then they are denying Christ and denying the Apostles. The chookwatchers are speaking against the Apostles’ doctrine.
Conviction for change
It is clearly the Holy Spirit who brings about change as the gospel is preached.
John 16:7-11 “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
The Holy Spirit convinces people who hear the gospel of sin, righteousness and judgment.
Why is this? So that they have the opportunity to receive Christ through faith, but it is the conviction in their hearts of their need of a Saviour that leads them to repentance. The power of the gospel is in bringing a change of heart to those who hear and believe.
What happens to a person when they repent?
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
This is a description of the level of change that takes place in a person when they genuinely repent. It brings about change. It turns them from the wrong direction to the right. It changes them from being a sinner to a saint. It relieves them of being unrighteous to righteous in Christ. That is change.
Ephesians 2:1-7 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Changed from death to life. The gospel brings about profound change, and the Church is charged to minister for this change.
Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Delivered from darkness into light, forgiven, redeemed. That is change.
Chookwatcher doctrine is highly questionable when they claim that the Church is not sent to minister change to a fallen world. The gospel is absolutely about change. “Repent and believe the gospel,” says Jesus.
Maybe the chookwatcher clan need to change their own understanding of what the gospel actually means.