“Follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (NIV)
Evangelicals have for centuries had a clear understanding of the message and mission of the gospel.
The message is the incarnation and the atonement. God became man in Jesus Christ. Christ died on the cross for our sins and broke the power of death by His resurrection. This Christ offers forgiveness of sins and peace with God, new life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and entrance, not into the hell that we deserve, but into everlasting joy in the presence of God.
That’s the message. The mission is to proclaim this gospel to people in every culture, inviting them to receive what Christ offers by coming to Him in faith and repentance, trusting Him as Savior, and following Him as Lord. There is an offence in this gospel—the uniqueness of Jesus, the guilt of our sin, and hell—nobody likes that.
Liberalism did not accept the inspiration and authority of the Bible, so it selected certain truths and discarded others. The message of liberalism was not the incarnation and the atonement. It was the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men. God loves you and we need to love each other. That’s true, but you don’t need an incarnation or an atonement for that. You don’t need repentance and faith in Christ for that. There’s no hell to be saved from in that.
A new message led to a new mission. Liberalism changed the church’s mission from individual salvation to cultural transformation. Instead of saying, “Our ministry is to lead people to repentance and faith in Christ through the gospel,” they said, “Our mission is to change society.”
Jesus says, “I will make you fishers of men.” God’s method of changing society is to change the individuals who compose it.
What is your response to the message and mission of liberalism?