Truth On Fire

Site Search:

P.O. Box 432    |    Spring Hill, TN  37174    l    (904) 200-1671

Home  |  Gospel  |  Pastor's Pen  |  Doctrinal  |  Calvinism  |  About

A Clear and Present Danger

In a recent Proclaimer publication entitled “Do We Need Another Battle?”, Evangelist Bill Chapman, a dear friend of mine, suggested that the next great battle within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) might be for the Church. In observing that the last great battle was over Biblical inerrancy—a battle ultimately won by conservatives, he opined that affixing descriptive adjectives like “traditional” and “contemporary” to local churches was indicative of confusion caused by the “mixing of truth with error.” He said the unwillingness of SBC leadership to deal with this conflict was “alarming to say the least.”

I agree with his view that these tags of distinction are in fact accommodations to the flesh that tend to distort the biblical concept of worship. But I am inclined to differ with my comrade over the next great battle. In my view, there is another clear and present danger on the horizon that may require a battle for the Gospel itself. If it infiltrates enough pulpits, it will do more harm than any contemporary placard. After all, even a traditional church, if its Gospel is compromised, is little more than a paper tiger!

Just what is the Gospel? It is the good news that God in Christ has provided a remedy for our sins. John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin [collective singular] of the world” (Jn.1:29). The crux of the Gospel is the cross upon which Jesus died. Paul affirmed that Christ "sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect (1 Cor. 1:17). This affirmation settles two issues. First, it precludes water baptism as an essential element of the Gospel. Secondly, it establishes the cross as its central theme. If we fail to confront lost sinners with the cross, and with Christ as the One who suffered and died for their sins, then we have not preached the Gospel, which means we have not evangelized them!

Paul left an inspired record of exactly what the content of his Gospel was—a Gospel he preached to lost sinners across Asia Minor. It was this: “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures…he was buried…he rose again the third according to the scriptures…he was seen" (1 Cor. 15:1-5). Paul preached it, sinners heard it, and all who believed were saved by it! It is the same Gospel that Jesus commanded to be preached to every creature. Whether he was preaching to hundreds or a handful, Paul could look sinners in the eye and declare unequivocally that Christ had died for their sins!

The aforementioned clear and present danger is the supplanting of the true Gospel with one that does not include every man. In theological circles, it is referred to as Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption. It teaches that Christ died for some, but not all. It holds that none for whom Christ died could ever be lost, since God would be a monster of sorts to extract the same penalty from both his Son and the sinner. That is, God would never demand that sin be paid for twice. But what its advocates fail to acknowledge is that God in his word makes a clear distinction between the provision for sin in the cross of Christ, and the appropriation of its benefits by the sinner through faith. The fact is many have perished for whom Christ died!

The theory of Limited Atonement has been around a long time. Godly men have embraced it as well as disavowed it. There is a movement within the SBC to infiltrate as many pulpits as possible with this doctrine. In fact, it has taken over the SBC seminary in Louisville. Its proponents argue that Limited Atonement does not negatively affect evangelism. Perhaps that’s true if you consider the message-spreading activity without regard for the message. After all, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that only 144,000 will be saved; yet they continue to spread their Gospel-free doctrine around the world.

Bottom line: No evangelism takes place if lost sinners fail to hear the good news that Christ died for their sins. Moreover, if Jesus died for some, but not all, there is no Gospel for the others. Since Jesus commanded that the Gospel be preached to every creature, then it follows that every sinner was included in the cross of Christ, the crux of that Gospel.

What is the Gospel being preached at your church? Does the pastor declare with certitude that the death of Christ for our sins was inclusive of every man? Is there an unambiguous offer of grace and forgiveness for all through the cross of Christ? If not, the Gospel is not being preached, nor is true evangelism taking place. Pulpits tainted with limited-atonement doctrine are a clear and present danger, and may constitute the next great battleground for the Gospel itself!


Copyright and Contact Statement