From the book “This Little Church Went to Market”, an eye-opening excerpt of how the gospel today has been so abandoned and changed from the biblical perspective.
Counterfeit money is recognized by those who know how to identify the real thing. Before we examine the gospel message foudn in the new-paradigm churches, it would be best to examine the gospel message found in the Bible. The good news in a nutshell is this: Harry (to use Willow Creek’s name for the unsaved) is a sunner, in full-blown rebellion against God. While some Harrys are outwardly religious and some even desires the gifts and benefits that God can supply, no Harrys truly seek after God or desire him (Roma 3:10-18). As a result of Harry’s sinfulness he is under the wrath of God (Rom. 1:18), faces future judgment (Heb. 9:27), will die both physically and spiritually (Rom. 6:23) and will spend eternity in hell (Rev. 20:11-15).
It is because of Harry’s hopeless plight, and the fact that he can do nothing to redeem himself in God’s eyes (Titus 3:5), that Jesus Christ, through grace alone, not because of Harry’s value and worth (Eph. 2:8), became a man died on the cross (Romans 5:8) thus taking Harry’s sin upon himself and satisfying the wrath of God (Heb. 2:17), and resurrected from the dead, in order that Harry could be saved from his sin and be given the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4). While all of this is a gift from God, Harry obtains that gift through the exercise of faith (Eph. 2:8-9) – purely taking God at his Word, trusting that God will save him if only he truly believes. While many within the seeker-sensitive movement would ascribe to most of the above definition for the gospel, this is not how the gospel is being presented to harry. Rather Harry is being told that he is so valuable to God that he sent his Son to die for him. This is, in effect, a denial of grace, whereby God grants us undeserved favor. Harry is also being told that if he will come to Christ, Christ will meet all of his felt needs and that will lead to personal fulfillment. Harry is then being asked to trust in Christ, the great ‘Needs-Meeter’, who will end his search for a life of happiness and fulfillment.
This, I suggest, is not the gospel at all but the ‘Gospel of Me’, the ‘Gospel of Self-Fulfillment,’ the ‘New Gospel’. ‘We must never confuse our desire for people to accept the gospel,’ Oswald Chambers warned long ago, ‘with creating a gospel that is acceptable to people.’ ‘How we define the problem will define our gospel. If the “big problem” in the universe is my lack of self-esteem, the gospel will be “finding the neat person inside of your”. If the great question is “how can we fix society?” the gospel will be a set of moral agendas complete with a list of approved candidates. But how often do we discuss the “big problem” as defined by Scripture? That problem is the wrath of God.’