Those are the daunting questions posited by Trevin Wax near the beginning of his book, Counterfeit Gospels. They are the questions considered by every individual, every age, every race…every man at one time or another. Thankfully, Wax doesn’t propose to answer them himself. In fact, that’s where he starts, the fact that no person, promise, system or story can definitively, answer these questions, except for Jesus Christ. The church holds the the answers to these questions in the pages of the Bible. Now, her responsibility is to truthfully, faithfully, boldly declare the wonderful answers to these questions.
Here Wax introduces the dilemma, the crisis in his words.
“First, we have lost our faith in the power of the gospel to change a life…We are told we need a new gospel for a new day. Bigger. Better. Improved…our churches have begun to lose their distinctiveness.”
It’s the second problem that Wax address first. New gospel, bigger, better, improved. Wax calls it the Therapeutic Gospel. How many maladies are diagnosed as symptoms of low self-esteem? Modern Americans crowd the counselor’s office in hopes of leaving feeling better about themselves. Practically everything we do is designed to answer our question, “What am I here for?” The resounding answer, proclaimed by our behavior is, “To be happy, of course!”
Think of it…why do you do the job you do? Undoubtedly, it’s either because it makes you happy, or because you hope the income it provides will bring you happiness.
Why does the average family utilize family planning? To ensure they have the financial capacity to keep themselves and their children happy.
Why do even unbelievers fill the pews on Christmas and Easter? To feel better about themselves. In fact, I wager that many rears in the pews every Sunday are capped by minds quickly salved by their compulsory Sunday attendance. Is that the gospel: Jesus came so that I could live happily ever after?
The ultimate failure of the Therapeutic Gospel is that it makes the sin (we didn’t live up to our potential), Christ (who came to rescue us because of our inherent value) and eternity (I’ll believe or do the “right” things so that I can live happily ever after) all about us. And the church kneels to accommodate the self-centered mindset, “promising to help us along in our quest for personal happiness and vocational fulfillment.” pg. 52
How do you know if you’ve fallen for the Therapeutic Gospel? Wax says to examine your prayer life. Do you come to the Father at customary times with a list of needs and desires? Even needs presented as, “make me a better person,” fail to recognize that we will never be good enough apart from Christ’s righteousness. Or do you come in humble, Christ-centered adoration, accepting His pardon, His completion, His sufficiency, exchanging all your desires for His glory?
Ironically, I read in a separate devotional this morning…
Christians who believe what Jesus said about being the sole Mediator of redemption are often seen as narrow-minded, bigoted, and mean-spririted. Even professing evangelicals are increasingly apt to deny this foundational Christian claim: “There is salvation in no one else [besides Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts. 4:11-12)
NEVER dilute the raw truth of: JESUS ONLY FOR SALVATION, FOR HIS GLORY ONLY, for the sake of anyone’s fuzzy feelings.