"This continued for two years (preaching of the Gospel), so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." -Acts 19:10 ESV
A couple of thousand years ago the Christian message smashed through much of what we now consider the ‘middle east’ (which was then considered Asia). Yet, today it is all but eradicated from that region.
A tourism website for the region traced the fall of Christianity in the area by saying ‘Many found the road to piety confusing and assorted schisms discouraging’. As I read this I believe that this non-christian accurately portrayed the death of Christianity.
Who would join a sport that seemed to have different rules depending on who your coach was?
Who would take a class in which the teacher and content could change multiple times over the course of a semester?
Why would anyone want a job where the requirements for employment changed on a weekly basis.
To the outside world the messages coming from christian churches are so conflicting it makes the Christian God unknowable. If you, like me, agree that this is a problem I believe there is one major method God created to keep his Church from dying.
Preach the Word
"preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." -2 Timothy 4:2-4 ESV
Preaching the word not only means preaching to content of the Bible (words) but the overarching message of the Bible (Jesus the divine Word (John 1:1). If a church begins to fail in it’s calling to accurately portray the gospel message in their teachings their death is imminent.
C.H. Spurgeon said
"The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching." [7/9/1876; sermon #2899]
This message of the Gospel is what makes Christianity offensive and scandalous. It is offensive because it tells every human that they are going to Hell, and there is nothing that they can do about it. It is scandalous because God does what we cannot do by paying the penalty for our fathomless debt of sin in Jesus Christ.
Every other religion shows you how to please and appease God through your actions or inactions… Yet, Christianity is supposed to teach the truth that God is only pleased with those who believe in His son Jesus for their salvation.
This is why Christianity dies without the gospel. It was never meant to live as just another religion. Like a plant without water is the christian church without the gospel.
Partial life is still death
Many Christians would give a nod to the above. Yet, past this initial nod we can make a mess of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do this through inconsistent teachings of ‘piety’ as the Muslim above pointed out. Here is a chart to illustrate.
As long as the Church and the Gospel are saying two different things, the church is not communicating God’s heart and power. Where is the church without the message of the Gospel? It is completely lost and without hope… it is dying.
Even if a church is full of people, without the gospel they are functional corpses. Yet, with the gospel flowing from our churches their is life, hope, and peace for the nations.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." -Romans 1:16 ESV
"but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." -John 20:31 ESV