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The Gospel Ain't For Sale

Two salesmen rang my doorbell the other night posing as water testers. They simply asked permission to enter the house and subsequently test my tap-water for minerals. Being in a newer constructed home, I assumed that this interruption was just a routine maintenance sort of thing. But you know what they say about assuming.

The men unpacked a huge suitcase full of fancy gadgets and hooked them up to the kitchen sink. They told me, “This will only take a few minutes,” but my eyes were opened to their deception around forty-five minutes into their test, forty of which were spent in awkward small talk. The results that popped out of their gadgets “definitively” revealed that I needed a water softener as well as a special doo-hickey (I have no idea what the gadget was called) that their company “exclusively” manufactured. Of course, the monthly fee for these resources was going to be exorbitant.

It’s tough to act like Jesus when you realize that someone has used half-truths to try and sell you something you don’t need. If I wanted to split hairs, then I could say that these men basically lied to me about their intent. Shannon and I politely let them know of our disinterest and that we would not be utilizing their services neither presently nor in the future because of their intrusiveness.

What’s the moral of this story? Believers ought never to peddle the gospel like pushy water softener salesmen. Our good news is not something requiring a sales pitch, nor is it a product for people to consume. In fact, there is a type of half-truth gospel about which we must guard ourselves. A strong pastor and theologian named Bill Hull called it the “forgiveness-only” gospel. The forgiveness-only gospel is a way for some religious salesmen to get their foot in someone’s door, but it rarely produces positive results. It is a gospel that promises forgiveness, but it doesn’t give us the rest of the story.

Jesus’ death on the cross is indeed for the forgiveness and remission of our sin…but that’s not all! The full, true gospel is concerned not only with our forgiveness but also with our complete turning from the self in order to follow Jesus for the rest of our days. When following Christ becomes optional, we’ve reduced the gospel to a product, a cheap religious good. Forgiveness is great, but faith without action is dead. The biblical gospel is one of something called metanoia, the Greek word for “repentance.” Repentance is turning around on life’s highway to follow Jesus daily. Let’s never forget the importance of repentance as we proclaim the gospel. Preach it and live it. Don't sell it cheap.

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