What Matters Most

What Matters Most
By: J.B. Hixson, Ph.D.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

Allow me to paint a picture in your mind.  It is a bright, sunny day.  A gentle breeze is blowing.  It's not too hot or cold-just an overall pleasant day.  So you decide to embark on a joy ride through the countryside and take in the scenery.  As you are driving down a country road you come upon a roadside sign that reads, "Caution! This sign has sharp edges on it.  Do not touch the edges of this sign." Speeding past the sign, you think to yourself, "How odd!  Why would someone put a sign like that up on the road?  That is really weird.  It must be some kind of joke."

Moments later, still querying in your mind about the odd sign, you find the front end of your car barreling over a bridge that has been washed out by a recent rain storm.  Your car begins to sink in a muddy creek and you barely escape with your life.  Walking back down the road to seek help, you once again come upon that strange sign.  But this time you notice some small print at the very bottom of the sign that you had not noticed as you drove past at 35 MPH.  You walk up to the sign and discover that the fine print reads: By the way, the bridge is out up ahead!

Can you imagine the indignation you would feel?!  Someone took the time to manufacture a wonderful, smooth, shiny, reflective sign with good and accurate information about the sign's sharp edges, but they failed to emphasize what mattered most.  Talk about burying the lede!
And so it is with Christianity these days.  We have forgotten what matters most: The Gospel! Or at least we seem to have forgotten.  Just take a quick look at the best-selling Christian books.  Or listen to the radio programs of leading evangelical personalities.  Or visit a few popular churches.  You will notice plenty of wonderful, smooth, shiny, reflective information that is in many cases good and accurate, but often what matters most is missing or dead wrong.

The Gospel is foundational to Christianity.  There is no more important subject in all of Scripture.  Yet in this postmodern age where we are inclined to draw circles of inclusion rather than lines of distinction, many Christians seem unwilling or unable to critically evaluate the accuracy of the gospel being preached.  It is easy to become enamored with evangelical leaders whose teaching on certain subjects is deemed encouraging and beneficial, while winking and nodding at the same teacher's erroneous view of the Gospel.

"He is such a passionate speaker!"  But is he correct when it comes to what matters most?  "He is an expert on financial issues." But is he correct when it comes to what matters most?  "She is a gifted communicator on family matters."  But is she correct when it comes to what matters most?  "This book on marriage is the best I've ever read!"  But is the author correct when it comes to what matters most?

What matters most is the Gospel. It does not matter how committed someone may be to other good issues, if he is wrong on the Gospel his wisdom and insight are built on a faulty foundation.

The Bible says that those who are preaching a false gospel are anathema (Gal. 1:8-9).  Literally, that word means "worthy of severe judgment."  The word does not necessarily imply that the one preaching a false gospel is hell-bound himself, though he could be if he has never believed the pure Gospel.  The fact is even believers can come under strict judgment (i.e. be anathematized; see 1 Cor. 16:22).  But the Bible makes it clear that God is severely displeased by those who propagate a false Gospel.

Why, then, would we ever want to promote or follow those whom God describes as being anathematized?  It is really bizarre when you stop and think about it.  "Can you recommend a good book on finances?"  "Sure!  Try this book by so-and-so.  God says the author is worthy of severe judgment, but hey, he has a lot of great insight on how to manage your money!"

What matters most is the Gospel.  If we forget that simple fact, we are in danger of leading others right off the bridge into muddy creek waters.  But not to worry...as they are drowning in sin, at least they will have a great marriage, or their finances will be in order, or they will be living their best life now.

What is the clear Gospel?  Click here for a presentation of God's Good News.

No Comments