September 19, 2017

The Gospel Is What Really Matters

John C. Vaughn

God uses crises to redirect our lives. Bad news can open hearts to the Good News. The economy, the election, the erosion of the collective will of the West to face the threats to its future should wake us up to what we should have been doing all along and what we dare not ignore now. Crises remind us of what really matters: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Seeking hope in recent personal crises, I have been led to think much about the gospel. It is the answer to every human problem—the ultimate answer. There is something about being reminded of the hope that others found in their times of trial that gives us hope in our own. Ruth Tucker’s biographical history of Christian missions, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, has allowed me to spend some days of sorrow with servants of God whom we would do well to remember.

We know from Hebrew history that God uses crises to reform His people. Missionary stories from the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries read like a continuation of Hebrews 11. Although our conversations about many of these faithful people are often qualified by statements about where they were wrong on some point or another, many of them set a powerful example for us. They left for the field at the expense of family, often seeing spouse and children die from the rigors of the field. Their stories report honestly that some of them benefited from the imperialism of their home countries. They lived in a day when doctrinal distinctions among the denominations were set aside. The liberalism and compromise that took root at home hurt the mission fields as well.

But the heart of their story is that they heard the call, they went to the field, and they stayed. They lived and died for the gospel; it mattered enough to them to do something about it. They did not enlist in the Lord’s army merely to wear His uniform on parade; they went to the front lines and gave their lives to the cause of Christ. That’s the kind of “stickability” we need.

The world needs the message of those who read FrontLinemagazine. The crisis of the Great Depression may have helped to prepare the Greatest Generation to shed their blood for freedom. If another great depression comes, this time accompanied by sweeping efforts to redefine the moral foundation of freedom, could that crisis provide the classroom of a future generation who will live and die for something beyond their own comfort? If so, our message needs to be taught in that classroom.

Will postmodernism triumph over propositional truth? Will we surrender the gospel—the unchanging message of a Book—for flickering images and fluid philosophy? Like the incredibly dangerous ideology that underlies the war on its tactic (terror), the underlying lie goes unnoticed. Truth exposes the common denominator in the aggressive threats of Islam and the angry threats of the gay-rights movement. The one will not tolerate the other, but Satan is happy to use them both in a pincers attack on the gospel. There are well-funded outlets for the lie that men can and should have the right to live apart from Christ without consequences. God’s people need to stand behind the outlets of Truth.

Perhaps the Lord will use the current crisis to revive the preaching of the gospel. The missionaries who sacrificed their lives for Christ knew that obedience costs far less than disobedience. Tucker’s book gives far too much credit to New Evangelicalism, but she quotes Kenneth S. Latourette: “Protestant liberalism, deemphasizing and demythologizing miracles and biblical authority, introduced the powerful but crippling secularism into Chinese Christianity.” According to Tucker, he concluded that this “‘secularizing movement’ was the most important factor influencing Christianity’s losses in China in the face of communism.” We are facing no smaller threat today, and compromise with unbelief continues to blind us to it. Christianity is so preoccupied with not offending the Devil, it has nearly forgotten to preach the gospel.

The cause of Christ has always needed those who are willing to make far greater sacrifices than the current conversation involves. What is sorely needed is the willing heart, changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need preachers who will sacrifice selfish ambition to take the gospel to those who hate it with a vengeance that could cost our grandchildren their lives or their souls. He gave His life for us; will we give ours for Him? That is the question when it comes right down to it. The gospel is what really matters.


John Vaughn is the President of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January/February 2009 [following the 2008 presidential election]. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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