Monday, August 5, 2013

Removing Barriers to The Gospel

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10

As disciples and those in Christ we are a chosen people that are to daily proclaim the excellencies of Christ Jesus to the world around us. This is not always an easy task and there are at times many barriers that get in the way of effectively doing this, but that does not get us off the hook.

Rather as the church, those in Christ, we should do our best to remove any barriers to proclaiming the gospel to the world around us. Yes, the gospel and the cross of Christ is offensive and will remain offensive, but other non-essentials that we put up should be removed if they act as a barrier.

In part this is what cross-cultural missionaries do when they practice good contextualization. For example, in the part of S. Asia where I live and serve if one eats beef it is considered offensive to most and would clearly be a barrier to the gospel. So, what do I do? I don't mention beef or eat beef in the context and setting unless appropriate. There is nothing wrong with eating beef and I believe that in Christ I have the freedom to do so, but if it is going to be a barrier to the gospel then I can do without.

This should cause us to examine how we conduct ourselves, our families, and even our churches. Take a look at the way we live, how we do life, and how our churches operate and see if there is anything that is unnecessarily being a barrier to the gospel. 

This is one reason that I am all in favor of churches removing the name "Baptist" from the name of the church. Why? For starters there are many more churches than Baptists ones out there and two, in many contexts it does cause a barrier to the gospel being proclaimed. As disciples of Christ we should be bridge builders, therefore removing any barriers to the proclamation of the gospel and seeing lives changed.

1 comment:

  1. Al Mohler's theological triage is helpful here.

    I don't mind if a Baptist church has "Baptist" in the name. That's a second-order doctrine and represents a commitment to ecclesiological consistency. It helps me know what to expect if I walk into the church. Without it, it's anyone's guess as to what their ecclesiological expectations are.

    It's also tangential to understanding 1 Peter 2:9-10. In other words, those who adhere to baptismal regeneration or covenant theology would have a slightly different understanding of this passage.

    But evangelism doesn't operate on a second-order level. That's why while a sending church is the foundation for evangelism, the second-order doctrinal commitments of the church shouldn't enter into the evangelistic discussion. That's the realm of first-order doctrines. Only after conversion, do second-order doctrines become necessary as a new believer is discipled by the church. As a believer progresses, spiritual maturity should allow one to meaningfully interact with various third-order doctrines while keeping first and second-order doctrines in their rightful place.