The Futility of Contextualizing the Gospel
There is only one way in which the Church of Jesus Christ expands.
It is not by contextualizing the Gospel, or trying to make the Gospel relevant to modern culture. Such silliness is futile according to Scripture.
There are a plethora of marketing plans, business models and other man-made innovations, many of which are promoted and huge amounts of money spent on, all of which will amount to less than a hill of beans and for one simple reason: they will never work, that is, grow the Church, and we know why – because such foolish planning is man-made and not based on the Word of God – and because the Word of God is seen as insufficient.
Acts 9:31 tells us precisely God’s way of Church expansion. Would it not be wonderful if we would only listen and put it to work?
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
Did you get that? They enjoyed peace, were being built up in doctrine, that is, spiritual maturity (i.e. not new Calvinists contemplating only the Gospel) and they were doing two things that resulted in the growth of the Church.
- Walking in the fear of the Lord and
- Walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit
In other words, they did not concern themselves with accommodating the unsaved world in any way. Appealing to the world, regardless if by music, clothing, tattoos, practices, etc, do not factor in whatsoever.
My goodness, how far off course has the Church strayed?
The Church grew, it multiplied by walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Walking in the fear of the Lord is like the fear of a child towards his or her parent. There is deep respect, a reverence that is real and penetrating to the soul. Walking, living in the fear of the Lord knows nothing about casual worship or careless prayer. The mindset of a true believer takes time to make preparations of the heart for both beforehand.
Was the veil not rent? Are we not in the Holy of holies when we pray and worship? Can you imagine the priests of the Old Testament deciding to wear casual clothing and crank the volume of the music, casually entering in where death awaits without due reverence and heart preparation?
Those who walk in the fear of the Lord are humble and see their own wisdom as vain, yet while thankful for God’s direction of his life, is congnizant of his own inadequacy. There is a watchfulness over ourselves, motivated by love, not selfishness leading to self-righteousness. There is fellowship with God and nothing, absolutely nothing is worth disrespecting this.
The second thing we note is that these Christians were living and walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, there is no life. He is essential to the life of faith. To be led by the Spirit is to be motivated to live to the glory of God. When living with this motivation, it doesn’t get more comfortable.
As you look back over your life, you can see progress as the Holy Spirit has lead and guided you, has transformed you from what you were before, closer, ever closer to the image of Christ Jesus.
When churches conduct themselves in this way, they proclaim the truth of the Gospel by actions. It is real. And the world sees it.
But when men, driven by self-lusts, popularity and celebrity, attempt to accommodate the world by their innovations and marketing, with all of the nonsense of contemporary this and that then, my friends, they have lost sight of how the church grows and expands.
It is not by contextualization, oh no. Such methods are for fools who care only about their career.
True church growth begins with these two things, fear of the Lord and walking, or living, in the comfort of the Spirit of God. It ends with the regenerating work of the Spirit in the souls of those who hear the Gospel from the same.
The starting point is to ask ourselves, “Am I walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?” Consider church growth and look to the lives of these believers in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts. For them, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the most relevant thing. Contextualizing the Gospel simply didn’t exist.
It should not exist now, either.