The New Gospel verses The True Gospel

Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be one of ease, comfort, security and being “the best you can be today?” I have heard preachers say, ‘God has a Lexus and a Business with your name on it, just claim it and believe it.’ Is this the true gospel? I think if we look in the Bible, we’ll see something completely different! Ask Paul and Peter about attending a church where the promises of pleasure and a life of comfort and ease are gregariously and generously offered and they will tell you that you are reading a different book from the one they lived and is recorded for us in the sacred text of Scripture.

In Acts chapter 14 Paul was dragged out of Lystra after preaching repentance in Acts 14:15, “We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.” Immediately after this Jews ganged up with the crowds of the city and stoned Paul, believing he was dead, they dragged him outside the city so that his dead carcass could rot there. Paul gets up and goes back into the city to bring words of comfort and to encourage the new disciples – who were no-doubt distraught by the treatment they too might encounter as new believers. After a small interlude of time, this is what Paul told them, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” Acts 14:22.
Wow! Really?
How are these words supposed to encourage those new Christians?

Let me break this down:
Paul, ‘Believe in Christ Jesus and your life will get really hard.’
‘You saw what happened to me – it might not get any better for you. Do you want to be part of my new club?’

‘This means you probably won’t have a Starbucks in the lobby of your church or necessarily guarantee that you’ll have comfortable chairs to sit in.’
‘This means you might not always get things the way you want them or get to have your worship music as a rock concert that can rival secular events.’
‘You might have to put up with bad coffee or be inconvenienced if a co-worker ever found out that you were a Christian, remember the words of Christ, “The world will hate you.”

‘But I do want to encourage you in your new faith; hang in there… “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

Replay by my imaginary listeners transported back in time from 20th and 21st century, “People will hate me! Bad coffee! A fog machine that doesn’t work! Inconvenience to my schedule… are you kidding me…that is too hard to hear… count me out… I don’t want anything to do with it!” (Essentially this is the same answer Jesus got from people who claimed to be “disciples” in John chapter 6.)

Here is Spurgeon’s reflection on this verse. Acts 14:22 “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God”
“God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when He chose His people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us.
It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.” Charles Spurgeon Daily Devotion

Mull it over. Think about it. Pray and ask God to reveal to you by His Spirit, if you would continue to follow if the Sunday morning coffee was weak and bad tasting. Seek the truth through God’s word about the true cost of follower-ship. Could we…would we still be “in” if we had no other choice, but to be fully dependent upon God when things weren’t given to us exactly the way we felt God should or when God doesn’t behave the way we want Him to, or if following meant that we might run into hardships, persecution (contrary to the popular message of post-modern gospel) and just might encounter some degree of suffering – Love Him, Trust Him and Obey!
Pastor Mark