Preaching the Gospel vs being Missional

by Mike Ratliff

2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:2-7 (NKJV) 

When we study and teach on Justification by God of His people, shouldn’t the clutter be removed and the rubbish swept away? All aspects of our salvation should be clarified and those things that are only meant to cause confusion or misdirection (showing those with discernment their true source) should be shown for what they really are and cast aside. Then, with a sharp focus, we must look at the truth, which means we go to the source; i.e. The Word of God not some emergent or missional guru. Therefore, in this post we will look at part of Romans 10, in which the Apostle Paul, showing that God has provided a way to justification in His eyes to both Jews and Gentiles, further nails down from where salvation comes, who possesses it, and how they got it. What could be more important than that?

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:5-13 (NKJV) 

5 Μωϋσῆς γὰρ γράφει τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ [τοῦ] νόμου ὅτι ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς. 6 ἡ δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη οὕτως λέγει· μὴ εἴπῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου· τίς ἀναβήσεται εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; τοῦτʼ ἔστιν Χριστὸν καταγαγεῖν· 7 ἤ· τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον; τοῦτʼ ἔστιν Χριστὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναγαγεῖν. 8 ἀλλὰ τί λέγει; ἐγγύς σου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστιν ἐν τῷ στόματί σου καὶ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως ὃ κηρύσσομεν. 9 ὅτι ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ἐν τῷ στόματί σου κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ· 10 καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν. 11 λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή· πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται. 12 οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολὴ Ἰουδαίου τε καὶ Ἕλληνος, ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς κύριος πάντων, πλουτῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν· 13 πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται. Romans 10:5-13 (NA28)

The word in v6 translated above as “righteousness,” δικαιοσύνη, pronounced dikaiosunē, speaks of a righteousness that is a fulfillment of God’s claims. Those who possess δικαιοσύνη according to God are so in conformity with His own claims. This is a declaration by Him that one is righteous in His eyes, that is, he justifies them. Paul says that this δικαιοσύνη is of faith, ἐκ πίστεως. This speaks of the source. For someone to be declared righteous by God, which is their justification, they must possess this πίστεως. Πίστεως is a state of faith or belief, which assents to and has confidence in the Gospel. To say that someone can be saved or be declared a Christian without being persuaded by the Gospel is not biblical, therefore, not Christian. Paul gives us a very good summary of this in Ephesians 2:1-10, below. Pay close attention to vv8-9, which is in bold.

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NKJV) 

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 10:8-10, “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The word translated here as “preach,” κηρύσσομεν, speaks of making an announcement as a herald. To preach the message of the Gospel is to announce a message of vital importance. That message is conditional. For if you hear it then should confess, ὁμολογήσῃς with your mouth, ἐν τῷ στόματί, the Lord Jesus, σου κύριον Ἰησοῦν and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, you will be saved, σωθήσῃ.

There it is. This is how a person demonstrates what God has done within them by the gift of faith. Those with this faith believe a message from God about Jesus Christ and what He has done and that this cost Him His life, but God raised Him from the dead. Those who believe that this propititiation on their behalf is true, surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, and confess it with their mouths, are saved. The word used here that is translated as “you will be saved” is in the grammatical form that literally states, “you shall be delivered.” This is a statement by Paul to us that if we will believe the Gospel then we shall be delivered, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” and in Romans 10:13, ‘For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”’ Yes, the Gospel message is for everyone to hear, but those who are saved are those who hear it and respond to it by calling upon the name of the Lord as Paul shared in vv8-10.

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:14-17 (NKJV) 

It is a false claim to be “missional,” but then not verbally preach the Gospel to the lost. The Gospel is the good news that the evangelist heralds. It is a declaration of victory won at the Cross that there is victory over eternal judgment, death, and separation from God because of sin. That victory is for those who hear the Gospel, believe the Gospel, and profess it to all who will hear. The following note is from the 1560 Geneva Bible referring to v17, which is bold above. It says, “That is, by Gods commandment, of whome they are sent that preache the Gospel. It may be also taken for the very preaching it self.” I updated “some” of the spelling. In any case, do you see that the preaching of the Gospel is commanded by God to the Church and that to mute the message or deemphasize it by attempting to simply get people to join a church by ministering to them via good works is NOT the same thing?

The emphasis on being “missional” is often made in such a way so as to insinuate that all they are really doing is removing the Gospel message from cultural constraints. Okay, I can see that, if that is the case, but I have not been part of a church in a long time that operated the way they insinuate is the problem. I have had a lot more experience with fellow church members who were not evangelical in any of their relationships nor do they ever share their faith with anyone. Also, I could give here many examples of being approached by a coworker or friend about a lost friend or relative, but then panic and not allow me to share the Gospel with them when I had the perfect opportunity to do so. It is perplexing to say the least. What am I describing? These are symptoms of being ashamed of the Gospel. This is what professing Christians do when they are more concerned about the temporal than the eternal. The Gospel and evangelism are not high on their priority list for it is embarrassing and inconvenient. Mark this as a true statement, “You can assuredly make some enemies in a hurry if you herald the Good News as we are commanded to do.”

Now, if there is resistance to this message with a “yeah but” that states that Justification by Faith, the Gospel message, and Salvation are not the real focus of Christianity, but that it is rather on some form of planetary reclamation project, then I have something to say to those of you who believe that. What you are holding to is not of God, but is a product of man’s fallenness in collusion with our enemy, Satan. Therefore, to those of you who believe Brian McLaren when he says that the doctrines I have shared above are “cosmic child abuse,” you have been deceived and are not in a state of grace. You are not in Christ and unless you repent and believe the Gospel, you will spend eternity separated from God in a place referred to by our Lord as “Outer Darkness” and the “Lake of Fire.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Preaching the Gospel vs being Missional

  1. Excellent article, Mike! I agree that some of the resistance to actually preaching the Gospel (Christ’s Death for sins, Burial, and Resurrection for justification) comes down to a feeling of embarrassment and fear of rejection.

    I’ve also observed, however, that the majority of those who are missional are so because they have a wrong view of sin and the condition of man. The missional seem to think that man isn’t so depraved that he can’t be persuaded by some entertainment or a hot meal. The missional would appear to believe that man’s problem isn’t sin and separation from God, but only circumstances that have kept him from wanting a relationship with God.

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  2. Mike, you captured this well. I enjoy you articulating ideas I find difficult to put into words.

    “These are symptoms of being ashamed of the Gospel”

    Always favorite verses to remember:
    Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    We can’t be either ashamed of or neglect the gospel.
    It’s all too easy to ignore Jesus’ teaching and avoid being confrontational.

    Matthew 10:28  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    As for the Missional or Good Works efforts, more power to these, they can be great preparations but the seeds of the gospel need to sown.

    My own parable came the other day as I was turning over my garden the hard way by shovel, and my back was aching…..thinking about the parable of the 4 soils. It takes that hard effort to prepare the soil for seed, doesn’t happen automatically.

    Mat 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Mat 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    God has the primary job in preparing the hearts of his elect to hear his word, but we too can do some of the good work in tilling that makes the ground good.

    Btw the Westminster Confession has a useful chapter on Good Works, and how critical these are to the purpose of man to Glorify God.

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