Upon the resurrection of Christ and in his ascension to Heaven we note the fulfillment of God’s promise to offer redemption to a sinful world. When Christ ascended to Heaven the gates of glory opened and the King of glory entered in. Amid the acclamation of the myriads of angels escorting him to the throne he was crowned King of his kingdom.
The dispensation of the gospel of Christ was inaugurated. Pentecost was the day, Jerusalem was the place, the gospel was the theme, and salvation was the result. Sinners were convicted by the gospel of their sins and cried out to the apostles of Christ inquiring what they must do to be forgiven. Those believers were instructed to repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for, unto, in order to the remission of their sins to obtain the blessings of the new dispensation. They that gladly “received the word” were baptized, saved and added to the church that was that day established. The number was about 3,000 individuals. They had daily additions which turned into multiplications. Every where Christians went the gospel was presented and the world was turned “upside down” for Christ. As we look at modern day society in comparison to the first century of New Testament Christianity, and even to one hundred years ago—even that of fifty to seventy-five years ago; the question has been asked, “Has the gospel of Christ lost its effectiveness?” In consideration of this question we note the following fundamental components:
There is Nothing Wrong With the Gospel of Christ
The eternal purpose of God is an eternal purpose purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10-11). This eternal purpose found in Christ has manifested itself within the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17) and is found within the confines of the New Testament church (Eph. 3:20-21). The purpose of God predates time and creation. Before there was a heaven and earth, God and his purpose did exist to create and redeem humanity. God, who knows the end from the beginning, foreknows, and upon the basis of such, foreordained that all accountable individuals, who would both accept and obey the conditions of salvation would constitute his covenant people and be collectively known as the church (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:9,11; Acts 2:38-47).
The gospel of Christ is God’s power unto salvation. This plan is complete. It cannot be improved upon; neither can it be altered without dire consequences (Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 1:6-9). Such being the case, the question has been raised by many as to why the gospel in our day does not produce the exact results in the lives of individuals as it did during the first century, one hundred years ago, or even fifty, or seventy-five years ago? The case being that the gospel of Christ constitutes the New Testament of Christ such is the plenary, verbally inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:15-17). It is thus complete, therefore perfect and meets all of humanities needs. There are other considerations as to why individuals in our day do not favorably respond to the gospel.
Consider Various Reasons Within the World
Not all accountable individuals are truth seekers; neither are they lovers of God’s
truth. Some will stubbornly refuse the truth, thereby reject the gospel and be lost in eternity due to the fact of their own obstinacy (Acts 13:44-49; 2 Thess. 2:7-12; John 3:19-20). Some by their unwillingness to reason correctly will allow false teachers to mislead them into believing error (Matt. 7:13-23; 15:1-14). Others are so enamored by things alien to the word of God that they will allow those other interests keep them from the gospel and refuse to give such an earnest and fair consideration regarding the reality of sin and its consequences in comparison to that of salvation that is found in Christ (Luke 8:5-15).
We are indeed living in a time where secularism has had a terrible influence on society. Many in the world have so removed themselves from the influence of even the concept of God and things of a spiritual nature that they have totally lost their interest in discussing anything relating to the salvation of their souls.
Materialism is the main thrust of our society. The masses are so in love with worldly pleasures that sin has been so ingrained within them and Satan has such a strong grip on their thinking, that they have a hatred for any individual or group of individuals that seek to lead them away from the error that will condemn their souls. (Rom. 1:28-32).
Consider Various Reasons Within the Church
The church of Christ is God’s ekklesia, his called out assembly (Matt. 16;18-19). In its universal extension the church contains all of those who have been baptized into Christ and thus saved from all past sins (Acts 2:38, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13). However, not all brethren remain in the fellowship of Christ through faithfulness (1 John 1:6-10). Such is a detriment to the spread of the gospel and the winning of the lost to Christ.
Some individuals receive the truth of the gospel with great joy, even to the point where they obey such and become Christians. However because of their lack of spirituality in time of temptation fall away (Luke 8:13).
Some individuals lack devotion and dedication to Christ and the truth. They do not grow in their knowledge of God’s truth and never make an effort to win the lost to Christ (Heb. 5:12).
Others do not appreciate nor respect the authority of the New Testament of Christ, thus they fail to properly understand the autonomy and independence of the local church. To them New Testament evangelism, edification, and benevolence is accomplished by some big supersized centralized polished pulpit approach that compromises the truth of the gospel with the slick popular Madison Avenue tactics where the popularity of big name preachers are elevated and the power of the gospel itself is ignored. The combination of such approaches with that of glorifying that of human institutions chokes the life out of the local church and relegates its work to nothing more than a fund raising organization to grow larger works staffed by preachers with bigger names.
The gospel of Christ has lost neither its power or effectiveness. However, the approach of some brethren in the elevation of personalities, centralized projects, and human institutions have cause the gospel of Christ to be hidden to a lost and dying world. May God deliver us from such worldly thinking!