Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Medium is the Message - Part Two

So if the way we communicate messages has a bearing on the meaning of those messages, what does that say about how we communicate the gospel? Many have taken the view that since people in America are entrenched in sports, television, and movies that we must use those languages to communicate the gospel of Christ. But ultimately, what does it do to the message? If McLuhan was right, it changes the gospel into entertainment. . . it changes it into mere fun. . . it distorts the seriousness of it. And, in recent years, the gospel has become an obligatory tack-on to entertainment. And because attention spans are short, people are apologized to when gospel presenters say, "This will only take a few minutes."

And what does it say about the message we have to communicate? By trying to smash it in to a context that would appeal to depraved minds, we are stating that there is a lack of power in what we have to say, and it has to be modified in order to be effective. I recently heard John MacArthur say something profound about our gospel. It is a transcendent message. It is a singular message. The message of the church transcends all languages, all nations, all cultures, all societal norms, all contexts, all levels of education, and all notions about status. The early church had the same message everywhere it went in a day when cultural boundaries were harder and more fixed than we see today. Acts 1:8 - "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Did Christ say witnesses to Me by the power of your cunning in crafting the message? No. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

All that is needed for the power of God to be released in a situation, such as in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, is that the Truth of God be proclaimed. Three thousand souls were added that day BY GOD, not by the context of the message. Why would you change the message when the Word says that the natural man understands not the things of God? Contextualization of the message is a curse. As MacArthur says, "We have people fussing around trying to figure out if they need holes in their Levis and a skull and crossbones on their t-shirts, as if that is a means for drawing in God's elect. The message never descends to clothing or musical styles. Can your message go to any person? Anyone in your town, state, country, and around the world?"

Let me tell you about the practicality of this. In sharing the gospel with people, I have used the same message with every age group, every race, and each gender. And they all understand! Do they all receive it? No. But the Word says that the message is veiled to those who are perishing. And if it is veiled and cannot be understood by the human mind without the power of God, then how am I going to try and trump that by making it "cool." I recently saw an evangelist present the gospel message to a group of teens. The message was the same as what he would have told a man who was 90 years old. And the message was effective! God brought a certain amount of conviction upon those kids. Why do we feel that we must spend thousands of dollars, generate a great deal of research, and distort the message when all they need is the gospel!

I may sound out of touch with society, but I am in good company. Look at the prophets. Look at John the Baptist (who was probably more out of touch with society than anyone) and the Apostle Paul. For that matter, look at Jesus. He did not fit in with his society, nor did he use their depraved desires to pull them in. We must not use people's desires for the things of the world to draw them to the gospel. These things are innate to their falleness.

The true Gospel is alien to us. Men are naturally prideful. The Gospel smashes that pride. Men proclaim their goodness. The Gospel smashes their idea of what good is. And the Gospel is the power to save. It is not of man, but of God. We therefore, do not need to take what is of God and make if man.

I will end with what is probably the scariest part of all of this. If the medium taints the message, then in all reality, it changes the message. Parts of it may sound the same, but the message is changed. In Galatians 1:9, Paul says, "As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Let us not be in that position. Preach the Word! Be prepared in season and out of season!


1 comment:

  1. I am beginning to see the truth of this.So many things have changed the truth in such a way that it's hard to tell the truth from fiction. As I've heard you say there is just enough truth preached today to be truthy. Then think of all of us who are deceived and those that are being deceived. It's really scary. I pray that this conference opens alot of eyes to the real truth. I wii certainly be praying for this. God bless and guide each one who is putting this together.and may HE receive all Honor and Glory. Jer 32:27