During the 20th Century a man-centred gospel began to emerge in evangelistic presentations of the Gospel. Evidence suggests that the man-centered gospel had its origins in the USA.
The gospel message is sometimes altered in a way that gives man prominence in the gospel message given to people. For example, it often begins with: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” (note than man gets two mentions here, while God only gets one and Jesus is not even mentioned at all!). Neither Peter nor Paul ever preached such a message, nor does any book of the Bible - since it is not the Gospel. While it is true that God draws the sinner out of love for His creation, and that Christ died to make it possible for him to be saved, it is not true that God has a wonderful plan for every lost sinner. His plan for lost sinnners who reject Jesus Christ is that they will be cast into Hell. That is not very wonderful!
Some concentrate on a way of preaching that sets out to address the "felt needs" of the people. This, again, puts man in front as the major player. According to John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostles Peter and Paul, it is God's - not man's - priority that constitutes the true Gospel: "God commands all people everywhere to repent". (Acts 17 verse 30)
In his article "A God Centred Gospel", Brian L Watts says:"God is the author of creation itself, and everything that happens in the created order must also start with Him. Anything that does not start with God is idolatrous and false. Christ, the image of the invisible God, is before all things; in him all things hold together (Col 1:15-17). Anything which cannot measure up to this acid test is a "different gospel."
See also our pages:
- two views of the gospel - God centered and Man centered by Will Metzger.
- the old cross and the new by A W Tozer.
- "An Invitation To A Christless Eternity" (illustrating the dangers of "decisionism") - source
- The Prosperity Gospel Deception by John Piper.
Check out the article "The True Gospel And The False" by Zac Poonen.
Martin Luther once said: "God does not love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us."
John Piper in his online book God Is The Gospel says: "The acid test of biblical God-centeredness—and faithfulness to the gospel — is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever? Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to your worth, or as a way to enjoy God’s worth forever?" He later adds: "The sad thing is that a radically man-centered view of love permeates our culture and our churches." He concludes: "We are willing to be God-centered, it seems, as long as God is man-centered."
A man-centred Gospel always elevates man by making light of his "sin nature" and of the law which convicts him of sin. The true Gospel always lifts up God and his righteousness, and points to the law which reveals to a man his own sinfulness before a holy God.
The Gospel that appeals to man offers the prospect of making his present life better and easier, with the added improvement of more successful relationships and a happier lifestyle overall. Thus the requirements of a holy God are not seen as paramount, unlike scripture.
A quote from Carey Dye : "The most prolific and powerful, life-changing message in the Bible is not “God loves you”, but rather “Repent.” God’s Love is simply the reason we still have opportunity to do so. We are unable to receive the Love of God until we turn from our wickedness. He’ll not cast his “pearls before swine.”
Appealing to man's view of himself and his needs as a Gospel basis suggests that the preacher is embarrassed by both Jesus' and the Biblical Gospel's "insufficiency" and so needs the preacher's help to get people into the Kingdom! Paul's words are appropriate here: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing." and "Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" Preaching according to man's "foolish" wisdom will only reap "man's results". Will these stand at the Judgment? See also the related article "The Therapeutic Gospel".
"The true ministers of the Gospel humble the pride of man, and make him as nothing; they show him the wickedness and deceitfulness of his own heart, and bring his life and conduct to a comparison with the pure and holy law of God." (excerpt from "A Sermon preached on 25th December 1829 at the Great Church, Abingdon (St Helen's)" by William Tiptaft (1803 - 1864)
- where it's all about ME, ME, ME!
If, God forbid, we give out a man-centred Gospel, this could be the kind of church we end up with - watch this 90 second Google Online video
We could then go the whole hog and sing "Me" worship songs:
THE GOSPEL INCLUDES HEALING WHICH DEMONSTRATES THE REALITY OF THE LOVE OF GOD.
If the gospel we offer does not include healing then we have failed to understand the very practical teaching that Jesus gave the 12 and the 72. This aspect of the gospel is developed in our page here.