In our ever-changing world, modernity has had a great impact on our beliefs. The positives cannot be denied. Today we can have quick access to biblical information and resources. However, have we lost the ability to think about what we actually believe? It would seem to me that many have taken the gospel of Jesus Christ and adjusted it to suit modernity. The modern gospel would seem to omit the importance of sin and God dealing with our sin nature. In actual fact this is not new to the history of the church.
Pelagius was one of the first to make this gospel popular. In essence he believed man has the ability to convert himself. All that man has to do is to be convinced that Jesus is better and that it is a good thing to embrace salvation. Through man’s free will he saves himself. Man can only deal with sin by being persuaded by doctrines, commands, promises and threats in God’s Word. This form of gospel is error, as it does not deal with how the mind is corrupted and depraved by sin. Man is unable to save himself by his free will.
We need to take a closer look at what Jesus stated in Matthew’s Gospel.
“On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?” And then I will declare to them,” I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:22-23) What was the problem? This man was using the name of Jesus effectively, yet he himself was not regenerated (born again). He possibly influenced many to follow his example; however he himself was not destined to spend eternity with God. Let’s not forget that this man was a man of faith. He operated in the Word of God, yet God had not saved him, so therefore he saved himself. My friend this is not a good place to be in.
Now that I have identified the problem, what is the solution?
According to the true gospel man cannot save himself. His will is corrupt; he needs to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. What is regeneration? John Owen assists us with the following explanation:
In regenerating a person the Holy Spirit makes use of the law and the gospel. There’s not only a moral but also a direct nature- changing work of the Spirit on the minds or souls of men in regeneration. This is what we most hold on to, or the glory of God’s grace is lost, and the grace, which comes to us by Christ, is neglected. Unless the Father draws us through the finished work of Jesus Christ we cannot enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. In regeneration the Holy Spirit deals with our sinful nature and changes us internally to be committed to Jesus Christ as Lord.