Are There No Apologists Among Us?

Fred MagbanuaSome years ago, I attended a gathering of top evangelical leaders in the country. Many evangelical leaders who were national leaders in their respective denominations, mission agencies and other Christian organizations were there. What was interesting to me during that conference was the message of the main speaker, Dr. Fred Magbanua, a well-known evangelist in the evangelical community.

He said that what was lamentable in the evangelical community was the serious lack of apologists among us. Evangelical seminaries were not producing as much as it ought to, according to the guest speaker. And he showed the facts. Preachers like Eli Soriano, Apollo Quiboloy and others like them were relentlessly recruiting and influencing our members in droves. The Filipino masses all over the country and abroad are being bombarded with their false gospel and faulty theology while the evangelical community remains meek and quiet as a lamb.

Wanted: Apologists

“Are there no apologists among us?” That was the lament of the guest speaker and I kind of agree. What is an apologist anyway? Well, according to one dictionary, it means “a person who makes a defense in speech or writing of a belief, idea, etc.”

The example of Irenaeus as an apologist is a good one. He was one of the early Christian leaders during the early centuries of the Church. He was a student of Polycarp who was a student of the Apostle John, the last of the original apostles who lived and died around A.D. 100.

During the time of Irenaeus (died A.D. 202) he was grieved at the spread of false gospels and heretical ideas and therefore he fought and preached against it and wrote his book, Against Heresies.

Shall Evangelicals Just Stand Still?

Shall we just keep quiet then when false gospels are spreading around influencing wrongly the minds of our brethren? The virus of false gospels and wrong theologies are also spreading on the internet. Shall we just stand still while our flock are being brought to the slaughter? Shall we not protect our flock? “Are there no apologists among us?”

Christ’s Finished Work: “It is Finished”

A lot of discussion has been going on at Facebook regarding Steve McVey’s article on “Do We Proclaim a Potential Gospel or a Finished Gospel?” According to Steve McVey, he used to preach that when a person believes in Jesus Christ, then and only then will he receive forgiveness and get reconciled to God. In other words, reconciliation only becomes a reality when one believes the gospel. The person’s action (belief) creates reality (reconciliation). This is what Steve McVey called the “potential gospel.”

Years later, he learned that actually, the good news is that the work of Christ is already a finished work. Christ said on the cross, “It is finished.” Thus, Steve McVey called it the “finished gospel.” He realized he made a mistake in preaching a “potential gospel.” 

Dr. Mike Feazell and GCI

"It is Finished"When I attended a conference in Tagaytay last February 2010, Dr. Michael Feazell, the vice-president of Grace Communion International, was there himself explaining what Trinitarian theology was all about. And the main title of his message was, “Christ’s Finished Work.” He explained to us that Christ’s work is a finished work.

C. S. Lewis

It is interesting to note that even the famous writer, C.S. Lewis believed in the finished work of Christ:

  • “What, then, is the difference which He has made to the whole human mass? It is just this; that the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless ‘spiritual’ life, has been done for us. Humanity is already ‘saved’ in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation. But the really tough work–the bit we could not have done for ourselves–has been done for us. We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one Man in whom it was fully present, and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, He will do it in us and for us. Remember what I said about ‘good infection.’ One of our own race has this new life: if we get close to Him we shall catch it from Him.” (Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis, pp. 156-157)

“It is Finished”

“It is finished,” as Christ said on the cross. In so far as God is concerned, from God’s point of view, we have already been reconciled to God through Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-19) and there’s nothing more that’s needed for us to do to earn salvation. Christ earned it for us. That’s the objective truth and reality. It is already real and true.

Our personal response to this objective truth is a subjective matter and experience which does not create reality. Our reconciliation in Jesus Christ is not potentially true and will only become a reality when we believe. It is already true. God through Paul said so in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. We have already been reconciled. It’s already a reality. In view of this objective reality, we are urged to “be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20) as our fitting, rightful and positive response.

In view of God’s love that is given to us, we cannot but respond in love and with love in return. Let us respond positively and enjoy life and love with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Photo credit: Google

The True Gospel

Penitents in Pampanga during Holy Week is a common sight all over the place.
Penitents in Pampanga during Holy Week is a common sight all over the place.

For more than two decades, I knew that 1 Corinthians 15 was all about the resurrection–especially the latter half of the chapter. But it was only after some 20 or more years, that I learned and truly realized what was actually written in the first few verses of this chapter. I never noticed it though I read it many times. Somehow, this was never quoted nor taught by my former pastors and we all were blinded to this truth about the real gospel. But thanks be to God, he has now opened my eyes to the true gospel.

What the True Gospel Is

As we approach the holy week, let us again consider what the true gospel is. This is the true gospel that should be preached. Here is what the apostle Paul wrote:

  • “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

The gospel is all about Christ. It’s about his birth, life, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and his ascension. It’s all about him and his Kingdom of which he is King. It’s about God’s reign—God’s Kingdom. It’s all about his incarnation and atonement—his becoming flesh and his sacrifice on the cross. It’s all about Christ and his relationship with the Father. It’s all about Christ and his relationship with all of humanity and all of creation. He died for all. It’s about humanity’s adoption through Jesus Christ. It’s all about Christ.

Right after Jesus ascended, during Pentecost, the very first sermon that the apostle Peter gave was about Christ–about his crucifixion and his resurrection (Acts 2:22-36). He preached about Christ! Let’s take a look at some of the verses:

  • “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him”(Acts 2:22-24).
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  • “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 2:36-38)

Notice the apostle Paul’s focus:

  • “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”(1 Corinthians 2:1)

This is the true gospel!

The gospel is not about God’s sovereignty although we acknowledge that he is sovereign. The gospel is definitely NOT about human free will, human freedom or about total depravity. The gospel is not about doing good works in order to get saved. Rather, through the Lord Jesus, the gospel declares that man’s sinfulness and depraved condition has been taken care of by the Lord. While we were still sinners, he died for all of us! (Rom. 5:8). He did not count our sins against us (2 Cor. 5:19) but rather, he reconciled all of us  (2 Cor. 5:18)—all of humanity and all of creation–to himself (Col. 1:19-20).

  • 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

The gospel is all about Jesus Christ! All other “gospels” are false gospels.