The Lordship of Christ: Shifting the Emphasis
by Stewart, James Alexander
“During the past thirty years we have noticed a gradual, subtle shift in the emphasis of the ‘Gospel of the glory of Christ,’ which amounts to a complete perversion of the blessed evangel. The emphasis in our modern day evangelism has shifted from that of the lordship of Christ to an easy ‘believism.’ This shifting of the emphasis has led to an adulterated Gospel and changed the message and the ministry of the Church.
Both movements and men have so often given the impression that the acceptance of the lordship of Christ is a second experience of grace, or a sort of optional addendum to the Christian life. Peter declared in his apostolic message, ‘Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.’ (Acts 5 : 31). Christian workers today have reversed this Scriptural order and set forth Christ as Saviour first before His office as Prince. This teaching is nothing less than a complete sell-out to the world, Modernism and Satan. So great has been the perversion that many congregations are astounded when they hear the true Gospel of the lordship of Christ. They believe that we are preaching a new gospel. We know of a certain faithful evangelist who is preaching the same old Gospel which was taught him in his denominational seminary twenty-five years ago. Today that same evangelist, with his message, is rejected by the evangelical churches of that denomination. And for what reason? They accuse him of preaching a new gospel which is but the old Gospel of the lordship of Christ.
Satan has employed every seductive and deceptive force at his command to cause God’s messengers to bypass, or omit altogether, the lordship of the Redeemer. The reasons for this change of emphasis are not difficult to understand. May we mention some:
First, they want to preach a popular gospel of easy ‘believism’ in order to attract the world to God’s message. They set forth the joy of belonging to Christ, while deliberately omitting the dark background of man’s total depravity. The inference is thus: ‘That which our fathers taught is old-fashioned. They had a narrow view of the Gospel. It isn’t necessary to give up the pleasures of the world and sin. Just believe and be saved.’
Second, many honest and sincere Christian workers are so anxious to rescue lost men and women from eternal damnation that they seek to meet the sinner half way. ‘Yes, it is true,’ they say, ‘that Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, but don’t let that upset you. You need not receive Christ as Lord now; just receive Him as Saviour and all will be well.’ How many times have we been severely pained when some eager evangelist or personal worker has cried out, ‘Do you believe that? Then you are saved!’ Such a parody of truth must not go unchallenged. A sinner can ‘believe that’ and go to hell. A sinner can believe John 3:16 and other Gospel passages and still go to hell.
Third, in our feverish haste to multiply results by mass production, we lower the standard of the Gospel proclamation. This is a great day of religious machinery, and the machinery must show huge, immediate results for its propaganda and organization. As never before the Christian press is panting after sensational news of great results from our evangelistic endeavors. Unlike our Master many workers fail to warn their audiences to count the cost. (Luke 14 : 25-33). A preacher’s success is judged today mainly by the size of the crowds he draws. In John, chapter six, the Saviour preached His crowd away! ‘Many therefore . . .when they had heard. . . said, This is an hard saying who can hear it ? From that time many . . . went back, and walked no more with him.’ (John 6:60-66).”
Stewart, James Alexander (13 Feb. 1910-11 July 1975), missionary, evangelist, and author, was born in Glasgow, Scotland.