Evangelical Essentials

To become dangerous and effective, we must refocus on the gospel

Josif Tson used to say to me, “The most dangerous person in the world is the one who is unafraid to die.” He said that before Sept. 11, 2001, and was referring to people he observed behind the old Iron Curtain, in the days of persecution under the communist regime in Romania. Josif faced death many times and had to become utterly willing to die for his Christian faith. He was regarded as a dangerous man by the authorities.

One thing Islamic terrorists all have in common is their willingness to die for their cause—whether through suicide bombs, taking risks or saying goodbye to their close relatives and friends. The threat of death means nothing to them. It is people like this who have changed the world as we have known it.

What do I believe that I am truly willing to die for? Am I a dangerous man? To put it another way: Am I known in hell? My friend Rolfe Barnard used to preach a sermon called “The Man Who Was Known in Hell,” based upon Acts 19:15. The seven sons of Sceva got in over their heads by using Jesus’ name to cast out demons. The reply came from the demonic world: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” The sons of Sceva were not known in hell. Rolfe concluded his sermon by saying, “I want to be known in hell.” He wanted to be a threat to Satan and make a difference in this world.

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If I am afraid to die for what I believe, I will be unknown in hell. But if I am unafraid to die for that belief, I will be regarded as a dangerous man—to Satan. There are some things I sincerely believe but which I would not go to the stake for. So what would I willingly die for?

Have you thought about this?

We are in the “perilous times” Paul said would come (2 Tim. 3:1). Sept. 11, 2001, was indeed the day the world changed; we are seeing with every passing day that nothing will be like it was. The world is in economic chaos. Islam is growing while Christianity carries on with a form of godliness without power. Society is becoming impervious to grossest immorality, blatant dishonesty and unprecedented political corruption. Christian movements that were once strong are losing ground. The Pew Forum recently reported that what really unites Pentecostals and charismatics isn’t the miraculous gifts but the prosperity gospel. Southern Baptists are in decline for the first time—prompting leader Ed Stetzer to write that their only solution was to return to their “first love” and make “refocusing on the gospel” their top priority.

His observation made me come face to face with what I truly believe and what I’d be willing to die for. I hold to many theological principles, but I now realize there’s only one thing I’d go to the stake for: my belief that all people, Jews and gentile, will be eternally lost unless they are converted through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son. I not only believe this statement to be true; I would die for this.

If the prosperity gospel has indeed replaced miraculous gifts as the unifying force among charismatics and Pentecostals, how many of us would die for prosperity teaching? I don’t mean to be unfair, but I doubt we’ll be a threat to Satan’s interests who propagate such teaching. We are not dangerous. Yet if we refocus on the gospel—that God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, and preach that all need this or they will perish—we will become dangerous. And a threat to Satan. And we will change the world.

R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, including God Gives Second Chances. Visit his Web site at rtkendallministries.com.

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