The Misplaced Doctrine of Lostness

Throughout the Bible it is very clear that sin has separated us from God and we are in desperate need of rescue. We are LOST apart from God’s intervention. It was Jesus Himself who explained His core purpose in coming in Luke 19 when He said,

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

Save from what? What does it mean to be ‘lost”? The Bible describes the state of the lost as “dead in trespasses and sins,” “children of disobedience,” “perishing,” “condemned,” “under the wrath of God,” “blind,” “in the powers of darkness,” “living in darkness,” “under the control of Satan,” “disobedient to God”. THIS is the scandal of the cross- this is what’s so offensive about the Gospel. You are lost and hell-bound apart from Christ and there is nothing you can do about it. The most well-known verse..

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

It says, “perish”, but perish in what way? Jesus said,

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and His angels.” Matthew 25:41

In fact, it was JESUS spoke more about hell than anyone else- because He did NOT want anyone to go there. Have we become so sophisticated, so educated, so enlightened, that we no longer believe in hell? Well, unfortunately studies (Pew Research and Barna) reveal that we do NOT. Only 59% of Americans believe in hell. Interestingly, about 80% believe in heaven and of those who do and most- close to 70% believe they’ll go to heaven when they die. But most troubling is the differences in how they anticipate getting there. The Barna Research group says that only 43% of those who think they’re going to heaven said that they would get there because they have “confessed their sins and have accepted Christ as their Savior”. The other 57% believe they’ll get to heaven because they’ve “tried to obey the 10 commandments” or they’ve “basically been a good person” or because “God loves everyone and will not let anyone perish”. And only one-half of 1% of Americans believe they’re going to hell. Here’s where all these numbers come down for us today: Probably the MOST disturbing number from studies like this is that 50% of people in Protestant churches today are NOT Christians- that is, they have never received Christ as their Lord and Savior. Have most of us become “closet universalists”- believing that, in the end, everyone is going to heaven?

The Power of the Gospel (Romans 10:9-17)
1. The Gospel is salvation through faith in Christ. (9-10)
• IF you…
Notice that our salvation is conditional- immediately we see that not everyone is saved.
• confess with your mouth
What Paul is NOT saying is that simply SAYING something out loud will save you. We must understand our context here, he has said that the people of Israel, under Moses and the Law- had the word in their mouths- they knew the Law, they could say the Law, but it also had to be in their hearts. He’s continuing this parallel of thought and expression. In fact he explains:
• believe in your heart
Believe what? “That Jesus raised Him from the dead”- this would involve His life, suffering, death, burial and resurrection- the Gospel is Christ’s death upon the cross and His subsequent burial and resurrection. Notice Paul says, it is with the heart that we believe and are justified.
• you will be saved. What is the Gospel? In the end the Gospel is Jesus.
When we get saved, we get Him. The GOSPEL is not being a good person- it’s Christ’s righteousness covering my sin. I am superior to no one- I’m a Christian because of what Christ has done- NOT what I have done.
Let’s rediscover the doctrine of lostness in our preaching, our teaching, and in all aspects of our mission.

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