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“This idea that you have to somehow contextualize the gospel for every zip code is shameful.”

“…this message, the preaching of the cross, and it transcends all these cultures. There’s so much talk today in the realm of church growth about contextualization that you’ve got to figure out everything that is inimitable to a given group of people, not only their religious background, not only their sort of cultural acuity, not only their sensibilities in life, but all the nuances of their style and their wardrobe and their pop music and their cultural adaptations. And once you’ve sort of analyzed all of that and figured all of that out, then you can kind of find a pathway in, but short of that you’ve got no hope. Now that would be…that would be sort of the first talk that you would hear at a contextualization conference. There’s no sense in going into the world with the simple biblical gospel. You’ve got to find the points of connection or you can’t plug into the socket and start the power flowing. Nothing could be more alien to the truth about what happened in the book of Acts.

Gospel is gospel; the story is the same and it’s a hard sell. You’ve got this: a man who was a Jew, by the name of Jesus, was God in human flesh and the only Savior. And oh, by the way, the Jews rejected Him, had the Romans execute Him, so His own people didn’t receive Him. But by the way, this Jew rejected by His own people who claimed to be God, crucified by the Romans, is God, is the only Savior, and you have to repent of your sins and believe in Him or you’re going to hell forever, no matter what else you believe. That was the sell that the early evangelists had to make. And for the Jews, that whole idea was offensive; it was a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles it was…What?…foolishness (1 Corinthians 1 and 2).

….This idea that you have to somehow contextualize the gospel for every zip code is shameful. The message of Christ’s church is transcendent. The letters that Paul wrote were sent to baby Christians. You say Romans is hard for you and you’ve been a Christian a long time? How about if you were a Gentile with no knowledge at all of the Old Testament? None. And yet the assumption was that these baby Christians were getting something they could understand and apply. The message of Christ’s church is a transcendent message. Today it goes to the ends of the earth. I never cease to be amazed about that. From time to time I tell you that. This pulpit at Grace Community Church right now, even as I speak, is being heard across this planet. We don’t do anything to change our style. The message is the same.

Marks of real church growth, John MacArthur



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