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The Dangers of A Diluted Gospel

Scripture: Matthew 7:21, Acts 20:29, Revelation 22:14
Date: 06/19/2010 
There is a danger of the gospel being diluted. We can assume we are getting real medicine when in fact we are following false teachers or teachings. We can have the illusion we are saved when we have not received the full strength of God's power and salvation.
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I'd like to share with you a message this morning that I’ve titled "the dangers of a diluted gospel." and I hope you'll pray for me as I talk about this sensitive subject. A diluted gospel. Not deluded like to be deceived, but diluted like diluting water. Have you heard about people diluting medicine before?

In 2005, there was a cancer patient, Georgia Hayes. She won a $2.2 billion court Settlement against her former pharmacist, Robert R. Courtney. His crime? He diluted her chemotherapy drugs with water. He did this to reap the profits from selling these very expensive drugs and the way that he was uncovered is because Georgia's doctor, the nurse reported, "no, there's this Lilly drug salesman, and he says the pharmacist in this town seems to be selling three times more of this medicine than he's buying." and she thought that was suspicious and she mentioned to The doctor and he asked his patient, "bring me some of your medicine that you're buying from the drugstore." and they did a test on it and sure enough, it was only 1/3 strength, 2/3 water. He was taking this medicine that was very carefully measured to help hold her cancer in check or heal her, and because it had been reduced, she lost her best chance of recovery.

How would you feel? Now, what's more is the doctor, the pharmacist who had done This, he had made $10 million over the course of doing this for several years. He had 4,200 patients. He had been diluting their medicine, 4,200 patients. That's a pretty large settlement, 2.2 billion, but how comforting is that to you to receive a settlement like that and find out that you're terminal? What are you going to do with your $2.2 billion? When the jury came back with their verdict, Georgia said to the pharmacist, whose name was robert r. Courtney, that she hoped--and he got 30 years. She hoped that every night he woke up and went to sleep seeing the faces of all the people that had lost their opportunity for healing because he had been diluting their medicine for personal profit. He was a 48 year old father of five children.

Oh, by the way, one of the arguments that he gave for diluting the medicine, he said he needed the money to pay for pledges he had made to the church. But he had put up--somehow he had managed to squirrel away $10 million in the time he was doing this.

The word "dilute" the way we're going to be looking at it this morning, it means: to make thinner, to lessen strength, to adulterate, to reduce value or efficiency, to make fainter, or to water down. Now, the essence of what I wanted to share with you today is that I think we're living in a time when there's great risk that you may be receiving a diluted gospel. And I’ve got to be very careful To share with you that I think I’ve been guilty of that. It's a great temptation.

I'll explain as I go on that you may not be getting full-strength medicine. That's why you got to read your bibles for yourself. You know, Jesus tells us in the last days that there's going to be a lot of people and there's two groups. There's a small group and a big group. One group he calls few, the other group he calls many. And he says, "many will come in the last days saying, 'Lord, Lord.'"

He describes this frightening scene where many people come thinking that they're healed. They think they're saved. They think they got the real medicine, but the devil had watered it down and they find out they're lost. They're terminal. Matthew 7:21. "not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my father in heaven." it's not just saying, "Lord, Lord." it's doing the will of God. Many, "many will say to me in

That day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? Have we not cast out devils in your name? We've done many wonderful works.' and I’ll declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, ye who work iniquity.'" they knew his name. They called his name. They were involved in what they thought was biblical worship. They were even active in casting out devil and probably a variety of things that externally looked like genuine ministry, but Jesus with a broken heart says, "i know you thought you're getting the real medicine, but it had been diluted by the devil and I don't know you because you lived a life of iniquity." He said, "depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." iniquity is a word for lawlessness in the original language there.

Now, some of this has come as a result of a proliferation of false teachers. You heard that in our memory verse. Matter of fact, I’m going to go back and read that scripture verse again that's in 2 timothy 3:1-5. We are living in the last days. Do you believe that? One of the characteristics of the last days, the perilous times, men will be lovers of themselves. So there's a lot of chronic selfishness. Lovers of money. I mean, how could you consign someone to death and water down what will heal them except you really love money? Lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Now, keep in mind, when Paul says, "know that in the last days perilous times will come," and he describes these conditions, everything he's describing here has always been in the world. But what he's saying is it's in the church now. Do you get that? He's writing to timothy about how to be a pastor and he's Saying in the last days it's really going to be tough because all these characteristics that are so prevalent in the world are going to be common in the church.

I should have said that to start with. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, but-- notice verse five. "having a form of Godliness." they've got some outward forms. They've got the trappings of Christianity and religion. They've got a name, raised in the church, but what are they missing? They don't have the potency. It's been watered down. They are lacking the power thereof. Outward form. They got a measure, but it's not the real thing. It's been watered down. It's been diluted. And so, sure they're taking the medicine, but it's not full strength and so it's without effect. Now, I’ll make a confession to you. I'm not announcing this because I’m wanting you to help me, but I’ve got hay fever. That's just something I have every year. I do okay. There's an over-the-counter pill that I take and sometimes, depending on the pollen, I can take a quarter or a third of a pill and I’m okay. And sometimes, like this time of year--and I went riding around through grassy fields where they were mowing hay, and that's what I'm allergic to--I had to take a pill and a half. If I did not take the right dose, I was miserable. My eyes are itching, my nose is running, I’m coughing, my lungs tighten up and it just-- you know, I just want to lay down and wait until a different season of the year. It's just very hard for me to function.

So I praise the Lord for that medicine. If I don't take it in the right dose, then I have all the same symptoms. So getting the right medicine in the right dose makes a big difference. Now, if you're the devil and you think that you can give people a Prescription and tell them that this is going to heal them from sin and it's going to save them for eternity and you give it to them and they take it to their Church and the pastor fills it for them, but he doesn't give them the full strength. And they will then have just enough to give them the illusion that they're really saved, but they don't have enough to make the difference in their life that will heal them. Wouldn't that be a great plan? Mean, if you're the devil, that'd be the perfect plan. You don't have to worry about saying, "don't believe in Jesus. Don't go to church." you can tell them, "go to church. I got it so diluted there, it's so watered down, it won't make any difference.

So you'll have the illusion that you're saved and people who want to be Christians, they don't really know where else to go. I mean, where do you go to get your prescription filled? You go to church. The preachers share it with you. But maybe it's not the full strength so that it doesn't do what it's designed to do. "having a form of Godliness, but not the power." I want industrial-strength gospel, don't you, friends? I want the whole thing that's going to make that eternal difference in my life. Talking about these false teachers, Paul says in 2 timothy 4-- I just read chapter three. He says to peter--i mean, sorry, to timothy, "preach the word. Be ready in season, out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come," he's speaking in the future, "when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires because they have itching ears, they will heap up for Themselves teachers that will turn away their ears from the truth and be turned aside to fables." you've got two problems. You've got a problem in the pulpit and you've got a problem in the pew.

You've got preachers who are not sharing it straight and then you get people who don't want it straight. They are hiring and attracting to themselves teachers that will tell them what they are itching to hear because it's popular, 'cause it's easy. After their own lusts. Don't preach it to me straight. Have you ever taken--? Any of you remember the days when your parents would give you that medicine without the flavoring or the sugar in it? And, matter of fact, you wondered if it was really going to work because it tasted too good when, later on, you figure if it's good medicine, it's going to taste bad. It's going to be hard to swallow. You ever heard that before? What was it, cod liver oil? Any of you ever--your parents ever make you get some of that? Well, at least the Pepto-Bismol they flavored that and made it a pretty color because usually you think of medicine, it's hard to take. Acts 20:29. Paul knew what was coming. He said to the church, "for I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves."

So you got a few dynamics here. One reason the gospel's watered down is because preachers want to be popular. Another reason the gospel gets watered down is 'cause people don't want to take anything that's hard to swallow. They want what they're itching to hear, someone who will tell them what's popular. And then there's also—people want for pride to draw away disciples after themselves. Power. Influence. Today there are many Christians being spiritually endangered by a watered-down teaching of the gospel. They have just enough truth to give them the aroma of salvation, but they never really sink their teeth into the real thing. You know, if you're hungry and you smell dinner cooking, but you're not allowed to eat dinner, I mean, you're salivating but you're not getting any nutrition. That sometimes happens. There's an interesting verse in Ezekiel 13 I’d like you to go to. I don't know that I’ve ever preached on this verse. Ezekiel 13, we'll start with verse 10. And while you're turning, it's talking about untempered mortar and the prophet here says, "because indeed, because they've seduced my people, saying, 'peace,' when there is no peace."

In other words, telling people to be at peace because everything's okay, we've given you the medicine, you're going to get better, but you don't really have real medicine. You're doing them more harm. It gives that false sense of security. Peace, "peace when there's no peace." and notice, "and one builds A wall and they plaster it with untempered mortar." now, the way I understand this from the commentary is what they'd do is they'd stack bricks one on another and then they put plaster over this wall of bricks, but there's no mortar between the bricks. There's no concrete holding the bricks together. You've got, you know the kind of plast--like sheetrock plaster? You ever work with a sheetrock mud? Until you paint that stuff, you can wash it off with water. You know what I’m saying? And so can you imagine someone builds a wall and it's just bricks stacked on each other, no cement. Looks good because you've now plastered it over with like adobe. And you've painted it. And it's whitewashed and you say, "hey, I got a good wall." but you know inside there's no cement holding the bricks in place. So as soon as a goat hits it, it's going over.

You don't know it until it meets With its first real trial that you got a wall, that's not tempered. It has no real concrete in it. You know, one of the most serious catastrophes of our age is this recent Haitian earthquake. And we have friends that are still going over there. It's not in the news a lot. What you hear on the news about the oil spill these days, but the crisis in Haiti is still terrible and they're facing the hurricane season. The estimates from the Haitian government are 230,000 people died. That's a lot of people. Three hundred thousand were injured. You know one of the principle causes of the death and the injury? Untempered mortar. There were greedy contractors that, when it came time to build the walls, they would take the inferior sand that they've got in Haiti. It's inferior for concrete is what I’m saying. And, you know, if you have built with concrete at all, you know that you have to measure how much concrete you actually mix into the sand and the gravel to get the strength. But if you can spread your concrete out in the wall, you know, it's--these are walls, they figured, for--they can't pay that much and they're temporary dwellings, and so they really skimped on the concrete that they mixed into the mortar. And so--and then you know what else? Iron's expensive.

You need the rebar, the reinforcement in the concrete and they said, "you know, we can save some money. Don't put in the full dose of concrete. Don't put in enough iron to reinforce it." and so skimpy building codes, unscrupulous contractors, and they built these inferior walls and as soon as that earthquake came, the houses all fell like a deck of cards. The buildings just crumbled. All the concrete buildings that are built here with code and the right measure of concrete, they would have stood through a lot of that crisis down there. A lot more people would have been alive, but they diluted the concrete and so it lost its strength. You know, there are walls for Christians too. Do you think of the ten commandments as something that is there to prevent your freedom and happiness or to protect your freedom and happiness? When someone comes down with hiv because of promiscuous living, when they look at that seventh commandment, they then realize that was there not to prevent my happiness, but to protect my happiness. And I could go through.

When someone's in jail because they have been shoplifting and stealing, and they look at the ten commandments and they see that commandment says thou shall not steal, do they say, "oh, that command, it's always been a problem to my happiness," or are they wishing for their freedom and say, "you know, that was there to protect my happiness and I’ve lost it 'cause I disobeyed?" and so God has these walls that are there to protect our freedom. But if in the pew or in the pulpit that gets diluted, then when a crisis comes the wall falls down. Untempered mortar. Ezekiel talks specifically about what some of these things are. He--i told you what the prophecy was there in Ezekiel 13. If you go to Ezekiel 22, "her priests have violated my law and profaned my holy things. They have not distinguished between the holy and the unholy. They have made--they have not made known the difference between the clean and the unclean." does God want us to explain what is holy and what is not holy, what is clean and what is not clean, what is sin and what is not sin? They have a responsibility. "they have hidden their eyes from my Sabbaths so that I am profaned among them." now, is there a danger that living in the last days that because you want to attract more people to the church that you might say, "well, you know the easier we make it, the more will come." I mean, I’ve learned a little bit about marketing with amazing facts, you know? We have books that we sell and we have programs that we encourage people to participate in. And there's a science to marketing. You want to make something as attractive as possible to people.

Well, what do you think attracts people? What do you think marketers use in the world today? They appeal to the carnal nature. They say, "you take this product, You're going to live longer. You're going to have more money. You're going to be happier. You're going to be more popular." they appeal, basically, to the carnal side. Does the bible tell us that's how we're to market Christianity? You're going to be healthy. You're going to be wealthy. You're going to be wise. Come to Jesus. Prosperity preaching, you ever heard about that? What will Jesus do for you? Is that what the message of salvation is? Now, there are things that Jesus does for us, praise God. There's a lot of good news. There's a lot of blessings that come. But Jesus says, "take up your cross and follow me." deny yourself daily. We don't hear that very often. But the real key to happiness, Jesus said, is don't put yourself first. Put God first. Put others first. But, you know, it's so much of it is about me. It's about "i." and a lot of people are hearing a diluted gospel. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about him. We live for the glory of God. We exist for the glory of God. Even your salvation is for his glory. It's not for ours. And so things are being diluted. Is it important for us to hear the word? Yes! We come to church to hear the word. How much of the week is that? Well, it depends on who's preaching. But, well, you know, let's

Just say it's not 1/7th of the week 'cause I know you're not hearing it all day long and it might be 4% of your week sitting down, hearing the Word of God. It's actually less than that. But what's the most important thing, being hearers of the word or doers? It's like the other 95%. And so being a Christian isn't that 5% during the week or that 2% during the week. We're hearing the word. We're fellowshipping together. As important as that is, it's in what do we do with it the other 95% of the time. That's what it means if you're really a Christian. Are we hearers of the word only or doers of the word? Luke 6:46. Jesus said, "why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not the things that I say?" should we call ourselves Christians if we're not willing to do his will? John 13:17. He said, "you know these things. Blessed are you." I want you to be blessed, friends. "blessed are you if you do them." how important is it with the Lord that we're not just hearers of the word, but doers of the word. Matthew 12:50. "for whoever does the will of my father in heaven, he is my brother and my sister and my mother." he wants us to be doing his will. Luke 11:28. He said, "more than that, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it." same thing. Doing it. Revelation, I read this during Sabbath school today. Revelation 22:14. "blessed are those that do his commandments, that they might have a right to the tree of life and enter through the gates of the city." see, part of the gospel we're not hearing today is that He wants us to be a people who really obey Him. Are we saved by obedience? No, they--if you teach you're saved by obedience, that's legalism. But is obedience legalism? No. He wants us to obey him because we love him. He said it's not everyone that just says, "Lord, Lord." 1 John 2:3. "now by this we know that we know him if we keep his commandments." 1 John 3:7. "little children, let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous." 3 John 1:11. "beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who practices evil has not seen God." and so the Lord wants us to be doers of his word. So what does a diluted gospel look like? I've been talking about these analogies and metaphors.

I'll tell you, if I was to sum it up, I’d say when people are encouraged to have enough faith to believe that God will forgive them, but not enough to believe that he will keep them from temptation, that's a diluted gospel. It's not just justification. The bible tells us very plainly that part of the science of salvation is sanctification. You come to the Lord just as you are without one plea. Everybody can come to Jesus just as they are. Right? That's good new but he loves you too much to leave you just as you are. Do you really want to be just as you are? Or then does he transform you and sanctify you and you become a new creature? He's able to keep you from falling. Jude 1:24. "now to him who is able To keep you from stumbling, from falling, and to present you faultless before his throne with exceeding joy." I want to have a life where I don't stumble all the time. 2 Timothy 4:18. "and the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for his heavenly kingdom." so it's not just that we're justified when we come to Jesus, we're preserved, we're kept by his grace. The same way that Jesus resisted temptation through the power of the word, we can.

Secondly, another example of a diluted gospel is when people are taught that God accepts them the way they are, but they don't believe that he transforms them. Matthew 28:19-20. In the great commission, he says, "go ye, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe." so first they come, all right? And they're taught. And it says they are continued to be taught to observe all things that I have commanded them. You know, you hear so little of that today. It seems like the emphasis today--you know, the church kind of goes through cycles. The history of the church goes through cycles where they kind of get out there, if you want to use the word liberal or conservative, or if you want to use the word presumptuous and legalistic, you know, there's different ways you could categorize this, but they get so burnt out on the behavior and the obedience and the legalism that they gravitate towards grace, but it doesn't stop there. It's like trying To stop a battleship. It just keeps on moving. The pendulum then goes way over Here, where then they become so grace-oriented that they start living just like the world and you can't see a difference anymore. That's where I think we are now. We're in that day where you-- if you don't tell a person that you're a Christian--so few people really live it in their lives consistently that the world wouldn't ever know that there's a difference. We ought to be lights on a hill that people say, "wow. Their light is shining.

Their life is clearly, distinctly different. They're not just like everybody else. What's different about you?" I believe in Jesus. I love the Lord. He saved me. He's changed my life. 2 Corinthians 5:17. "therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature." it doesn't stop there. "old things have passed away. All things are become new." but you know, there's that temptation. And i, amazing facts, we're right in there with everyone else. We've made this mistake before. There is a temptation that every church, you too, and pastor faces; how do we measure success? How do you measure a church's success? Seventh-day Adventist church, Baptist church, Mormon church, you know what they do? They say, "how is it growing? Are there more people? Does it look like it's prospering?" very rarely do you say, "we're going to measure the success of this church by how Godly the people are." what they do is they say, "is it spreading? Is it growing? Are people coming?

Are they baptizing? Are they having converts?" and they figure then it's growing. So if we know that we can have more converts by not making it so difficult to be a member, well there's a temptation to say, "well, you know, if we kind of just lower the fence a little bit, they can jump over. "and so, basically, we dumb it down a little bit. We dilute it a little bit so the medicine's not so strong. and it makes it--you know, you kind of open the gate a little. Jesus said it's a straight and narrow gate. "open it a little wider. Little wider. Little wider. You know, they're saying that-- oh, I don't know if I dare say this. In the design of the automobiles in America and the planes, they're having to redesign the seats. Do you know why? Because we've grown. So to accommodate us, they have to make 'em wider than they've been. And so--now is the problem that we are so nutritious and healthy that we're just getting taller? Or are they accommodating our decadence as they're making 'em wider? Well that's what's happening in the church. We have to just keep widening things so everybody can fit in. And is that what Jesus told us? Is the problem that the gate's not wide enough?

Or is that our lives maybe need to change? You know the way to get in the gate is you got to unload all the extra stuff that we're trying to carry in the gate with us. I remember just this last week I stopped at the store to buy a bottle of juice. I almost never buy soda or juice. I learn from Karen a while back. She said that, you know, most of the people get their calories from what they drink. They're drinking their calories. I saw a program this week that someone called--they called soda pop "liquid candy." and you know, and then I went to the store last night before Sabbath and I walked the soda aisle. They couldn't even fit it in one. And this is a big supermarket. One, just row after row of liquid candy. But I found a bottle when I stopped at the store. It said, "5% real juice." and I thought, "i can call that healthy, can't I?" and I said, "no, I better get something more." and then I went and I found

Something else and it was 50% real juice! I said, "well, I do want it, something sweet. I'm going to treat myself." it was actually-- I enjoyed it very much. But I thought to myself, "50% real juice." I thought, "what is the other 50%?" it's just watered down or sugar or artificial--I mean, how many of you grew up on kool-aid? That's just--there were no strawberries in that strawberry kool-aid. Not a drop of real strawberries, you know. Turned our insides pink with that red food dye, but you weren't getting any real nutrition in that. But sometimes we're more interested in quantity than quality. You know, during the dark ages, one of the--the reason the dark ages spiritually came to the church is because for a while there, you know, when the Christian church was really healthy spiritually, they were being persecuted. Their religion was forbidden.

They were all very strong because they spent their time digging tunnels underneath Rome in the different roman cities called catacombs because they were not allowed to practice their religion in the open. And they appreciated their faith so much they actually dug these tunnels. And whenever they put a new subway in, or they start to build in Rome, they run into a new catacomb. Thousands and thousands and thousands of miles, I’m not exaggerating, of tunnels in these underground cities that were built during this era, first 200 years of Christian history. 'Cause it was a forbidden religion. And they were throwing the Christians to the lions and they were burning them at the stake and they were putting them in the prisons and working them in the mines. And you know what? Christians, if you decided to be a Christian, you realized this may cost me my life. This medicine is a bitter pill but you knew you had everlasting life. I remember reading about in the mines where many of the Christians worked. You can still go look at some of these roman mines where the Christians were put there and they worked them until they died.

That some of the Christians had etched on the walls, "vita, vita, vita." and the translation was, "life, life, life, I have life." here they are dying in these dark coal mines and they're joyful. But then something happened in Rome. Constantine, needing to swell the ranks of his empire, 'cause there was a civil war between him and maximus. Maximus is somebody-- they were all maximus back then. He had a war and he ostensibly said, "I’ve had a vision. I'm now supposed to fight under the sign of the cross." and he didn't know practically anything about Christianity, but they painted some Christian symbols on their swords. He told all of his soldiers, he said, "we're to fight under the symbol of the God of the Christians now." and many of them marched into the Tiber river for this battle and they were all pagans. And all of a sudden they figured they were Christians when they came out the other side. But they really hadn't been taught. And when the emperor decided to tolerate Christianity and he said he was going to conquer under the sign of Christianity—Constantine himself was not baptized until just before his death. But all of a sudden it became the in-thing to be a Christian. Because they had been oppressed. You know in our culture, sometimes what is bad is suddenly called good among the young people? Everything bad is sort of cool.

Well, Christians were like outlaws. They were forbidden. All of a sudden the emperor says, "yeah, Christians are okay." everybody wanted to be a Christian. And it became very chic to be a Christian. All these Christians came pouring, all these pagans came pouring into the church, saying, "i want to be a Christian. I want to be--" and the pastors, they didn't know exactly how to handle it all. And some of them said, "this is wonderful that the pagans are coming. God is doing a wonderful thing." and they said, "you know, we ought to make it easy for them to come.

They've got to make a lot of changes. Let's not make it tough on them because things might go back the way they were when we were persecuted. Let's make it easy on 'em." Christians, there were idols everywhere in Rome. Matter of fact, one historian said, "there were more idols in Rome than Romans." they had idols of everything and the Christians all came to the priest, the pagans all came and said, "we want to be Christians. What do we do with all our statues?" and some of them said, "throw them out!" and they said, "what? Wait a second here." and the other pastors were saying, "what, wait, wait, go slow! We got to bring them in slowly. Tell them to give Christian names to their idols and we'll take care of it later." let 'em--first thing is let 'em come to Christ just like they are and let 'em keep their idols and don't make it tough on them. And so they said, "give 'em new names." so they named their idols peter, James, John, Mary and whatever. And a lot of these pagan practices began to come into the church so that in one generation just about, about a hundred years, Christianity became the commingling of paganism and some scripture.

They diluted the gospel for the sake of having quantity instead of quality. And then you had the dark ages for the next 1,260 years. Could we do that? Would that ever happen again? Maybe it already has. The temptation to invite people into the church--i sometimes hear pastors arguing. And they say, "don't ask them to quit smoking or drinking before they join the church. Let 'em come. Make it easy for them to come to Christ and baptize 'em. And you know the Lord will deal with these things in his own time." and then what happens is the come in and years later they're still chained to these things. Where baptism is to represent a new beginning, A liberation, a changed life. Doesn't mean you're perfect. But it means these addictions to sin should be left behind. Let me read something to you from the book, "bible training school." this is written July 1, 1902. "men and women have many habits that are antagonistic to the principles of the bible.

The victims of strong drink and tobacco are corrupting body, soul and spirit. Such ones should not be received into the church until they give evidence that they are truly converted, that they feel the need of faith, that works of love and that--" I’m sorry. "they feel the need of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The truth of God will purify the true believer. He who is thoroughly converted will abandon every defiling habit and appetite. By total abstinence he will overcome the desires for health-destroying indulgences." let me read you one more that's on the same theme, "our churches are becoming enfeebled." now this was written in 1904. This is "the review in herald," October 6th, written 1904. "our churches are becoming enfeebled by receiving for doctrines the commandments of men. Men are received into the church," and this means women too. "many are received into the church who are not converted. Men and women and children are allowed to take part in the solemn right of baptism without being fully instructed in regard to the meaning of this ordinance. Participation in this ordinance means much and our minister should be careful to give each candidate for baptism plain instruction regarding its meaning and its solemnity."

Let me tell you how this works. I've been in this conference for 25 years now, northern California, been a pastor here. And I used to be a conference evangelist, used to be on the evangelism counsel. And when we'd get together and you report on their meetings, we did it right after our meetings we just had here, what's the first thing do you think a conference president is gonna want to know? "how did the meetings go?" "good!" "oh, well that's great. So how many were baptized? After all, we gave you a sizable budget. We'd like to see some results." and I would ask the same question if I was the conference president. Wouldn't you? Are we just throwing the money away or are we seeing results? How do you measure the results? How many were baptized? So what's the evangelist and the pastor thinking? The success of my efforts are going to be measured by how many are baptized. So I got some people here who are getting ready for baptism and "oh man, now they may need a little more time but, oh, I sure would like to report that they've gotten baptized and," and there's this tension to maybe baptize people before they're really ready.

Did you hear me confess that I’m guilty of this? Amazing facts evangelists, we're all faced with the same temptations. We talk about it all the time, so we try and stave off that temptation. And what happens if you do bring people in more and more before they really understand, before they're really taught, before they're really converted, before they really surrender their hearts? What happens to the members? Could it be a diluting of commitment? Could it be the church has become enfeebled? That the power of being a follower of Jesus loses its strength, where pretty soon it gets to the place where we come together, we go through a ritual once a week, and we go out and live like the world? Instead of winning souls to Christ and living Godly lives, this is danger that through diluting the gospel, we're doing exactly what the devil wants in weakening the power, the efficiency. Is this a tough subject, friends? Is this true? It's a real danger.

I--a lot of pastors will preach smooth things to try to increase the numbers and you know, in the mega churches they've got something they call now "gospel light." you know, they got the unsweetened version, it's light. And so people come and they say, "look, we want you to just-- you come to church, you just be comfortable. We want to make it as easy as it can be for you. Matter of fact, after the service we're going to have coffee and donuts for you out there. Don't worry about dressin' up. If you want to come in your beach clothes, just however-- we just want you to come." and so, you know, if you offer enough perks, you can get anybody off the street to come in. And then once you get 'em in, you better not preach the hard things 'cause you talk to them about their pet sins, are they going to come back? Can you see the temptation? Just preach smooth things, build the ranks and say, "look, I’ve got 10,000 people coming to my church. Only three of them know Jesus but i--" and I just held up two fingers. Only--but 10,000, so it must be success! How does God view success? Is it the quantity or the quality?

Smooth things Isaiah 30:9-10, he says that, "this is a rebellious people. Lying children, children who do not hear the law of the Lord, who say to the seers," the prophets, "'do not see.' and to the prophets, 'do not prophesy to us right things. Speak to us smooth things.'" prophesy deceits. Tell us what we want to hear. There's a risk for that. Now, how are you going to know that you're not getting a diluted gospel from me or the pastors here? What's your safety? You got to read it yourself. You got to mix your own medicine. And you know you're gonna get it right if you do it yourself. Do you got any things like that that you do yourself?

I got a chainsaw up in Covelo. Actually I got about five chainsaws. I like to mix my own gas. You know, you can't just put regular gas. If you want to ruin a perfectly good chainsaw, just pour gas in it. You got to mix in two-cycle oil with the gas. And you got to mix the right amount. You don't mix enough; you're going to burn up your engine in one day. Ask me how I know. If I care that much about my chainsaw gas, how should I care about my soul? You think I’m going to trust you to tell me what the gospel is and not find out for myself when my eternal life is at stake? You need to study the word for yourself so you know. Because there's going to be a lot of preachers out there that there are wolves in sheep's clothing, that they're going to be tempted to show success.

They're going want to you like them. They'll be more interested in your liking them than God liking them. And so they're going to tell you what you want to hear. And you got to know for yourself what the gospel says. Otherwise they'll be preaching smooth things. You know, one of our problems in our culture is we're eating smooth things. Our food is so hyper-refined, we don't get the grist that we need and there's all kinds of problems associated with that. John MacArthur I listen to occasionally, I think he's a good man of God. "watered down, diluted theology will fail to produce deep reverence, deep worship, deep repentance, deep humility, deep understanding of God's nature, his work, his ministry, his laws, his standards, his principles. It fails to make people of God, people that are God-centered." if you want to have God-centered people who have depth, then you can't dilute the gospel. You know that house that survives when the storm comes?

It says, "He that hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who digs deep." Luke says it that way. Matthew leaves out the "deep" part. Luke says he digs deep until he gets bedrock. And we need to have more depth. This shallow relationship with the Lord, it's not going to cut it in the last days. We need a faith that's going to stand so not only can we tell others the reason of what we believe, we need a faith that's going to stand so if we've got to defend our faith before kings and rulers, we're going to know where to turn. We can't say, "but my pastor said! I can't remember where it was, but he said it! I'm almost sure!" I hear a lot of people say that during our bible answer program Sunday night. I'm assuming some of you listen. But a lot of people call in and they say, "Pastor, it says in the bible somewhere it's okay to drink a little bit for Christians." I’ve never hear that before. I said, "now, where exactly is that in the bible?" well he said, "I don't know, but I heard my pastor say it." so you tell me where it is. You guys got the computer there, the bible computer. Tell me. I said, "that's not in the bible." "really? But my pastor said, and we always hear him quoting these made-up verses and principles." I said, "ah, that's not in the bible." and these dear people are sincere! We've got to know, a lot of folks are being deceived.

An undiluted gospel is going to involve real repentance for sin. A sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. What does repentance mean? "remorse, regret, contrition for past sin. To feel such regret so as to change one's mind regarding it, as in repenting of intemperate behavior. To change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one's sins." what's the first thing that john the Baptist said when he started preaching about the kingdom of God? I want to be in that kingdom. "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." first words that Jesus preached, "repent." now why would God tell us to do something we can't do? If the Lord tells us to repent, that would mean that when we come to him and we pray and we say, "Lord, I want--I’m sorry for my sins and if I’m not sorry enough, will you show me, will you give me your spirit? Help me to realize what I’ve got to deal with." some of you felt fine until you went to the doctor, right? Then the doctor said, "hey, we got a test back." "i thought I was fine." "well you know what? your blood test says you got a problem." "what?" so don't go to the doctor. That's the answer, right? Yeah, a lot of people have done that until it's too late. You go to the Lord and you get on your knees, say, "Lord, show me my sins. Am I doing anything? Search me. Try me. Lord, is there something in my life that's disappointing you?

I want to know that I’m pleasing you." Jesus said in Luke 5, "i have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." did Jesus come to call you? He came to call me. How many of you want to be filled with his spirit? Do you know before you can be filled with the spirit, you must repent? Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist said, "i baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that's coming after me is mightier than I whose shoes I’m not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. But first comes the baptism of repentance, then comes the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire." acts 2, peter said in verse 37, "repent every one of you and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." repentance precedes, a full-strength gospel precedes reception and filling of the Holy Spirit. James 4:7, "therefore submit to God, resist the devil, and he'll flee from you.

Draw near to God and he'll draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep." who wants to be left in that condition? "let you laughter be turned to mourning, your joy to gloom. Humble yourself in the site of God." and then what happens? Does he leave you there? "and then he will lift you up." then you have that real joy that's based on a true lab report. "nine testimonies," 189, "if we would humble ourselves before the Lord and be kind and courteous and tender-hearted and pitiful, there'd be 100 conversions to the truth where there is now but 1." along with repentance must be restitution and reform. "if our wicked," this is Ezekiel 33:15, part of repentance. "if the wicked restore the pledge and gives back what he has stolen and walks in the statues of life without committing inequity, he will surely live and shall not die." so it's just saying, "Lord, I’m sorry for my sin." you might need to go to some people that you've hurt or offended and say, "you know, I need to ask your forgiveness," to apologize, to—maybe this--you know, if you've borrowed my rake three years ago, and you say, "hey I’ve accepted Jesus now and now everything's been forgiven Doug. Thanks for the rake." no!

If you've accepted Jesus, you better bring my rake back! You know what I’m saying? And so sometimes repentance means that there's a reformation of some tangible changes. I always get so excited when people come to an evangelistic meeting, and they hear the gospel and they come to me and they say, "Pastor, I got to talk to you." I say, "yeah." they say, "well, I want to accept Jesus. I want to be forgiven and the Holy Spirit’s convicting me. You know, I was taking stuff from my boss. And I think I need to go tell him." I said, "praise God!" because that's the Holy Spirit that talks to people that way. I heard about one revivalist preacher went through Belfast, Ireland. He's preaching a straight message. And he talked about repentance and reform and committing themselves to the Lord. They all worked in the shipyard. And so many men were convicted of their sins that the shipyard had to build houses to take all of the tools back.

They didn't have room for it all. Because you know what that means? That's when the Holy Spirit is working in a community. When people say, "hey, we got to start living like real Christians and making some of these tangible changes in our lives." you know, back in the old days when people practiced hospitality, there weren't hotels anywhere. A stranger might show up and you took him into the farm and you say, "yeah, we'll give you a place to sleep." and maybe they came and you didn't know they were coming right around dinner time. And they used to say, "don't worry, we'll put some more water in the soup." you ever heard that expression? I remember going to the pastor who baptized me. Whenever I’d show up, I always showed up around dinner. He says, "Brother Doug, don't you worry! We'll just put some more water in the soup." now in theory that can go too far. During the wars, you read some of these POW.s that will tell you when they were in concentration camps, they said they put so much water in the soup that it got, especially near the end of the war when they had no food for the prisoners, they said it was basically soup with a little salt and it was water with a little salt in it. There was nothing in there. And even some of the soldiers said there was no soup in the water.

It had been diluted so much. But you know the wonderful thing about the salvation that the Lord offers, it doesn't need to be diluted. You don't need to dilute the blood of Jesus for there to be enough to go around. There's enough for everybody. There's enough to go around. It's potent enough that it doesn't matter how much of a transfusion of Jesus’ blood you receive. There's always plenty left. It doesn't need to be diluted. And I just like to--I’d like to share with you that that's my desire is to be—really to be filled with the spirit and to have an undiluted gospel in my life live it. Don't you want that to be in our church? That we encourage one another to be real bible Christians by studying for ourselves so we really know what constitutes having a relationship with the Lord and being saved. There is a fountain filled with blood, 336.

Let's pray.

Dear loving father, Lord, our hearts are stirred as we consider this principle. We've all got the natural tendency to want to widen the gate and water down the message to make things as attractive and pleasing as we can at the risk of eliminating the potency of the message. Now Lord, I pray that you'll help to both receive and to share the power of the gospel in full measure. Lord, we don't want to just have a form without the power. We want to have all of the truth, Lord, that sets us free. I pray that you'll forgive us for this temptation and tendency to only go after the smooth things. I pray, Lord, that we'll take the full message and let it do its work in our lives. Bless each person here. Help us to know for ourselves as we study the word what is truth. We want to not only be hearers but doers of your word. Pour out your spirit, Lord, on your people and bless this church and help us to be faithful both in the pew and in the pulpit. We thank you and we're asking these things in the name of your son, Jesus, amen.

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