The Innocuous Gospel

by Dr. Ken Matto

In many modern churches there is a gospel being preached which couldn't stir the wind in a tornado. That gospel being preached is the innocuous gospel. This gospel will not arouse any feeling or give offense in anyone under its teachings. It is a banal and bland, milk and water type gospel which produces no fruit. An old fashioned Wesleyan pastor friend of mine in western Pennsylvania labels this "The Generic Gospel." This type of gospel is normally preached by unsaved or non-convicted clergy and it is adopted in most churches because a person can sit under its teachings and never be offended or provoked in their spirit.
Let me clarify the difference between the Innocuous Gospel and the True Gospel. The true gospel delivers the entire counsel of God which results in fruit bearing whereas the innocuous gospel so muddies and clouds the true gospel that salvation is absent from those congregations. The people might as well walk around with their tombstones because they are dead and just waiting to be buried.
In the early church the true gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire with such fury that it seemed wherever the early Christians went the town went into an uproar:
(Acts 17:6 KJV) And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
(Acts 19:29 KJV) And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
(Acts 16:20 KJV) And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, (1 Th 2:2 KJV) But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Today we can never be sure what type of gospel we are going to hear. The sad part is the world is turning the church upside down. I wish to offer 10 ways to identify the innocuous gospel. If you identify any of these situations in your church or pulpit, then you have become a hearer or preacher of the innocuous gospel (IG).
Very Little Scripture
One of the tenets of the IG is the sermon contains a very low amount of Scripture and normally when Scripture is quoted it is on a subject like love. Of course, the type of love taught is don't offend the unbeliever. A church which embraces the IG will always have a minimal amount of Scripture expounded or even mentioned. A friend of mine was in a Bible conference in America's Keswick in Whiting, NJ and he told me the fellow speaking did not use any more than five Scriptures the whole time. The man has a Ph.D. What else is new? The sorry thing is that this kind of man is always in demand at Bible conferences.
Twisted Scripture
The IG preacher will use a verse and then twist it to skew its meaning toward his sermon, whether it is correct or not. Those who are good at twisting Scriptures are normally your social preachers. They have no idea what the verses mean so they turn it into a social cause. Probably the biggest offenders of Scripture twisting are your prophecy preachers. They look for a physical Antichrist, a thousand year reign of Jesus in Jerusalem, all the Scriptures which mention Israel are automatically devoted to National Israel, etc. Scripture twisting is done to try and change the nature of the gospel from a salvific gospel to a worldly gospel.
Story Time in the Sanctuary
Everybody loves a good story but when the sermon is one big book report, it is a failure. Stories are good if they are illustrations only but when a story is used for the whole sermon, it shows the pastor's inability to apply Scripture to life. This is why so many of them get their psychology degrees, so they can counsel and then have stories for their congregations who love to laugh. Have you ever listened to most of your radio or TV preachers? What is the majority of their content? Stories from counseling sessions or from some book.
No Challenge in the Message
The IG message is normally worthless dribble. Have you ever read a sermon in Scripture which had no challenge? I don't think so. Today's IG preacher refuses to challenge the people which results in church full of spiritual dolts. The message is supposed to be a challenge to our spiritual lives and not a verbal massage to put us to sleep. "Drone" messages are a trademark of the IG assembly.
You are still hearing the same thing you did a year ago
Does the pastor's message ever change? How many different subjects does he preach on in a year? Is he stuck like glue on a single author? Many preachers have a fixation on an author or a science and never leave its track to edify the congregation on other subjects. The IG preacher is no different because familiar authors or subjects are within his comfort zone and he can sound like an eloquent preacher but he fears if he steps out of his comfort zone of preaching topics, he may stumble and the people will then know he is human too.
You haven't grown one bit
Are you spiritually stagnant? Are you still at the same spiritual plateau you were a year ago? If you are in a church which embraces an innocuous gospel, you will never grow in the faith. However, keep in mind that as a Christian you do have a responsibility to do bible study outside of your church but unfortunately if you are receiving spiritual pabulum from the pulpit it will not spark any further interest in your spiritual growth.
The indolent congregants agree with the pastor
Here is where you can tell you are in a church with an insipid gospel. When the preacher teaches a dead gospel and everyone in the congregation agrees with him. Of course, if you raise a question or challenge him, you are the one who will be berated for Christian convictions. This happens normally in dead churches. I remember years ago when another brother and myself were on the hit list in a church I attended simply because we brought the true teachings of God into that church. (Can you imagine the gall on our part? Bringing biblical teachings into a church?) So at a congregational meeting, my friend got up and said that he was leaving the church. At the end of the meeting another person heard someone say in paraphrase, "We got rid of one jerk, now we have one more to go." I was the second jerk.
Incidentally, if you are looking for a description of a church congregational meeting, here is biblical precedence:
(Acts 19:32 KJV) Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
Sermons are 20 minutes with little or no content
Here is the IG's verbal serenade to all those in the congregation who would care not to grow. These little vignettes are only done because they are expected by the people and sometimes they are written in a church constitution. Most 20 minute sermons are 1 text and 20 minutes of impractical and ineffective narrative which couldn't grow coffee in Columbia. After all, our psychologists tell us that attention spans are only good for 30 minutes, after all can the psychologists be wrong? Oh by the way, don't call me after church because there is 6 hours of football on. Wait, isn't that 12 times the attention span? Well, maybe 20 minutes from a dead preacher is better than 1 hour of IG preaching. One principle of IG preaching is that it starts on one level and stays there.
The Sermons are always positive
(Acts 20:27 KJV) For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
IG sermons are always positive and geared toward only the positive. Let us never mention hell, damnation, judgment, born again, salvation, or other terms which could upset the good people in the pews. After all, aren't they doing little league or PTA? How much more does God expect? There is nothing positive about the world system but the IG preacher will keep his people in the dark about truth. After all, isn't a congregation full of smiles the goal? Then when you roll them down the aisle in their caskets, you can assure the people that the person is in heaven because of all the good works they did in the church. After all, didn't he tend bar at a church picnic? I mean someone had to be there who knows how to mix a highball.
The IG has one major addition to the stew and that is psychology. The IG adulterated with the non-scientific, non-objective, and self-obsessing principles of psychology make for a wonderful IG church. Who needs to look to God when we can look to maturing our inner child and heal all the past hurts. Just think we can focus on ourselves for a lifetime, never contribute anything but confusion and self-pity. We can sit in counseling for 25 years and never get healed. The way a Christian gets healed is to grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself.
(Jer 17:9 KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Final comments
The innocuous gospel is a gospel of death. It offers no salvation plan yet does not warn about Hell. The IG preachers are normally political and social and are unsaved themselves. Can a tombstone preach to other tombstones? If you are in an innocuous gospel church then you MUST leave because you cannot and will not grow inside a false church. I know, I tried it and the false church is still flourishing with all the spiritually duncical people still supporting the same false teacher and I am gone from there about 7 years now. Do not stay under the mistaken notion that you can make a difference, because you cannot. You belong with other believers of like mind so you can begin to grow. God does not want to hear things like, "Well, my Grandfather went here and my Father went here." We are commanded to separate or you will suffer spiritually.
(2 Cor 6:17 KJV) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,