ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
March 13, 2015
This is a letter to our friends –
Two Christian views – both valid
Christ summed up the whole Bible when He answered the question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” –
If we can all agree that our Creator God has invested the last 6,000+ years doing His best to teach man how to love God and love others, we have a point of agreement to build upon.
I have recently enjoyed reading Stephen McDowell’s book, “Biblical Revival and the Transformation of Nations.” (Providence Foundation March, 2013) In it, McDowell traces an historical shift in revival focus.
“Much good came from the Second Great Awakening [1790-1840]: Millions of people were converted to Christ, morality increased, the church grew, slavery ended in large part due to the impetus of renewed Biblical values. However, the seeds of theological ideas contrary to those of the great revivals before this, began to be planted within the church. Fruition of these seeds became evident in the ‘revivals’ of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
“As pietism [extremely strict devotion] began to affect the church, many began to teach, what has more recently been called, the ‘Two Chapter Gospel’ instead of the ‘Four Chapter Gospel’. …”
The “Two Chapter Gospel”
Chapter 1 Fall – Man is fallen and needs a Savior. Christ came to earth to restore man’s relationship to God.
Chapter 2 Redemption – So that man may live with Him throughout eternity, and the consummation of the end of the age.
The focus is upon the salvation of man. The work of the church is to see as many people saved as possible. In this view the Kingdom of God is largely about man’s salvation and life in eternity.
“These two chapters (Fall and Redemption) are certainly true and important, but this is not the whole Gospel story. The ‘Four Chapter Gospel,’ which is what the church generally believed and preached for eighteen centuries, recognizes God’s created order and purpose before the Fall as well as the broad redemptive work of Christ.”
The “Four Chapter Gospel”
Chapter 1 Creation – God’s creation is good. Man, vice-regent of earth, is created in God’s image. The ‘Creation Commission’ and ‘Cultural Mandate’ require man to work with what he has and replenish it.. (Genesis 1:26-28;2:15)
Chapter 2 Fall – Man disobeyed God. Everything got messed up. Expelled – man, could no longer care for God’s creation. (Genesis 3:6-19; 6:5, 11)
Chapter 3 Redemption – Christ came into the world to restore all that sin had affected. Not only man, but all creation which groans for His redemption. (John 3:16; Romans 8:9-22)
Chapter 4 Restoration – Personal conversion is important. For what purpose have you entered the Kingdom of God? If we are to learn to love God and love others we must work to restore His creation order of things. Loving God and loving others obliges us to fulfill the “Cultural or Dominion Mandate.”
“The end of redemptive history is seen with the coming of the ‘New Jerusalem’ (Revelation 3:12), the City of God. When the new city comes, the ‘tree of life’ (Revelation 22:12), the same tree of life in the garden, is now in the midst of a developed city. The Cultural Mandate has been fulfilled. This is the consummation.”
Charles Finney, a major American evangelist of the “Four Chapter Gospel,” preached in America’s “First Great Awakening” (1731 – 1755) Concerning the Kingdom of God, he wrote:
"Every member must work or quit. No honorary members. … Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation. …
“The church must take right ground in regard to politics. … Every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. …
“God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground.
“Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God.
“It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take."
Stephen McDowell concludes his chapter with, “We are not redeemed to get to Heaven, but to bring Heaven to earth. … The creation itself will be set free through Christ’s redeeming work. (Romans 8:19-22) …
“While Finney and others taught that Christians must change civil society, the conversion of men began to become primary, and by the end of the nineteenth century much of the church had abandoned teaching societal transformation. [They] preached the sovereignty of God, but they did not think it applied to the state. The state began to assume the role of the sovereign in regards to law, education, economics, and pubic life.”
We, as the body of Christ, need to be praying for a “Four Chapter Gospel” revival.