Are You a ‘Fifth Gospel’ Christian?
Matthew 5:16 (GW)
In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.
As I was researching the subject of this post, I came across an article that I would like to share with you. It is entitled, “You Are the Fifth Gospel: An Interview with Bobby Conway” and is an interview between Jonathan Petersen, the Manager of Marketing for Bible Gateway, and Pastor Bobby Conway (see photo below) about his book, The Fifth Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, You (Harvest House Publishers, 2014).
(Article url: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2014/07/you-are-the-fifth-gospel-an-interview-with-bobby-conway/)
Petersen: You start your book by quoting 19th-century British evangelist Rodney (Gypsy) Smith: ‘There are five Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian—but most people never read the first four.’ Why did this phrase capture your attention and drive you to write this book?
Dr. Conway: …This quote is truly a game changer. Notice what Gypsy Smith says: “most people never read the first four.” Talk about tragic. Smith’s words carry a great implication. It begs the question, “If the world will never read the first four gospels, then what will they read?” They’ll read you, Christian. And me. They’ll read our lives. Talk about a ‘big gulp’ moment. Yes, you are The Fifth Gospel. And unless you’ve gone undercover, you’re being watched. It’s hard to read this quote as a Christian without asking yourself, “If that’s the case, then am I living like a fifth gospel Christian?” …We are just not supposed to read a quote like this and remain the same. …It’s my desire that The Fifth Gospel will be more than read. Rather, I hope it creates a movement—a fifth gospel movement—whereby the church gains a renewed passion for living beautifully before a watching world… It’s a plea that asks, “Will the real Christian please stand up?”
…Sadly, …many Christian’s have gone incognito for Jesus. God’s not looking for secret service agents in the church… In his letter to Rome, Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The only ‘real’ lost gospel is the one that remains hidden in the hearts of out-of-commission believers. As believers, Great Commission-living isn’t an option, it’s a commandment. As Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). These words not only need to soak in, they need to leak out.
Every Christian’s life is sending a message. The question is, “What kind of message are we sending?” As followers of Jesus, our lives are on display. They’re being read. Paul the apostle, in speaking to the Corinthians said, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:2-3). Our lives tell a story. A narrative. They communicate. But what do they communicate? That’s the question. Our lives are meant to be good news in a bad news world. They’re meant to be contagious. Magnetic. Desirable…
Unfortunately, as a result of falsely depicting the gospel through our lives, lots of people despise our message verses desire it. That’s sad. As Christians, our lives are meant to be lived, differently. That’s what the gospel does. It changes me. And it changes you. Yes, it transforms us. And this isn’t fiction. It’s non-fiction. It’s truth!
John Calvin, once said, “The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.” Calvin knew that the gospel was bigger than a tongue doctrine, that its also a life doctrine. In The Fifth Gospel, I’m stressing a desperate need for the Christian to live louder, not preach louder. That doesn’t mean the believer should put his words on pause. God forbid. As Paul declared in Romans 10:14, “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” Paul was all about presenting the gospel, but not at the expense of portraying the gospel.
We enhance our impact when our words align with our works… It’s both audio and visual. Audio-visual Christianity provides the greatest impact for our witness. The reality is, every Christian is on stage whether they like it or not. And the world is our audience. The world needs to hear and see our message. That’s what brings color to our Christianity… We’d all be served well to remember Paul’s words to the Philippians, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-16).
…The world doesn’t value weakness, but God does. The Bible says, “For my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Nor does the world value suffering, but God does. Paul reveled at the opportunity to suffer for Christ’s sake. He said, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10)…
Oh, the difference our joy can make. Or the way we love one another. Remember Jesus’ words, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). What was Jesus saying? He was teaching his disciples how to distinguish themselves in the world; how to live like Fifth Gospel Christians…
God met Abraham, Joshua, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Naaman, Gideon, and the disciples when they followed him in the ridiculous. Not only that, many onlookers saw that God distinguishes his people by leading them in the apparent ridiculous…
It saddens me to think that Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He never saw the distinguished church. The distinguished believer! The Fifth Gospel is a call to distinguish your life for Christ, Christian…
Like food, the Bible should play a key role in our lives. Just as we don’t avoid eating food, we shouldn’t avoid feasting on God’s Word. Imagine if you craved Bible intake as much as you do food intake. And what would happen to our physical bodies if we ignored food the way we often ignore God’s Word? As humans, we’re both material and non-material beings; configured of both body and soul. And just as our bodies need to be frequently fed and exercised to stay healthy so too do our souls need daily spiritual development to grow. The Bible is our soul food… the Scriptures weren’t given merely for our information, but for our transformation. As James, the half brother of Jesus so aptly put it, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
…Bible study must lead to life change. That’s the role of the Word in our daily life… the more you read the Word and adjust your life to it, the bigger your fifth Gospel witness will become. That’s why living a word-adjusted life is important!
Imagine if Christians everywhere started asking each other, “Are you a fifth Gospel Christian?” May we all call each other to really live out our faith!
I encourage you to follow the link at the top of this post to read the full article. Let’s live out this concept and truly be the ‘fifth Gospel’ to the ‘readers’ around us every day!
Are you a ‘fifth Gospel’ Christian?!