As we watch the world markets and listen to the economic news, we often hear about countries like China which devalue their currency. Devaluation isn’t accidental nor is it a normal part of the market ups and downs within a free trade environment. It is intentional. By definition, it is something that only a government can do in regard to its own currency. Someone might ask, “Why would they do that?”
While there are a lot of inherent risks involved, some governments do decide to lower the valuation of their own currency to make products they export cheaper. If the currency is devalued in China, the cost to produce and then export a television made in China also drops. That television then becomes more appealing to a consumer in Texas who wants a bigger screen with which to watch the Super Bowl. Additionally, the cost to export a television made in this country to a market in China just increased. Chinese workers, whose currency has just been devalued, have no incentive to buy an expensive import. Thus, goods made in China have no real competition from world markets. True, eventually the strategy fails because without competition manufacturers have no incentive to improve their products; but until that happens, it can be a very appealing concept.
Men have been doing that with the gospel of Christ for a long, long time. The true head of the church is Christ (Eph. 5:23), and He has never devalued the gospel. But for centuries, men have invented churches which are then promoted as the Lord’s church. “We’re all a part of the body of Christ” and “Good people of all denominations will be saved” are a few of their convincing selling points. When people decide to give their lives to Christ but are deceived into doing so through the teachings of a church invented by men, they are almost always assured that the price of redemption is far cheaper than it really is.
The issue is confused with Scripture quotations like, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8), which seems to say that it costs you nothing to be a Christian because the price of redemption was paid in full by Jesus. But that’s a bit deceptive.
Yes, it is true that none of us can purchase our own redemption because we have nothing of value to give in exchange. It is also true that Christ, whose blood was the proper value for salvation, demands from us something that we can give and must give—self. Jesus said we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow after Him (Lk. 14:27). Counting the cost of being His disciple is what the Lord requires (Lk. 14:25-35). If salvation is sold as something that is free to the sinners, requiring little or nothing from them, then it is illegally devalued by men!
The greatest harm of this strategy is, of course, a false sense of salvation based on faulty teachings. But there are other harmful effects as well. Those same man-made churches are now seeing empty pews. The number of congregants who are no longer present or even a part of that denomination is increasing every year, and so the price of salvation continually gets slashed—but the strategy isn’t working. And in the kingdom of the Lord, membership is also declining. You can’t live between Wal-Mart, Target, and the “Dollar Store” for 30 years and not be tempted to buy from them—any more than you can raise your family in an environment where religion is cheap and makes no demands on personal commitment without its own devastating effects! Not only are numbers decreasing, the levels of participation and commitment are also down. And this is a top-to-bottom phenomenon. Elderships have lost sight of what shepherding is and exchange it for management strategies. Preachers and teachers are looking for anything that will get members back in the pews and will keep them there. Competing with a false gospel of cheap salvation often means that the pulpit is more a venue for entertainment than a Christ-centered message of change. Worship is geared to the tastes of those who will attend instead of the demands of the Savior. Families are not looking for a church home where Christ is served but where there are things offered for their children, etc. Competing with denominations in these areas is both futile and suicidal. Devaluing the gospel is devastating!
Keep studying and keep serving! DC Brown ©2016