In this excerpt of the sermon, the preacher uses Jesus’ suffering as an example for how Christians should suffer with perseverance in order to gain victory. He describes how Jesus was discouraged in the garden of Gethsemane, and how he had to walk the long road with the heavy cross and then spend three days in a grave, but that he eventually gained victory. In the same way, he describes how Christians are beaten down and get discouraged every day when they sin or have a bad attitude, but that they must persevere so that they may gain victory in the end and fulfill their dreams. Because Jesus now lives, He wants Christians to live as well, and he has an abundant life in store for them. When suffering and hard times occur, it is because God is trying to strengthen, grow, and encourage Christians on the inside.
This sermon depicts what Trevin Wax would refer to as the “Fill’er Up Gospel” which is a subdivision of the “Therapeutic Gospel.” The preacher is telling the story of the crucifixion of Christ, but instead of explaining the real significance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin, he uses the event as an allegory to encourage Christians on how to work through struggles and achieve their dreams. His major emphasis is placed on the idea that every person has a wonderful, abundant life in store for them, where they experience victory in their life over things they currently struggle with. All they need to do is remember that Christ also experienced struggles and setbacks, but he pressed on and didn’t give up, and eventually achieved victory in the resurrection. In the same way Christians must not give up, so that they can experience their own personal “resurrection.”
This message is attractive to many people because it offers encouragement, like a pep-talk at half-time in a big football game or a therapy session. It makes people feel as though they really can make it through and achieve victory, just like Christ did. However, this gospel is an absolute counterfeit, because it completely ignores the problem of sin, and misrepresents the significance of Christ’s death. The point of the crucifixion was to pay the penalty for the sin of mankind, not to merely show a good example of how to persevere through trial and win. In this gospel, God simply becomes a way to help people get through life and be happy, rather than the merciful creator and king who deserves eternal glory and praise. Belief in this type of gospel will cause people to miss salvation, because they will be so busy trying to fix their lives and achieve their dreams, that they wont realize that repentance and trust in Christ is what salvation is really about.