Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is the gospel?

It gnaws continually at your inner spiritual knowledge; You can't quite put your finger on it, but you know something is just not right. As much as you love the Lord, you feel that the way the gospel is presented just doesn't make sense. And yet, you cannot seem to prove it; even to yourself. You have given up trying. You never voice what you really believe because you are afraid that someone might call you a heretic and yell at you or, that they might accuse you of not really being saved. Friend, you are not alone. No, you are merely proving that you have been born from above. You know deep in your heart that God is a God of mercy love and grace and yet when you voice it, someone always says well you don't know God very well. The truth is that they do not know God.

One of the many questions that plague many believers is, what is the gospel? It should be such a basic well known fact but it is shrouded by a myriad of interpretations of the content of the gospel.

Some churches call themselves full gospel churches as if some churches do not have the full gospel. John Macarthur has written a book entitled The Gospel According to Jesus as if, this gospel is different than the accepted gospel. This causes great confusion and indecision as to meaning of the gospel. Can the question ever be answered?

What did Paul say?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4, KJV "1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" This alone is the gospel or Paul is an unreliable witness. How can I make this statement? Well, if one believes that Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit, then, this becomes one of God's sovereign decrees of redemption. No one can waffle on the gospel or Paul has misrepresented this bold declaration. What does he say first? "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you"This is very clear language. Paul is telling them that he is going to explain the gospel in its entirety to them. this is the gospel he preached. Then he adds even more, "which also ye have received" So, this is the gospel he preached and it is the gospel they received. Look at this passage line by line and precept by precept. One could not make it any plainer. He is intending to present by declaration (a forceful word) the gospel he proclaimed. This is such a clear statement with such a precise intent that it would be impossible to believe that the gospel would be anything other than what he is now declaring. Further, if the statement is not the full gospel then Paul is unreliable. He solidifies this position by making the following additional statement; which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. This is not only the gospel he proclaimed. It is also the gospel that the Corinthians believed and it is the gospel by which they stand. But he doesn't stop there. He goes on to say that it is by which also ye are saved. 

These statements are examples of Holy Spirit inspired sovereign decrees of God Almighty. The plain fact is that the gospel cannot be any more or less than what Paul is about to proclaim. If it were Paul is unreliable. The gospel is the epitome of reductionism. The following is the gospel in its entirety. for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: Thats it. It is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus and that is all. The message of chapter fifteen is that the resurrection of Jesus made possible the resurrection of everyone else. The good news is that there is a resurrection and one can take part in the resurrection by believing the good news.

For a further look into the gospel we must look at Acts Chapter ten. This is an interesting and familiar story. It tells of the first Gentile conversion. Cornelius was a Roman Centurion and the account of his conversion and the conversion of all in his household is very instructive as to the scope, content, and nature of the gospel message. We will look at the passage. Act 10:1-2 Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a Centurion of the band called the Italian band, (2) a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. The chapter opens telling of the qualities of Cornelius. He had wealth, power and position because he was a Centurion. Cornelius was a devout man. By devout it is meant that he was pious or religious. There were three more qualities mentioned in his bio. He feared God, he was generous with the poor, and he prayed without ceasing. By Puritan standards, this man was a exemplary individual. He would have been a great candidate for Promise Keepers. The fact we find, in reading the account is that his high standard of moral conduct was not sufficient before God to give him salvation. The Great Deception on the other hand, has humanity convinced that this type of behavior would show that he was a child of God and would keep him safe in that status. The clear fact however was that Cornelius was lost and hell bound without the sovereign intervention of the grace of God.

He was visited by and angel that told him that his prayers had been heard by God and that he should send to Joppa for Simon Peter who was lodging with Simon the Tanner. While this was going on, Peter ends up on the roof ofSimons home at the time for dinner. While waiting for his meal to be served he fell into a trance and had a vision of a great sheet with each of the four corners tied full of all kinds of four-footed animals. A voice in the vision tells Peter to get up kill the animals and eat. Peter protests because he does not want to break any of the Jewish dietary laws by saying that no unclean animal has ever touched his lips. The voice went on to say three times. Peter, do not call that which God has cleansed unclean. This message has great allegorical significance but Peter does not realize it at the time. In the meantime Cornelius men arrive at the door to beckon Peter to come with them to meet with Cornelius. When Peter arrived and found out why he was sought he understood that the gospel was to be given to the Gentiles also. After all, with Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free. The gospel is for all who will believe.

Why has the gospel been made so complicated? The answer lies in the Great Deception. It has been called a strong delusion. 2Thessalonians 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. God has sent this delusion. God has given us the great deception. Why? The reason is, from the beginning men would not believe the simplicity of the gospel. And, to this very day, you have men,  deceived such as John MacArthur, not only believing a lie but also perpetuating it.

1 comment:

  1. It’s funny (strange) how we will believe a lie before we will believe the truth. It seems as though we can accept the bad that is said about us, but when it comes to good things said about us it is hard for us to swallow that. We are Kings Kids, children of the most High God, we are victorious, we are the head and not the tail, we are made in the image of God! These are things that we don’t believe, but let someone call us dumb, stupid, fat, good for nothing, you will never be nothing; we will gravitate to those negative words so quick it will make your head spin.


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