This is the fourth post in this series. So what is it that makes me believe that the gospel... that is presented today by the evangelical church is a different gospel.... a distorted gospel? Well, the answer lies in who and what the current evangelical church holds up as authorities and what they hold as authoritative. I will look at how this affects the understanding of the gospel and in turn, how it distorts it.
I would like to focus on question three: Who had the intended readers held up as authorities before the writing?
It is at this juncture that 2 Thessalonians 2:11 HCSB comes into play; "(11) For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false." Earlier in the chapter, in verse three there is a warning of a great apostasy. So the question becomes did it happen? It was certainly prophesied for the time frame of the intended audience. Here is the facts as I see them; if the great falling away did not come, then apostolic succession should be in place up until today, and we all should be either Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Or, if the Reformation was justified, then it is necessary that the great apostasy happened back at the time Paul prophesied.
These facts alone should raise doubt about the authenticity of the gospel as it is currently described by evangelical orthodoxy. I am not saying that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is not the gospel it most definitely is. What has been lost is the operation of the gospel as a transformation catalyst. The gospel alone without self effort was the driving force in transformation in the first century saints. It was faith in the gospel alone that prepared the heart to love God, and love each other.
This is getting lengthy and I will actually divide it into two bites this being the first. In the next post, I will expand into what the apostles taught about grace and law and transformation.