Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Different Gospel; The gospel distorted Part 4


Galatians 1:6-7 NASB I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (7) which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

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?

The answer to this question is two-fold. First, the Jews, the audience that Jesus targeted were first century second temple Jews. Furthermore, and this is important... His only targeted audience was the Jews. Likewise, his audience was Torah observant Jews. This group held the scribes and the Pharisees up as authoritative except for the Sadducee's. They saw the priesthood as authoritative, both groups viewed the Torah as authoritative and the scribes and Pharisees also thought that the Mishna, the oral tradition was authoritative. The second audience of the first century New Testament scriptures was converted Gentiles. Some were God-fearing Gentiles that were already attached to the Jewish community and the synagogues, and some were Gentiles that were converted to Christianity without much knowledge of the Jewish religion. The God-fearing Gentiles saw the Torah and the scribes and Pharisees as authoritative, and those who simply converted to Christianity only saw the apostles as authoritative. However, all of the believers also saw the apostles as authoritative. Confused yet? It was a lot more complicated than one first assumes. Still I will look at how this makes the gospel of today distorted.

Now let's look at who the modern day evangelicals see as authoritative and what they hold to be authoritative. If you asked the question to most you would get the answer the bible. That is the source that most evangelicals find as the ultimate authority. Next in line would be the collection of doctrine that the church as a whole has called orthodox. The doctrine exists in creeds, faith statements, and theological writings. Finally, evangelicals believe that the Holy Spirit will bring about illumination that will help one to understand the bible. The thing that is glaringly absent in the evangelical view of what is authoritative is the apostles. That is interesting in view of the fact, that for the first century church, apostolic authority was number one. The source of apostolic authority was the Holy Ghost. Look at this passage: Acts 2:42 HCSB "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers." Yes, the apostles doctrine was number one. The apostles teaching and doctrine were one in the same. The Greek word for teaching is DIDACHE, and it was translated as doctrine in the KJV.

Well, what exactly was the apostle's teaching/doctrine? Here is something you can take to the bank. It was much more oral than it was written.... let me repeat that for effect... it was much more oral than it was written. This makes it far more difficult to understand exactly what the apostle's teaching was. It takes what I call reading between the lines to actually cipher what they taught in totality. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church rightfully claim apostolic succession. That means that they can historically trace their roots all the way back to the second century. Of course they claim that they can trace it back to the first century but the fact is that from the destruction of the temple there was a forty-year silence. In other words, there is nothing written during that time that would prove apostolic succession.

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.

Comments Welcomed!!

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