Does Your Church Disregard The Gospel of Scripture?September 4, 2007
Most Christians today are not equipped to share their faith and preach the gospel to others. Many Christians are genuinely saved by the gospel, but do not genuinely know it. As the church, we must restore the gospel message as revealed in Scripture, for it is our pillar. It is not merely a foundation we move on from. It is an intricate facet to all which we believe, think, say, do, and feel.
The gospel is the portal by which sinners enter the eternal Kingdom of God. However, far too often this is only known to be the gospel. The gospel also brings us hope from guilt, Satan’s lies (in the now), and assurance of our peace with God’s judgment (later), and does so continually. Therefore, the gospel is just as useful for the believer as the unbeliever because we forget these things every single night! Our natural inclination is to hide when we sin instead of taking a sigh of relief that Christ reconciled us to Himself in spite of our constant mess-ups.
Sadly, many Christians don’t have this relief. While the gospel should serve as a constant reminder (hence the helmet of salvation in Eph 6) that we still have hope in Christ, many have even failed to understand it initially! Namely, that no matter how great our sin is, Jesus Christ is a far greater Savior. This amazing grace is the foundation by which our works can be freely carried out. These are to be works out of enormous love and appreciation for our Lord. That is, instead of serving Him out of despair because we think He accepts us by our performance or willingness to want Him bad enough. But how can anyone serve God with the most rest, thus, serve Him the most best, unless they know the real gospel initially?
So what is the problem? It is simple. People love poop more than truth.
2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Whether it’s Joel Olsteen saying “Jesus died so you wouldn’t live a mediocre life but have total victory”, Joyce Meyer saying “we’re little gods”, T.D. Jakes believing in modalism, or God personally faxing Todd Bentley that He will come to his church in person, the North American Church has compromised on the true and beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. We have sought to not offend people, while all along God is offended by sinners who need the gospel.
We have replaced the real gospel with therapy, flattery, and behavior modifications. This is instead of revealing the real gospel which says that our sin stretches to the end of the universe, but that God’s love stretches all the way back. God is holy. What sinner can approach Him and live? Jesus Christ is our bridge builder. He lived the life we couldn’t, was slaughtered under God’s just wrath so that we didn’t have to be, and rose to prove it all satisfactory!
Jesus Christ did all this, not for His own saving benefit, but for those who change their mind and ways to live for Him. It is for those who trust in His work, and receive His costly yet free love. Costly because of the price, but free because He did it no matter the price. When you look at the cross, see the horror of your sin. Indeed see it, but not only it. Also see the saving love of God which should make your heart beat out of your chest. The ugliness of sin as revealed in the gospel is not for the faint of heart. However, the beauty of God’s love as revealed in the gospel will undeniably make one’s heart faint.
Oh God… who will see you and your gospel aright? I tremble at the thought to see it be so…
Secondly, Satan has also overpowered our hearts and minds with his lies and people have not known the gospel for what it truly is.
Acts 26:17-18 “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
While Satan was reigning in this world and confusing people of the truth, God sent His Son to undo the Devil’s work and expose Satan’s lies for what they are. This is an act of God’s grace in the immediate age.
2 Timothy 1:9-10 “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Further, God has ultimately saved us from Himself due to our lawlessness whereby we believe and love Satan’s lies – as they also become our sins and lies. God saving us from the wrath we deserve in the person of Jesus Christ is an ultimate act of grace in the final age. As John Piper writes in His book ‘God is the gospel’, he states “The King must die before he reigns. Otherwise the justice of his reign would only bring judgment and not salvation.”
Rom 5:9 “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
If God established His Kingdom apart from the cross of Christ, all who are found to be lawless (Satan, demons, and all people who ever lived!) would perish. But because of the works of Christ, those who are redeemed back to God through the cross will reign with Him forever. The cross was the place and time where our infinite dept was covered by God’s infinite love. Justice was carried out in Christ instead of us. So God’s Kingdom is now in process of overcoming Satan’s lies and power, and the consummation of His reign will be when Christ returns. Only those who repent and believe the good news can rest assure they are on God’s team, and no longer doomed with Satan.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6 “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
But many today are easily persuaded by false gospels, or do not adhere to the clear, central, and crucial gospel message revealed in Scripture.
Galatians 1:6-10 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul warns us twice! He mentions two times that any other gospel is cuts in line to Hell. Any other gospel than what gospel? Well, we see the very gospel Paul is advocating just a little later in Galatians 3:6-14.
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6).” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18).” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (All are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and His work. All religions say that you will be accepted by God because of what you do. Christianity says that you are accepted by God because of what God did in the person of Jesus Christ!)
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law (Deut. 27:26).” (God’s law, or commandments, condemn us to eternal wrath and punishment. God demands complete perfection of His commands, for He is completely holy. Apart from the cross we maintain a love/hate relationship with the law. We agree that the law is good because it shows us God’s good character. Yet it curses us because we fail to uphold it perfectly)
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith (Hab. 2:4).” (Salvation does not come from any mental, emotional, or physical response. We are given Christ’s perfect life effortlessly through the faith God grants. (Rom 4:5,16; Eph 2:8 )
‘The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them (Lev 18:5).” (The Hebrew word for ‘live’, as referenced here from Lev 18:5, is ‘chayah’, which in this context means to live better, not live eternally. Living by the law will not make God accept you, but the law will protect you and keep you out of jail. In essence, that is the only benefit you will have from the law apart from Christ)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (Deut. 21:23).” (Scripture teaches penal-substitutionary atonement. What? In other words, justice is carried out in order to justify. At the cross we not only see wrath, but wrath ‘for’ the purpose of reconciliation (Rom 3:26). What is reconciliation? When a check is cashed, the bank considers it “reconciled”. The transaction is complete. Until it is cashed it is just “negotiable”. Jesus Christ fully transfers His perfect character to us, and our imperfect character to Himself, thereby receiving the penalty of God’s eternal wrath upon Himself. “It pleased Yahweh to crush Him” (Isaiah 53:10)
Just as with the OT temple sacrifices, a priest having “minimal” sin would take an innocent animal and 1. slaughter it and 2. vindicate God’s wrath through it. This represented a substitute for sin on behalf of Israel which would appease Yahweh. This act was performed by one who was clean, thus could enter the most holy place, God’s presence. The mercy seat or, more accurately, “the place of rest through purging”, was sprinkled with innocent animal blood in order to cancel God’s judgment. But these things were only a shadow of Christ. They were not the reality.
Yahweh was never satisfied with animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ is the true sacrifice that appeases Yahweh (Heb 9:2-5). Jesus Christ is the true High Priest, or Pontifix (Latin for bridge builder). He makes the impossible gap between sinners and a holy God, possible. The high priests entered the Holy of Holies annually, but the one true High Priest entered God’s very presence in Heaven once and for all. Being said, Christ was punished as a sinner in such a way that He has set sinners completely free. And they are free to know Him, love Him, and obey Him. Therefore, it is because of the cross that we can enter into a love relationship with the law. The Spirit of grace empowers us to live according to the moral law all the more, and grace remains sufficient even when our character is insufficient. The law no longer condemns us as God is more satisfied with Christ’s accomplishments than He ever will be dissatisfied with our failures)
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Salvation is for people all over the world. Because Christ makes sinners able to be united with God, the Holy Spirit works through the gospel message to bring the gift of salvation. Those that believe and repent will know they are right with God. Those who do not are still blinded by Satan and under God’s coming wrath)
So we can see that the very book in the Bible which cautions us not to abandon the one true gospel, is also the very same book which nicely illustrates the gospel (Galatians 3:6-14). Here on my blog, I elaborate on 5 main points which give a comprehensive understanding of the gospel message. This message ought to be fully embraced by the professing Christian, and shared boldly among those who are still in darkness.