One Gospel

I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  Galatians 1:6&8.

Over time many have felt the need to adapt the Gospel to a particular time and place as a strategy for outreach and church growth. Let us be clear as to why the Gospel you preach must be pure and true.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.  John 16:7&8.

An evangelical presentation of the Gospel may prove effective for the “winning of souls”, but will only fail to gather those chosen by the Lord absent the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

Of sin, because they believe not on me.  John 16:9.

True conviction of sin does not occur by preaching against sin. Someone may feel ashamed if they feel called out for their behavior. They may want to be a better person, spouse, and citizen. There is only one Holy conviction: Jesus Christ, crucified for sin.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Co 2:2.

Therefore, the first element of the Gospel is WHO Jesus is, not what He has become to the world. He may be our Savior, Redeemer, Lord and King, but first and foremost, He is the only begotten Son of God. This truth is beyond dispute.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16. (most beloved verse, and the highest truth.)

He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31.

The most prevalent adaptation to the Gospel is the “die and go to heaven” message. This evolved out of the myth that “good people” go to heaven when they die. This is easily debunked with the familiar verses from Paul:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23.

However, the message of: accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and invite Him into your heart, and if you die tonight you will go straight to heaven, does not appear in the New Testament. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is never presented as a die and go to heaven message, but a live in holiness and righteousness in the sight of God.

Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:2.

The consistent apostolic message and of Jesus Christ himself is that of a coming resurrection of the dead and the righteous judgment of God, to which He is appointed the only Potentate.

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. 1 Tim 6:15.

Jesus taught that we MUST be born again. The apostle John offers a clear presentation that this is only accomplished by believing in the Son of God.

Gentiles preach confess Jesus as Lord. Messianic Jews preach Yeshua haMashiach.  But Paul preached:

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. 1 Co 12:3.

Before anyone can truly serve the Lord in obedience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they must be born of God. This is by faith in the Son.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.               1 John 4:15.

Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?      1 John 5:5.

We are not called to simply believe, but to overcome. To be called AND chosen AND faithful.

He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelations 21:7.

…and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Rev 17:14.

Jesus died to restore us to a right relationship with His Father. He lives forevermore so that we too may live by the faith of the only begotten Son of God.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  Romans 5:10.

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.Hebrews 7:25.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

Not Another Gospel!

I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  Galatians 1:6&8.

Over time many have felt the need to adapt the Gospel to a particular time and place as a strategy for outreach and church growth. Let us be clear as to why the Gospel you preach must be pure and true.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.  John 16:7&8.

An evangelical presentation of the Gospel may prove effective for the “winning of souls”, but will only fail to gather those chosen by the Lord absent the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

Of sin, because they believe not on me.  John 16:9.

True conviction of sin does not occur by preaching against sin. Someone may feel ashamed if they feel called out for their behavior. They may want to be a better person, spouse, and citizen. There is only one Holy conviction: Jesus Christ, crucified for sin.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Co 2:2.

Therefore, the first element of the Gospel is WHO Jesus is, not what He has become to the world. He may be our Savior, Redeemer, Lord and King, but first and foremost, He is the only begotten Son of God. This truth is beyond dispute.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16. (most beloved verse, and the highest truth.)

He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31.

The most prevalent adaptation to the Gospel is the “die and go to heaven” message. This evolved out of the myth that “good people” go to heaven when they die. This is easily debunked with the familiar verses from Paul:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23.

However, the message of: accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and invite Him into your heart, and if you die tonight you will go straight to heaven, does not appear in the New Testament. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is never presented as a die and go to heaven message, but a live in holiness and righteousness in the sight of God.

Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:2.

The consistent apostolic message and of Jesus Christ himself is that of a coming resurrection of the dead and the righteous judgment of God, to which He is appointed the only Potentate.

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. 1 Tim 6:15.

Jesus taught that we MUST be born again. The apostle John offers a clear presentation that this is only accomplished by believing in the Son of God.

Gentiles preach confess Jesus as Lord. Messianic Jews preach Yeshua haMashiach.  But Paul preached:

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.                 1 Co 12:3.

Before anyone can truly serve the Lord in obedience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they must be born of God. This is by faith in the Son.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.               1 John 4:15.

Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?      1 John 5:5.

We are not called to simply believe, but to overcome. To be called AND chosen AND faithful.

He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelations 21:7.

…and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Rev 17:14.

Jesus died to restore us to a right relationship with His Father. He lives forevermore so that we too may live by the faith of the only begotten Son of God.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  Romans 5:10.

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

Newness of Life

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.   Romans 6:4.

Paul begins this chapter of his letter to the Romans by proposing this question:                Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  Romans 6:1.

We see  within the scope of this question the inherent stumbling block of preaching the abounding Grace of God. The  clear and present danger is that many immature Christians will take license to continue in sin. This was already an issue in Paul’s day, how much more now as that day approaches when the Lord will judge the world in righteousness?

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Ro. 6:2&3.

And now in the tradition of his training, Paul continues to answer his own question by proposing two more questions. Do we know that we are dead to sin? Do you not know that this is the very point of your baptism.?

We know that whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not.  1 John 5:18.

If you have not come to know this as a fact, know that the abounding grace is given to those who ask in genuine humility.

But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6.

We now move forward in Paul’s exposition to witness to the word and work of the Holy Spirit in presenting the Apostolic Memorials of our Faith. For every word must be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6.

As Paul continues in the argument, he uses the word newness for the second time. Previously, the word was newness of life. Now, we refine the definition to newness of spirit. You can bear witness to how Paul is able to teach Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, even though he was not among the disciples of Jesus prior to His death and resurrection. For Jesus gave this testimony that you can confirm within yourself.

It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63.

 

 

The Reward of Your Inheritance

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:24.

Our inheritance in Christ is not a gift of grace by faith. Inheritance is received in measure to the degree of faithfulness of the individuals who are called, and chosen ,  and faithful.   Revelation 17:14.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. Hebrews 10:35.

The term recompense of reward reflects on the idea of reaping what you have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7 & 8.

Now we can draw 3 points from this one verse in 2 John 8.

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

There is a reward for the righteous. (Psalm 58:11).  We can fall short of all that God has reserved for us in heaven. (a full reward).  We can suffer loss from those things which we have wrought.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith…2 Peter 1

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:8.

If we are not endeavoring to add to our faith, be sure that life will try to take away that which we have already attained.

I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16.   

Always in Remembrance

I will endeavor that you may be able after my exodus to have these things always in remembrance.    2 Peter 1:15.

When Peter says “I will endeavor”, he is actually using a word for the third time, but the previous two are translated diligence. The root of the word means to make haste, and is the opposite of procrastination. He is saying “add to your faith”, and do it now, today, all day, and every day.

And beside this giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge and to knowledge temperance and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness charity (agape, aka love).               2 Peter 1:5-7.

It has been said; “cleanliness is next to godliness”, but now we know that patience is next to godliness, which enables me to practice brotherly kindness (philadelphia). Jesus admonishes the church to love one another, to not forget their first love, and I am convinced by the Holy Ghost that this refers to the church. Even as the apostle John wrote:

If someone says “I love God” (or “I love Jesus”) and hates his brother a liar for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loves God love his brother also. 1 John 4:20, 21.

No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12.

When I came back to the Lord in 1990, one of the first things I looked up in the Bible was scriptures that pertain to being born again. I had been hearing many people referring to themselves as born again Christians, and coming up Catholic, I was unfamiliar with this doctrine. Of course I first found that Jesus said in John chapter 3; “Truly you must be born again.” I immediately realized that this was pretty important. But then I read            1 Peter 1:22 & 23, and I was deeply shaken:

Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently. Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever.

I was overwhelmed by the realization that I didn’t have an unfeigned love, a fervent love; and certainly not a pure heart. It is also quite evident to anyone who reads this passage that this is the work of the Holy Spirit activated only by obedience. This commitment is attained by diligently adding to our faith unto brotherly kindness, and then agape love.                                                                     

 The other word that Peter uses three times in this passage and is clearly emphasized is of course, remembrance.

Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things though you know them and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.  2 Peter 1:12 & 13, as well as verse 15 cited above.

I now remind you that a remembrance ultimately is God working in us by the power of the Holy Spirit unto “an unfeigned love of the brethren.”

The First and Greatest In Christ

 

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul with all your understanding and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. Mark 12:30.

 

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus who became for us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30.

 

Redemption is necessary for the Lord to be your strength. To love the Lord with your all is to receive from Him and to give only what has been given. The fullness of this redemption comes in the day of the Lord.

And when these things begin to come to pass then look up and lift up your heads for your redemption draws near. Luke 21:28.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together up to the present time. And not only this but also we ourselves having the first fruits of the Spirit groan within ourselves waiting eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Romans chapter 8, verses 19, 22 and 23.

In whom we have redemption through His blood for the remission of sin according to the riches of His grace. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:14.

John (the Baptist) answered and said, “No one can possess anything except it is given to them from heaven. He that comes from above is above all, he that is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. He that comes from heaven is above all. He that receives His testimony has set to his seal that God is true. John 3:27-36.

To love the Lord with all your heart requires the wisdom that comes from above. When the Lord told Solomon to request whatsoever he desired, he asked for a hearing heart to have the wisdom to rule God’s people. The wisdom of God overcomes all opposition to the Truth.

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. Luke 21:15.

And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Acts 6:10.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory. We speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.  1 Corinthians 2:6 & 7.

The wisdom that is from above is first pure then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruit without partiality and without hypocrisy.      James 3:17.

The love the Lord with all your soul requires the righteousness of God in Christ. Only those who hunger and thirst after righteousness can attain the blessedness of a satisfied soul. The Greek word translated soul is also translated life forty times. The righteousness of God requires that we love the Lord with all our life. Again, this culminates in the day of the Lord.

He that finds his life (soul) shall lose it and he that loses his life (soul) for my sake shall find it. Mt 10:39.

Therefore I say unto you: take no thought for your soul, what you will eat, or for your body, what you will wear. The soul is more than food and the body more than clothing. Therefore seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:25-34.

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. Galatians 5:5.

And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28.

For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26.

In your patience possess your souls. Luke 21:19.

To love the Lord with all your understanding requires sanctification from all worldly influences. This first requires some clarification for the Greek word dianoia translated as understanding in Mark 12:30. This word denotes “the means to attaining understanding” or to rightly comprehend a truth. Paul refers to “the eyes of your understanding” in Ephesians 1:18, and then refers to those who are alienated from the life of God as having their way of comprehension darkened resulting in “blindness of their hearts”. Ephesians 4:18.

Jesus said: “If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness! Mt. 6:23.

This follows from Jesus warning his disciples to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. Luke 12:1. The teachings of the Pharisees was the very thing that Paul had to renounce from his education to walk in the Spirit. Jesus prayed in this regard for all who would follow Him.

Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth. John 17:17.

Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8.

To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan unto God that they may receive remission of sin and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me. Acts 26:18.

And let this be a prayer for you today:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Th. 5:23.

Every Word of God

Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.  Psalm 105:19.

There is an unction upon every word of God for man to live by and receive empowerment from for victorious living.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.  Luke 4:4, Deut. 8:3.

To access this divine power, we first enter into a relationship with the “author of life” by faith.

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.  Romans 9:30-32.

Once we receive the word in the spirit of truth, we have access by acts of obedience.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  James 2:18.

We see this as a clear example in the life of John the Baptist. His anointing flowed directly from Isaiah 40:3;  “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” The Lord described him as the greatest of prophets. And yet, when he came out of the wilderness and went to Jerusalem and condemned a king’s behavior, he found himself in prison. From there he sent word to the Lord, “are you the one who was to come, or should we expect another.” This crisis of faith came upon one who had declared “behold the Lamb of God” and bore witness to Him receiving the Spirit from heaven. Jesus replied to him: “blessed is whoever is not offended in me.” Please read the John the Baptist trilogy in this blog for more on this narrative.

Whenever I engage in a study of the word of God, I keep my faith centered on the words of Christ found in Matthew 13:

Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe  instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.  Matthew 13:52.

When I am struggling, I find inspiration from this proverb:

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2.

Whenever we minister to one another, we must always rely on the gifts of the spirit, even more so interacting with the world. I could never have survived managing the intake at a rescue mission without the gift of discerning of spirits. 1 Co 12:10.

To engage in any type of outreach or street ministry without an anointing is a formula for failure, if not disaster. God has not called us to do anything that He has not empowered and equipped us for in Christ. Until your word has come, expect to be tried by the word of the Lord.

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. James 1:12.