Tag Archive: The Gospel


What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it socialism? Is it just one of many ways to God? Is it an invention of white American men? I’ve posted this message before…and I’ll post it again…

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The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us?

In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life. The gift-if we accept it for ourselves and change our ways-takes us from being subjects of God’s wrath into eternal life, even though for now we are in mortal bodies.

Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood, the education establishment and by certain authors, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented or altered hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth.

Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ”(note 1) interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which contains a clear definition of the gospel as outlined below, can be confidently dated to around 55 AD.

Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and writes that the gospel existed in the form below even before Paul’s letter:

That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum”(2).

THE GOSPEL

Here, then, is Paul’s first-century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…(1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

So the gospel of Jesus Christ is this:

1 Christ died for our sins, as prophesied in Old Testament Scriptures. We can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross;

2 He was buried;

3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;

4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.

The gospel is here spelled out for you. Accept it, believe it, pray it, confess it, and live it.

NOTES

1 Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” Pg 230. Pub. By Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49130. © 1998 by Lee Strobel.

2 Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

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The efforts of mankind in and out of “religion” are aimed at shrinking God to a manageable size, so that he’s no longer God but “a” god, and only one of many…

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THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING GOD

Even in the professing Christian world there are many individuals and organizations claiming to represent him who want the rest of us to see God as they do: small, ineffectual, effeminate, powerless, weak-minded and irrelevant. He can’t create and he certainly couldn’t do it in six days. He can’t say anything truthful and he has no ability or will to preserve even what he does say. He has no power over death, he doesn’t know his own mind, his promises are empty and vacuous, and his standards sway in the winds of time, opinion and fashion. In the words of a certain world-leading, head-of-the-Church type person, God “doesn’t have a magic wand”.

The message of the Bible is totally opposite to this attitude of “experts”. God, according to everyone from Genesis to Revelation, is unimaginably huge, powerful and holy. He is so amazing in his being, his character and his standards that were we able to get a glimpse of him in our present form we would immediately die-if only from the shock and awe of seeing him.

…who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? (2 Chronicles 2:6).

The most intense target of the “Make God small” movement is Jesus Christ. Entire religions and pseudo-Christian cults fiercely contest and deny the idea that Jesus was anything more that a prophet, a teacher, a radical, a revolutionary…a man.

 

Any reading of the New Testament to an open mind demonstrates the complete antithesis of this view. Not only is Jesus Christ declared to be the Son of God, but God incarnate, and the creator of all that exists:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16).

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The diminishers not only work to wipe away or allegorize indispensable Old Testament books such as Genesis, but fundamental New Testament books also. John’s gospel, they say, is a fantasy. Paul’s writings are faulty. The gospels are flawed and need to be hugely edited, or to use a popular political tool these days-“redacted”. It  makes me wonder why people claim to even be Christian when they don’t actually believe anything of it. Why don’t they take up Buddhism or origami instead?

John Doe’s writing are far more reliable they say, and proceed to create their own version of the ancient Scriptures, when the originals claim to be the very Word of God…a dangerous risk and miscalculation.

John wrote,

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Paul said that Jesus Christ is:

“The image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15).

Philip, one of the twelve disciples, said to Jesus one evening:

“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered:

“Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9).

The present-day deniers of Jesus’ divinity claim that John’s gospel is unreliable, so we can’t believe what it says. Really? Then take a look at the other gospel authors, and the writings of Paul, who all preached the same message. In fact, Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and therefore God was the reason he was crucified:

“The high priest said to him, I charge you under oath by the living God: tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

“Yes, it is as you say, Jesus replied. But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered (Matthew 26:63-66).

Jesus Christ was crucified because he was claiming to be God’s one and only Son. He was “blaspheming”. Therefore, in their minds, he had to be shrunk. The fact that he had worked incredible miracles meant nothing to them. After all, anyone can walk on water, right? Anyone can turn water into wine and make a blind man see and a lame man walk, right?

I’m so glad that my God is much, much bigger than theirs. And I’ll say to him, with Thomas,

“My Lord and my God!”

There is no middle ground in God’s universe. Too many people-even professing Christians-think that the events we celebrate at Easter are insignificant. In reality they represent the most important events in the history of mankind, and the most important truths we could ever consider…

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WE CAN BE FREE FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

So many efforts have been made by enemies of the true gospel to wipe this fact from history and the minds of men. Despots, communists, atheists, politicians and even large organizations purporting to be spreading the gospel have been attempting to destroy it. Why is the sacrifice of Christ so important, and why is his death so vital?

Our sin has separated us from God, because he, being perfect, cannot tolerate sin. He can’t wink at it or ignore it and live with it. Imagine a heaven in which everyone acts as they do in our world today: it would not be heaven, would it? And contrary to popular belief here in the politically-correct twenty-first century, he doesn’t change his views to suit ours. Neither do his standards evolve-they are not “fluid”.

The end product of sin, according to Old and New Testament scriptures, is death, both physical and spiritual. This fact affects us all, no matter how good we may think we are: none of us can match up to God’s standards. God has to be true to his own nature, and he can’t deny his justice any more than he can deny his love.

However, God loved his creation, fallen though it is, and had a plan to destroy sin and ultimately its outcome, death. God’s plan was to send his son to earth as a man, and to die as a perfect sacrifice for sin. Only Jesus Christ could fulfill that mission, because only he was sinless and perfect. When he died on the cross he satisfied God’s holy justice, and paid the penalty, the “price” of our sin.

This doesn’t mean we don’t sin any more, it means that there’s nothing standing between us and our creator, except our own reluctance, and  determination to continue in sin. If we turn from our sin we’re completely forgiven and in a right relationship with God. Paul said:

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8: 1).

Other religions, denominations and organizations have piled more and more requirements, laws, regulations and commitments onto their followers, claiming that these are necessary to gain God’s acceptance, or that only commitment to the organization and its rules can ensure salvation and eternal life. According to the original gospel, which I wrote about in parts one and two, this is totally false and is really an attack on the gospel, because the death of Jesus Christ has entirely paid for our sin. It’s not possible for us or for any human go-between or organization to pay the price of our sin. It’s arrogant and futile to think that we can, and it is an insult to the sacrifice of Christ.

Jesus said “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11: 26). He did NOT say “whoever believes and goes to “XYZ” church and gives at least ten percent of their income…”! I’m not saying that we can live however we want to live and get away with it-we can’t. But if we turn from sin and to him we are completely forgiven.

“According to the Scriptures…”

The Old Testament scriptures foretold the sacrifice of Christ hundreds of years before it happened. As an example, read Isaiah chapter 53.  An entire copy of the book of Isaiah, known to have been written before Christ’s life on earth, was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. There’s virtually no difference between it and what we have in our Bible today.

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OUR SIN WAS BURIED WITH CHRIST

“…He was buried…”

Jesus “became sin” for us. He was buried in a tomb, contrary to many modern attempts to write another version of his life. You don’t bury someone who isn’t dead. His disciples witnessed his death, and the Roman guard sealed and guarded the tomb, at the request of those who wanted him dead and who gloated over his death. They would have all ensured that he was dead and buried, and had the disciples attempted to claim that he was resurrected when he wasn’t, the authorities would have displayed the body for all to see.

Our sin was buried with him, and baptism is symbolic of our association with him, and with the burial of our sin and our past sinful lifestyle.

WE CAN HAVE NEW LIFE NOW, AND ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST

“…he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus has been under constant attack, even from within the church. No wonder, because it’s one of the most essential doctrines, perhaps the most essential. Without it the gospel is empty. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates his power over death, his divine nature, and his ability and willingness to give us eternal life with him as he promised very clearly many times. It’s the resurrection which gives us hope for the future, and which puts our earthly life into its proper context and perspective. Our present physical body is very temporary and weak, but our resurrected body will be full of eternal life force. Again, his resurrection was foretold in Old Testament Scriptures (see Acts 2: 27 – 31 and 13:34 – 37, with Psalm 16:10).

HE DEMONSTRATED HIS POWER OVER DEATH

“…and that he appeared…”

Paul listed those who had seen Jesus alive after his resurrection. Paul was the last to see him. Those who went about spreading the good news had nothing to gain except persecution and death. Yes, people do give their lives to become martyrs to other religions, but no-one will die for something he knows is untrue. Neither did they kill in order to spread their beliefs or agenda. Instead they risked and in many cases lost their own lives.

For example Paul, when converted, voluntarily gave up his position of influence and power to become a hunted and hounded man. His enemies complained that he had “turned the world upside down”. There was no timid cowering in quiet corners for Paul: he wanted to tell the world, not that he had a new set of principles and rules to teach them, but that Christ had risen from the dead, and that he had seen him. He suffered multiple attacks and attempts on his life before finally being executed–such was his conviction that the gospel was true. He was prepared to die, as they all were, because they were convinced of Christ’s resurrection, and that His resurrection ensured theirs, just as Christ had promised. The promise is available to all who accept the gospel.    

No, dear reader, I haven’t mis-spelled a word in my title, I’m just rather partial to puns…

393px-Gojira_1954_poster_3Do you ever wish you could read a book or watch a movie in which nothing goes wrong, where nobody gets hurt and there are no problems to solve? I’ve discussed with my sons the fact that works of fiction probably would never meet with much, if any success, without trouble at their center.

Without some sort of tension to resolve-injustice, war, loss, unfulfilled desires, threats or enemies-any movie, novel or drama would probably be rather hum-drum and not very interesting to the majority of people. Can you think of any work of fiction without at least one problem to put right? Even Christian stories center on family break-up, loss, persecution or aggressive debate.

It seems that while we all hate to suffer ourselves, we want to see others suffering, at a distance…but then perhaps to see the problem resolved at the end of the story. The hero must win the battle, or wreak revenge, or get his desired lover. If there isn’t a problem, we like to create one…don_quijote_and_sancho_panzaWe like to tell ourselves that we enjoy seeing suffering because it “reflects reality” and touches upon our own struggles. Even sci-fi and fantasy stories are really just dressed up hypothesized versions of real-life problems, although in these times some Hollywood-style stories attempt or hope to shape reality rather than mirror it.

History is a long succession of stories filled with tensions and resolutions, and in many cases there is no happy ending. So it is even in the Biblical narrative. Problems begin almost on the first page, when Adam and Eve fail a simple test. But wait a minute: why is there a test to pass or fail in the first place? Wasn’t it God himself who put that nasty tree in the garden? And wasn’t it God who seems to have turned his back while the Tempter came to persuade Eve to disobey? Behind it all, God had a grand plan-a scheme, the subject of the Bible: a narrative which is still in process of being acted out and fulfilled. I’ve written about this in my series “Why Do We Suffer?”Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)I was looking at a few facebook pages of people I used to know, and I was amazed to see even there that a common source of mirth and hilarity these days is ridicule of Donald Trump. Of course this isn’t news to any of us-it’s going on in many places. And the things they say about him are hateful, spiteful and most often completely false. They come from a media and an entertainment industry which has declared war on the world’s leader and his supporters.

So what do they want in Trump’s place? Who would they replace him with? I’m convinced they want more of the same. They want what President Obama was working hard to give them: a throwing off of the influence Christianity has had over the past two millennia, and a reversal of the confusion and separation of Babel. At Babel God acted to prevent the world of men from being unified. He did that because he knew that any such unity would be in opposition against him and against all that he created mankind for. And sure enough, the modern socialistic, one-world movement seeks to redefine marriage, spirituality, gender, love, and just about everything you can think of which relates to the original plan of God for mankind. Trump, imperfect though he is-as we all are-and his supporters, seeks to set back the clock on the perversion of God’s plan. The dissenters, the “jokers” and the haters all seek to continue the movement away from God, which was so enthusiastically facilitated and encouraged by our last president, his appointed judges and his devoted followers.800px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project_-_editedThe history of man has been likened to a tale of two cities: one the celestial city of God, and the other Babel, the city of man. It’s all actually one story only: history is His-story. I’ve written before about the “Beautiful City”, a place in which man will one day, he hopes, realize his Utopian dreams; where he can do whatever he wants without consequence or criticism, and from which God is banished forever. However, proponents of modern humanism and secularism do seem to like the idea of inviting into the free world one version of god and his followers, in the hope that this god will aid in the removal of the one they see as the great ogre-the Biblical God.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot in vain? (Psalm 2:1 ESV).

Behind it all the devil works to take down free society so that the gospel of Jesus Christ can be strangled once and for all. Many people see this as a top priority in life. They just refuse to see the fact that the gospel cannot be controlled or suffocated, any more now than it ever has been; any more than it was at the beginning when Jesus Christ was crucified and his disciples scattered and persecuted throughout the world. Persecution, as horrible as it is, only serves to further the cause of the gospel.What-is-truth02All these people will accomplish is the loss of freedom. But freedom will not only be lost for those that they hate: it will be gone from them also, because the system they work to impose in God’s place is intentionally excluding the only source of freedom.

All the machinations of those who seek to destroy what the West has stood for, with all its failures and weaknesses, may succeed temporarily, and on a superficial level- the only level they’re willing or able to see and detect. But in fact they’re expending all their energies only upon that which God has already planned and foreseen. Man without God is like a convict digging an escape tunnel, only to find that the entire prison guard are waiting for him at the other end.

God’s grand story is still unfolding-we’re in the middle of it now. The last page of the story of rebellious man is not far away, and man himself is helping to write some of the detail. Our Creator will bring to completion the Resolution of all resolutions, when those who’ve sided with God’s only son Jesus Christ will experience the happiest ending of all. And the happiest ending of all will begin a never-ending succession of wonderful, amazing stories without tension, trouble, or problems.

There can be no other outcome for the world than God’s victory over man’s rebellion, because God is the creator and sustainer of all things. Not only this, but he, and his Son, are the beginning and the end of the grand story:

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:12 The words of Jesus Christ-see verse 16)

 

 

 

GETTING FAITH

A member of my distant family recently commented that he had not been given the gift of faith. This to him is the end of the matter-he clearly expects to live the rest of his life without it.

gift-wrapping-paperSome Christians think that faith is only given to a select few. God chooses some while the rest get left out. That flies in the face of the words of Jesus Christ himself, who said:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:32 ESV)

and:

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).

Faith is elusive for someone who thinks it’s a blind conviction or a feeling. It’s difficult for people to find where they’re kept in the dark: where mention of the Christian faith is shunned or forbidden, or even put down with violence. Many voices in the West are working to silence the faith of their fathers, and instead to welcome a faith which will enslave them and the nations they live in.

Jesus said “whoever believes…” The Christian gospel offers salvation as a free gift to anyone who will respond. We have to turn from our un-Godly ways, and accept the sacrifice of God’s only Son, and his resurrection. I’ve written before about this*

I explained to my family member that getting faith isn’t a difficult thing. We don’t have to first deny reality, or strain to convince ourselves of everything in the Bible, or work up a feeling or an emotion. Instead, I said, having faith is a little like getting on a plane. The pilot and his airline guarantee that they can get us to our destination. All we have to do is trust them to do it, and get on board.

God built the “plane” of salvation, and Jesus Christ is the pilot: just get on board.

* https://nickyfisher.com/2013/08/13/what-is-the-gospel-of-jesus-christ-2/

 

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