Friday, January 03, 2014

The Gospel Life


Rom.1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth

Feeling good about yourself is not the gospel. Having a never quit spirit is not the gospel. Meditating upon good things is not the gospel. Striving for excellence is not the gospel. Finding favor in the workplace is not the gospel. Being rich is not the gospel. Having a healthy self image is not the gospel. Being kind to others is not the gospel. Feeding the poor is not the gospel. Letting go of the past is not the gospel. Having an overcoming spirit is not the gospel.

Now a few of those things may be beneficial, but they are not the gospel individually or collectively. The gospel, the good news, is that God the Savior whose name is Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead. And if you truly believe that with all your heart, then tow things will happen. You will receive eternal life and you also will desire to follow Jesus here and now.

That, and only that, is the gospel.

The church has slowly but surely moved away from the gospel. Even in orthodox churches the gospel is looked upon as the first door that when opened can lead you to bigger and better and more profound truths. That is not only very sad, but it is untrue as well. The everlasting gospel was and is and always will be the exclusive vehicle to eternal life which includes the life we have now upon this earth. It should never be considered an elementary step that can propel us into doctrinal maturity. The gospel is doctrinal maturity, and in fact all our most profound theologies receive their life and meaning from the gospel.

But in today’s ecclesiastical marketplace men have taken the gospel and repacked it to suit their own needs and message. No other Biblical truth has been so mangled and so abused as has the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And when you hear some adjective placed before the word “gospel” you can almost be assured that it is not the true gospel. Phrases like “the social gospel” or “the prosperity gospel” or “the healing Gospel” or even “the full gospel” are not only misleading but they are not the true gospel. But the wicked imaginations of men’s hearts have changed the gospel into a vehicle for earthly success and not the power of God’s blood bought redemption. It is both scandalous as well as blasphemous.

Many slick preachers will use the word gospel and even define it generally in redemptive terms. But when your entire message and ministry is earthly and man centered your gospel presentation is powerless and is little more than a perfunctory genuflect. Men like Joel Osteen or Kenneth Copeland or even men like Rick Warren will mention the word gospel and even give a tepid but acceptable definition of the gospel. But cults also give a general wording of the gospel. When you treat the gospel as an appendage and not the very heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus then when you speak the gospel it loses its meaning and power.

Many people believe the gospel is feeding the poor and doing good deeds. Those are a result of people being changed by the gospel, but that is not the gospel itself. This isn’t semantics. It is the difference between a false and the true gospel. A person who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel is saved. But that same person could do all sorts of wonderful and humanitarian deeds and still not be saved if he did not receive Christ by believing the gospel. No one can be saved, in fact no one can be helped to be saved, by any amount of human good deeds. And therein lies the gospel. There is only one deed which God requires to grant us eternal life and that one deed was done completely by the Lord Jesus Christ! Halleluiah! What a Savior!

But the Scriptures are very clear. We who have believed the good news of the gospel and are now the children of God through faith in Christ, must live within that good news. The gospel is not some entrance level position upon which we can climb to greater doctrinal heights. This gospel is the cornerstone of our faith because it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When we believe the gospel we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption. Brothers and sisters, it will take a lifetime, and dare I say an eternity, to fully comprehend the depth of Christ and His gospel. People make a clumsy distinction between the gospel of Christ and the gospel of the kingdom. They are one in the same. There is only one gospel. It is the gospel of redemption and the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the King!

Every true doctrine we uncover has its roots deep within the gospel of our Lord and Savior. His sufferings and death and resurrection was not a door through we could run and find happiness in the very things which caused His death. No, the gospel is that which should feed us and give us life and hope every day of our lives. He who has moved on from the gospel into the deeper things of God has strayed from that which the Spirit is leading. When the Scriptures declare that the Spirit will lead us into all truth it also states that the truth is in Jesus and even the truth IS Jesus. So if you desire to go deeper in God you must go deeper in the gospel and deeper in Christ.

Anyone can understand the gospel. It is clear and unambiguous and even childlike on some level. But within that simplicity are treasures and mysteries and glorious revelations that elicit a worship that is filled with awe and wonder. Who among us could ever suggest we have completely unraveled the wonders of the cross? Could we ever say that we have fully understood the mysteries of the resurrection? How about the Incarnation itself? You see, we have taken the gospel and treated is with disdain when we suggest it is the key that unlocks greater spiritual treasure. The gospel contains the eternal treasures of Christ and His kingdom.

Here is a man who is digging for a buried treasure. He has a map and he digs to find the many millions he believes is buried here. After digging some twenty feet he finds the chest and upon opening it he finds the many millions he was looking for. But after a short break he walks 100 feet to the west and begins to dig once again. Someone asks him why he is digging now and the man says that the many millions he has found will provide the finances he needs to dig all around. He says there must be more than just this one chest of treasure even though his map only indicates this one place.

And so it is with the modern church. After finding the treasures of eternity through the gospel of Christ we begin digging elsewhere? When you and I were saved by faith in Christ we were presented with all the treasures that can be found in Christ. But initially we only saw the gold coins that lay on top even though we could see there was a great mound of coins underneath. And when we began to search for those coins underneath through the Word of God and the Ministry of the Spirit we began to see other precious coins of truth all of which belonged to that one chest that was first presented to us by grace. And judging by how much we have uncovered and how great a pile of coins remain it will take several lifetimes to get to the bottom of the chest.

But allow me to reveal to you an arresting and breathtaking truth which should completely humble us all. There is no bottom to this chest of truth called Christ.

Phil.1: 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

We are those who have found life through Christ and His gospel and in that life we still live and move and have our being. The gospel is not some redemptive ticket that gets punched and then we go into another theatre to enjoy another movie. Never! Oh that we would bathe ourselves in the cleansing truths of this everlasting gospel! This is the revelation of the sufferings and death and resurrection through which all who believe can find that which they never sought and never deserved and yet found by His matchless grace. It is that gospel to which we are called to live and breathe. It is through Him and His gospel that we are to beam His light and offer His salt and project His glory in our earthen vessels. The gospel is not some kindergarten story and yet it is! It is not simple and yet it is! It is not for children and yet it is! This is the eternal mystery: That God was manifested in the flesh and died for the sins of the world and resurrected from the dead to make a victorious show in front of all His enemies. And we, who caused His sufferings, are now partakers of His glory through faith in Him and His gospel!

This gospel is our very life! Let us speak it daily! Let us live in its power! Let its truth change our beings and conform us to the Christ in that gospel! Oh let us never minimize the gospel and suggest we have matured beyond it. This gospel is the glory of Almighty God and His Son, and the Spirit roams the earth giving power to its message. We are humbled by this gospel. We are changed by this gospel. This gospel is the message and ministry and life of the church. I beseech all of us to fall in love with Christ and His gospel all over again and fall down in adoration and worship the Christ who humbled Himself for us and paid for all the transgressions we have committed and will commit.

Cling tightly to the gospel. The day is coming and now is when the gospel will be rejected by the craftiness of men and their ecclesiastical empires. Many will even speak the gospel with enticing words of men's wisdom but few will believe it and fewer still will live it. But unto us which believe it is the power of God. And that gospel power will never fade. Let us daily find our life within its glory!


Lorena said...

I have a lot of maturing in the gospel to do. This is so helpful. It's corrective and uplifting at the same time, and explained simply and beautifully.

Anonymous said...

We musn't teach that believing wholeheartedly on Jesus is easy. That is distant from reality.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to start reading the words of Jesus too, for this New Year. So, I just opened up my bible to get a sense of what I'll be reading starting in Matthew, but the page opened to chapter 13, verse 3 and on. Even though I've read these dozens of times, I still find it amazing and realize it has to be consistently read. At verse 37, Jesus explained his parable:

"He that sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the Kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

"The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels".

So, I'm re-learning something here. Jesus in the beginning of the chapter tells the multitudes that he taught in parables and then the disciples asked Him, "why do you speak in parables?" And he answered them, "because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given".

I realize this isn't the topic that Rick is on, and I apoligize, but it does bring some of what's taught here, that our personal walk and seeking the kingdom is one and the same, and It's simple, yet pastors try so much to complicate it. So, I still have some questions about why Jesus answered that way, so I read further, Verse 34: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world"."

So when Jesus finally explained the parable of the tares of the field, and the disciples then finally understood, Jesus said to them, "therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the Kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old".

I'm not a teacher and am wondering though, correct me if I'm wrong, if this passage was to teach us that when the disciples received the fresh new words of the Lord, that they also needed the "old" to remember that the prophets spoke that these days were to come and to be reminded of the whole plan of God. Maybe today's church is all about listening to new trends, new interpretations, like prosperity, etc., and the reason it's so easy to fool oneself and allow error to infiltrate is because they refuse to allow the prophetic fulfillment scriptures to convict them. If the Lord Jesus found it important to remind his disciples that He was prophesied about by their forefathers, that He was the true Messiah, Son, Savior, Salvation sent by a Holy and awesome God, then shouldn't we keep reminding ourselves too. Maybe this is where the church has lost it's flavor and salt, because it doesn't have enough fear of God, they seem to put the Lord into this category of meak mild suffering servant. Yet he was, but He is now seated at the Right Hand of God and returns as a Lion. The Church doesn't seem to have any sense of judgment and doesn't have the fear of God anymore.

If we forget where Jesus came from, the gospel gets diluted and He is watered down to the point that people can re-create Him the way they like. He is the all-powerful glorious Son of God and demons tremble at God's awesomeness and the God of Isaac Jacob and Abraham is the same God in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Sorry, I went way off here, but it confirms what Rick is teaching, that there is only one deed done to grant us eternal life and that deed done by the Lord Jesus Christ! And it was all planned from the beginning of time.

I see now that everything from Genesis to Revelation reveals everything about Jesus. He is in every page of the Bible. Amen


Rick Frueh said...

He is in every page of the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Re-reading my post and hoping I made a point, any point.

What I'm learning today is that I can't dance around the fact that JESUS did it all, and I can't give myself any accolades. I knew this before, but need to constantly be reminded, so that it gets deep down. The churches that have lost their first love, are like the pharisees and scribes during Jesus' ministry on earth. The church is almost exactly like the Jews who were looking forward to a Rambo Messiah, to overtake the Roman bondage. Seems like the churches today are not just teaching the simplicity of the Gospel, but wanting Jesus to come and clean their nation and their moral cause and elevate them as the moral police of the world. They want Jesus to give them wisdom, treasures beyond measure and then remove the enemies of the Cross. I hope I'm wrong, but it sure appears like it.

Because we're human, we're seeing the churches have the same bad attitude the priests of Israel had, expecting God to destroy their enemies and keep sin out of the camp. They were too world-minded, hoping to set up a great kingdom on earth, and here we are again, the church is doing the same. Man just wants dominion on earth and it creeps in unawares in the churches, they too want full dominion with the riches and salvation as a side bar.

When Ezekiel warned religious Jews and the priests of how they were hurting the weak, that is happening today. Every OT prophecy against the religious priesthood can apply to church leaders today. No wonder Jesus spoke in parables. He knew many in the multitudes that were listening to him really wanted to hear him talk about "kingdom now" knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Many churchgoers are rarely ever taught anything about prophecy. What's worse is that many are starved of prophecy! Even on this good website prophecy is only sparingly mentioned.


Rick Frueh said...

Jesus is coming again and maybe real soon. There will be a test.

Annette said...

Rejoice always......what an encouraging post; one worthy to reflect upon.

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You." Psalm 39:7

Anonymous said...

The test is now. If someone doesn't say "Yes" to God's testing they will not be ready when He comes!

Josef Sefton