Regarding the Gospel (Part 2)
What the Gospel Is Not
"But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:12-14)
If Satan can appear in the guise of an angel of light, then it is only prudent to examine what we are hearing. In fact, the Bible warns us constantly to be on the alert and to examine everything.
· The Gospel is not the telling of nice-sounding stories, or personal experiences.
"And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:4)
· The Gospel is not a way (in other words, a system) to follow. Nowhere is this preached or commanded in the Scriptures. Jesus, far from being "the way-shower," said:
"...I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
· The Gospel is not how we feel about things. Some depend on their emotions to tell them they are in the right way or are hearing the truth. The Bible never speaks about feeling truth. Feelings are a most undependable guide—they vary from hour to hour and person to person.
"the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
· The Gospel is not something unfinished which is yet being completed. Salvation depends, not on what we do for God, but on what He has done for us. It depends on the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross—a perfect and complete work:
"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;" (Hebrews 10:12) It cannot be added to, or improved upon: "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:18)
· The Gospel is not an example of how to live in order to be right with God. Nor is the Gospel a demand that we give God "our very best." God's free gift is not conditional on our efforts or our worthiness, but is action unmerited by us (grace). Some will say "But faith without works is dead." Ephesians 2:8 points out that even faith is "not of yourselves." Works proceed from the righteous life of Christ, who lives in those who accept the free gift of salvation.
Who does the work spoken of in Philipians 2:12, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."? The answer is given in verse 13: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
· The Gospel is not a "way" of ministry. Not only is the ministry never preached in the Scriptures, but the out-of-context examples held up as requirements for ministers are themselves not consistently followed. Some will say that hearing a worker speak the gospel is required, and quote Romans 10:14, "...how shall they hear without a preacher?" However, verse 18 says: "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world."
Some quote Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." What is the (spoken) word of God? In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read that: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God [literally, is God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." And note in the preceding verse, that the Bible itself is capable of saving "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ."
· The Gospel is not the "church in the home." There is not a single Scripture which commands this, and it is never preached in the Bible.
· The Gospel is not an excuse to impose traditions of men and standards of outward appearance. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8)
· The Gospel is not about conformity to a peer group or submission to human authority figures.
· Knowing and believing the Gospel is not related to how we feel towrd the people who share the Gospel. It is not necessary to become disciples of men in order to be followers of God.
Things to Think About
- Salvation is a gift. Romans 11:29 says "the gifts and callings of God are without repentence" (not subject to change or recall).
- · A believer is no more able to keep himself saved than he was able to save himself in the first place. When the Galatians attempted to do this, Paul asked them, "Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)
- "Workers going out two and two and the church in the home" hardly constitutes "glad tidings" or "good news." It is not mentioned in any of the accounts of the preaching of the Gospel. And this modern message is not the Gospel that shook the foundation of the ancient world.
It is important that you rely on the right Gospel, the true Jesus, the only God. One may reject God and His free gift—by seeking to be justified by one's own efforts, by following something which feels more comfortable, by choosing a god after one's own heart.