Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's the "Bottom Line" of the Gospel?

Big Church pt. 4: Bottom Line from Shannon Oaks Church on Vimeo.

If you liked Andy Stanley's sermon “Big Church part 4”, then you've got to watch this video by Pastor John Turner! In the video, Turner stresses that the "Bottom Line" of the gospel is 4 simple facts. Here's what he says  (beginning at the 35:05 time-stamp in the video):
 
“That's why you know about Jesus today. Because of this guy [named Paul]. This is how the message of Jesus got out of Jerusalem. And out of the first century. And even though persecution heated up intensely around Jerusalem, Christianity began to multiply. And it began to spread. And in addition to being a missionary, Paul was also, as I've mentioned, an author. And he was an excellent thinker. He was very educated. He was a Roman citizen so he had access to a different kind of education than a lot of Jewish people would have had. And he spent those years, that decade, thinking and figuring out, how do I get the essence of Jesus' message out of an exclusively Jewish context so that I can communicate it to people who've never read the Old Testament? How can I communicate Jesus to people who haven't ever heard of Abraham or Moses or any of the Old Testament prophets? [Paul] worked on it and he reduced it down, down, down, down, down, until he got it to it's bottom-line. So that even if you'd never heard of these great Old Testament characters you can understand the gospel.

And in the book of First Corinthians, Paul really gets it down to the basics, down to just the irreducible minimums. And this comes from First Corinthians chapter 15. In First Corinthians chapter 15, we'll start in verse 1. Paul is writing to this church that he planted. And he says, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you....” This is how we got started, when I planted this church, I preached this gospel to you then, and it seems like maybe you've forgotten it so “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” [1 Cor. 15:1]

...which I received” he says [in 1 Cor. 15:3]. He says, “I received this” so this isn't my creation. I received this from God. I received this from the apostles, from those earliest followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, from James, from Peter - all the stuff I was able to receive I've boiled it down to the essence and this is where it comes down. And now he's going to define the gospel for us. Look at verse 3. “For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance....” In other words, if you don't get anything else, get this! This is the top button. If you don't get this buttoned right your shirt won't ever line up again. Okay? This is where it starts. This is the foundation, and if you don't have a solid foundation it doesn't matter how pretty the building is, it's gonna collapse. This is the most important thing. This is “first importance”. He says, “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 Cephas” - anybody remember who Cephas is? Cephas is Peter, right? So, “He appeared to Peter and then to the twelve.” [1 Cor. 15:3-5] And not just one or two or here and there but, “After that” verse 6, “He appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” Some have died in the ensuing years. But think about this: 500 people at a time and they're still alive! I know this is hard to believe, but you could, if you wanted to, you could get on a boat and go from Corinth to Jerusalem and you could find a bunch of these people and they would tell you: “I was there. I was alive, and I saw it.” You could talk to them if you're skeptical about it because I understand, this is hard to believe. And verse 7, “Then He appeared to James, then to all of the apostles, and last of all, He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” Paul is just so refreshingly honest about himself. Look at verse 9: “For I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle” - why? “because I persecuted the church of God.” Boy that's powerful! [Paul] says, “Look, I don't, I don't know why God chose me to bring this message to you. Of all the people God could have chosen to plant these little ekklesias [churches] all over the place, I'm the least likely candidate! But He chose me by His grace and that is now the central message of my life!”

And you know, you could take this entire paragraph from Paul, and you could bottom-line it to 4 sentences. And if you've ever wondered, “How do I respond when somebody asks me what the gospel is? You could say it in 4 phrases. These are the 4 phrases right here: Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared. That's it! Christ died for our sins – because that was our real problem, was that our sin had separated us from God and so Jesus paid the penalty for that by dying for our sins, and He was buried because that's what you do with people who are dead. And back then they knew when somebody was dead. Trust me, the Romans were experts at killing people and at keeping people alive longer so they could suffer more. And so when the Romans said, “He dead.” Trust me, He was dead! They knew it. That's why they buried Him. The Romans would never have allowed Him to be buried if they didn't believe He was dead. He was buried! But, He was raised! And that validates His true identity. And, we know He was raised because “He appeared” [1 Cor. 15:5]. Not just to one or two of us at a time, but to more than five-hundred of us at once.

You could take Paul's paragraph and just boil it down to those 4 sentences. So we're just gonna practice repeating what the gospel is, in here. We're just gonna repeat these 4 sentences a couple of times just to make sure we all get what the gospel is. Is that, would that be okay? Alright. So we're all going to say this together on a count of three. One, two, three. Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared. Let's say it again. Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared.

[Someone asks:] "Now, what about back in Genesis 1? Are those 7 literal 24 hour days?" No, no, no. Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared.

"[Pastor] John, I was reading in Revelation. And there's this seven-headed dragon in there. And is that representing Oprah? Or is that representing president Obama? What is that?" No, no, no. Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared.

"Look, there's some contradictions in the Gospels and one of them says He came on this day and the other....” No, no, no. Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared.

"Yeah but what about womens' roles and charismatic gifts and should we always take communion every time we meet together and what about these small groups and is that forsaking the assembly?" Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared. That's the bottom-line. That's the foundation. That's the top button. That is “of first importance” [1 Cor. 15:3]. And we can figure out everything else, and it won't make any difference if we don't figure this out first! This is the gospel! Not infant baptism, not drums, not any of that kind of stuff. I know you got questions, but this is the core! This is the bottom-line! This is the part you cannot miss! And this, this is what we have in common with Christians everywhere. This is what unites us with the church in China. Not what day of the week we meet on. Not what kind of building we meet in. Not what we're wearing when we get together. This is what unites us with Christians in the first century, and the second century, and the fifteenth century, and if the Lord tarries this is what will unite us with our grandchildren's grandchildren. This is the bottom-line. This is the central message. And everything else is just a distraction until you nail this down.

And so the question this morning is really simple. Have you ever embraced that? Right there? [Pastor John points.] Like have you ever just really embraced it? Where you got this settled, deep inside your spirit, that yes, Christ died for our sins. Which means, He died for my sins. And He really was dead because He was buried. But God raised Him from death. And He appeared to people. And that has implications in my life. Have you ever just surrendered to that? Because if you haven't then nothing else matters. “Yeah, I come to church.” “Yeah, I give some money.” “Yeah, I volunteer to serve.” All that kind of stuff. But if you don't get this nothing else matters!

And so I'm just gonna give us an opportunity today. Because maybe for you, you're sitting here and today is the day the light bulb kind of came on and the dots got connected and you've never accepted this. And so that's what we're gonna do. I'm going to give you the opportunity to just embrace this personally. And I'm gonna pray. And then, I'm gonna talk to those of you who maybe have embraced this at some point in time, but you get a little bit distracted. And then I'm gonna pray for you, and then we'll be dismissed. Now for those of you who've never embraced this, what I'm about to pray, there's no magic formula here. You can use these words. You can change them to your own words. You can pray this out loud. You can pray this quietly in your own heart. You can think about this and pray this later when you get home. There's nothing magic about this prayer. But this is just an opportunity for you to affirm these 4 statements. Let's pray. You can pray something that's sounds a little bit like this. You can say: Father God, thank you for sending your Son. For loving me so much that you would send your only Son to die for the sins of the whole world, including my sins. Thank you for not leaving Him in the tomb, but for raising Him from the dead. Thank you for forgiving my sins. Thank you for receiving me into your family. [Now that I'm saved] I surrender to your leadership in my life. And I pray that in Jesus' name, amen.

Alright, now some of you may have prayed that prayer. Some of you probably prayed a prayer like that a long, long time ago – but here's what happens. (And we're going to see this next week a little bit more.) It's so easy for us to drift away from the simplicity of this message. Isn't it? It's so easy for us to get bogged down in this issue and that issue and like Sam was talking about, you know, all the differences in the denominations and what version of the Bible are you reading out of? And what translation is the best? And what, you know, all of that kind of stuff. It's so easy for us, who began with this simple, simple message, to drift away. And, and the natural gravitational pull is away from simplicity towards complexity. And what we end up doing is we end up converting people to doctrine instead of converting people to Jesus. And for that we must repent. And so for any of us who were saved by this terribly simple message, but have allowed ourselves to drift more towards the complexities of the doctrine, and allowed that to overshadow the simplicity of what Jesus has done for us – it's time for us to repent. And so would you stand and let me pray for all of us and then we'll be dismissed.

God, thank you for making it simple. Thank you for saving the apostle Paul, and for, for his fantastically inspired thoughts that have been preserved so diligently for us, where we can go directly to his words which come through the Holy Spirit, to us today. And we can see just how simple it really is. God, forgive us for making it harder than it has to be. Forgive us for making it complicated, and for giving people the idea that getting into your kingdom is like a combination lock – we got to get the right number to the right, the right number to the left, and all this kind of stuff, as if you are trying to keep us out, trying to make it difficult. We know that's not the case. You have gone to great lengths to make this easy and simple for us. And so forgive us for making your simple message more complicated than it has to be. Teach us the freedom of living in simplicity. Teach us, just, just burn into our hearts the simple facts that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, that He was raised, and that He appeared. And allow us to take that message with us with boldness into the world this week. I pray that in Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

THE SAVING GOSPEL

The following article is from the April 1973 issue of the Christian Victory Magazine, edited by Dr. Fred John Meldau and Dr. Maurice Dametz:

THE SAVING GOSPEL
     "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen" (I Cor. 15:1-5, KJV).
     So frequently the question arises - "Just what is the Gospel?" Here we have the inspired definition. It is one of the great summaries of divine truth. It will be noticed that it has four points:

     1. Christ died for our sins.
     2. He was buried.
     3. He rose again the third day.
     4. He was seen, that is, His was a physical resurrection - He had a real, visible body.
 
It is significant that in the previous chapter Paul stated: "I had rather speak five words with my understanding...than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (14:19). Here in the definition of the Gospel are five words - "Christ died for our sins" [1 Cor. 15:3, KJV] - and no five words that the Apostle ever uttered are more precious. These five words set forth the centre-point of the Gospel, that is, crucifixion (Christ died) which is substitution (for our sins) by divine revelation (according to the Scriptures). This is the keystone in the arch of divine truth. Paul gave priority to this - "I delivered unto you first of all." [1 Cor. 15:3, KJV] There is no human opinion here - it is "according to the Scriptures," - the fulfillment of scores and scores of prophecies and types. It is absolute proof.
     The second statement is, "that He was buried." [1 Cor. 15:4, KJV] And why was He buried? He was not to see corruption. [Psalm 16:10, KJV; Acts 2:27, KJV] He was buried as a proof that He was dead. He was put in a tomb which was closed tight, and there He remained until the third day according to the Scriptures.
     The third statement is that "Christ rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." [1 Cor. 15:4, KJV] Glance through the Book of Acts and see how this was the theme of all the Apostle's preaching and teaching - "Jesus and the resurrection." [Acts 17:18, KJV] A risen and living Christ who is able to save and to keep. Christianity is nothing at all without the person of the risen, living and loving Christ.
     The fourth general statement in the Gospel is that "Christ was seen." [1 Cor. 15:5, KJV] He came up from the grave in a real body. It was a spiritual body, but a real, visible body nevertheless. He appeared again and again in the body to His disciples. He was seen of Cephas, then the twelve, then five hundred, then James, then the Apostles, and last of all, Paul. In that same body He went to heaven and sat down on the right hand of God. He is coming again in that same body and He is going to change our bodies like unto the body of His glory. This is the Christian's blessed hope, and this Gospel is the saving Gospel."1


ENDNOTE:

1 "THE SAVING GOSPEL," by Dr. Maurice Dametz, co-editor of Christian Victory Magazine, Dr. Fred John Meldau, editor, Christian Victory Magazine (Denver: Christian Victory Publishing Company), Volume 47, April 1973: pages 4-5.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Groundless Gospel is Hard to Believe!

This post is an excerpt from a previous article I wrote titled "Getting the Gospel Right". I wanted to highlight this excerpt because while John MacArthur adds to the true gospel making it "Hard to Believe" (that's the title of one of MacArthur's books), Tom Stegall subtracts from the true gospel making it too, Hard to Believe!

The glorious gospel is clear, not confusing. In contrast to this, the groundless gospel is unclear and quite confusing! Consider for a moment that if the historical facts of Christ's burial and resurrection appearances are not absolutely essential for someone to know about and believe in order to go to heaven as Tom Stegall of Duluth Bible Church asserts, then their presence in the gospel message simply confuses the issues. Groundless gospel advocates admit to preaching the maximum consisting at least of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, but require something less than this to be believed. Stegall acknowledges that "it is quite common for Christians to reference 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and then state that the gospel is the message that 'Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.'...since the burial happens to fall in-between these two pillars [i.e. Christ's death and resurrection], it gets included each time this passage is quoted...I myself routinely quote it this way".1 Notice here that although Stegall only claims to be preaching "the gospel," in reality he believes he's preaching more than the gospel! This simply highlights the incongruity inherent in the groundless gospel because Stegall is including supposedly non-saving truth (i.e. Christ's burial) in his saving message. But Dennis Rokser correctly and somewhat incongruently points out "that THERE IS NO INCONGRUITY BETWEEN THE GOSPEL that was PREACHED by Paul and THE GOSPEL which was BELIEVED by the Corinthians! There was no MAXIMUM preached and MINIMUM believed!"2 Stegall's new mini-gospel is truly an issue of incongruity that requires either semantical gymnastics or a lack of personal integrity to maintain.

Obviously the apostle Paul is not guilty of confusing the gospel message. In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians Paul writes: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, - and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless (1 Cor. 1:17, NET, italics added). In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul affirms that "we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Cor. 4:2, NIV, italics added). If Paul is not guilty of distorting and confusing the issues involved in eternal salvation, who is guilty of confusing the gospel message? In answer to this question consider how a pro-groundless pastor named Billy might witness to a Gnostic named Mike. Interestingly enough, Pastor Billy is the same Billy whom Stegall describes in his book as the young boy who doubted that Jesus was buried in a tomb for three days and that He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection.3 However, Billy is not a seven year old boy anymore. He went on to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth and is now pastor of a small  fundamentalist church.

Gnostic Mike: I was just reading about the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 and had some questions. I was wondering if you could help me out?

Pastor Billy: I'm sure I can help. What are your questions?

Gnostic Mike: It seems clear that Paul delivers his gospel in a four part formula, right?

Pastor Billy: Well, there are four parts but only two are really the gospel and essential to believe.

Gnostic Mike: Really? I'm glad you're explaining this to me because I didn't get that from reading the text. Paul uses the same grammatical structure to introduce each of the four verbs in verses 3b-5.

Pastor Billy: Yes of course, but Christ's burial and post-resurrection appearances are only proofs, you don't really have to believe them.

Gnostic Mike: I can see how they might be proofs of his death and resurrection, but why don't you have to believe them? After all, isn't Christ's resurrection a proof that He is God (cf. Acts 17:31; Rom. 1:4)? You still have to believe in Christ's resurrection, right?

Pastor Billy: Yes of course. But Christ's burial and post-resurrection appearances are not saving events.

Gnostic Mike: Really? Didn't Paul include them in the words of salvation in his preaching in Acts 13:26-41? I understand that only Christ's death paid the full penalty for sin, but Christ's burial and appearances are included in the gospel. Isn't the gospel "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16)?

Pastor Billy: Well you see, the double occurrence of the phrase "according to the Scriptures" in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 marks out the essentials of the gospel.

Gnostic Mike: Are you saying that Christ's burial and appearances aren't according to the Scriptures? 

Pastor Billy: Ummm. 

Gnostic Mike: And according to the Scriptures wasn't Christ's resurrection from the dead a resurrection from the grave (Isa. 53:9-10; Acts 13:29-30; 1 Cor. 15:4)? 

Pastor Billy: Hmmm.

Gnostic Mike: Wouldn't Paul be guilty of garbling the gospel by including non-saving truths in the saving message?

Pastor Billy: Actually, we just leave them out when we share the gospel so that clears things up.

Gnostic Mike: But Paul makes it clear that Christ's burial and appearances are included in the content of his gospel.

Pastor Billy: It takes much time and study to really understand the gospel message.

Gnostic Mike: I'm trying to understand. You're saying the gospel declares that Christ died for our sins - what about the phrase "according to the Scriptures," does a person have to believe that?

Pastor Billy: Well that's a proof too.

Gnostic Mike: So I don't have to believe it?

Pastor Billy: You have to believe what it proves.

Gnostic Mike: This is kind of confusing.

Pastor Billy: I'm glad I'm here to explain it to you.

Gnostic Mike: So I have to believe that Christ died for my sins but I don't have to believe that it was "according to the Scriptures" because that's just a proof. What if I believe Christ is a spirit?

Pastor Billy: Oh no, you have to believe Christ is human.

Gnostic Mike: Don't the facts of Christ's burial and appearances highlight His humanity? I mean, who ever heard of a spirit being buried?

Pastor Billy: Yes of course, but you don't have to believe them, you just have to believe Christ is human.

Gnostic Mike: But how will I believe Christ is human if I don't believe His body was buried or that He appeared to anyone?

Pastor Billy: Well, His death sets forth His humanity.

Gnostic Mike: But I'm a Gnostic. I believe Christ's death was only spiritual, not physical. And in the resurrection Christ's spirit was raised up, not His body. Immortality is conceived as escape from the body. I don't get it, you want me to believe Christ is human but you have removed His burial and resurrection appearances from the gospel. It doesn't make sense.

Pastor Billy: Here, I have some sermon tapes for you, why don't you listen to these.

Gnostic Mike: Thanks. I'm glad you're here to walk me through this. Otherwise I don't think I'd understand what you're saying. So let me see if I got it so far. I have to believe that Christ died for my sins, I don't have to believe the phrase "according to the Scriptures" because it's just a proof - although I can't believe it was according to some other holy book. And I don't have to believe that Christ was buried, but I have to believe He is human. How am I doing so far?

Pastor Billy: I think you're getting it.

Gnostic Mike: I hope I can remember all this! So the next part of the gospel I have to believe is that Christ was raised on the third day, right?

Pastor Billy: Well, we only require that you believe Christ rose from the dead.

Gnostic Mike: So if I believe Christ rose from the grave that's enough?

Pastor Billy: Oh no, you don't need to believe that Christ rose from the grave because that adds in His burial, you only need to believe that He rose from the dead.

Gnostic Mike: So all those people who believe Christ rose from the grave are adding to the gospel?

Pastor Billy: Well we try not to say that, they just don't understand the simplicity of the gospel message!

Gnostic Mike: It sounds kind of complicated to me.

Pastor Billy: Maybe you'd like to start coming to my church? I'm sure it would help clarify things for you.

Gnostic Mike: Are you saying I need your church to have it all make sense? That sounds kind of cultish.

Pastor Billy: I don't know why people always accuse us of being cultish...although we are the only doctrinally sound church in the city. But first things first. The important thing is that you get saved by believing my groundless gospel.

Gnostic Mike: That's what I'm trying to understand...so where were we? You were saying I have to believe Christ rose from the dead but not that He rose from the grave because that adds in His burial. So do I have to believe Christ rose from the dead on the third day? I mean, it says His resurrection on the third day is "according to the Scriptures," right?

Pastor Billy: Technically it does say that, but there are many passages throughout the New Testament which never mention the third day. We find that when a truth is mentioned frequently enough in the Bible it actually overrides another truth that's not mentioned quite as frequently. We like to tell people that an emphasis of one truth automatically means the exclusion of a related truth.

Gnostic Mike: I don't follow you on that one. But shouldn't this passage in 1 Corinthians 15 be considered "of first importance" (1 Cor. 15:3)? I mean, shouldn't we understand 1 Corinthians 15 in its own context and then those other gospel passages in light of the most important one?

Pastor Billy: Don't take everything so literally. After all, 1 Corinthians 15 is only one passage so it can't really be considered that important. There are many other verses throughout the New Testament that never reference a third day resurrection.

Gnostic Mike: So if I understand you correctly you're saying that even though Christ's resurrection on the third day is said to be "according to the Scriptures," I only have to believe He rose from the dead but not that it was "on the third day," right?

Pastor Billy: Now you're getting it!

Gnostic Mike: Actually, the gospel didn't seem confusing until you started explaining it to me!

Pastor Billy: That's because you're not saved. Often God uses human instruments like myself to explain these deep truths of the gospel.

Gnostic Mike: I don't know what I would do without you pastor. I sure wouldn't be able to understand the gospel simply from reading my Bible!

Pastor Billy: But once you understand it's so simple! We can't let the textual nuances of 1 Corinthians 15 override our carefully engineered system of theology, which of course is based on a synthesis of arbitrarily selected Scriptures fitting an unspecified numerical profile and the conversion experiences of many Christians in the world today.

Gnostic Mike: It sounds like I have a lot to learn! So you don't mind if I review all this one more time? I just want to make sure I'm getting this.

Pastor Billy: Sure but I don't have much time. I'm writing another book explaining the gospel.

Gnostic Mike: Okay...I'll try to make it quick. So you're saying I have to believe that Christ died for my sins - but now here I have another question. If Christ's resurrection on the third day is said to be "according to the Scriptures" but I don't have to believe that part about "the third day", why can't I simply believe that Christ died? I mean, I don't really have to believe the "for my sins" part, do I? I can just cut that out too, right?

Pastor Billy: The gospel isn't always consistent or clear like it may seem at first glance. You don't have to believe that Christ rose "on the third day"4 but you do have to believe that He died "for our sins". I know it sounds complicated but this is only the first time someone like myself has explained it to you.

Gnostic Mike: Yeah, I think I understand. It's still confusing me a bit though.

Pastor Billy: You're moving in the right direction. We can't take the passage in 1 Corinthians 15 so literally. Such an interpretation is too rigid and wooden. I mean honestly, who ever preaches that Christ "appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve" (1 Cor. 15:5)?!

Gnostic Mike: But didn't Paul preach it (1 Cor. 15:1)?

Pastor Billy: Well, Paul may have preached it, but only to the Corinthians in reference to the specific issues at that church.

Gnostic Mike: But doesn't Paul say that all the other apostles preached the same gospel message (1 Cor. 15:11)?

Pastor Billy: Let's not squabble over details. You'll just have to read my book. Actually, I carry extra copies of it with me for times like these. Here, why don't you take one?

Gnostic Mike: Actually I was wondering if I could just get a Bible? Mine's falling apart.

Pastor Billy: Oh, uh, I have one back at the church if you visit on Sunday. But let's not get sidetracked. Does what I've been explaining to you make sense?

Gnostic Mike: Well, not really. I'll have to go home and listen to your sermon tapes and look over your book. Your gospel is confusing me a bit.

Pastor Billy: Call me if you have any more questions. God's Word isn't always as clear as it seems. But once you understand it's so simple!

This story serves to illustrate the real tragedy of the groundless gospel. We simply cannot improve on the gospel, but we can detract from it by clouding it's clarity with human viewpoint and distorting it's message with reductionist reasonings. This is a serious error when it comes to evangelism because the unsaved have no grid other than their darkened minds to interpret our message of life. Let's encourage one another to proclaim the gospel clearly so that it can truly be dynamite for Christ! "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power [dynamite] of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes"! (Romans 1:16, NIV)


ENDNOTES:

1. Tom Stegall, The Gospel Of The Christ, 559.

2. Dennis Rokser, "The Issue of Incongruity - Actual or Artificial? Pt. 2," In Defense of the Gospel blog, http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2008/05/issue-of-incongruity-actual-or_08.html (accessed December 20, 2009), emphasis his.

3. Tom Stegall, The Gospel Of The Christ, 561-562. 

4.  In Stegall's list of what he believes to be the five "essential, defining elements of the Gospel," any mention of "the third day" (1 Cor. 15:4) is noticeably absent. (Stegall, THE TRAGEDY OF THE CROSSLESS GOSPEL Pt. 1," The Grace Family Journal [Spring 2007]: 9.) Far from being an accidental oversight, this omission is entirely purposeful. In his new book Stegall makes it clear that the reference to the third day is not, in his opinion, an essential point of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. (Stegall, The Gospel Of The Christ, 559.) In contrast to Stegall's partial gospel, Everett F. Harrison highlights the Biblical truth when he writes: "This much is clear from the whole discussion, that Jesus, both in His predications [cf. Jn. 2:19; Matt. 12:38-41, etc.], and in His teaching following the resurrection [Lk. 24:46-48], laid great stress upon the time element, and the early church sought to impress the same thing in its witness (Acts 10:40; 1 Cor. 15:4)." (Everett F. Harrison, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Ed., Systematic Theology, 8 Vols. 5:241.) William Lane Craig concludes: "the 'third day' motif [was] prominent in the earliest Christian preaching, as it is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5." (William Lane Craig, Jesus Under Fire, 150.) It is clear that Stegall's reductionist reasonings are flawed even according to his own standards because although the mention of "the third day" in 1 Corinthians 15:4 is said to be "according to the Scriptures" - a phrase which supposedly deciphers the essential elements of the partial gospel - Stegall still omits the third day time element from his gospel! Ironically, Stegall's own words bear witness against him when he writes: "This is a transparent example of doctrinally-driven exegesis, of doctrine being imposed upon Scripture rather than derived from Scripture." (Tom Stegall, THE TRAGEDY OF THE CROSSLESS GOSPEL Pt. 3," The Grace Family Journal [Fall 2007]: 4-5.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Biblical Basis for the 4 Part Gospel

Here's some good thoughts on why the gospel creed in 1 Corinthians 15 has 4 parts. Please click here.

I've already discussed this issue at length in some of my other articles, so I'm not going to repeat myself here other than to say (or sing), I see 4 here: "Christ died...buried...raised...appeared...." (1 Cor. 15:3-5).


Friday, February 6, 2015

Jesus Martinez

My friend Peter has been wanting to understand and explain the truth of the gospel more clearly and effectively. Today he gave me a handwritten letter and asked me my knowledge of the Word to make sure that he was on the right track, or in other words, that he was understanding and presenting the truth. Here's what he wrote:

"The gospel is when an individual realizes they are a lost sinful individual deserving God's judgment in Hell. A person has to place 100% trust in Jesus Christ (God's Son sent to earth to save sinful man from eternal separation from God). That 100% trust in Jesus Christ (and 0% human effort) is 100% trust in the cross of Christ, having the sins of mankind nailed to Him. It is the cross alone that redeems an individual from Hell [1 Pet. 1:18-19]. The burial, resurrection, and appearances aren't paying for sin.

Why is it important to mention the burial, resurrection, and appearances in the gospel? The reason why is because just believing the cross for payment [without believing the rest of the gospel] isn't the key. There could have been another Jesus by the name of Jesus Martinez. So the case in point is that it has to be the Right Jesus (God's Son sent to earth to save sinful man from Hell by dying on the cross for mankind's sins, then being buried, raised and appearing). So when one says to preach the whole gospel, the death of Christ with the burial, resurrection and appearances [see 1 Cor. 15:3-5], what one is saying by including the burial, resurrection and appearances is another way of saying preach the Right and True Jesus Christ, God's Son, to save one from Hell when one trusts Him alone. So they don't think Jesus Martinez.

The burial, resurrection, and appearances, like I said, don't pay for sin but prove that the sins were completely paid with the death and validate the Right Jesus Christ (who is at God's right hand) who saves. It's important to mention the burial, resurrection, and appearances to an individual in case they have never heard of Jesus Christ before."

This article was originally posted on this website on September 8th, 2010.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What's the gospel according to the Greek?

One of the things I found very interesting when I translated the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 into English was that there is an interrogative pronoun (tini with the acute accent on the first vowel) in verse 2 that most English translations don't translate, at least not as a question. But the apostle Paul is asking the Corinthians a question about the gospel.1 He's basically asking them: What have I preached to you? What is the good news I preached to you? Then Paul proceeds to remind the Corinthians (and us today) of what the gospel really is.
 
What follows is my personal translation of 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 from the Koine Greek New Testament. The Greek text I used is from The Reader's Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007).
 
A Free Grace translation of 1 Corinthians 15:1-5:
 
1 Now I declare to you, brothers, the gospel, which I announced as good news to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved. For what announcement have I preached to you if you know it? Except if not, you believed to no purpose. 3 For I delivered to you in first order of importance that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas then by the twelve.


ENDNOTE:

1 The Expositor's Greek New Testament affirms that in 1 Corinthians 15:2 the apostle Paul is asking the Corinthians a question. It translates the Greek text of verse 2 this way: "In what word (I ask) did I preach (it) to you? - (you will remember) if you are holding (it) fast! - unless you believed idly!" (See W. R. Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek New Testament, Volume 2, page 919.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Charles B. Williams' N.T. translation of 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

"Now let me remind you, brothers, of the essence1 of the good news which I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you now are standing, and through which you are to be saved,2 unless your faith at first was spurious.3 For I passed on to you, among the primary principles of the good news,4 what I had received, that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that on the third day He was raised from the dead, in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, and then by the Twelve." (Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People [Chicago: Moody Press, 1950], pages 386-387, footnotes his.)

FOOTNOTES:

1 Implied in phrase, among the primary principles.

2 At last.

3 Lit., in vain.

4 Grk., among the first things; good news implied.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Living Bible Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 2 and it is this Good News that saves you if you still firmly believe it, unless of course you never really believed it in the first place. 3 I passed on to you right from the first what had been told to me, that Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures said he would, 4 and that he was buried, and that three days afterwards he arose from the grave just as the prophets foretold. 5 He was seen by Peter and later by the rest of "the Twelve."a (1 Corinthians 15:1-5, The Living Bible)


FOOTNOTE:

a The name given to Jesus' twelve disciples, and still used after Judas was gone from among them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dr. David Jeremiah's Study Notes on the Gospel

"[1 Corinthians] 15:3-7 Here is the standard by which every definition of the gospel must be measured. It must include four elements: Christ's death, burial, and resurrection as well as the testimony of the witnesses to the Resurrection. The gospel cannot be preached the way it should be without proclaiming all four truths." (Dr. David Jeremiah, The Jeremiah Study Bible [Worthy Publishing, 2013], pg. 1592.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dr. Bob Utley's "FOUR ASPECTS OF THE GOSPEL"



Dr. Bob Utley begins to discuss the "FOUR ASPECTS OF THE GOSPEL" at the "3:44" time stamp of the video. (This is where he begins to discuss First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 3).

Monday, July 14, 2014

DEFINING THE GOSPEL

In his book Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God, Dr. David Jeremiah shares the following true story in a daily devotional titled "DEFINING THE GOSPEL":

"Duncan McNeil, the Scottish evangelist, once said that in school he had a seminary professor who insisted on opening his theology classes with a question. No one could ever anticipate what the question would be. One day he said to his students, 'Gentleman, can someone give me a definition of the gospel?'

A student rose and read John 3:16: 'For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.'

The professor said, 'That is a good gospel text, but it is not a definition of the gospel.' Another student read 1 Timothy 1:15: 'How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - and I was the greatest of them all.' Again the professor declined to accept it; he waited for what he wanted. Finally, a student stood and read 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, much to the professor's delight. It was evident that he had the reply he desired; he said, 'Gentlemen, that is the gospel. Believe it, live it, preach it, and die for it if necessary.'"1


ENDNOTE:

1 David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God (Nashville: Integrity Publishers, 2002), pg. 277.

Monday, June 30, 2014

What does it mean to preach the Gospel?

The Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Zondervan: 2001) is a good layman's resource that I have found very helpful in personal study. It has improved on the original Strong's Concordance in a number of ways. For example, The Strongest Strong's has updated and expanded some of the Hebrew and Greek definitions of the original. In the introduction (page x) it says, "Our dictionaries are based on the latest dictionaries, lexicons, and word study books, reflecting great advances in Biblical scholarship."

One update that I have found very helpful in The Strongest Strong's is the expanded definition of the Greek word euangelizo. The Strongest Strong's gives this excellent definition of euangelizo

"to preach (bring) the good news (gospel), often with a focus on the content of the message which is brought. In the NT it always refers to the death, burial, resurrection, and witness about Jesus Christ, including its implications for humankind's relationship to God" (see page 1613, number 2097 euangelizo).

The word euangelizo is used in both Acts 13:32 and 1 Corinthians 15:1 to describe the gospel preached by the apostle Paul - a gospel which according to both texts includes Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and appearances to witnesses (see Acts 13:28-31 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-5). This is the Strongest definition of "the message preached to save those who believe" (1 Cor. 1:21)!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Gospel Message


1 Corinthians 15:1-11

     The gospel is very simple. Even a child can comprehend its content and respond to its message. The apostle Paul encompassed the heart of the gospel in just twenty-eight words - "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and . . . He was buried, and . . . He rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and . . . He was seen" (vv. 3-5). Paul was not ashamed of that gospel (Rom. 1:16) and proclaimed it wherever he traveled, assuring his readers in Rome that he had, up to the time of his writing, "fully preached the gospel of Christ" from Jerusalem all the way to the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea (Rom. 15:19). In his heart, this first century missionary had determined that wherever he engaged with unregenerate men he would preach "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (2:2). The church at Corinth was reminded of Paul's burden "to preach the gospel in the regions beyond [them]" (2 Cor. 10:16).
     "The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:8) "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). It was the gospel that Paul preached to the Corinthians (Acts 18), knowing that only through that message would they be saved (v. 2). The good news of Christ, the crucified One, was the very foundation of their salvation. Paul delivered the message he had received (v. 3), and God did a work of grace in their hearts as they responded favorably, in faith. The "light of the glorious gospel of Christ" had penetrated their darkened hearts and given "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4, 6). Has that light pierced the gloom of your heart? Christ died for sinners - trust Him today!

(Excerpted from the Fundamental Evangelistic Association's FEATURE Bible Study Guide, April - June 2014, page 15. Used by permission.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Contra Gospel at Grace Biblical Seminary!

"A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church]. [For my part] I have confidence [toward you] in the Lord that you will take no contrary view of the matter but will come to think with me. But he who is unsettling you, whoever he is, will have to bear the penalty."  Galatians 5:9-10, Amplified Bible

Is it a cover-up? There's a Contra Gospel at Grace Biblical Seminary (formerly Free Grace Seminary) and nobody wants to talk about it! 

Rick Whitmire and Tom Stegall are both on staff at Grace Biblical Seminary in McDonough, Georgia. The school’s stated mission is “to advance the cause of Christ by presenting the gospel of God’s amazing grace”1 – yet actually these two men  have contrary views on that very gospel! Rich Whitmire is Vice President and Dean of Online Education, as well as Professor of Evangelism, Biblical and Theological Studies. Tom Stegall is Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies. Notice the following public statements these men have made in regards to the gospel, and how their statements are contrary to each other. 

Rick Whitmire's Statement on the Gospel:

“Romans 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; to the Jew first, and also to the (Gentiles).’…

The Apostle Paul Defines the Gospel: 

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 – ‘For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ DIED for our sins according to the scriptures: And that He was BURIED, and that He ROSE again the third day according to the scripture: And that He was SEEN...’

The Apostle Paul summarizes the most basic ingredients of the gospel message, namely, the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of the resurrected Christ.

a. This is the one place where the historical elements of the gospel are clearly defined. Our responsibility is to make the gospel clear and Biblical. But in order to do so, we must have a clear understanding of what the gospel means in the New Testament. These verses, give us the heart of the gospel. Note the four clauses introduced in verses 3-5.

b. The Apostles [sic] Paul in defining the gospel uses four verbs: 1). Christ Died.... 2). Christ was Buried.… 3). Christ Rose.… 4). Christ was Seen.” 2


Contra (contrast to) Tom Stegall's Statements on the Gospel:

“[The Apostle] Paul did not consider the burial and appearances to be part of ‘the gospel’”3

"the burial and post-resurrection appearances of Christ are not technically part of the gospel” 4

"the cross and resurrection are elements of the gospel in distinction to the burial and appearances"5

"The interpretation that views the four clauses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 as...all being necessary components of the gospel, is at odds with the entire pattern of the New Testament."6

“only the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ are elements of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, in contrast to the burial and appearances”7


Comparing and contrasting the above statements of the two men, did you notice that while Rick Whitmire states that "the most basic ingredients of the gospel message, [are] namely, the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of the resurrected Christ" - Tom Stegall says that "the burial and post-resurrection appearances of Christ are not technically part of the gospel"! So Rick Whitmire says that Christ's burial and appearances are part of the gospel, while Tom Stegall says they are not part of the gospel. 

"How can two walk together unless they are agreed?" 
(Amos 3:3, NKJV)

I trust that Grace Biblical Seminary will address this division over the Gospel and hold Tom Stegall accountable for his false teaching so that the school can move forward in spirit and in truth, “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

No Contra Gospel!


ENDNOTES:

1 http://www.gracebiblicalseminary.org/about-us/our-mission-purpose-vision/

2 Whitmire, “The Facts Presentation,” GO TELL EVANGELISM, CHAPTER 2, OUR WITNESS FOR CHRIST (dated “07-15-03”), underlining, capitalization, and second ellipsis his, http://tgcministry.com/gotell/gts_2.htm (accessed April 5, 2012). NOTE: In the original article much of Whitmire’s statement is in bold print.

3 Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ (Milwaukee, Grace Gospel Press, 2009), p. 579.

4 Ibid., p. 578.

5 Ibid., p. 579.

6 Ibid., p. 588.

7 Ibid., p. 585.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dr. William Lane Craig is for "the 4 essentials of the Gospel"!

Dr. William Lane Craig is a strong defender of the Christian faith and one of the foremost Christian apologist's of our time. He is well-respected in the Christian community and among his peers in academic circles.1

Notice what Dr. Craig says in his lecture titled "The Work of Christ - His Resurrection" - he points us to 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 and highlights "the four essentials of the Gospel":

"For our Scriptural data on this subject, I want to turn to just two central passages in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 is the first Scripture that we want to turn to....What does Paul say? He says in verse 3, 'For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,' and now comes this four line formula: 'that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,' or Peter, that is the Aramaic word for 'Peter,' the name for him, 'then to the Twelve.' So notice here [in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5] that Paul lists as part of the four essentials of the Gospel the death of Christ for our sins, his burial, his resurrection on the third day, and then his postmortem appearances to various individuals and groups."2

Dr. Craig's analysis is in agreement with my basic premise that the Gospel emphasizes Christ's death and resurrection without excluding His burial and appearances. All four of these facts are part of the Gospel.


ENDNOTES:

1 Reasonable Faith Reviews and Endorsements, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/rf-tools/reviews (accessed March 24, 2014).

William Lane Craig, "Doctrine of Christ (Part 14), The Work of Christ - His Resurrection," Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig website, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s6-14 (accessed March 24, 2014).

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sharing the Gospel on Crosstalk Radio

Recently my friend Peter had a desire to share the gospel on the radio in order to encourage Christians to keep sharing Jesus with the lost because "the time is short" (1 Corinthians 7:29, NKJV) and the Rapture "is near" (Revelation 1:3, cf. 22:20). Specifically, Peter wanted to share a comment on VCY Christian radio - on a program called Crosstalk, which is "a nationwide call-in program discussing issues that have an effect on our families, our communities, our churches, our nation, and our world." Crosstalk provides an opportunity for people to call-in and voice their concerns for biblical principles.

Since Peter wasn't able to personally call-in to Crosstalk because of his work schedule, he asked me if I'd be able to help him get his comment on the air. I was excited about the opportunity, and so we decided to team up (see Ecclesiastes 4:9) in order to share the gospel on Crosstalk.

Our plan was simple. Peter would write down a short comment on paper and I would call-in to Crosstalk and read it on the radio. We prayed for the Lord's guidance and decided on the exact wording of the comment to be read.

The Lord answered our prayers in an amazing and mighty way - "far more abundantly" (Ephesians 3:20, ESV) than we thought! For instance, we didn't know this ahead of time, but come to find out, the day I called-in to Crosstalk the topic of discussion was about the upcoming Creation vs. Evolution debate between Dr. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and Bill Nye "The Science Guy". (More information on this debate is available at www.debatelive.org.) To illustrate the importance of this debate, my pastor said it's probably going to be the biggest Creation-Evolution debate since the Scopes Trial of 1925! So I was calling-in to Crosstalk on the very day they "just so happened" to be discussing one of the most important debates in the last 100 years! This Crosstalk program turned out to be the most popular Crosstalk program of the week and could possibly be the most popular one of the entire year! Of course, none of this happened by accident! God was working behind the scenes to bring it all together according to His plan. The Bible says, "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

As I waited to share my comment on the radio, I listened with interest as Jim Schneider of Crosstalk interviewed Dr. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. Dr. Ken Ham spoke about the upcoming debate and made two statements about the gospel that I thought were really good. He said:

"I stand on the authority of God's Word and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ."

"We want our [human] family to hear the gospel and be saved."

After the interview with Dr. Ken Ham, Jim Schneider interviewed another creation scientist named Dr. Danny Faulkner. It was during this second interview that Jim opened up the phone lines for people to call-in and voice their comments. (Peter had told me beforehand to call-in right away after they opened up the phone lines so that I would be sure to get on the air.) So I quickly dialed the toll-free number and it wasn't long before I was on the air! Here is the transcript of the comment I shared on the radio:

Jim Schneider: "Jonathan in Greenfield, you're on the air."

Jonathan Perreault: "Thanks for taking my call. I just wanted to share an encouragement, because I think one thing we need to keep in mind as a church is that no matter what's going on in our society that the Rapture could happen at any moment and we just need to keep sharing Jesus Christ with the lost, in particular that He died for our sins, that He was buried, raised on the third day, and He appeared to His twelve disciples - like the Bible says in First Corinthians 15 verses 3-5. Like Ken Ham was saying too, we want our human family to hear the gospel and be saved. And I'm just gonna be praying for him, and for the debate, in that regard."

Jim Schneider: "Thank you so much."

Almost immediately after I got off the radio my phone rang. It was my friend Jerry from church calling to tell me he just heard me on Crosstalk! I hadn't even told him I'd be on the radio so it was really encouraging to know that my comment had been heard and was already "bear[ing] fruit for God" (Romans 7:4b).

The gospel message that was shared on the radio continues to "bear much fruit" (John 15:5, 8) to the glory of God. "Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth" (Psalm 115:1). Peter pointed out to me some of the positive ripple effects of sharing the gospel over the radio:

1. The radio can spread the gospel farther.
2. The radio multiplies the effect of one's witness.
3. The radio gives an opportunity for more people to hear.

For more information on the "Creation vs. Evolution Debate" Crosstalk program, please click here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Story of the Preacher in the Coal Mine

During the noon hour, a preacher of the gospel had gone down into a coal mine to tell the miners of the good news of salvation which comes through Jesus Christ. After telling them the simple story of God's love to sinners and God's remedy for their sins in His offer of a full and free salvation, their lunch break was over. As the men went back to work, the preacher came back to the elevator shaft to ride up to the top. Meeting the foreman, he asked him what he thought of God's way of salvation.

The foreman replied, "Oh, it's too cheap! I can't believe in a religion like that!"

Without commenting on his remark, the preacher asked, "How do you get out of this place?"

"Just get into the elevator cage and ride to the top" was the foreman's reply.

"Does it take long to get to the top?"

"No...only a few seconds!"

"That certainly sounds pretty easy and simple. But don't I need to help raise myself?" asked the preacher.

"Of course not!" replied the foreman. "All you have to do is get in the elevator cage, and it carries you to the top."

"Tell me about the company who opened the shaft and worked out all the details. Was there much planning, labor and expense to make it all work?"

"Oh yes, there was much calculating before they actually began sinking the shaft. The shaft is eighteen hundred feet deep, and it was completed at great cost to the company who owns the mine. It is our only way out, and without it we couldn't get to the surface," the foreman explained.

"That's exactly my point!" said the preacher. "When God's Word tells us that anyone who believes on the Son of God has everlasting life [Jn. 3:16, 3:36, etc.], you say, 'Too cheap!' You forget that God's work to bring you and others out of the pit of destruction and death was planned in divine detail and accomplished at a great expense. The cost was the suffering and death of His beloved Son on the cross! Now all that's left for you to do is believe."

You are "not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

People talk about God helping them with their salvation; they say, "If I do my part, God will do His." They disregard the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ by Himself removed our sins and that their part is only to believe and accept what He has already done - all they have to do is "step into the elevator cage!"

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).

"By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

_______________________________________________________________

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Rest of the Gospel Story

The well-known radio broadcaster Paul Harvey (1918-2009) would often close his daily radio program with a segment called The Rest of the Story. It consisted of presenting "little-known or forgotten facts"1 of important events on a variety of subjects.
 
If I was Paul Harvey for a day, I think I'd like to share The Rest of the Story in regards to the gospel. Oftentimes people conclude the gospel by placing an artificial period at the end of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 so that it reads this way: "I declare unto you the gospel...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures." (Notice the artificial period after the word Scriptures in the previous sentence.) But in reality, the gospel story doesn't end there! There is no period at the end of 1 Corinthians 15:4 in the Biblical text. Instead, there is a comma at the end of 1 Corinthians 15:4, and then 1 Corinthians 15:5 begins with the linking word "and". In other words, the gospel story includes 1 Corinthians 15:5: "and that He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve." So according to the Bible, the gospel story not only includes Christ's death, burial, and resurrection - it also includes Christ's manifestation to His disciples (see 1 Corinthians 15:5; also see John 20:19-21:14). To put it more concisely, the gospel story includes Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and manifestation (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-5).

To quote Paul Harvey: "And now you know the rest of the story!"


ENDNOTE:
 
1 "The Rest of the Story," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rest_of_the_Story.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nothing But The Blood - by Peter Hann

 
Robert Lowry starts an old hymn with the question, "What can wash away my sin?" The other part of the hymn lyrics read, "nothing but the blood". What does "nothing but the blood" mean?

In the Old Testament the children of Israel had to sacrifice the blood of bulls, goats, and other animals to cover their sins like a temporary band-aid.

In Exodus chapter 12, in preparation for the Passover, the children of Israel were commanded by God to place the blood of the slain lamb on the sides and posts of their door frames, so that the LORD would not allow the destroyer to come into their homes, and bring death.

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22, "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (forgiveness) of sins." That's humanity's problem, we have sin. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The glory of God is His holy standard of perfection.

The Bible also says, "the wages of sin is death" (eternal separation from God in Hell), "but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

The only way to be saved from sin and Hell is to focus on "nothing but the blood" of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is not praying, good works, water baptism, church membership, sorrow, or sincerity - nothing but the blood, the blood, the blood! You must place all your trust in Christ's shed blood on the cross!

"In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). When you trust the precious blood of Christ, your sin is washed away like dirt on clothes is washed away. A detergent is required for cleaning things. Jesus' blood cleans our souls. [See: Isaiah 1:18; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Revelation 7:14.]

The solution is to trust Jesus Christ's death for your sins on the cross. He died, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures to show that God (the Father) accepted Christ's payment for our sins. [See: Acts 10:39-41, NKJV; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.]

Trust that shed blood today, and nothing but the blood, and eternal life is yours!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Still True to the Gospel After 100 Years

Although some today are using systematic theology to redefine the gospel,1 such is not the case with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). All the way back in 1913 B. H. Carroll, the founder and first president of the institution, affirmed that "the gospel" in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the following four facts: 

1) Christ's death for our sins, 
2) His burial in a tomb, 
3) His resurrection on the third day, and 
4) His appearances to His disciples.2

Now, 100 years later, the school is still preaching that old, old story of Jesus and His love (Romans 5:8). In an article titled "We Should Study Systematic Theology for the Gospel," SWBTS faculty member Thomas White writes: "1 Corinthians 15:3-5 provides a short summary of the Gospel: 1 Cor. 15:3-5, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."3

May I say, that's a theological insight and a biblical insight!


ENDNOTES:

1 For an example of this see the article "The Strange Beliefs of Stegall's System".

2 B. H. Carrol writes: “This chapter [1 Corinthians 15] commences with the statement of the facts which constitute the gospel. The first fact, ‘Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.’ Three ideas are involved in that fact: 1. Christ actually died. It was not a mere trance; it was actual death. 2. It was a vicarious, substitutionary, expiatory death. ‘He died for our sins.’ 3. He died for our sins ‘according to the Scriptures’ – that the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament up to the time of his crucifixion clearly foretold his actual, substitutionary, and expiatory death. The second fact in the gospel is that he was buried – he was dead and buried – and that was according to the Scriptures. The Scriptures testified that he would be buried. The third fact is that on the third day, according to the Scriptures, he rose from the dead; and the fourth fact of the gospel is, that risen, he was visible to men, recognized by men, and identified by men.” (Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973], 17 Vols., Vol. 13, pp. 246-247. Note: This book was originally published by the Fleming H. Revell company in 1913.)

3 White, "We Should Study Systematic Theology for the Gospel (cont.)," Theological Matters blog, April 12, 2013, italics his.