Saturday, May 5, 2012

What is the Gospel? How is it perverted?

I often take walks while listening to my audio Bible. What I have found, is that my “intake” of God’s Word, seems to be heightened. Most of my life, I’ve read the Bible, material about Scripture and listened to preached sermons. But in my (now) later years, I very much enjoy uninterrupted hearing from the Biblical (spoken) text.

This last week, on one of my walks, I listened to the New Testament book of Galatians 1:1f and some of Ephesians 1:1f. I was particularly struck by the references to “faith” in Galatians – specifically, Galatians 2:16:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [KJV] - Galatians 2:16

Now, I don’t by any stretch of the imagination claim to be an expert Bible scholar, steeped in the Scripture languages of Hebrew and Greek. Nor do I tout any worldly titles and / or degrees. But, as an aging emeritus Christian pastor and continued student of God’s Holy Scriptures, I, would just like to simply think of myself being in the same simple league as (were) my first century ancestor Christian brothers and sisters:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. [KJV} - Acts 4:13

What is the “Gospel?”

Tersely put, the Christian Gospel is the good news of (about / concerning) Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who was prophesied in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures hundreds of years before His virgin birth, holy life, (divine) sacrificial suffering and death and resurrection from the dead. [1 Corinthians 15:1;2;3;4;5] That “good news” becomes priceless and eternal “good news” to sinful human beings, when; they by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ.

This reception of [belief / faith in] Christ, is a result of God the Holy Spirit’s working in their life, to bring them to repentance [change of heart / mind / direction] and the faith. Please note that I mentioned, “the faith” and not necessarily, “their” or “one’s” faith. And, please note the Galatians 2:16 Scripture, above. Also, zero in on the following Scriptures, as many people erroneously think that human souls can drum up (by and for themselves) Christian saving faith by their own reason, or strength, (thinking or human efforts). Dr. Martin Luther, the notable and God blessed Christian messenger whom God raised up to bring back to our world the essence of true Scripture teaching, made the following precious statement in his explanation of the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed:

“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Ghost [Spirit] has called me by the Gospel……..:”

The following Scriptures, help to evidence Luther’s simple explanation of how a human soul comes into the (saving) Christian faith:

Matthew 16:17 ; John 3:3-7 ; John 1:12;13 ; John 6:65 ; Romans 9:15-18 ; Ephesians 2:1-10 ; Galatians 1:15;16 ; Colossians 1:20;21 ; 1 Peter 1:3 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; 1 Peter 1:5 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:13;14 ; Titus 3:5 ; Philippians 2:13 ; James 1:18 ; 1 John 5:4

How is the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ, Perverted? Doubtless, there are many ways in which the Christian Gospel can be, and has been perverted. But, for purposes of keeping this topical message from being too lengthy, I'll focus on but one major Gospel perversion.

There is a present odious element in the Christian world. It's many followers have left the divine revelation teaching documents, of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and gone their own way. Their odious and destructive element, "tool" is referred to, as UOJ - "universal objective justification." Basically, this anti-Scriptural teaching rejects the Scriptural principle truth of the sinner being "justified by faith, alone," - the same Scripture reality that was revived by the Reformation, championed by Dr. Martin Luther and faithful Biblical scholars, leaders and pastors who followed him.

This UOJ deadly disease (tool) has spiritually infected a large portion of Christianity. This spiritual disease, with its often, high and mighty (ecclesiastical) church leaders, and, also, pastors and teachers, end up leading human souls, astray. This false teaching pacifies sinners and heavily contributes to leading those same sinners upon the roadways to eternal destruction in hell. Remember the old adage about what the goal of a faithful Christian preacher, should be? It is this: "To comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable." Not so with the UOJ leadership crowd, (though) as they do the opposite! Instead, what makes the UOJ teachers so deadly, is that their "universal objective justification" teaching, lulls sinners to a soul damning (permanent) sleep!

The UOJ followers' error? They magnify the grace of God, while at the same time, pathetically and incorrectly diminishing the Scriptural reality of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which places the sinner at peace with God. They essentially disregard how this all takes place, in the person and work of God, the Holy Spirit. This faith which justifies the sinner, is initiated and generated by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity (Triune God). Lord, only knows the far reaching and destructive trail results this infectious perversion of Scripture has cost needy priceless souls. And, Lord only knows the divine judgment He will bring upon those who have led priceless souls upon the path to perdition!

Note: To find out more about the soul destructive and damning teaching of UOJ - "Universal Objective Justification," - please access the following:


A Gospel Without the Holy Spirit, Working Faith, Is a Worthless Gospel of Cheap Grace

I will have to admit that as an emeritus Christian pastor, I have (at times) neglected to adequately highlight God, the Holy Spirit, and His work. Instead, I've indirectly referred to His work by mentioning "God," the Father and "Jesus Christ," God's Son. However, be that as it may, Jesus promised His [then] disciples,before he was sacrificed upon the Cross, that He would send His Spirit to them and His future Christian disciples, when He would be no longer physically walk this earth. [John 14:1f ; John 16:1f ; Matthew 28:18-20] It was and is this same God, the Holy Spirit, whose job is it is, to ".....reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." John 16:8 - See, also: Acts 16:29—30

My fellow sinner – The Triune God did not abandon this earth after the personal ministry of Christ. He carries it on with and through His Holy Spirit. The message of man’s sin and of God’s holy righteousness is being heralded. If you miss that message about how you can escape God’s wrath and punishment because of your sins against God and His commandments – and, against your fellowman, - if you fail to put your faith in Christ to save you from God’s just wrath to come (on account of all your sins), you will end up forever damned in a real place of eternal torment.

Our Holy Creator God cannot allow sin in His holy heaven. And, so He provided the means to escape that certain and just punishment, in the person of the Holy Christ, who was sacrificed for your sins. Now, just because Christ died for your sins, does not translate you to be in heaven, someday. You must come by faith to enjoy and fully experience the Lord’s gifts upon your needy and priceless soul! That faith cannot be manufactured at a whim,by personal fiat, a "sinners prayer," – or by walking umpteen times to some church structure altar. That faith can only come by God’s Holy Spirit, as the aforementioned Scriptures convey. But that (same) faith can be spurned if you would spurn the very holy Christ who made it all possible for you to be clothed with His holy righteousness. Matthew 22:1-14 ; Philippians 3:7;8;9-14

Part and parcel of Christ's promise to His disciples was, that the [His] Holy Spirit would guide and lead his present and future disciples into all the truth. [John 16:13-15] We can witness from history some of that fulfillment in the Christian ministries of Martin Luther, and other Christian notables such as William Tyndale, Jon Hus, Richard Wurmbrand and other Christian martyrs. These God blessed men of faith (and, there were many Christian women who are seldom if ever are mentioned) were God’s messengers and royal priests sent by the Lord to often highlight erroneous Scripture teaching and steer God’s people to follow the Lord as disciples committed to His Scriptural truth.

Back to Christians (or, at least, CINO’S – Christians in name only), perverting the Gospel as it is from Genesis to Revelation

When Christians emphasize part of Scripture at the expense of other Scriptures, they are riding on thin spiritual ice. Christ made the following strong statement:

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:38

Please note, of the aforementioned verse, - the discipleship context stretching back to Mark 8:34;35;36;37

Those words by Christ contain a very strong statement and warning. That statement and warning by Christ is to be taken even more seriously, when considering that all of the divine revelation of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are Christ's total composite Word (s)! He, as the Nicene Creed correctly states, is “very God of very God.” Also, see - 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ; Psalm 40:7 ; Hebrews 10:7 ; 2 Peter 1:16;17;18;19;20;21

However, Christian pastors and teachers and their perspective ecclesiastical "leaders," often and continually disregard Scripture’s teaching and take it upon themselves to falsely fulfill, (for themselves) - for instance, the following verses of Scripture:

2 Corinthians 5:18 - And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [KJV]

2 Corinthians 5:19 - To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [KJV]

2 Corinthians 5:20 - Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. [KJV]

2 Corinthians 5:21 - For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [KJV]

These (often), pious, (perverting Scripture) Christians will enthusiastically and also, (not so enthusiastically) twist the Scriptures in order that they might (somehow) play their part in the Lord's Great Commission directive, [Matthew 28:18-20] to spread God's Word throughout the world. Often, in their pathetic efforts, to do this, they misconstrue Scripture, by placing a cock-eyed emphasis on God's grace and His blanket forgiveness to all mankind in the once for all sacrifice of the holy Messiah Jesus Christ. They will end up (falsely) concluding, that God, in the person and sacrificial sin offering work of Christ, ended up providing the necessary blanket pardon that is [therefore] imputed to all sinners.

I’m sorry, sinner, friend, - and sinner Christian friend – just because you and I see a cookie jar on the kitchen cupboard, - that, presence of a cookie jar, does not indicate that cookies are contained, in that cookie jar. Just because Christ died on the Cross for all human sin, that, does not signify that all sinners are absolved and pardoned for their sins against God, His holy Commandments, their fellowman; and sins of commission and omission.

Friend, I can’t offer you a 3 or 5 point prescription to put you on the road to eternal life with all the saints in heaven. If I did that, and if I gave you the impression that you were put right with God and on the way to heaven because Christ died for your sins, I would be an unworthy servant of Christ. I can only tell you what you are and what Christ has done. You are a sinner with a priceless soul, headed for God’s just punishment in hell, forever. Unless you repent of your sins and believe in Christ as the [your] Savior for all of your sins, and are baptized in His Name, you will be miserably lost. John 3:14-21 ; Mark 16:16 ; Acts 2:38

Friend, what I can tell you, is that you need to regard your soul as priceless. All that will be taken from you when you breathe your earthly last will be your priceless soul. However, if you are a genuine disciple of Christ, that genuine faith in Christ, will follow your priceless soul to heaven’s gates and glories. If you do not possess that genuine faith in Christ, which the Scripture so often relates, I pity your lost soul. Faith in Christ is not something that can be drummed up on its own – or, even by your own machinations and / or, self will. True faith is a gift from God. [Ephesians 2:8;9] That faith “comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14;15;16;17 ; Acts 8:26-39

Amen.

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An aging Christian mother was anxiously approached by her dear Christian son, who intensely asked her, point blank: "Mom, how do you know that you are saved?" To that, his mother perked up and stoutly stated: "Because, I believe God's promises!"

__________________________________

I know my faith is founded on Jesus Christ, my God and Lord; and this my faith confessing, unmoved I stand upon His Word. Man's reason cannot fathom the truth of God profound; who trusts her subtle wisdom, relies on shifting ground. God's Word is all sufficient, it makes divinely sure, and trusting in its wisdom, my faith shall rest secure.

[Above hymn lyric from - TLH - "I Know My Faith Is Founded" - C. 1941 - CPH]


Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

Related Scriptures To the Above Message

The Gospel - 1 Corinthians 15:1f


Conversion - John 1:12-13 ; John 3:3 ; Matthew 16:17 ; Ephesians 2:8-10 ; James 1:18


Divine Mercy, Favor and Blessing - Romans 9:15-24 ; Matthew 20:1-16


A historical account of a soul who believed - Acts 8:26-39

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Please note: Topical Messages, by subject

Pastor (emeritus) Nathan
Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3
2 -- How the saving (believing) process of the Christian Faith takes place
3 -- What are the tell-tale signs that a person has been “Saved” [is a Christian]

3 comments:

  1. Thank you pastor, for your edifying message.

    I am curious though...I am wondering where you stand in regard to intuitu fidei. Is faith the cause of election or is election the cause of faith?

    It also seems to me that they who teach that the forgiveness of sins is only for those who believe, teach that even though Christ's atoning sacrifice took the sins of the world away so that every man could have the forgiveness of sins since it is God's will for all to be saved, is not for all men. This seems to me a kind of limited atonement. What are your thoughts?

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    Replies
    1. "LutherRocks:"

      You are asking me my thoughts, but, basically, my thoughts originate from an earthy sinful nature. How can I possibly understand and / or evaluate the actions and intents of our Creator God, of holiness? Hence, if I were to answer from that sinful perspective, I might be questioning God, thinking that what you mention is contradictory. But, when I subject my thoughts to God's thoughts (the Scriptures), I recognize a paradox. Scripture says that God's desire is that all men, be saved. [1 Timothy 2:4] This, of course refers to all people. But, at the same time, I believe another Scripture teaches that God predestinates. [Ephesians 1:3;4;5] Human reason would like to force us to reconcile the two. But, I believe that it is impossible for men. But, not for God.

      However, I don't even care to attempt to understand all of this. To me, this issue which you raise is one of those paradoxes which have to be accepted by faith. Also, it is one of those "secret things" of God. [Deuteronomy 29:29] Here, again, the element of faith enters in. By faith, I believe that God is faithful. He cannot lie, and He deals justly. And, far be it for me to question the Almighty:

      Romans 11:33 - "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" [KJV]

      Finally, about your reference to "limited atonement." I don't believe that "limited atonement" is taught in Scripture. I believe that was one of the Calvinistic inventions of the 16th Century. But, be that as it may, we have to, again, (by God's grace, in operation with His Holy Spirit), accept what the Scripture tells us:

      2 Corinthians 5:15 - "......he [Christ] died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."

      Back up a 4 verses and note what is attributed to the Apostle Paul (under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit). Note his evangelistic fervor to preach the Gospel:

      2 Corinthians 5:11 - ".....Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;....."

      In short, brother - don't allow some of these human questions to wrack your brain:

      "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones........." Proverbs 3:5-8 and, as follows....[KJV]

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  2. Joe,

    You asked It also seems to me that they who teach that the forgiveness of sins is only for those who believe, teach that even though Christ's atoning sacrifice took the sins of the world away so that every man could have the forgiveness of sins since it is God's will for all to be saved, is not for all men. This seems to me a kind of limited atonement. What are your thoughts?

    Firstly I do not think you understand the intuitu fidei term as defined by the Wittenberg BoC signers who threw out Huber. Secondly, you can only miss and say that when faith is required, that is Limited Atonement if and only if you equate Atonement is Justification.

    And once more time, Atonement is not the same as Justification. It is the Calvinist who equates the two, but note well now that Huberites do the same as well, they equate the two to be the same. Hence, there is confusion in a person's mind.

    My post, mentions about intuity fidei which was coined by Hunnius and Leyser, it is found in http://extranos.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/gross-kilcrease-calls-leyser-and-hutter.html

    LPC

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