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The everlasting gospel
Query for the Month
Next up-date: December 1st 2006 (God willing).
Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.
Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference
between the "love" that is of Christianity
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends. It's called "Light on the Dark Side of God" and is one of the best on this subject that I have ever read!
Just what is the "everlasting" gospel, and where does it differ from the "other" gospel that Paul mentioned in his letter to the Galatian Christians? (Galatians 1:6.)
6 I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: 7 which is not another [for there is only one]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let[allow] him be accursed [for that is his choice].
The gospel of Christ is called the “everlasting” gospel because it has been in existence since Adam and Eve first sinned. Soon after that experience they heard God speaking to the devil through the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman [Eve] and between your seed and her seed; it [the enmity] shall bruise your head [cause you headaches], and you shall bruise His [the Son of man’s] heel [make things difficult for Him]”. Genesis 3:15.
It is the “enmity” aroused by the gospel that that upsets the devil, for it leads men and women to “choose” whom they shall follow, and how they will show that fact. By choosing to join with Christ they become inheritors with Him of the promise. He told us, “To him that overcomes [himself] will I grant to sit with Me in My throne [in the new world], even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne [right now]. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches”. Revelation 3:21-22.
What’s the simple difference between the true and the false gospels? That’s not easy to put into words – it’s only by experience that the two become black and white. But here’s an attempt.
The true gospel teaches that God alone makes us into Christians by removing the old nature and replacing it with a new one. That’s TWO things – a REMOVAL and an INFILLING. Then we must accept every day the power He supplies to live a good life.
The false gospel teaches that we only have to “open our hearts and let Christ in” and that’s it. But that is only ONE thing – there’s no REMOVAL – and this results in a dual nature teaching. Then we are to “try” and be good. It’s often added that “He understands” and makes allowances for our failings.
One says that the Son of God re-creates us through a “new birth” and makes us into fruitful “trees”. The other mentions the new birth (but modifies it considerably by saying that it occurs every day, confusing the birth with the growing) and then says that we can expect to be both good and bad in that situation. But a “fig” tree produces only “figs” – it is a counterfeit which tries to grow “figs” on a thorn bush. Of course, sometimes the “figs” have blemishes, but they are still recognisable as figs despite this.
43 For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
We are by faith in a Creator God made “good trees”, and therefore we shall bring forth “good fruit”. Luke 6:43. This is necessary because the believer is the only person by whom God can show to the world the power of His grace. Unbelievers read of the power of His grace, of the faith, hope, love, joy, peace, and of sanctification, and of the change of the heart of the Christian, but they feel nothing of that sin-killing operation that is in these things. These are to them as stories in a history book. (Philippians 3:18-19.) But to he or she that is born-again, righteousness and sanctification will be the things that they desire the most. (Matthew 5:6.) They see not only death and damnation as the fruits of sin, but sin also in itself as a hateful, horrible and loathsome thing for what it has done to their Saviour.
All this simply means that Christians produce good works AFTER their transformation, while sinners try to produce good works BEFORE their conversion in order to be accepted, and then continue them AFTER in the form of rituals. But the true gospel is based on a PROMISE – it is a false gospel which teaches that God requires goodness BEFORE we can come to Him, and sacraments after. We are told, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”. James 1:27.
Paul understood this, and he was telling his Gentile converts that they were covered by the promise apart from the ceremonials which were introduced during the exodus, and which the Jewish Christians were now trying to impose on them.
He wrote in another place:
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises [also] made. He says not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to your Seed, which is Christ”. 17 And this I say, that the covenant [with Adam and Abraham], that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after [in Moses’ time], cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Why then was the law of works introduced?
19 Wherefore then serves the law? [What’s its purpose?] It was added because of transgressions [which were caused by an imitation gospel], till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made [the Son of man]; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not [normally] a mediator of one, but God is one [and so in this case the mediator is between the promise of God and the law of God].
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
So we should see that just as there has always been an “everlasting gospel of promise” so there has always been a counterfeit “gospel of works”, for the law of works has been put in the place of the promise. It was correct when Moses said, “All the commandments which I command you this day shall you observe to do, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers” for that was AFTER their baptism in the Red Sea. Deuteronomy 8:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.
This is what made the offerings of Cain and Abel so different. Cain brought that which he had produced, (of course, he claimed it was in conjunction with God), while Abel brought only that which God had made. And therein lies the rub! The false gospel teaches that man has some hand in JUSTIFICATION, while the gospel of Christ allows no such thing. As sin darkened the minds of His people the Son of God gave them the law of works so that justified people might learn more about the “spiritual ways” of God’s kingdom, and practise them. But the devil soon blinded them to that!
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be JUSTIFIED in His sight: FOR BY THE LAW IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.
21 But now [or first,] the righteousness of God without the [works of the] law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 being JUSTIFIED freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood [His death], to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins THAT ARE PAST, through the forbearance of God.
26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believes in Jesus [as a Creator].
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law [are we saved]? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH without the deeds of the law.
29 Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also [Saviour] of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also. 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall JUSTIFY the circumcision [church members] by faith, and uncircumcision [those outside the church] through faith [also]. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
So JUSTIFICATION (rebirth) comes first, then RIGHTEOUSNESS (sanctification), which is growing up. See 2 Peter 3:18.
And in another place:
1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham were JUSTIFIED by works, he has whereof to glory [something to be proud of]; but not before God. 3 For what says the scripture? Abraham BELIEVED [in the promise of] God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace [a free gift], but of debt [wages]. 5 But to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
As Jesus says, “He that is unjust [not justified], let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy [rebellious], let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous [justified], let him be righteous still: and he that is holy [obedient], let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be”. Revelation 22:11-12.
Thus the “reward” comes AFTER the re-birth at the second coming.
What also causes a great deal of confusion is the lack of understanding that there are two aspects to the grace of God – one for those in the state and an additional one for those in the church.
The first has been given at birth to all men and women who have ever lived to keep them alive even though they are sinners (rebels) by nature. (It is under this grace that Satan and his angels continue to exist and have not yet self-destructed, for the death which overtakes all who have turned from the God of life is self-induced, although not seen as such by many.) It is under the first grace that magistrates and human laws operate, wielding the power of the sword of steel as opposed to the sword of the word used by the church. Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12.
It is written of the civil authorities:
1 Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God [to keep the peace in the state].
2 Whosoever therefore resists [disobeys] the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For [earthly] rulers are not a terror to [those who do] good works, but to the evil [criminals]. Will you then not be afraid of the power? [Do you want to be left alone?] Do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to you for good.
But if you do that which is evil [commit criminal actions], be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil.
So long as the state keeps to its own area there will be no problem for those who follow God. They will be able to obey both the government and God. While on earth the Son of man had no problem with the pagan Roman system, till the leaders of His church co-opted it to kill Him. Before that He rendered unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s right to expect, civil obedience. When asked about this, “He said to them, ‘Whose is this image and superscription?’ They say to Him, ‘Caesar's.’ Then said He to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's’”. Matthew 22:17-22.
It is even the job of the state to protect God’s people from the religious leaders who wish to persecute them! (Consider Daniel 4:20-22.) It is only when the leaders of the state are weak that they can be “seduced” by the “church leaders” and led into sin. See Revelation 17:1-2 where the Spirit calls it “fornication”. So we should pray and ask God if there is anything we can do to help Him keep them strong.
Then there is the additional aspect of grace which is accepted and used by those who become followers of God (called Christians in the New Testament, Acts 11:26). This is the “more abundant” life promised by Jesus. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and [turn] to our God, for He will abundantly pardon”. Isaiah 55:7. “The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. John 10:10.
Sadly, although many believe enough to be JUSTIFIED, not many will accept pardon full and free and be set free from self-destruction during sanctification, which is the purpose of the angel’s message in our query. Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life”. John 5:24. All he has to do is co-operate with God to keep it!
Death is NOT part of God’s plan at all, but is a RESULT of the actions of mankind, sometimes committed by the sufferer, but more often the accumulation of the actions of his or her ancestors. Not that it matters who started it, only that God wants to finish it! Remember this story? “And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’ [They wanted someone to blame.] Jesus answered, ‘Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents [that’s not important]: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work’”. John 9:1-4.
Death and sickness can be overcome, for God says, “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [accept] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, said the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [repent], and live you”. Ezekiel 18:31-32.
There is only one true gospel and that teaches that men and women are JUSTIFIED (made new) by a two-pronged system. There is the removal of the old life and a replacing of it with a new one. Because the “old” life is considered “dead” in Christ, all the actions of it are pardoned and cleansed from the new-born and placed on Christ our Saviour. This experience was shown in the Old Testament by the picture forms of circumcision and eating the Passover lamb. (Exodus 12.) Anything less than this is a perversion of the truth.
Then the Son of God gets on with the job of keeping His saints [sanctified ones] clean, for it is written, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation”. Psalm 24:3-5.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from December 1st, 2006.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
When Paul wrote these words to a young minister of the gospel, what did he mean? And just what is scripture?
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