Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Gospel

A friend asks you "Have you heard the good news?"  Your reply, of course, is "What good news?" because you know that all good news isn't the same. Yet few people ask this when reading in the Bible the phrase "the gospel" — which simply means "good news."  They have been taught that "the gospel is the gospel" and "there is only one gospel."  But this is simply not true in light of Scripture.

God has not proclaimed only one gospel, one item of good news, down through the ages, but many.  He has qualified the word "gospel" by distinctive titles, like the "gospel of the Kingdom" and the "gospel of the grace of God."  When we come upon the phrase "the gospel" without any qualifying title, we should immediately ask "Which gospel?" and the context will give us the answer. 

For example, Luke 9:6 simply says that the twelve disciples went about "preaching the gospel," but verse 2 of the same chapter explains how the Lord had sent them "to preach the kingdom of God" — not the cross, but the kingdom, since He, the King, was in their midst. These disciples could not have been preaching "the word of the cross" as Paul later did (1 Cor 1:17-18), because it wasn't until at least two years later that the Lord began to tell them how He must suffer and die (Matt 16:21) and Peter "began to rebuke Him" (Matt 16:22) and none of the twelve even knew what He was talking about (Lk 18:31-34).

So contrary to what many say, the "gospel of the kingdom" and the "gospel of the grace of God" are not the same thing. That the earthly (millennial) kingdom was "at hand" was the good news of the kingdom, whereas the "gospel of the grace of God" is that God is extending grace, totally apart from works, to anyone who simply believes.  The "gospel of the kingdom" was committed to the twelve while Christ was on earth (and don't forget people were still under the Law at that time).  "The preaching of the cross" (as good news) — "the gospel of the grace of God" — was later committed to the Apostle Paul and to us (1 Cor 1:18; Acts 20:24).

Making this distinction isn't really all that important, is it?  Yes it is, because if we fail to observe progressive revelation, we may wrongly try to evangelize by preaching the gospel according to Israel's earthly kingdom and not according to what was later revealed to us through Paul.

Many try to combine the two.  But not only are these messages of good news not the same, they contradict each other.  Ephesians 2:8-9 flatly contradicts the message of faith plus works as the expression of their faith** that we find in the gospel accounts (Matt 5:19-20; 6:14-15; 23:2-3; Lk 10:25-28; 18:18-20).

Still, many try to reconcile these two gospels by one of the following ways:

•Read the kingdom gospel into Paul's gospel
•Read Paul's gospel back into the kingdom gospel

The first choice is what some Bible teachers have done in an attempt to make sense of the good news of the earthly kingdom and the good news later revealed to us. An example of this is the teaching of Lordship Salvation.

The second choice is what many evangelicals do. They understand the gospel of salvation as revealed in Paul's epistles. They teach that salvation today is apart from works and totally by faith alone in the finished work of Christ, but then explain away, rationalize, or spiritualize the teachings of the gospels that clearly teach faith plus works.

But there is a third choice — observe the progression of Scripture. This choice is the only one that allows God's Word to say what it means and mean what it says. Understanding Paul's unique apostleship and message allows the Bible to teach what the literal sense of the words clearly indicate — a message of faith plus works to the Jews in keeping with their earthly prophetic program under the law, and a message of faith alone to everyone today in keeping with the heavenly program revealed to us through Paul.

**"Faith will most assuredly approach God in God’s way at any time, and to seek to gain acceptance with Him in any other way would, of course, be unbelief and self-will. Thus, while works never did or could save as such, they did once save as expressions of faith…..Does this mean that works will be efficacious in themselves? No! They will avail only as the expression and evidence of faith..." (Stam)

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Reposting this because it's just as relevant today, if not more so.  Let's put aside all the labels we give ourselves and others (Calvinists, Pentecostals, Dispensationalists, Reformed, etc...) and just see what Scripture says — taking into consideration progression revelation, of course!

“PC, or political correctness, is now being escorted by TC, or theological correctness. Just as one can be politically incorrect, so too now one can be theologically incorrect.

In evangelical Christian circles, a new form of censorship is breaking out. Now we have theological correctness. There are certain theological subjects which we are just expected not to discuss.

Our churches are awash in theological correctness. Of course not too long ago we identified this rot by other names, such as theological liberalism or false teaching or heterodoxy or even heresy. But in today’s wishy washy theological climate, Christians can say and believe almost anything and not fear being corrected or challenged.

Thus we have best-selling authors going on about how hell is not a biblical doctrine, or how in the end everyone will be saved anyway. We have all kinds of basic biblical doctrines now openly being challenged and millions of Christians are soaking it up.

They either lack all biblical discernment, or they just no longer care about the very things the Bible says we should care about. Indeed, we are warned repeatedly in Scripture that what we believe and what we do matters a great deal. If we believe false things or do wrong things, that is a mega-no-no in the minds of the biblical writers. But we simply think it is being intolerant, unloving and narrow-minded.

The hundreds of passages which speak to the need of believing right doctrine and living holy lives seem to be completely ignored by so many believers today.” (B. Muehlenberg)

I rather agree.  Certainly it can't be right to remain silent about everything except the very basics, just so we can avoid offending people, can it (Heb 5:13)?

Monday, January 16, 2017

So what were they preaching?

Luke 9:6 simply says that the twelve disciples went around "preaching the gospel." Verse 2 of this same chapter explains how the Lord had sent them "to proclaim the kingdom of God" (Lk 9:2). They couldn't have been preaching "the word of the cross," as Paul later did (1 Cor 1:17-18), because it wasn't until at least two years later that the Lord began to tell them how He must suffer and die (Matt 16:21) and Peter "began to rebuke Him" (Matt 16:22) and none of the twelve even knew what He was talking about (Lk 18:31-34).  So what were they preaching?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Closer To You

Closer to me I'm tired and I'm weak
And every breath within me is longing just to be
Closer to You
So I face the road ahead
Cause I know there's no comparing
To what's waiting at the end

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm smiling
After all I've been through
It's cause I'm just a day closer to You

Closer to me I hear You whisper on the wind
You say although my life is ending
A new one will begin
Closer to You
And I know I'm not alone
Cause I can hear You in the distance
Saying, you are nearly home

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm dancing
Though my days may be few
It's cause I'm just a day closer to You

Closer to me You're in the laughter and the tears
Of the ones I leave behind me
Who have prayed me through the years
Closer to You
And I know it won't be long
Till You're running down the pathway
Just to take me in Your arms

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm singing
Though my life's almost through
It's cause I'm just a day closer
I'm just a day closer
I'm just a day closer to You

by Mark Schultz

Monday, May 30, 2016

Interesting tidbit - 25

Q:  "I am a new Christian, and my mother just passed away. Do the dead know nothing?"

A:  While it is true that "the dead know nothing" (Eccl 9:5), this refers to how the dead know nothing of what goes on here on earth. We read something similar in Job 14:10,21:

But a man dies and is laid low...His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he perceives it not.
Also, Isaiah 63:16 says:

For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us...
Finally, in 2 Kings 22:20, God says:

...I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place...
Having said all that, it must be remembered that while the dead know nothing of what is going on here on earth, this does not mean they are not conscious, aware and even able to speak in heaven, as we see in Revelation 6:9-11:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Law

In the life of the believer, the Law can be an excellent thermometer, revealing how hot sin is running in his life, but it has no power to act as a thermostat, i.e., it is powerless to regulate sin (Romans 7).

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Interesting tidbit - 24

Q:  What does Paul mean when he says that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin?

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Rom 14:23).

A:  We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  The Word of God through Paul says that we can eat all things (1 Tim 4:4), but he who is "weak in faith" (Rom 14:1) doubts this and limits himself to eating "vegetables" (Rom 14:2).  His faith has not yet matured to believe Paul when he says he can eat meant, so "whoever has doubts...if he eats...does not proceed from faith..."

But if he wouldn't eat it "of faith," why would he eat it?  Well, in this passage he might eat meat trying to follow the example of his stronger brother.  This is why Paul encourages strong believers not to eat meat in front of weaker believers (Rom 14:15), which might embolden the weaker believer's conscience to go ahead and eat it (cf. 1 Cor 8:10)?  If he eats meat to try to walk in the footsteps of his stronger brother, rather than eating it because of faith in God's Word, it will cause him to stumble (Rom 14:13, 21) by doing something that bothers his conscience.

So back to the question:  How come "whatever does not proceed from faith is sin"?  It's because "it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean" (Rom 14:14).  God actually adjusts the definition of what is unclean to agree with the weaker brother's conscience.  Since his faith does not yet believe that he can eat meat, his "eating is not from faith," and "whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" to him.

But why would a weaker brother be "condemned if he eats"?  Well, the word "condemned" doesn't always refer to eternal condemnation in Hell.  The word "condemned" simply means judgement of any kind.  So when a weaker brother eats meat that he believes is unclean, it is sin for him, and he is condemned by his own conscience, since he judges what he has done to be sinful.