You may wonder how we can say that our gospel is the true gospel. We know it is, because it works. Many other "gospels" are being preached, but they fall short of meeting the needs of the sinner's heart. Other gospels always call upon man to do something, or be something, that is impossible for them by nature.
Do this and live, the law demands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word the gospel brings,
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Believing the true gospel, the record God has given of His Son, results in God justifying the ungodly sinner. God declares us righteous and the debt of our sin which is spiritual separation from Him is canceled, and we are acquitted from all guilt. Our conscience is purged by the blood of Jesus Christ and we have peace facing God. We may now come boldly to the throne of grace as sons, not servants. We have the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as to our right relationship to God. This same Spirit prays in us constantly according to the will of God. As He prays in us, we are filled with hope and joy. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts and this love pours out of our hearts completely. Each moment, His love flows and continues to flood our hearts. The result is an unshakable conviction that Jesus Loves Me, as we are. This is truly good news!!
The Secret Key to the Bible
In order to understand the true gospel, we must have a proper view of the Bible; we must rightly divide the Word of God. We all know that the Bible is divided by separating the Old Testament from the New. In both sections we have the history of different peoples, in other times, in various covenant relationships with God. Because of this, distinct laws, practices and rituals appear to be in conflict. We must be sure when we read scripture we are reading the parts addressed to us, for this time period. Otherwise, we will find ourselves reading another's mail and we will be confused. In the Old Testament, as God spoke through holy prophets of old, He promised to visit man on earth. Israel looked for the Messiah--Immanuel, or "God with us."
The promised arrival of Immanuel was announced by angels, when Jesus (Jehovah's salvation) was born at Bethlehem. When he began his ministry Israel was under the law God had given to Moses. Jesus announced the good news that He was the promised Christ and would end the Law and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. All Jesus' promises, preaching and commandments were to be in effect if His Kingdom was established. His disciples were told to preach, practice and pray for the kingdom to come. Isaiah the prophet foresaw the kingdom age and that all things on earth would change. Men would build houses, inhabit them and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. Weeping, crying and trouble would no longer be experienced. A wolf and a lamb would feed together and the lion would eat straw like a bullock. There would be no more war, a child would die 300 years old, and there would be no hurt or destruction in all the holy kingdom of God. Unlimited power in prayer was to be a part of the kingdom reign: And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear. This was to be the long promised times of refreshing, from the presence of the LORD. (Isa.65:17-25)
Calvary's cross was Israel's answer to the offer of their Messiah, Jesus the Christ. God gave Israel a second chance to receive His King after the resurrection. Peter cried to the nation after Jesus ascended, Repent . . . . and the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you. (Acts 3:19-20) Stephen not only believed Peter's message, his zeal caused his arrest. Before the ruling council he delivered a stinging rebuke to the nation. They responded by stoning Stephen and the day of Israel's visitation came to a close. Turning away from a blinded people Jesus Christ chose a proud Pharisee and blasphemer, Saul of Tarsus, to be His special ambassador.
When Jesus met Saul on the Damascus road, Saul fell before Him and knew He was God, and the promised Messiah. Saul went into the synagogues to proclaim that Israel had crucified their King. His message fell on deaf ears and Jesus announced to Saul that a new age, or dispensation, had begun. Israel's rejection would now make it possible to offer salvation to the Gentiles. Israel nailed more than their Messiah to the cross; they also nailed the Mosaic Law with all its rituals and sacrifices. The law, a schoolmaster given to Israel to bring them to Christ, ended at that time. The immediate hope of the Kingdom was set aside. The Great Day of Atonement had been fulfilled and left their Law dead, as a hope of righteousness. The true Lamb of God had been sacrificed for the whole human race. Israel sewed up the great veil in the Temple, and continued their search for righteousness. Meanwhile, deep in the Arabian desert, Jesus unfolded a new gospel to Saul. He would return to Jerusalem as the Apostle Paul. His distinctive message would be salvation by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of Galatians, Paul writes that his unique gospel, was the only gospel of God. So emphatic was he, that he declared anyone preaching another gospel was under the curse of God. This terrible curse even included angels from heaven. Let the implications of this statement reach your heart--there was another gospel being preached in Paul's day. Paul said this gospel was proclaimed as the true gospel, yet was opposed to the gospel of grace, revealed to him by Jesus Christ.
Paul says the gospel he preached was not of human nature (Gal.1:11). It was not passed on to him from another man (verse 12). He was not taught (the emphasis being on systematic teaching) this gospel (verse 12). According to Paul, his gospel was received by direct revelation (to take the lid off, implying a previous hiding) by the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul states that he did not learn his gospel from the apostles, nor was it confirmed by them. The Jewish apostles opposed the preaching of Paul's gospel. For fourteen years they rejected his gospel and refused to accept him as a true Apostle.
Do not miss this key to the scriptures: Rightly Dividing The Word. Paul's gospel was not the gospel preached by the eleven Jewish apostles. His gospel was uncovered, or revealed to his heart. The lid had been taken off this new gospel and he was enabled to see it, by the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel Paul saw, announced salvation by the grace of God, not by Kingdom rules. Paul saw the mystery of salvation for all mankind, not Jewish exaltation to earthly power. It had nothing to do with water baptism, but with the baptism of the Spirit into the body of Jesus Christ, not the baptism of Jesus Christ into the Spirit, as at Pentecost. Paul's gospel introduced the dispensation of the age of grace and ended the dispensation of the Mosaic Law and the offer of the Kingdom. It announced the blessed hope of the soon coming of Jesus our Bridegroom, not the Messianic hope of Israel's King.
View the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as though you had never read any other portion of the Bible. Get the viewpoint of the writer and the times: the only gospel the eleven knew, was the gospel of the Kingdom. Though they watched Jesus die, they did not comprehend the true meaning of the cross. After His resurrection they still did not know the mystery of the cross, for they asked the Lord if He would at that time restore the Kingdom to Israel. The baptism of the Holy Ghost by Jesus at Pentecost, filled His witnesses with power. They went forth at Pentecost to testify to the fact of the resurrection of Christ, not to the meaning of His death, burial and resurrection. Their preaching was witnessed by the gift of speaking in other languages and by miracles and signs. As new understanding was given to Paul, he experienced a transition period in his ministry. He passed from the preaching of the kingdom message to the gospel of grace, and ceased the many things he once practiced. Paul told the Corinthians that he was not sent to baptize in water, but to preach the gospel. Paul's gospel had nothing to do with water baptism, an Old Testament and Kingdom ritual. This is why he could thank God that he had baptized no more.
The Mystery Of The Cross
The distinctive message of Paul's gospel is the key that unlocks the Scriptures. Paul's gospel is as misunderstood and rejected today as he was in the first century. His gospel alone is the gospel of the good news of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It reveals how that Christ died for (in the stead of, in the place of, because of) our sins according to the scriptures. It tells us that he was buried and rose again, according to the scriptures.
When Paul preached his gospel the only scriptures in existence, were what we know as the Old Testament. Paul, as a master of the scriptures, saw the only true interpretation of the Cross of Calvary is in the Old Testament passages that deal with atonement. The meaning of Calvary focused and he saw the crimson thread of the substitutionary atonement, from Genesis through Malachi. From Eden's gate to the Temple sacrifices, the drama of Calvary was foreshadowed. The great expositions of Paul on the meaning of Calvary came from Leviticus 16, Exodus 12, Genesis 22, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and other key passages. Jesus had given Israel clues to His true mission. He told them to read the story of Jonah and know what would happen at His death. He told them Abraham rejoiced to see His (Jesus') day, when the ram of God was caught in the thicket by his horns. Jesus told them to meditate on the brazen serpent lifted up to a dying people, and they would know what Calvary would mean. It is the Old Testament scriptures that tell the story of how God, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, stepped into the sinner's place and stead and bore the wrath that was due him. Because he was a true substitute, He tasted the death that belonged to the sinner and descended into the darkness that awaited him. Jesus Christ satisfied God for all that was charged to the sinner, and was raised to be accepted in glory in the sinner's stead. This is the true gospel that saves the sinner from his sins and seperation from God. This gospel alone places him in Jesus Christ at the right hand of God! This is the true gospel that gives peace with God and absolute assurance of salvation. This is the gospel that fixes our eyes on Christ our righteousness, not our filthy rags of dead works.
Religion talks about Calvary, but few preachers have any comprehension of what really happened there. They prattle on about Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Easter morning and the rest of the religious rags of tradition. Few know of Wednesday's crucifixion or the fulfillment of Passover and its Lamb. The churches never speak of the three days and nights Jesus spent in the heart of the earth. Paul said he descended to the lower parts of the earth, or as in Romans 10:7, the "abussos" or bottomless pit. He did not spend three days and nights in the pit, but in the lower parts of the earth, known as Hades. His visit to the pit was only to leave the sins of the world that He bore away at the Cross of Calvary. This is where He took them and from which they will never return to doom and damn the believing sinner. Before the day of His death had ended, Jesus crossed the great gulf that seperated the rich man and Abraham, and met the believing thief in Paradise.
At His resurrection He emptied Paradise of the Old Testament saints, and took them with Him as proof of His victory over sin, death and Hell. There is so little preaching of Jesus' ascension to His Father and our Father, His God and our God. It is Paul who tells us that Jesus, as the High Priest of heaven, sprinkled His eternal and incorruptible blood on the mercy seat of heaven for the eternal redemption of all who would believe. (See: John 20 and Hebrews 9:11-14) No wonder Paul was the most hated man of his time. Paul's true gospel ends man's pride and his pitiful efforts to establish his own righteousness in the sight of God. Righteousness cannot be obtained by obeying the golden rule, practicing the beatitudes, reciting the Lord's prayer or the Apostle's creed. Man cannot be saved by doing penance at the command of some earthly priest or preacher, or repeating meaningless creeds and learning dead dogmas. Paul's gospel rends the veil between man and God from top to bottom. It leaves nothing between the sinner and God but the torn veil of Jesus' body and the altar of heaven sprinkled with a better blood than Abel's. There, God the Father welcomes all who will, to enter boldly!
Make sure you are rightly dividing the word of God. Make sure you are hearing the true gospel. Believe in your heart the record God gave of His Son. Here it is: God made Jesus Christ a substitute in judgment for you and in return, gives you the riches of His grace. This is a free translation of this blessed gospel as found in II Cor.5:21:
Thou Lord Jesus art my righteousness
And I am thy sin;
Thou hast taken what was mine
And given me what was Thine;
What Thou wast not, Thou didst become,
That I might become what I was not.
The godly One substituted for the ungodly and God is satisfied for eternity with the finished work of His Son Jesus Christ! God will freely impute His own righteousness, to the believing sinner. This is the only true gospel and it is the good news we are spreading by the Jesus Loves Me Ministry. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and check out what we offer. Our heart's desire is that in all things, Jesus Christ shall have the preeminence. May you see no man, save Jesus only--the proof of God's love and incredible grace!
Click here for more on the central theme of the Gospel (The Burial of Christ).