Monday, January 26, 2015

What IS the Gospel??

John the Baptist preached it. Jesus preached it. John, James, Peter, Paul, Silas and many others preached it during the time of the Apostles. But what IS it?

Baptists teach "x". Methodists teach "y". Presbyterians preach "z". Catholics preach "xy+w".

We argue & debate over whether or not Jesus COULD have sinned. Over whether or not you can choose to forfeit your salvation. Over whether or not speaking in tongues is still an active spiritual gift. Over having deacons as servants, or having elders as church rulers. Over associations or synods. Over what wording should be in a "sinners prayer". Over sprinkling or full immersion. Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib. Pre-Millennialism, Post-Millennialism, A-millennialism. So many ways that the different denominations of THE Church choose to dis-unify, in resistance to our Lord's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I've come to the point that I want to act in accordance with Psalm 119:63, "I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts". I believe that the name on the outside of the church doesn't matter, it's the name of the One that's worshiped on the inside that matters. We spend a LOT of time arguing over differences that honestly don't matter, time that we should be using to preach to the LOST, not our brothers. Are we straining out gnats while the camels march happily to hell?

To that end, I ask this: what is the CORE of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it:

1. Everything was created by God, who reveals Himself to us in three aspects of His being: Father, Son & Spirit.

2. The first man, Adam, chose to rebel against God. Because of that, sin entered his line and every person from birth is an enemy of God. Everything we do is tainted with sin and therefore filthy in God's sight. We CANNOT please Him with our deeds & service.

3. Knowing that we could never earn restoration, God sent His Son to us.

4. He spent 33 years walking among us, but NEVER sinned in thought, word or action.

5. Being a perfect and spotless man, He offered Himself as a sacrifice, offering His righteousness as a gift in exchange for our filthy rags. He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day in defeat of sin and death.

6. Anyone who acknowledges their sin, accepts His sacrifice and makes Him their LORD will be given forgiveness and resurrection.

7. At the end of history, everyone will be judged. Those who have forgiveness through Jesus will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Those who have never been forgiven of their sins will spend eternity in hell, being rightly punished for rebelling against the God of the universe.

How much of this did the thief on the cross know?

What about in Luke 18:13, where the publican prays "God, be merciful to me, the sinner"? Jesus said that he went home JUSTIFIED.

Just for clarification, I'm talking about Christians. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a different god, a different resurrection, and a different eternity. Mormons believe in a different god, a different Jesus, and a different eternity. Again, salvation is from faith alone, not of works, lest any man should boast. Any church or denomination that claims that membership, rituals or baptism is required for salvation is in clear opposition to the Bible.

I DON'T want to start WW3, just a LOVING, RESPECTFUL discussion of where the line in the sand should be drawn on who we should accept as brother and ally, and who is in need of salvation.