Tag Archives: New Testament

What Is The Gospel? Part Three: The Gospel According to Paul

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Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel (Timothy 2:8 ESV)

… on that day when God, through Jesus the Messiah, will judge people’s secrets according to my gospel. (Romans 2:16 ISV)

Now to the one who is able to strengthen you with my gospel and the message that I preach about Jesus, the Messiah, by revealing the secret that was kept hidden from long ago but now has been made known through the prophets to all the gentiles, in keeping with the decree of the eternal God to bring them to the obedience that springs from faith – to the only wise God, through Jesus the Messiah, be glory forever! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

Paul is the only New Testament author to use the phrase “my gospel.” His good news, gospel, differed from the gospel of Jesus in two important ways. Paul, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, had information given to him which Jesus had not revealed before ascending into heaven.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you. (John 14:26)

For I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a man, nor was I taught it, but it was revealed to me by Jesus the Messiah. (Galatians 1:11,12 ISV)

But when God, who set me apart before I was born and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me so that I might proclaim him among the gentiles, I did not confer with another human being at any time, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me. Instead, I went away to Arabia and then came back to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. (Galatians 1:15-18 ISV)

Paul knew mysteries revealed to him Jesus and the Holy Spirit that no one else knew, including the other disciples.

Paul was also set apart from all the other apostles with a special gift from God. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles.

I am an apostle to the Gentiles. (Romans 11:13 ISV)

This means that Paul had to do a great deal of background teaching. Many of his audience knew little or nothing of the Word of God. And sometimes Paul was driven away soon after arriving at a city. Paul had to simplify his message to what he considered to be the most basic points. Except for Romans and the two Corinthians, Paul’s letters are very short; six brief chapters, usually less. Paul’s gospel was the combination of new revelation and brevity. This combination became the foundation for Gentile churches.

The basic argument against “Paul’s gospel” was made by Jews who insisted that Gentiles become Jews in order to be saved. These men followed Paul and caused problems throughout the gentile churches. Paul wrote the book of Galatians to correct these problems. When Paul came to Jerusalem, a council to met to determine and make a rule on “Paul’s gospel.”

The Jerusalem Council was not ruling on everything the gospel included. But it did rule on what was the absolute minimum requirement for Gentile believers.

Greetings. We have heard that some men, coming from us without instructions from us, have said things to trouble you and have unsettled you. So we have unanimously decided to choose men and send them to you with our dear Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah.

We have therefore sent Judas and Silas to tell you the same things by word of mouth For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place on you any burden but these essential requirements: to keep away from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, and anything strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you avoid these things, you will do well. Goodbye. (Acts 15:24-29 ISV)

Later, Paul had the opportunity to put this into practice in Athens. When brought before the Athenians at the Areopagus, Paul had very little time. He had to get their attention and present as much of the gospel as they would accept before they force him to leave.

So Paul stood up in front of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athen, I see that you are very religious in every way. For as I was walking around and looking closely at the objects you worship, I even found an altar with this written on it: ‘To an unknown god.’ So I am telling you about the unknown object you worship.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in the shrines made by human hands, and he isn’t served by people as if he needed anything. He himself gives everyone life, breath, and everything else. From one man he made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth, fixing the seasons of the year and the national boundaries within which they live, so that they might look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. Of course, he is never far from any one of us.

For we live, move, and exist because of him, as some of your own poets have said: ‘… Since we are his children, too.’ So if we are God’s children we shouldn’t think that the divine being is like gold, silver, or stone, or is an image carved by humans using their own imagination and skill. Though God has overlooked those times of ignorance, he now commands everyone everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice through a man whom he has appointed.

He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. When they heard about a resurrection of the dead, some began joking about it, while others said, “We will hear you again about this.” And so Paul left the meeting. Some men joined him and became believers. With them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damarius, and some others along with them. (Acts 17:22-33 ISV)

Apostle Paul by Rembrant Widener Collection Photographer National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Wikimedia Commons

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The Sword of the Lord

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On all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will come. Indeed, a sword of the LORD will devour from one end of the land to the other. There will be no peace for any person (Jeremiah 12:12, ISV).

Whenever the sword of Lord is mentioned in the Old Testament, it is a literal sword. Even when the use might be metaphorical, the sword means death and destruction. The method might be a plague or some other form of death. The people of Israel understood that the sword of the LORD was an instrument of death.

The Apostle Paul dramatically changed that imagery for New Testament believers. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17).

The book of Hebrews uses the same imagery. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, ISV).

This imagery is continued by John in the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation, written about 95 AD. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines with full force (Revelation 1:16).

The power of the tongue was not a new concept, but it is somewhat difficult for us to understand. Solomon said, “The positive words that a man speaks fill his stomach; he will be satisfied with what his lips produce.” (Proverbs 18:20, ISV). In our culture, which emphasizes the positive, this is not too unusual.

But the very next verse says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and whoever loves it shall eat its fruit.” (Keil and Delitzsch commentary translation) Even metaphorically, we do not think of a tongue as an instrument of death.

Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that it was told those who lived long ago, ‘You must not swear an oath falsely,’ but ‘You must fulfill your oaths to the Lord.’ But I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King. Nor should you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. Instead, let your message be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37).

We understand that we are to be truthful, kind, and honest with our words; words that we write as well as speak. But we have difficulty equating the Sword of the Lord with life and death. David understood this very clearly. David asked the young man who related the story, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” The young man who had been relating the story answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa and there was Saul, leaning on his spear! Meanwhile, the chariots and horsemen were rapidly drawing near. Saul glanced behind him, saw me, and called out to me, so I replied, ‘Here I am!’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I’m an Amalekite!’ He begged me, ‘Please—come stand here next to me and kill me, because I’m still alive.’ So I stood next to him and killed him, because I knew that he wouldn’t live after he had fallen. I took the crown that had been on his head, along with the bracelet that had been on his arm, and I have brought them to your majesty.” On hearing this, David grabbed his clothes and tore them, as did all the men who were attending to him. They mourned and wept, and then decided to fast until dusk for Saul, for his son Jonathan, for the army of the LORD, and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen in battle. Meanwhile, David asked the young man who had told him the story, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I’m an Amalekite, the son of a foreign man.” At this David asked him, “How is it that you weren’t afraid to raise your hand to strike the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called out to one of his young men and ordered him, “Go up to him and cut him down!” So he attacked him and killed him. David told him, “Your blood is on your own head, because your own words testified against you! After all, you said, ‘I myself have killed the LORD’s anointed!'” (2 Samuel 1:5-16).

Each of us has the same responsibility. I saw the dead, both unimportant and important, standing in front of the throne, and books were open. Another book was opened—the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to their actions, as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12). One of our actions (works, KJV) are the words we speak. Just like the internet, our words are never deleted. And they will be presented in judgment if they are not covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Why I Am A Baptist

I believe in denominations. You actually believe in denominations too. You don’t? Then give me your $20 bill for my $1 bill. Not that kind of denomination? I believe that the word denomination is used the same way with money and with faith.

Both a $1 bill and a $100 bill are money. One is just more valuable than the other. In the same way, all believers are believers, whatever their denomination. They are all saved. Some denominations are more faithful and obedient to God’s Word than others. Some are $1 bills and others are $100 bills. And though it breaks God’s heart, there are many, many counterfeits.

Since the Word of God commands us to be faithful, we need to carefully examine the various denominations to be as faithful and obedient as possible. This is not about what is wrong with everybody else. This is why I am a Baptist.

The Baptist-Anabaptist goes back as far as New Testament/Church era written records. Many periods of Church History have witnessed the destruction of written records. A continuous, unbroken tradition is impossible. But Baptist beliefs are not a novelty.

Doctrinally, Baptists and Bible Churches have the same faith. The Bible Church movement began as a separation of practice when many Baptist Churches abandoned the historic Baptist Faith. To the grief of God’s Holy Spirit, many Bible Churches have now departed from that same faith. It is easy to point to Baptist and Bible Churches who no longer believe these distinctive Baptist doctrines.

Baptists believe in the Apostolic Confession of Faith. We believe in the absolute authority of Scripture. There are three levels of authority in every believer’s life. The inerrant Word of God, human laws, such as a stop sign, and some human laws with divine sanction, such as a pastor or a family.

Baptists believe in the priesthood of every believer. While someone who has walked by faith for years is a friend of God, the prayer of a small child has the same standing with God.

Baptists believe in justification by faith alone apart from works. Works are necessary to demonstrate that we are saved and we can examine the fruit of someone who claims salvation but shows no evidence of good works. Works are not part of justification, because all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We are incapable of doing good works before we are justified.

All reformed Protestants believe these points. Baptists also believe in the autonomy of the local church. While there are often mission churches begun by other churches, eventually the new church must become self-sufficient.

The most import distinction, where the name Baptist comes from, is the nature of the Church. Catholic and Reformed Churches believe that the Church is grafted into Israel and at least for this present age, replaces Israel. Baptism replaces circumcision, Sunday replaces the Sabbath and communion replaces the temple sacrifices. Baptists believe that the Church is a New Covenant. Though we are grafted into God’s promises and God is working through the Church instead of Israel in this age, the Church in no way replaces Israel. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are symbolic only; they confer no grace in and of themselves. They are for believers only. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward act. Baptism is only for those who are old enough to understand what it is and are ready to join the Church.

 

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