Safeguarding the truth

I sometimes look at the content of my blog and wonder if there is enough variety to keep readers interested. This comes from a human mindset that always wants to hear new things and constantly be entertained. In itself it is not a bad mindset to have – but in terms of Christianity it can lead to many churches straying away from the core focus which is Jesus. He is, and should always be, the center of the Gospel.

Paul also wrote about the same topic in Phillipians 3:

“For the rest, my brethren, delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him. To keep writing to you [over and over] of the same things is not irksome to me, and it is [a precaution] for your safety.” Phillipians 3:1

By repeating the truth over and over again, Paul wanted to protect their newfound safety in Christ. They were surrounded by lawful voices telling them to do various things in order to establish righteousness. He repeated over and over again that Jesus is the only source of their righteousness, and the only way to salvation.

Just like Paul, I will repeat these truths in order to protect my own spiritual safety and that of all the readers.

Stay safe in the singular focus of the Gospel which is Jesus. Stay safe in the knowledge that faith in Him is the only way to attain righteousness. Stay safe in the knowledge that none of your own works can save you. Stay safe in the knowledge that God does not condemn you, and that He loves you without condition.

The mystery of Christ

A mystery is something that puzzles or perplexes people. It is something that does not immediately make sense when you hear it. The mystery of Christ as it is referred to in Eph 3 refers to the grace if God. The perplexity it causes is largely due tot the fact that it just sounds too good to be true.

To the Jews it didn’t make sense that Gentiles could now be includes in God’s special promise through simple acceptance of the Gospel. Jesus shook all their ideas. Now it is no more a matter of observing the law and commandments (which only included the Jews), but now it is a matter of belief (which includes all people and races on earth).

“And that the mystery (secret) was made known to me…when you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. This mystery was never disclosed to human beings in past generations…[It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promise in Christ through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings (the Gospel).” Eph 3:3-6

The grace of Jesus is called a favor or privilege, showing to us the unending, boundless, fathomless, incalculable and exhaustless riches of Christ. It is a wealth which no human being could have searched out (Eph 3:8). It includes every believer on earth, regardless of his race, performance, religious background or influence. It is easy and simple – not dependant on our discipline or achievements. We only need to believe in order to share in these riches.

Make it personal!

The Gospel is something we need to experience with conviction deep in the depths of our hearts. It is not something that can be acquired with ‘head knowledge’ – it needs to touch your soul. In order to experience this you need to understand how personal the Gospel (the good news of Jesus) really is.

It is easy for us to imagine that Christ died for the whole world – but do you understand that He would have done it even if you were the ONLY person on earth? You need to realize that the salvation of the cross was meant for YOU. This mindset is not selfish – on the contrary. It will make your heart overflow with thankfulness and worship. It will convince you of God’s love for you and His character, and this in turn will make you love those around you (see post: He first loved US).

So, take a moment to realize that the full redemptive story of the cross was directed at you, specifically because God cannot contain His love for you. Realize it is infinitely more personal and close to you than you can imagine!

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray and gets lost, will he not leave the ninety- nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost? And if it should be that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety- nine that did not get lost.” Matthew 18:12-13

Simplicity

The Gospel does not need to be complicated in order to be powerful. On the contrary, the simpler the message – the easier it is to remember and understand.

Jesus died on the cross in order to completely forgive, set free and heal every person who believes in Him. Nothing else is necessary, only belief in this (John 6:29).

Paul said the same thing: “For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2)

Look away from all complicated distractions (Heb 12:2), make Jesus your only vision, and see how this powerful simplicity will change your life.

Nothing but the truth

Jesus told us directly: “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

There is no freedom outside of the Gospel of Jesus. There is no liberty when you have to uphold traditions and adhere to a long list of laws. There is no honoring of God if all the emphasis is placed on your works, and how holy you live. True humbleness means admitting you are nothing without the grace and reconciling work of Christ. Proclaiming that Jesus has already accomplished everything necessary to make you holy before God places all the honor and glory in front of His throne, not our own throne.

You cannot experience the divine freedom which Christ came to give whilst living under the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law and adhere to it 100% – so that whomever believes in Him will be blameless before God (through grace).

“Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.” Matt 5:17

On the cross, breathing His last breath, Jesus said: “It is finished” (John 19:30). This statement convinces us that He has accomplished all that He came to fulfill and complete (see verse above). Therefore, a new testament was put in place (instead of the old covenant) – where only faith in this completed work can now lead to righteousness.

“By abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled]; that He from the two might create in Himself one new man [one new quality of humanity out of the two], so making peace. And [He designed] to reconcile to God both [Jew and Gentile, united] in a single body by means of His cross, thereby killing the mutual enmity and bringing the feud to an end.” Eph 2:15-16

A demonstrative Gospel

As Christians we need to see the Gospel and the character of God for what it really is. We don’t believe in a powerless Gospel that only consists of nice words. Non-believers won’t be converted if you only tell them about the goodness of God and the power of the Gospel – they need to experience it as well. It needs to be demonstrated. Paul and Jesus proclaimed the same message:

Paul:

“For Christ (the Messiah) sent me out not to baptize but [to evangelize by] preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel), and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect).” 1 Cor 1:17

Jesus:

“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.]” John 14:11

Jesus (in reply to a question about whether He really was the Messiah:

“So He replied to them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news (the Gospel) preached to them.” Luke 7:22

Jesus said we will do the same things that He did, and even greater (John 14:12). We can demonstrate the incredible saving power of the cross. This includes praying for sickness or any dead situation and seeing the miraculous happen!

“For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on NOT talk but POWER.” 1 Cor 4:20

God’s power in you

In the previous posts we spoke about your identity as a son of God. Your new nature does not resemble a timid slave, but rather an heir of God through Christ. Your entire nature changes when you become a son of God, so you now possess the authority to speak and change situations in life. There are quite a few other verses testifying to God’s power which is now in you, working through you:

“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.” Acts 1:8

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” 2 Tim 1:7

“However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.” 2 Cor 4:7

There is no way you can produce power out of your own effort. It is, once again, realizing what Jesus accomplished on the cross which will enable God’s power to work through you. Realize that He now dwells within you, and makes His power available through you in order to touch people’s lives and demonstrate His goodness to the world.