Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2015 – Paul Dohse, Session 3: What is the Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 5, 2015

We don’t hear much about one of the primary biblical terms used for “gospel.” The gospel is also known throughout Scripture as “the promise.” A promise made by God; think about that. But who is the promise to?

Acts 2:36 – Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

This is an extraordinary text. Clearly, the gospel is a promise to all men contingent on believing in the promise, and resulting in the “gift” of the Holy Spirt. This is a fundamental principle of Biblicism: when a particular text is absolutely clear, and barring all assumptions, everything else must align logically with the concepts that are clearly stated.

Hence, the Protestant definitions of “election,” “called,” and “chosen” must be completely reevaluated. The gospel is a promise and a gift offered to all men.

…and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

And who does the Lord call to himself? Everyone.

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other (Isa 45:22).

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (Jn 12:32).

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’(Eze 33:11).

Biblicism does not reject mystery, or paradox, but always approaches the latter with extreme skepticism. Biblicists consider paradox guilty until proven innocent. God is not a God of confusion, but be sure of this: the paradox card is more times than not a license for a mystery that only the spiritual elite understand—those who have the rule over you.

If the promise and the gift are verbally offered to all people, but the offer is not legitimate for all, that makes the use of these words completely illogical. Though the issue of election will not be explored in this series, the basic wrongness of Protestants who propagate so-called “sovereign grace” must call their deterministic gospel into question. Those who have the basic gospel completely wrong cannot be trusted with the rest of the story.

However, the fact that salvation is a promise and a gift will be key to exposing the false gospel of Protestantism in simple terms. The Bible defines the gospel with these specific words for good reason – words mean things.

What is the Gospel?

1Corinthians 15:3 – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

These are the facts of the gospel, but in Paul’s statement much more is assumed rightly because of other texts that further define what is being stated here in 1Cor 15:3-6. Obviously, no one is saved by a mere believing of the facts concerning the gospel. As James wrote, the devils believe also and do tremble in regard to their future condemnation. The facts do need to be believed, but what saves is the following of Christ in these facts. In other words, it’s not a mere believing of the facts, but also the belief of what the results of believing are, and a desire to want that for yourself.

You believe the promise, and the gift, and you want the gift for yourself. The gift is the baptism of the Spirit, and believing in the transaction that takes place. It’s believing the promise and “receiving” the gift.

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

It’s amazing that the unsaved understand this in their own way. It’s just a fact that the unsaved understand the gospel intuitively better than the vast majority of Protestants. Most unsaved people know that salvation involves the loss of who they presently are in exchange for a new life that is in the wind so to speak. This is what Christ was telling Nicodemus as recorded in John 3 and why Nicodemus came to Him under cover of darkness—Christ was a threat to the present life he knew. The fact that Christ told him that he must be born again which would result in a new, and completely unpredictable life correlates with the fact that Nicodemus came to Him under cover of darkness. Nicodemus was afraid of losing his present life, and therefore, Christ addressed the issue forthwith.

“Just believe” and “faith alone” minus the new birth is a Protestant hallmark. It boils down to a mere glorified assent to the facts of the gospel. It is not the losing of present life in order to find the new one. It is not repentance, i.e., a turning from the old life and following Christ in literal death and resurrection. Water baptism is a public confession that you understand this. Now many will protest that we are doing something to be saved other than believe; we are “following” Christ. But it is a decision, not some work of following. The Spirit does the baptizing, not us. We are saved by wanting that for our life and accepting the gift that is offered.

But likewise with any gift, once it is given, the receiver owns it. It is now up to us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12,13). Here, “salvation” refers to redemption (the saving of the body, Rom 7:24, 8:23), not the saving of the soul, and work/fear refers to the new Christian person and life, not our onetime new birth. The Christian life is a process; the new birth is a onetime event.  Before we were saved, our fear regarded condemnation.  Now our fear regards chastisement and sin that leads to unnecessary deaths (consequences for sin). There is no work FOR salvation, but there is a work IN the Christian life, specifically, a work of love (Gal 5:6).

On the flipside, even though there is not a work FOR salvation (justification), there is a work IN being unsaved that has a specific wage paid by a specific master. We met him in the previous session, the sin master. This is how the Bible frames this: there are two masters who pay two different wages: one pays wages for death, and the other pays wages for life. ALL people in the world are earning one or the other in varying degrees. Either group can do bad or good works (Rom 6:20), but one can only be credited for death, and the other can only be credited for life. These are two different wages paid by two different masters.

These two groups, lost and saved, are under two different laws that determine their wages. The lost who belong to the sin master are “under law” and its condemnation, the law of sin and death. Those under this law can only bear fruits of death. In contrast, those purchased by Christ (“you have been bought with a price” 1Cor 6:20, 7:23) can only bear fruits for life. They are identified as “under grace,” or under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 6:14, 8:20).

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is why Christ came to end the law (Rom 10:4). The law that He ended is the law of sin and death. EVERYONE born into the world is under the law of sin and death and condemnation. This is how we know Christ died for everyone ever born into the world. He also purchased mankind from the sin master; eternal life is the promise, new birth is the gift (if received by faith) resulting in freedom from condemnation and the fruits of death. The believer now “upholds” the law he/she is free to serve: the law of the Spirit of life also known as the “law of Christ” and the “law of liberty.” Salvation is a free gift, but the Christian life is a work that can earn rewards.

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

God would be unjust to forget you labor of love in sanctification because you are earning rewards, and there is no fear in regard to condemnation because that concerns judgement:

1John 4:18 -There is no fear in love, but perfect [mature] love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. [Because they fear condemnation].

This is what is critical about the new birth, or the baptism of the Spirit. The old man that was under the law of sin and death died with Christ, and is now free to “serve another” through being resurrected with Christ:

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Here is a good place to speak of God’s calling to mankind. This is a good place to talk about how God pushes man to the brink of salvation—to the gates of the kingdom. God, in His calling of man, does everything but make the decision for him.

First, God creates every human being with the works of God’s law written on their hearts, and a conscience that either excuses or accuses them. Those without the word of God will be judged by this internal law, while the religious will be judged by both (Rom 2:12-16). Until a human being develops a conscience, they are not under any law and therefore without sin (Rom 4:15). Man has intuitive knowledge of God’s gospel (Rom 1:18-21).

Secondly, the Holy Spirit uses the law of sin and death to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (Jn 16:8).

Thirdly, believers use the law of sin and death to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.

Fourthly, believers testify about God to the world with their lives (Matt 5:14-16).

Fifthly, Christ has purchased all men with His death on the cross. Their sin debt is prepaid. They have already been purchased from the sin master. They themselves choose to remain under the control of their present master, but their contract has been bought out, they are free to choose Christ as their new master.

Sixthly, even the law that condemns unbelievers holds their sin captive. Even the law of sin and death is a “ministry” (2Cor 3:7-11). The first covenant which is passing away (Heb 8:13) held sin captive in the law of sin and death until Christ came (Gal 3:19-27). Christ ended the law for righteousness to those who believe in Him. Our sins are not merely covered—they are ENDED along with the law of sin and death. ALL sin was held captive in the law of sin and death that the old us was under, but upon believing, that man died and is now under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). We are now fee to work through love as guided by the Scriptures (Gal 5:6,7). Our obedient love fulfills the law (Gal 5:14, Rom 8:4, Rom 13:8-10, Matt 22:34-40).

Seventh, God increased the law through the first covenant to drive man towards him (Rom 5:20).

Eighth, God made man a living being, but after the fall he made mankind His very family (Gal 3:29, Heb 2:11).

Ninth, in the end, God will vacate heaven and dwell with His family on earth. God Himself comes DOWN to earth to dwell with man (Rev 21:3).

This is some of the good news of God’s love for mankind.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: