What is the Gospel?

CHRISTIAN LOSES HIS BURDEN by Wm. Strang, from the book The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, 1894

One of the most commonly heard yet commonly misunderstood words in the Christian community is the word “gospel”. When people hear gospel they may think of a kind of music. Some who hear it think “truth”. Some hear it and equate it to the Bible but aren’t sure exactly what it means.

Then there are those that know that the word gospel means good news. They are correct. But what is it the good news of? Is it a promise of financial prosperity? Is it a promise of physical health? Is it a promise of perpetual happiness? That you’ll never experience pain or sorrow, financial trouble, or sickness? No, that’s not the Gospel of Christ.

To understand the Christian gospel, we must start way back in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve live in perfect harmony and communion with God. It is also implied that life would be everlasting in this paradise. They witness no shame. They suffer no pain. They experience no death. God in His sovereignty gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey and live forever in perfect communion with Him or to follow their own path. The instructions were clear: Enjoy everything in the garden you desire except for the fruit of that one tree. Of the day you eat of it you will surely die.

Why was the tree put there in the first place? The Bible doesn’t say specifically but I believe it was to give man the choice to obey God or disobey. God chose not to create humans as “robots” or “slaves” that had no will. But He created us as creatures that could choose Him or choose otherwise. However, since only God is good and goodness and life are only found in Him, to choose otherwise, by default, is to choose death.

This was the sin of Adam and Eve. They chose otherwise. The Adversary in the form of a serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve offered it to her husband Adam who then ate. At that moment sin and death entered the world. Their unveiled communication with God was now wrought with shame and hiddenness.¹ The land that had once freely offered its bounty to them was now cut off from their access. By sweat and hard work was Adam to work the ground and by pain was Eve to bear children. But worst of all was the chasm that was now created between God and man. Man had been kicked out of God’s first temple (the Garden of Eden) because he failed to guard it.

Because Adam is the representation for all of man, and because all of man comes from Adam, this bad news doesn’t just apply to Adam and Eve. We all share in the curse of their disobedience. Now we have a sin nature.

Because of our sin nature, we are prone to sin. We are susceptible to sins enticement and we are slaves to sins power. This is evident because to do wrong is usually easier than to do right. Therefore, all of us sin. And because we all sin we all die. Not only is this death physical, it is spiritual. Since, our spirits are eternal then the death they experience is eternal. The death our spirits experience is unlike the death of our bodies. When our bodies die they can no longer experience what goes on around them.  Spiritual death, on the other hand, is an eternity apart from God in a place the Bible calls hell; where no joy, happiness, love, or peace is found. Jesus calls it a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and where the worm does not die (Mark 9:44).

This is the bad news that must be understood and accepted before we get to the good news.

“You cannot possibly understand what the Bible says about salvation unless you understand what the Bible says about the thing from which we are saved.”- J. Gresham Machen


The good news is first told in Genesis 3:15. This protoevangelium (or first gospel) says that the serpent will bruise the heel of the Seed of the woman but the Seed will triumph by crushing the serpent’s head. However, the fulfillment of this promise would take some time.

Let’s go back to what happened in the Garden. After man and woman ate the fruit they saw they were naked. So in shame, they covered themselves with fig leaves. However, God sacrificed the first animal to cover man’s shame. In other words man’s works weren’t sufficient to cover his shame. God had to shed blood to do it.

From that moment on, sacrifices of animals without blemish were the only suitable sacrifices for sin (Lev. 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). But even these sacrifices only covered sin for a time. The sacrifice of atonement had to be done once every year by the high priest for all the people of Israel.

These sacrifices were to point to Jesus’ sacrifice. The everlasting sacrifice. Jesus lived a sinless life and was therefore without blemish. He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross freed us from sin’s power, saved us from sin’s penalty, and rescued us from sin’s presence. He fulfilled the promise God gave to Adam and Eve. Satan bruised the Seed’s heel when Jesus was crucified on the cross. But when Jesus rose from the dead, He defeated the Enemy’s power over man and death was defeated.

By placing our faith in the work of Christ we no longer have to be separated from our Heavenly Father. We now have direct access to talk to the Father as we once did. And we have an advocate to go to God on our behalf (1 John 2:1-2).

We are also given the Holy Spirit who leads us into truth to help us discern right from wrong (John 16:7-11). He will also be our Comforter in times of trouble (John 14:16).

The Gospel also promises us that when we die we will spend an eternity with the Father. Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus will have everlasting life (John 3:16). Not that we will not die a physical death but that in the end we will live in the presence of the King (John 11:25) where we will no longer have to worry about sin, pain, suffering, or death (Revelation 21:4).

None of this can be done on our own. Like Adam and Eve, our works do not cover our sins. They’re insufficient. Only by what God has done as the person of the Son through His sacrifice on the cross can man be reconciled, redeemed, and restored. God, by His grace and mercy, has provided a way out of the trouble we have placed ourselves in. He could have left us up to our own devises but He knew we could not save ourselves. He could choose to wipe us all out at the first sinful thought or the first sinful act we commit. An infinitely righteous and holy God would have every right to.


How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”- Isaiah 52:7

The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. In them they tell the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. After Jesus was born wise men came from the east looking for Him. They asked “where is He who is born king of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2)

During the last few days of Jesus’ life, He gives us pictures of Him presented as this king: His triumphant entry riding on a donkey, His being presented a robe and crown of thorns, and His being lifted up on the cross. Although the robe, crown, and cross were used to mock and kill our Lord, they were still symbols of who He came to be.

Upon His return, Christ will establish His kingdom upon the earth and restore ALL things as it had been before Adam and Eve sinned.


Therefore, the Gospel does not just declare freedom for man. The Gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God. Kingdoms of men come and go but the kingdom Jesus sets up will be an everlasting one (Daniel 2:44).

So how can we be sure that we enter into His kingdom? John the Baptist made it clear, “REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). Also, ““The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; REPENT and BELIEVE in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). When we repent we turn from our sins. We change from the path of death in which we were going, to life in Jesus Christ.

Further reading: Matthew 4:17, Acts 2:38-39, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Ephesians 1:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:15-17

FOOTNOTES:
¹This is pictured in the temple when there was a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God was, from the rest of the temple and the people. Only the High Priest could enter on the Day of Atonement. But the veil was torn the moment Christ died on the cross (Matthew 27:51)

Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

Omitted verses. Omitted message?

king_james
King James I of England and VI of Scotland
by John Smith, after Sir Anthony van Dyck
mezzotint, 1721 (1617)

One common objection to newer Bible translations like the NIV is that some verses appear to be missing. And when compared to the King James Bible, there are missing verses. One such list that I saw on social media stated the following verses were missing from modern translations.

Screenshot_2015-05-18-12-44-46

Now, my purpose here is not to argue if the verses are omitted in the original manuscripts or even why they are omitted in modern translations (Biblical scholars have agreed that newer translations have omitted many verses that the KJV included because older and more reliable manuscripts that have been found after the KJV was written do not have these verses. http://www.gotquestions.org/missing-verses.html). I also do not intend to recommend one version over another. My reason for writing is to dispute the claim that modern Bible translations purposefully omitted the messages these passages would have otherwise conveyed. In fact, often the same phrase is found and included elsewhere in the Bible.

So let’s put these verses to the test. For this blog I will be comparing the King James version to the New International version. The verses in italics are omitted from the NIV but included in the KJV. The bold verses are included in the NIV.

Luke 17:36 (omitted)
Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Matthew 24:40 (included)
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

Luke 23:17 (omitted)
For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.
Matthew 27:15 (included)
Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
(Also included are Mark 15:6 and John 18:39)

Acts 8:37 (omitted)
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
(This verse is an area of contention because of the obvious Christian doctrine; particularly believing that Jesus is the Son of God. However:)
Romans 10:9 (included)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Also included Acts 16:31, John 5:18, 1 John 4:15, 5:5) Jesus is also called “Son of God” numerous times in the NIV: Matt. 14:33, 16:16, 27:43, 22:54, Mark 1:1, 3:11, 15:39, Luke 1:32 & 35, John 1:49, 11:27, 19:7, Acts 9:20, Romans 1:4, 2 Cor. 1:19, 1 John 4:15, among many others.

Matthew 18:11 (omitted)
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10 (included)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Matthew 23:14 (omitted)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Luke 20:47 (included)
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.
(Also Mark 12:40)

Mark 7:16 (omitted)
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
(A common phrase that’s included at Mark 4:9, 23; Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17; 3:6, 13, 22)

Mark 11:26 (omitted)
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:15 (included)
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Also Matthew 18:35)

Matthew 17:21 (omitted)
However this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting
(Mark also chronicles this account yet Mark says Jesus only mentioned prayer.)
Mark 9:29 (included)
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Mark 15:28 (omitted)
And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
Luke 22:37 (included)
It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’…

Mark 9:44 and Mark 9:46 (both say the same thing and are omitted)
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:48 (included)
where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Romans 16:24 (omitted)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:18 (included)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
(Also similar phrasing in 2 Corinthians 13:14, Revelation 22:21, and Philippians 4:23)

And for good measure, a verse not on that original list:
Colossians 1:14
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
The underlined portion is missing in modern translations. Does that mean modern versions maliciously leave out the importance of Jesus’ blood? No. We find the same message (with Christ’s blood included) in other passages of newer translations.
Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
(Also Romans 3:25, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelations 1:5)

The following verses were also included on the list but none of these verses change the message that writer was conveying if they are not included:

John 5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
Acts 15:34 However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.
Acts 24:7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of your hands.
Acts 28:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves

So, while some may hold a sense of allegiance to the KJV, the “missing” verses in other modern translations is due to evidence and archaeological discoveries which not only make the newer translations likely closer to the original manuscripts but it clearly doesn’t take away from theological meaning and message of Scripture! This is not to put down the KJV which is a great translation and has accomplished much for God’s kingdom but as believers, we must remember that God’s Word is perfect in it’s original form. There are good translations and there are better translations. Some versions convey certain passages better while others do a better job with other passages.

For information on picking out the best translation for you click here.

By Derrick Stokes and Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Did Jesus Want Two Swords Before He Died?

Jesus-Betrayed
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860.
Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

“Jesus died because He loves us.”

The meaning of this statement was taken to a whole new level for me once I understood why Jesus may have wanted His disciples to be armed on the night before He was crucified.

Luke 22:35-38
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

I found this passage perplexing since Jesus commanded His disciples to buy swords but then when they said they already had two, Jesus said that would be enough. What was He referring to? Enough for what??

Well I read an article about Dale Martin, who is a professor of religious studies at Yale University (link at the bottom), that may explain it. The article is titled:

Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

The writer of the article actually tries to prove a different point about how Jesus was trying to be a political leader.

What the writer didn’t mention are verses that would prove this view wrong, that His disciples thought that’s what the Messiah would do all along; free them from Roman rule, but the Bible is clear on all accounts that this was not why Jesus came to earth. Regardless, if Jesus’s disciples having swords did make the crucifixion possible, it is pretty amazing to think about how the events leading up to Jesus’s death actually unfolded.

In Luke, it’s recorded that before Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples to buy swords. They told Him they had two already and He said that was enough. This seems strange, what good would two swords do all of them? Well according to the article mentioned above, by Roman law, Jesus was crucified because of the swords His disciples were carrying the night He was captured. If that was the case, He actually made sure they had swords so that He would be crucified.

Also, Jesus wanted them to have the two swords to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

So what seems like a strange request by Jesus the night before being betrayed, humiliated, beaten, and crucified was possibly a request to ensure that He would be crucified to fulfill the prophecies about Him and save the lost. What an amazing God we serve!

If you read this article and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!

http://www.newsweek.com/jesus-was-crucified-because-disciples-were-armed-bible-analysis-suggests-271436

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Do All Scientists Today Really Base Their Beliefs On Science?

Gur029b
Anonymous – Camille Flammarion, L’Atmosphere: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), pp. 163

There are natural laws built into the fabric of our existence. Laws like gravity.

These laws, that can be tested by science, are necessary for our existence and are very finely tuned. So much so, that they are difficult to imagine originating on their own by chance.

One such law is so finely tuned, it has been shown that to have happened naturally on its own, by what we know about our universe without something to finely-tune it (God), would be absurd. To have happened on its own would practically be impossible; this law is the cosmological constant.

Scientific theorists have pointed to other possibilities to get around the need for a fine-tuner, one popular idea is that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, each with it’s own naturally developed laws. This means that within this “multiverse”, it isn’t absurd to think that our universe is as finely tuned as we measure it to be because if there are an infinite number of universes out there, then at least some would end up with ideally tuned laws for the existence of life.

Scientifically there is a problem with theories like these; they are not scientific. At least not in the sense that they can be measured, observed, and quantified.

Despite this problem, there are many scientists who entertain this idea of a multiverse or even outright believe it exists. The interesting thing is that many of these same scientists would likely be quick to dismiss the idea that God was the one who fine-tuned our universe making it ideal for life on earth.

The point of this article is that the Bible says that nature itself is evidence that God exists.

Romans 1:20
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

The scientist who says that a multiverse explains our natural existence occurring by chance or the believer who says that God explains our finely-tuned existence by His eternal power are both making the same statement, and that statement is this:

“I have FAITH!”

If you would personally like to know the God who made our universe, the God who is love, the God who knows who you are and wants you to know Him. If you would like to know Him, just message us (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com), we would love to share!

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

The Hidden “Verse” about Jesus in Genesis 5

Jesus
Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, 1606–1669) Drypoint, engraving, and scraping; fourth state of five Gift of Felix M. Warburg and his family, 1941 (41.1.33)

The more I learn about God’s Word, the more I stand in awe at how amazing God is. To think, that the book of Genesis, a book written over 1,400 years before Christ was even born, contains specific information about God’s plan to redeem the world by sending his only Son Jesus, it is simply incredible.

This is a subtle foreshadowing of Jesus in Genesis 5, I first heard about this subtlety in a short YouTube video which is linked at the bottom of this article. Now it should be noted that Hebrew cannot be perfectly translated into English, or any language for that matter, so some may disagree on the definitions presented but each one is a definition of the name or the idea behind the name, so I feel the following is pretty amazing!

In Genesis 5 the genealogy from Adam to Noah and a meaning of each name in English is as follows:

1. Adam = Man
2. Seth = Appointed
3. Enosh = Mortal
4. Cainan = Sorrow
5. Mahalalel = The Blessed God
6. Jared = Shall come down
7. Enoch = Teaching
8. Methuselah = His death shall bring
9. Lamech = The despairing
10. Noah = Rest

Some names have multiple meanings and roots but one translation of each of the ten names, one name after the other reads:

Man Appointed Mortal Sorrow,
The Blessed God Shall come down Teaching,
His death shall bring The despairing, Rest

So there you have it. The story of Jesus in the 5th chapter of Genesis. These names, starting with Adam from the beginning of creation, to Noah around 2,000 years before Jesus was even sent to earth, outline what God had planned all along to get his children back. Not only that, but this is another example of Christ’s divinity.

I believe that God has a reason for every single word in the Bible, every period and every comma, on more dimensions than we can even imagine. Because of that, I believe the ideas behind these names can be translated this way for a reason, and that reason was to show the world in yet another context, that God loves us so much that he gave his One and only Son to save us from our sin!

1. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Adam.html#.VjxQaKSlr7s
2. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Seth.html#.Vjw8E6Slr7s
3. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enosh.html#.VjxH26Slr7s
4. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Cainan.html#.VjxHyKSlr7s
5. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Mahalalel.html#.VjxIWqSlr7s
6. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jared.html#.VjxI8aSlr7s
7. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enoch.html#.VjxOraSlr7s
8. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Methuselah.html#.VjxPQqSlr7s
9. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Lamech.html#.VjxUrKSlr7s
10. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Noah.html#.VjxQBaSlr7s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsPhPldS6ys

Is Theology and Apologetics Really That Important?

marshill
Saint Paul Preaching on Mars Hill (19th century). T. Shilippoteaux. Engraving. © The Provincial Museum of Alberta. PMA:J99.1968.

“Can’t we just read the Bible and worship God without getting all technical?”

Theology is the study of God and is very important. It helps us to understand the God to whom we are worshiping. Proper worship is based on an accurate understanding of who God is. Anytime anyone says anything about God, what is said is something doctrinal. Theology shapes our image of God and if a person’s theology is false then his or her image of God will also be false, which would ultimately lead to idolatry.

In math, the proper answer will proceed from a proper path.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10

In the same way a proper understanding of who God is, what He would do, and what He wouldn’t do; will inform our doxology (praise) and better guide our prayers.

“Are all these big words and facts really that important?”

For salvation? No. Salvation is not found in head knowledge. However, knowing who God is will help us appreciate Him more, understand the Bible better, and also help us discern false teaching.

Often times we have conversations with family, friends, co-workers, church members, and strangers about God or the Bible. At this point you have just assumed the position of theologian. Apologetics, is the term for defending biblical and theological truths. When these discussions become debates or if you’re just defending you position, you have become an apologist. The more “tools” you have in your mental “toolbox” the better equipped you are to make a defense.

“What about witnessing, isn’t it true that arguing will often just hurt your witness?”

Actually no. If a Christian is just trying to win an argument then he or she will probably do more harm than good but if we allow the Holy Spirit to use the knowledge we have to change a non-believer’s false beliefs about the Bible, Christianity, and God, ultimately this head knowledge can make a huge difference in that person’s heart.

With that said, as Christians, we need to make sure the reasoning we use is sound and that we don’t jump on any “bandwagons” when it comes to modern scientific discoveries. Any scientific argument we use to show that the Bible is accurate could one day be shown to be different or even false, and what the Bible was actually saying may be quite different than what we originally thought but the mistake is not apologetics itself, it would be putting too much trust in man’s knowledge and not enough in the Bible.

An example of this is that through false assumptions and faulty dating methods, many modern scientists believe human life has evolved from smaller and less complex lifeforms over millions of years. While it is quite clear in the Bible that this is not the case and it can even be logically and scientifically shown to be false, there are many Christians who have tried to make the argument that God used evolution to create life. By “jumping on that bandwagon” and taking that stance, it actually weakens the validity of God’s Word because God clearly said in Genesis (written as a historical narrative) that he created everything in the universe in 6 literal days. So when a Christian’s argument becomes making the literal in the Bible something figurative, the Bible becomes a fairy tale instead of something real and that is very sad and dangerous.

I would be remiss if I did not include several disclaimers:

  1. Knowledge of God does not equal a relationship with God. Reading a famous person’s autobiography does not mean you had any kind of relationship with them.
  2. Rebutting objections does not equal evangelism. The goal should be to move someone towards the Gospel.
  3. Head knowledge without the knowledge and guidance of the Holy Spirit can lead to haughtiness and pride. You’re not required to attend each argument you’re invited to. Sometimes the Spirit will move you to be quiet even though you’re knowledgeable on the subject. Sometimes the humble unlearned person will gain spiritual insight and uncanny knowledge when they haven’t been taught by any human. Remember “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
  4. If you read this and want to know more about Jesus, please send us an email at Theologetics3.15@gmail.com we would love to talk with you!