“Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” 2 Tim. 2:8.
“God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Rom. 2:16.
My gospel. This authoritative claim of the apostle Paul contains a great volume of uncontestable truth. Bold exclusiveness is preached by these simple words. By this powerful declaration, a clear and indisputable standard of the true gospel was set forth. Paul made it abundantly clear that solely those who preached his gospel, preached Christ’s gospel, thereby forming an inseparable bond between his preaching and the true gospel. Indeed, to have any kind of fellowship with Jesus Christ Himself, one was compelled to fellowship the gospel Paul was preaching. By the uniting of the gospel to a visible entity, all vague and merely intellectual understanding of the gospel was effectively eliminated. It was the work of God and not of man that set the apostles and saints of old as the single standard of the gospel.
Today, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” likewise stands unaltered. Amid religions’ bewildering chaos, the true gospel exists and is once again inseparably associated with God’s true people. Already we can hear the cries, “Bigotry! Dogmaticism!” coming from the lips of independent religious folk. But all clamouring and vociferating falls with no effect on the ears of the immutable gospel.
The gospel is all-inclusive; a sword that cuts every which way. The same gospel that teaches love to God and neighbour demands holy hatred towards sin. Many people invite the cool, refreshing rain of the gospel, but scurry for shelter when from the same heaven fall solid hailstones of judgment. The same gospel that lovingly calls the sinner to salvation will condemn him to a hopeless eternity, should he refuse to heed the call. The gospel that sweetly comforts the sorrowing child of God will, as effectively, press the sense of guilt on a sinner, creating extreme discomfort. Christ’s gospel was not isolated to the work of love, comfort, and encouragement. Who are those who exclusively preach the “love” side of the gospel, thus creating a severely lop-sided and consequently uneffective message? We ask them the selfsame question that Jesus Christ asked the spiritually unbalanced religious leaders of His day: “Have ye never read?” Search the scriptures, and you will find the history of the gospel an account of consistent warfare, turmoil, and judgment.
One gospel message preached against the adulterous act of a king, placed the head of the preacher on a platter. The wisdom of the gospel that proceeded from the lips of the child Jesus astounded and confounded doctors of the Law. Christ’s gospel was one of hardship and self-denial, which could not guarantee the basic comforts of life to its followers. It was the force that drove the moneychangers out of the temple and the power in the braided whip.
This gospel constantly aroused the religious people’s vehement anger and offended many of Jesus’ very own disciples.
While today’s “gospel preacher” is a studied crowd-gatherer, Jesus Christ was a consistent crowd-scatterer. By reason of this gospel’s condemnation on the sanctimonious Phariseeism of the day, several attempts on Jesus’ life were made; and when all things were fulfilled, the cause of this gospel was what led Him to the agonizing death on the cross.
Preached by the apostles, this gospel turned the world of gospel-hating Jews upside down. When proclaimed to the heathen, it caused a massive, two-hour uproar in Ephesus and jeopardized the livelihood of pagan silversmiths. On account of this gospel, one of its opposers was powerfully struck with blindness, and a proud king was devoured by worms. By this gospel, the blasphemous mouths of gainsayers were silenced and clever philosophers were put to shame. This gospel brought godly fear upon all the church by causing the sudden death of a greedy, hypocritical couple. One anointed gospel sermon made the listeners gnash their teeth in rage, stop their ears, and stone the young, Spirit-filled preacher. Because they stood for this gospel, early Christians were compelled to seek refuge from their blood-thirsty persecutors in dark caves and catacombs. This gospel has brought its followers into courtrooms and before councils and has made them testify to the power of the gospel before kings and emperors. Faithful saints, because of their unyielding adherence to this gospel, were condemned to years of imprisonment in dark dungeons and damp prison cells. Countless martyrs were burned at the stake, torn in pieces by wild beasts, and beheaded because of their loyalty to this gospel. Cruel torturings were suffered by the ones who lived according to this gospel: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder … tormented.”
What more shall we say? False religion’s D.D.’s have no such holy scars to show, nor do their fathers, the merely “religious” people of times past. The blood of those who have given their lives for this gospel cries condemnation on this world’s popular, “easy” Christianity. As Calvary was not “easy” on our Lord, the gospel it produced will not be unexacting for His followers. Indeed, the high cost of this gospel acts as a natural deterrent for any lukewarm disciple. The rich, young ruler was not the last soul to be turned away (at the verge of help) by a high cost.
All is the single price for this gospel. The other “gospels” so prevalent today have many prices, which vary from a monthly membership fee to as little as a raising of the hand accompanied with a muttered, “I accept Jesus into my heart.” This is not Christ’s gospel. Even the Pharisees of His day had much more religious fervor to their credit. Yet, if these hypocritical zealots have their part in “greater damnation,” where shall the lovers of “cheap” religion appear?
This gospel is not a watered-down gospel. Never was it meant to be modified to fit a diverse palate, nor can it ever be done; not this gospel! It has never been sweetened to make it more agreeable to a person with delicate taste. It still makes many a belly bitter and will continue to disappoint many a half-hearted seeker.
The world and this gospel? Never could two more avowed, mortal enemies be found. While false religion has joined hands with the world in unholy fellowship, this gospel cuts directly across the very grain of worldliness. Truly, its very spirit is in furious opposition to the spirit of the world. This gospel steps out of nobody’s way and stands unmovable in everybody’s path. It regards neither king nor peasant, is impartial between rich or poor, and differs not for young or old.
This gospel has, since the beginning, separated friends, put family at variance with each other, offended spirits, bruised egos, and sparked furious reactions–all of which are but a few of the ordinary results that follow the radical contrariness of the gospel. Indeed, they are but customary “proofs” of its presence.
Such an exclusive gospel must of necessity have an exclusive group of followers. Although many claims are laid on this gospel by the myriads of “Christian” church groups, all miserably fail to produce the natural results that the true gospel would produce, were it alive among them. A church whose youth are saturated by the spirit of the world and whose members still live in sin is as void of this gospel as a stone is of life. This gospel produces “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” All else–religious groups, churches, fellowships, denominations, cults–is the product of a gospel that is tainted with the influence of the flesh and the carnal mind.
This is the true gospel. It is Jesus’ gospel. It was Paul’s gospel. Is it your gospel?
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel … let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:8.