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The Persecuted Church


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Reflections on the Gospel

When the Gospel in the Church is not accurately taught or explained, people end up not understanding the message of sin, they do not repent and cannot experience salvation. In its place will always be a substitute message, for example, a message that concentrates only on God’s love for us without mentioning the ramifications of rejecting him. While it is true the Son was sent because God loves us, it is only a part of the Gospel. It does not include the implications of one’s sin and the punishment intended for sin that Christ took upon himself in our place. Without the Gospel’s presentation of Christ as the Savior of punishment from our sin, and not just the message of forgiveness of sin, one can end up with a superficial knowledge of what the Gospel is all about. This will only produce Church members, not true converts. A Gospel without repentance, (a true change of mind) which produces a change of life, leaves people trapped in their sin while still believing in Christ. They can find themselves trapped in the sin they once practiced because they have not clearly understood the offense of their sin toward God.

While we may not expect all the things pertaining to the Gospel to be fully proclaimed each time it is presented, they certainly need to be taught afterwards. It becomes part of ones discipleship, our spiritual growth to maturity is dependent on these matters being learned.

Too many come away from church saying: “I now feel good about myself or I have a positive outlook.” This is not the intention of God’s word. God’s word often searches the heart to expose the unknown sin hidden inside us so we can deal with it. God deals with our heart, which only the Spirit can reach and He uses the word. Heb. 4:12: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God’s intent is to change us to be like Jesus, not give us a boost in self - confidence. God’s word gives us hope through His promises in Him who can do far beyond what we think or ask for. This is obtained by faith and nothing else. This is completely different than living based on a positive attitude that expects good things to happen.

Jn.10:1, 8: My sheep hear MY voice; Jesus is the instructor, we are to look to His Word. Men’s words, philosophies, or the teachers of the world will not nourish you. Only those who present Christ’s words give you understanding to grow in your spiritual walk to maturity. Self must decrease for Jesus to increase and produce fruit. Many are in churches that teach human potential, positive thinking wrapped up in biblical language and principles for living. This has nothing to do with the gospel and is filled with concepts that are not profitable for our spiritual growth. If we are increasing in our ways then we are choking out His Word that is to form the image of Christ in us. In other words, you learn to believe in Jesus but it has not affected them to change.

Before one can understand why there is even a gospel, we need to comprehend what sin is, otherwise there is no need to have a gospel. This involves understanding the nature of man that we all share, from Adam onward. The Gospel is God’s way to deal with the fallen nature of man, the only way. The alienation of man from God through human sin necessitates reconciliation. Knowing the dire position we are all in, God through our short history began to deal with mankind in various ways to bring us back into what He first intended for us. This is accomplished through what is now known as the gospel.

Sin is something society does not want to hear about or consider to believe in. It has become a dirty religious word to them, used to elicit guilt and shame, which is necessary to convict a person of his separated state before a Holy and righteous God. In like manner, the teaching of hell is as repulsive even though it is the natural outcome of those who sin without being rescued by the gospel.
Jesus answered those who question him why he associated with sinners, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Lk. 5:31-32). The gospel is ignored and rejected by those who think they are well, complete, self-reliant.
This is why many people hear the gospel, but so few respond. Because they want to enter into a relationship with God their own way, they are bound for heaven because of their own good deeds. They have not understood God’s way as the only way.

It is popular to present Jesus as only one choice among many. This inclusiveness damages the churches message that should be unified and brings a reproach to Christ who was sent from heaven to die, for his way to be offered.

The gospel can be either sweet or bitter to those who hear it. Just as the sun can either melt or harden a material. The sweetness of the Gospel is to those who see their sinfulness and are willing to accept it as the ONLY solution; the bitterness of the gospel is to those who reject God’s way. They would rather stay spiritually dead in their sin but think of themselves as alive, they love the things of the world, the works of their flesh more than God. They refuse to allow the Word of God to do any work in their soul. Jesus scolded and gave men warning "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26)

We should never forget that the gospel is prompted by love from God’s mercy, He does not want to judge us:
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:17-19).
However, if the gospel is rejected He has no choice but to do so, because the light has made known our condition and we have personally rejected the solution, His Son and the work done for us to be reconciled to the Father.

The Bible states it is the “preaching of the cross” that contains “the power of God” unto salvation, because only by believing the finished work of Jesus on the cross can save us from our sins. There is only one way offered by God. 1 Cor. 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Paul speaks of the cross as an “offense” (Gal.5:11) in Greek “scandalon,” meaning (scandal) a stumbling block. The cross which was used for crucifixion was symbol of shame to the Romans but became something wonderful to the Christians, for it spoke of the victorious one and his triumph over sin for mankind. It was THE CROSS (crucifixion) that was ALWAYS preached for salvation!
1 Cor. 1:23-24 “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

We are given the promise “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; he also will hear their cry and save them” (Ps 145:18-19)
We are to call upon the Lord to be saved: For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? (Rom. 10:13-14). “Call on” Gr. epikaleomai- means to cry out, to invoke, as in a decision in relation to salvation (1 Cor.1:2).

If the word is not preached then what will produce faith? If the Gospel is not clearly understood by a mind that is darkened from sin, no prayer is going to work. The work of the Holy Spirit must be present to bring light, and He works in concert with the word. It is faith God is looking for and faith comes from hearing the word (Rom.10:17). This faith is placed in an object, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). But what does it mean to “believe”? It means knowing your condition, that you are a sinner, and that Christ died for sinners, for you personally. You believe on him ALONE to be saved, because of who He is. Believing in the facts is not enough, Faith is alive and active or it cannot receive what is freely given.
Eph 1:13 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation”

Without faith being present; nothing one does, whether it be a prayer calling out His name will result in salvation. The Bible simply says “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10).
Without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working there will be no faith, one may raise their hand and come forward believing the message is true but not having faith in the message and the one it is focused on will not bring the new birth.

Constant avoidance of mentioning mans sinful condition is the very opposite message of the great preachers that led revivals. From Peter onward
Acts 2:22-24: "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;"whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”.

Today, the resurrection is rarely mentioned - why Jesus died is barely mentioned. How then is one to understand the gospel for their salvation? This lack of clarity explains why universalism is growing in the church. Instead of equipping the saints with the gospel, which is the only hope for all people, we have newer ways.

Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
The gospel is the ABC’s of the church, if we are to be the pillar and ground of the truth it must continually be proclaimed to unbelievers, explained and reminded to the believers that this alone is what we stand in for eternal life. When it is neglected, misunderstood or avoided the results will always be the same. The choice is life or death to the recipients.


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