The Revealed Gospel
An article from SVM Winter 2010
But I certify unto you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11,12).
The real gospel was revealed by Jesus Christ to Paul! Paul did not attend divinity school, did not subscribe to a Bible study course, and he did not even receive the gospel from his fellow apostles.
We can gain more insight from Paul’s letter to the Colossians on the same subject:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians. 2:8).
Paul did not want his readers to be taken captive by deceit and cunning craftiness of men. The problem, however, is that virtually no one believes he or she is being entranced by a con artist or a false gospel. The Church of God is in view here and is not immune to man made ideas on how to understand the gospel. That is precisely the reason Paul was so determined to implant truth in the minds of his precious readers and hearers in the faith.
Paul cites an example of two men who shipwrecked their faith. In I Timothy 1:19, Paul charges Timothy to continue “… having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck….” Paul cites Hymeneus and Alexander as the two who had been put out for blasphemy. We should see why truth and belief in the revealed gospel are essential for our salvation. As with these two men, when we believe and promote added ideas and elements to the gospel message, we too can have our faith shipwrecked. Many today have been shipwrecked concerning the faith. For example, many have run aground by the “God’s Government on Earth” framework. There is still anxiety and anger due to the flagrant exploitation of money to preserve a fraudulent non-biblical hierarchical church system. If we add the “watch Germany” syndrome and a plethora of doctrinal issues that create doubt and consternation, it may lead to something like the shipwreck of Paul’s description. Herein there is cause for concern.
Paul was insistent that his readers and hearers be cognizant of his knowledge of the gospel. He did not attend a prophet’s school, nor was this even of Gamaliel, a prominent doctor of the law. We read Jesus’ remarks found in Luke 4: 18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Is this the gospel that Paul referred to? We will find that healing and caring for the destitute is a part of the gospel message. The gospel message is really about life; life that is abundant, coming to its fullness and consummation in the Kingdom of God. The broken- hearted, the captives, the blind, and the poor are relieved of their suffering. The gospel is from above and does not even entertain any worldly influences. How can an individual even begin to become shipwrecked if he or she is healed and relieved of their earthly plight and understand and believe the gospel?
We will look into the ways that shipwreck can occur within a called one’s life. It is curious that in the 21st century we can become involved with the same problems as the Israelites did in their time on earth. The problem the Israelites experienced was syncretism. The dictionary meaning of syncretism is this: The reconciliation or union of conflicting beliefs, uncritical acceptance of conflicting or divergent beliefs of principles, and egregious compromise in religion (Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Ed).
In other words, they mixed manmade doctrines with truth and then proclaimed this as the true gospel message. This is what Paul was opposed to as he spoke to his audience. Paul knew how easy it is to fall away even when we have the truth.
Notice his rebuke given to the Galatians in Chapter 1:6-7, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some that trouble you, and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Some were perverting the gospel with varying forms of syncretism. Paul marveled that new Christians were willing to give up so soon on precious information and dedication and practice of the true gospel. That is exactly why Paul went on to say in the next verses that anyone who preached another gospel was to be accursed! When the Lord encountered this phenomenon with the Israelites, he punished them severely. Paul is telling the Galatians that the man who practiced syncretism was to be accursed. Jesus Christ and Paul were both on the same page with syncretism. It was intolerable for them both. We have the task of sorting out the chaff from the wheat in regard to the gospel. This task when accomplished helps us to be more astute in deciphering a perverted gospel.
In Revelation, John gives us an example of a people who were aware of their teachers and their propensity to lead people astray with another gospel! Revelation 2:2 reads, “I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you cannot bear them which are evil; and have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars.” The Ephesians were worldly-wise in seeing false apostles for what they were. The Ephesians were gutsy, in that the church was not divided due to errant leadership. They were not afraid to call out the dubious apostles on their false pretenses either. The people in Ephesus were like the example written in Heb. 5:14, “…those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Mature Christians need discernment to keep from train wrecking their faith. The strong should also protect and help the weak so they are not swept up in the fervor of an enthusiastic false teacher. Our eternal lives may someday hinge on our ability to discern another gospel proposed by cunning, suave, disarming false teachers. We must not underestimate the power of persuasion by a pretentious, crafty presenter of egregious compromise in religion. They are very good at their craft as is our adversary Satan.
The gospel by definition is simply good news. So what is the good news? There must be something in the gospel that draws people to the message. Is it a love of Christ? Is it a love of His message? What does the gospel reveal to humankind that is alluring to them? How do we ensure there is no man-made encroachment into the gospel? Let us examine some of the gospels and determine their content and see for ourselves what is true.
There was an occasion when John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to inquire about Jesus and if Jesus indeed was the Messiah. We pick up Christ’s answer in Matthew 11:4-5, “…Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see; The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
We find in the entirety of the gospel messages that this scenario is common. The disenfranchised were cared for by Christ. The ones least able to defend themselves were privy to Christ’s message. This message would be unlike any other human message. Most if not all messages today do not consist of true healing as depicted by Christ. For one thing the poor and the sick would not be able to contribute mightily to the television programs being produced.
In modern America the class mentioned by Christ in His message for John would be the last to be considered for the gospel of the kingdom by many outreaches. Notice again what Jesus did as recorded by Matthew 4: 23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” We have already discussed this same format for the gospel in Isaiah, Matthew, and Luke.
There is indeed a common format for the gospel. The word is preached that repentance is needed then the recipients of the word are healed. They are looked upon with mercy and consideration. They are not condemned for their lifestyle; they simply are healed. The gospel brings an armistice between sinners and God.
Let us go to Matthew again for another insightful exposition by Jesus Christ about who are called by the gospel message. Matthew 9:12-13, “… They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go you and learn what that means, I will have mercy and not sacrifice: For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” A person not in the class of people mentioned might be offended by Christ’s remarks.
Everyone needs repentance. The sick, deaf, blind, or imprisoned know they need help. The ones who have a job and enjoy good health may not realize that they are in need. The broken-hearted, the poor, and the captives know without a doubt they need help from someone, who is Jesus Christ. They will respond to a message of hope and deliverance. They will be exuberant to a message of forgiveness and healing of physical ailments and frustration. These people know they have sinned once the gospel message is preached to them.
Those rich and increased in goods as described in Revelation 3:17 do not know they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Notice the correlation between these people and the aforementioned ones needing the gospel message. They are exactly in the same straits as the sick, broken-hearted, poor, blind, and captives! However, they do not realize their plight. That is why Jesus was so unrelenting in his discourse against those who think they are whole. The revealed gospel levels the playing field. The revealed gospel shows all of us that we truly need healing of the mind and body including forgiveness and ultimate salvation.
The testimonies given to us in Acts and the epistles demonstrate that Jesus Christ was in them. Their messages were filled with God’s Spirit and inspiration. They had passion and zeal in their travels, in their message, in their healing, and in their sowing of the gospel seed of repentance and salvation. They did not have a message of conflicting beliefs. The same message that they preached and lived by is the same message we have to preach today.
We too should have confirmation of our word by healings and the freeing of captives. Some today are captives of drugs, illicit sex, extreme health issues, and other addictive and enslaving elements of society that are even backed by industry. It is God who heals us, and it is God who can free us from the pulls of society.
Therefore our message of hope and deliverance should cause its readers and hearers to ask pertinent questions. Is your ministry engaging in healing, with confirming results? Is your ministry delivering captives? If not, why not?
If we are remiss in some area of the revealed gospel, we all should be searching for answers. Healing is sadly missing in today’s ministries. Some on television claim healing, but such accounts are suspect at best. It is the intent of our writers to raise questions that can and should be answered. We will talk in future editions about the types of healing, the biblical answers for those types, and how they are properly implemented. For the time being let us all strive to know the true revealed gospel of Jesus Christ and preach it into the entire world.