BORN OF THE GOSPEL (part 2)
Many ‘teachers’ in Protestant denominations today say that a man must believe the Gospel, but then fail to identify and distinguish that Gospel from all others. Rarely do they ever say that a person who names the name of Christ, yet abides not in the doctrine of Christ, is lost. And most of their followers simply presume that they know the Gospel, when all they know are a few historical facts about what happened to the Messiah and a couple of things they ‘haven’t worked out yet’. Allow me to make it quite clear that the Gospel is NOT about believing in what HAPPENED TO the Messiah, but is about KNOWING and believing Who the Messiah IS by what the Messiah DID to save His people from their sins. Christ said: "And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (Jn.17:3). God says: "...Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, THAT HE UNDERSTANDETH AND KNOWETH ME..." (Jer. 9:23,24). Many highly regarded Reformed ministers, including many ‘great’ teachers of the past with lofty reputations such as Charles Spurgeon, taught that after one’s initial conversion all christians end up taking one theological path or the other. Some choose to go down the Arminian path and others the Calvinistic path, but these ministers, including Spurgeon, insist both these paths lead to the same God! This, in spite of the fact that Spurgeon readily recognized and labelled the Arminian gospel as another gospel! If both ‘paths’ lead to the same God, they then must of necessity come from the same God but seeing that the two belief systems of Arminianism and Calvinism are so obviously and diametrically opposed, this simply could not be. What Spurgeon was saying, and what those ministers who, it must be said, so blindly follow in his footsteps are saying, is that whether one believes that Christ died for everyone or exclusively for the elect, both ‘types of believer’ are headed for the same heaven and ‘essentially’ believe the same Gospel. It does not matter, according to these people, who exactly Christ’s precious blood was shed for or what you believe Christ accomplished by His death. "This is not necessary in knowing the True Christ and trusting in His accomplishments," they say, "as long as you believe in the Messiah who died on a cross for sins, in particular your sins, then you are a Christian, God is in His heaven and all is well with the world." But, friend, all is not well, for such a view is at odds with the Scriptures, which state emphatically that if it is not the Gospel Message OF Christ, and ABOUT Christ, which you believe in your heart and hold to with every fibre of your being, you cannot be one who has been born of God’s will through the Gospel, who truly trusts IN Christ, but you remain dead in your sins and hold to the teachings of mere men. You may well be religious and extremely zealous in that religion, but your zeal is not according to knowledge, the knowledge of God’s Eternal Gospel, without which no man can be born again. The ‘reasoning’ which these ministers have adopted allows for a man’s gospel to be riddled with error and still provide him with salvation. In fact, two men can believe in totally opposing views about what the Gospel is, Who Christ is and what He has done, and still be labelled as saved ‘believers of the Gospel’ by most ministers today. If they are right, where do we draw the line? How wrong would a person have to be to disqualify them from being a true believer? Where are the Scriptures that support such reasoning and what then would the Gospel actually be? How would they define it? These would make for very interesting questions to ask your local ‘pastor’. If believing that Christ died for everyone, or that He died for the elect exclusively, matters not when preaching the Gospel, or as the Scriptures also call it the preaching of the Cross, then it must be concluded that preaching either act amounts to preaching the same thing about the same Person! One can, therefore, preach to one person that Christ died for all and the next day to another, that He died for some and yet still be preaching the same message!! This kind of irrational theological nonsense is the mess most professing christians find themselves in today, thanks to their equally befuddled teachers.
Much may be learned of a man by listening to what he believes, for in doing so one is not only made aware of what the man gives credence to but also what he does not believe. ‘The Gospel’ is a term which is familiar to, and which is often used by, professing christians. It is a term which is frequently bellowed from pulpits across the world, yet what exactly the specific terms of the Gospel actually are is seldom, if ever, stated. The Gospel is something which is hardly ever defined and distinguished from false gospels and is, for the most part, something which is relegated to the ‘of course everyone here believes that’ category. Every professing christian says without hesitation that they believe the Gospel but when asked what the Gospel is, they proceed to reel forth a rag-tag collection of a few beliefs about Christ and that He died for sinners (whatever that might mean). Moreover, when they are presented with the proper Scripturally-based definition of God’s only Gospel, they reveal their true colors—that they do not believe THE Gospel. They show instead that they are vehemently opposed to it and those who promote it. They are enemies of the Cross who do not know the One Who died on the Cross nor what He accomplished for His people. This is revealed, not only by what the person says they believe the Gospel to be, but in what they say about their own salvation and how they came to be saved. Not until one has heard the Gospel can one truly say they know Whom they have believed (see 2 Tim. 1:8-12). Scripture teaches that it is by the Word of God that a man is converted: "The Law (doctrine) of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul..." (Psa. 19:7; see also 2 Tim. 3:15,16). But if you listen to most people’s testimony, you will learn that they believe they were converted after some experience, or by praying ‘the sinner’s prayer’ or by a simple, yet ignorance-filled truth-lacking, belief in Christ’s death. ‘I know that I was saved back then and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise', is a statement that you will often here if you question the salvation of most by inquiring into what they believed at the time of their ‘conversion’. Why do so many people feel so threatened by the True Gospel of God? Why does the vast majority hate to hear the only Gospel which truly gives all the glory to God and allows no room for a man to boast? Why is it that so many people insist that salvation is in some way and to some degree conditioned and dependant on them, and not wholly on Christ the Savior? One of the reasons for this is that they realise that if they were to fully believe the True Gospel Message, they would have to conclude that for the past x number of years in which they had considered themselves saved and religiously fruitful, they were LOST idolaters producing dead works. They are sent into panic mode and quickly move to sweep the Gospel and its preachers under a religious carpet interwoven with lies about the Lord Jesus, which is much more to their liking and preference. The Good News (Gospel) is ONE Message Authored by God and given to man. It is not subject to interpretation or a man’s preference of what he believes the Gospel to be. One has wisely stated that "The Truth is not a matter of majority rules. It is an issue of what God’s Word says." A child of God does not pick and choose what he will believe but he believes what God has said, in its entirety. The Gospel is not a matter of preference but a matter of what God says it is.
This writer had to face the fact in 1999 after hearing the Gospel for the first time, that though I had been religious and sincere and had considered myself a Christian for 14 years, I had never once heard the true Gospel taught and therefore could not have been born of that incorruptible Seed of God. All those things that I took as evidence that I was saved paled into insignificance when faced with the true Gospel of God. Granted, there was some minor trepidation in looking at my religious past with all of its experiences and ‘good deeds’ and ‘glorious moments’ in prayer and Bible studies etc., and coming to terms with the fact that I was to turn my back on it all and count it as dung just as the apostle Paul did his religious past before hearing and believing the Gospel (see Phil. 3). But by the mighty grace of God and His Great Gospel, which I could not, cannot and never will be able to deny, I let go of all that was and all that I was and thought myself to be before I heard and understood the True Gospel, which introduced me to the True Christ. I promptly counted the false gospels and false christs I had once believed in as rubbish for the excellency of the knowledge of THE Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed to me in the Gospel of God.
As was mentioned earlier, the most popular view about conversion and by which most judge themselves to be born again, is the evidence of a moral change in one’s life, a new found desire to know the things of God and a basic belief in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Most believe that as babes in Christ we know very little of the doctrine of Christ. At worst, such a view as this dispenses with the value and necessity of sound doctrinal knowledge being the primary evidence of a converted life, and at best it is reduced to something which is an added extra to one’s religious life but not an essential and vital ingredient, at least not at the outset. Every woman knows that one cannot make an omelette without eggs. You cannot add the eggs after the filling or while one is in the midst of consuming it. The eggs must be added at the outset or you simply end up with an untidy mess rather than a finely and properly prepared omelette, which would be readily recognized and rightly called an omelette. So, too, one cannot have a true belief in Christ, and be rightly called a Christian, if one does not have the doctrine of Christ: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God..." (2 Jn. 9). The word ‘abideth’ here not only means ‘to stay or remain in a place’ but also ‘to be present’ or ‘stand’. One cannot have God if one does not abide in the Gospel of God, if one does not stand in, and with, His doctrine. "To be and remain united with Him, one with Him in heart, mind and will." In other words, to be in agreement with His Testimony, His Doctrine, His Gospel. While you stand outside of that Gospel or are ignorant of it, you are one who does not have God. It is important to note the connection which Scripture makes between sound doctrine and the Gospel. Paul said that the Christian is to be wary of anything "...that is contrary to SOUND DOCTRINE: According to the glorious GOSPEL of the blessed God..." (1 Tim. 1:10,11; see also 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Titus 1:9). (See the author’s book ‘God Loves Doctrine’)
Most subscribe to the well-worn teaching that, as babes in Christ, we know little of Christ and our views are sprinkled with much error, but as we grow and mature we eventually come into the right knowledge of Him and are corrected and instructed by Scripture as we go along and become adults in Christ. The erroneous doctrines are replaced by truer doctrines. But through even our doctrinally darkest days we were Christians, they insist. This all sounds so convincing and logical that no wonder those who believe it have no problem with such ‘reasoning’. Most have never heard anything different from this and because it matches with most other experiences in life where man starts off in relative ignorance or having little knowledge of a matter, he later grows and becomes more knowledgeable and mature in what he practices or believes. Yet, the meaning of the key phrase ‘babe’ in Christ, often used in this line of reasoning as a defense for the religionists’ ignorant, but to their minds, nonetheless saved state, is totally misrepresented and misunderstood and is completely at odds with the fact that every true believer from the beginning of their Christian lives to final glory knows the doctrine of Christ and abides in it. 2 John 9 shows clearly that it could not be otherwise, and that all who are not present, or stand not, in Christ’s doctrine have not God. This could never be said of a true believer, for whether he is a young Christian or one who has been in the faith for many years, he abides in the doctrine of Christ and no other. If he is in Christ he stands with Christ’s doctrine for it is CHRIST’S Voice which he has heard and does follow and not that of a stranger (Jn. 10:4,5,27).
It must be asked, 'How does one get to be a babe in Christ? What is it to be a babe in Christ? What makes the difference between one who is a religious, professing christian yet dead in his sins, and one who is a babe in Christ? How ignorant can one be and yet still be biblically referred to as a babe in Christ?' It might also be asked, 'Where on earth did man ever get the idea that to be a babe in Christ meant that one was ignorant of the doctrine of Christ?' In light of 2 John 9 where it is stated that if one does not abide in the doctrine of Christ one does not have God, being a babe in Christ could not be a proper definition of one who is ignorant of the doctrine of Christ, that is, Who Christ is, what Christ has done and for whom He has done it. He could not possibly be ignorant of the Gospel, for he has been born of the Gospel! Remember, a babe in Christ is just as much a creature born again, born of God’s Seed, the Gospel, as one who is mature in Christ. If you are in Christ you are in Christ and your life is hid with Him in God (Col. 3:3). If you are in Christ you abide in His doctrine and have God, if not, if you do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, you cannot be in Christ and therefore you simply cannot have God. To be a babe in Christ never has referred to, and never could be a description of, one who is ignorant of the Person and Work of Christ, for this would fly in the face of the Bible’s definition of what a truly born again new creature in Christ is: one who believes the Gospel.
The term ‘babe’ in the New Testament which refers to those ‘babes in Christ’ is found in Hebrews 5:13: "For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe" (see also 1 Cor. 3:1 ff.). It is important to note firstly that who the writer here refers to as ‘babes’ are Christians. All are agreed that the writer has addressed his Epistle to Hebrew converts to Christianity and that there is nothing in the Epistle which would suggest otherwise. That means that they are all people who have been born again, born of that Holy Seed: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It means that they have heard the Gospel and have understood it so as to give evidence that they are new creatures in Christ. "The Gospel had been preached and ‘confirmed’ unto them" (Heb. 2:1-3). They are considered brethren throughout the Epistle (Heb. 3:1,12; 10:19; 13:22) and if brethren, then they must be believers. Believers in what? Why, the Gospel of course! How do I know? Because every born again believer is born of the incorruptible Seed of God: the Gospel (1 Pet. 1:23-25). EVERYONE THAT IS SAVED IS A BELIEVER IN THE GOSPEL (Mk. 16:16). Again, before hearing and understanding the Gospel, no one can rightly consider themselves a new creature in Christ, for the primary characteristic feature of a new creature in Christ is that he believes the Gospel. It is the principle form of judging a man saved, otherwise why would the Lord Jesus have stated in Mark 16 that a man is saved based on whether or not he believes the Gospel? The works of a man are important but they are not what is identified by Christ as THE identifying characteristic of a true believer. Just as faith without works is dead so, too, works without THE Faith of Christ is just as dead.
The word ‘unskilful’ in Hebrews 5:13 means ‘inexperienced', ‘ignorant’. Yet it cannot mean ignorance of the Gospel in the sense that they had not heard it and therefore did not believe it, for then one could become born of the Gospel without knowledge of that Gospel! It would mean that Christ was wrong when He taught that the Seed, His Word that was sown into the good ground, needed to be heard and understood before it could bring forth fruit (see Matt. 13:23). It would run contrary to the whole flow of Scripture which states quite clearly that a Christian is one who is saved and believes the Gospel, and, that one who is ignorant of that Gospel, and to whom that Gospel is hid, or who simply does not believe it, is damned (see Mk. 16:16 & 2 Cor. 4:3). It does not mean that they are without knowledge of the Gospel. "Now the Hebrews are not here said to be ignorant of or utterly without the Word of Righteousness (the Gospel of Grace), but ‘unskilful’ or ‘inexperienced’ in the use of it. They had failed to improve it to its proper end." Whereas by now they should have been teachers (v.12) they remained infants in their knowledge of the Gospel, yet not in absolute ignorance of it. They did not know the Gospel as intimately as those who feed on strong meat (v.14). It does not mean that they are not Christians "...but that they had not the experience or skill requisite to enable them to understand (or proclaim) the higher mysteries of the Christian religion. They understand the great system only as a child may." But understand it they do. There is a vast difference between understanding something, albeit in its basic form, and being altogether ignorant of it or even part of it. According to Hebrews 5:12, these believers had been Christians long enough to now be teachers but instead, though knowing the basics of the Gospel, they were not as learned in the deeper mysteries of the Gospel Message and could not articulate it as well as they should have been able to by this time. "It was not that they had lost, absolutely, their knowledge of Divine Truth, but they had failed to lay it to heart, and live in the power of it." Hebrews 5:12 tell us that these babes needed to be taught again of "...the first principles of the oracles of God..." "...They needed to be reminded of the ways in which the (Old Testament) tabernacle, its services, priesthood, etc., all typified the work of Christ (see Heb. 2:17; 3:3; 4:14; 5:4-10; 6:19,20). Perhaps they also needed to be reminded of the promises they had received in the Old Testament; not only the greatness and the preciousness of the promises (see Heb. 1:5,13; 2:11,12; 8:8-12; 10:9,10; 11:40), but also the certainty with which they would be fulfilled (see Heb. 6:13-19; 7:21; 8:6; 9:11; 10:12-14, 19-22; 12:25; 13:8). Hebrews 6:1 tells us that these babes were encouraged to "...go on unto perfection and not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works..." The dead works here is a reference to the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, of which the babe in Christ had obviously already repented. Doubtless, the writer to the Hebrews would not have said of these that they should by now be teachers who were not in fact Christians to begin with. He would not have said "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers..." (Heb. 5:12), but rather, "For when for the time ye ought to be Christians..." Also, the author of the Epistle would not have referred to these babes as unskilful in the Word of Righteousness, but rather absolutely unfamiliar with it, were they not believers to begin with.
The Scriptures we have already seen in this study show us plainly that to be a babe in Christ one must have been born of God’s incorruptible Seed: His Gospel. 1 Peter tells us that the new creature in Christ is born again by the Word of God (see 1 Pet. 1:23). "Therefore if any man be IN CHRIST, he is a new creature..." (2 Cor. 5:17). One is either in Christ, or of the world, according to the Scriptures (see Jn. 17:14,21). And, if one is said to be in Christ then he must be in a saved state, and, if in a saved state then he must be a believer of the Gospel of Christ. According to the Bible, no babe in Christ is ignorant of that Christ, for each and every babe in Christ has been born of the Gospel of Christ. None can be properly considered a babe, or baby, in Christ, who has not firstly been born—born of that Seed of God—His Gospel. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 1 Peter 1:23, everyone who is a new creature is born of the Gospel and is said to be in Christ. No one is a babe in Christ who has not received His Seed into good ground, which is to hear and understand His Mighty Gospel (Matt. 13:23). A babe in Christ has much to learn and is encouraged to grow in his knowledge of God and of Christ (see Col. 1:10) and learn in finer detail the intricacies and excellencies of the Gospel Message, but none can be said to be ignorant of that Message, for this new creature has been born of that Message. He heard it and understood it right from the start! To have faith in God is far more than a mere acknowledgement of His existence and that He is kind and loving and merciful. "It is faith in God in regard to His existence and perfections, and to His plan of saving men. It includes, therefore, faith in His Message and Messenger, and thus embraces the plan of salvation by the Redeemer." Just as there can be no natural, physical conception without the seed of man, so, too, there can be no supernatural, spiritual conception without the Seed of God. How can a man produce an offspring without the seed of man? He cannot. It is a physical impossibility. God has set an immutable law on the earth, that without the seed of man there can be no physical offspring from man. God has also set an equally immutable spiritual law, which is just as definable and specific and set in concrete as that which He has laid down as an inescapable prerequisite for the physical birth of any man. No one can be born again, that is, born spiritually, without the Seed of God, which is His Holy Gospel Message. None can become new creatures in Christ, and therefore be IN Christ, unless it is by means of God’s Gospel, unless they have heard and understood the Gospel of Christ. "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor. 4:3). This Scripture shows clearly that if the Gospel is hidden, that is, if anyone is ignorant of the Gospel, or they simply do not believe it, they are lost. It is as uncomplicated as that. One can have all the religion in the world and be squeaky clean morally and ethically, but if one does not know the Gospel of God, if that Gospel is concealed, the Bible, far from declaring such a person saved, albeit ignorant of the means used to ‘save’ him, states that he is LOST in that ignorance! None can hear the Gospel unless someone is sent to preach that Gospel Message (see Rom. 10:14-16) and none can in turn understand and believe the Gospel message unless it is revealed to them and the Holy Spirit is sent to apply it to their hearts and they are given the gift of Faith to believe it.
A human baby is still a human regardless of the fact that it has yet to mature etc. Spiritually speaking, a Christian baby is not a creature which is simply alive and will gradually and eventually evolve through accumulation of knowledge into a new creature in Christ. The only way he could be a baby in Christ is if he is born of Christ. Some may argue, ‘yes, but the reference to ‘babe’ in Hebrews 5:13 does not include ‘in Christ’. True, but as was pointed out earlier, the letter to the Hebrews was written to Hebrew converts to Christianity and so, according to the context, the ‘babe’ referred to must be speaking of one who is a babe in Christ. If that will not satisfy the reader, there is reference made in 1 Corinthians 3:1 to ‘babes in Christ’ and these are clearly spoken of as ‘brethren’ in the same verse. The Christian baby is a new creature in Christ from birth. That’s the only kind of creature which God’s incorruptible Seed gives birth to. The very fact that he has been born of that Gospel Seed shows he is now in Christ. And, if he is in Christ he is complete in Christ (Col. 2:10). One cannot say that one was a saved, albeit ignorant, religious person who ‘came into’ the knowledge of the doctrine of Christ years after they were initially converted whilst submitted to a false gospel, for what would they base their conversion on? Nothing less than what any religious person bases their conversion on: a changed life, a new set of morals and a religious viewpoint on life and death. Ignorance of the Gospel, which is often associated with darkness in the Bible, is not something which the Scriptures teach is synonymous with becoming a Christian. The Christian is not born of darkness or in darkness but he is surrounded and submerged in Light: the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ! Whilst dead in sin he, just like any man, sat in darkness and loved that darkness and hated light (Jn. 3:19). "Whereunto He CALLED YOU BY OUR GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:14). Here we are told that the believer is unmistakenly called of God by the Gospel. In the following verse we learn what the believer is called out from and what he is brought into. Peter said that the Christian is to "...shew forth the praises of Him Who hath CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELLOUS LIGHT" (1 Pet. 2:9; see also Acts 26:18). When God calls out His chosen ones He always calls them out by His Gospel from darkness to Light. They do not remain in darkness but are free from its blinding effects (see 2 Cor. 4:4). The Word of God clearly teaches that to savingly receive the Seed of God, one must hear it AND understand it. Ignorance of the Gospel is ignorance of Christ and ignorance of Christ is absolute and conclusive evidence of a state of lostness. Christ said of them who believe not on Him: "That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not SEE with their eyes, nor UNDERSTAND with their heart, and be CONVERTED..." (Jn. 12:38-40). Here we see further evidence that seeing and understanding are inseparably connected with conversion. What is it that Isaiah spoke of when he said "...who hath believed our report?" Would it be reading into the Scriptures that which is not there if we were to say that what Isaiah referred to was the Gospel? Hardly. Paul reveals all in Romans 10:16: "But they have not all obeyed THE GOSPEL. FOR ISAIAH SAITH, LORD, WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT?"
Christ is the Gospel, and the preaching of the Cross is the core element to Gospel preaching. There is no Gospel without Christ; there is no Gospel without the true preaching of the Cross of Christ which is foolishness to them that perish but to those who believe it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). Without Christ and without the Cross, there would not only be no Gospel but NO CHRISTIANS! How could there be if they know nothing of the Messiah sent of God to save His people from their sins, the Person and Work of that Messiah being central to the Gospel Message? Mysticism plays no part in true Christianity. To truly follow Christ and be a spiritual babe in Christ does not in any way suggest ignorance of that Christ but, conversely, it shows that one does know the Person and Work of Christ. This is not to say that a spiritual babe knows all there is to know of Christ (if such a thing were possible), but he does know the Lord enough to show that he has been born of Him for he has heard and understood the Gospel Message wherein Christ and His Righteousness is revealed. Whether one is a babe in Christ or whether one is a mature believer, one is a Christian and one cannot be a Christian without knowing Who Christ is and what Christ has done. One cannot be ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and rightly claim to know Him and to believe in Him and His Message. The mature believer, one who feeds on strong meat and not on milk, is one who has learnt much of the Gospel (Heb. 5:14), and can articulate it better than the babe in Christ. But that babe, though ignorant and inexperienced in the deeper mysteries and glories of the full Gospel Message, knows that basic Gospel Message enough to show he has indeed been born of the Seed of God and knows God. One may ask, "Yes, but what is it to know the Gospel enough to consider oneself saved?" It is to know the Person and Work of Christ, Who He is and for whom He died. This will be explained in greater detail as we go on.
The Gospel is what MUST be believed if one is to show evidence that he is a Christian, born of God. Anyone can show a degree of moral reformation in their lives, but not everyone believes the Gospel. That is one of the reasons it is foolhardy to judge a person a Christian simply by their outward appearance and conduct. If one does not believe the Gospel, one is lost (Mk.16:16); if one is ignorant of it, one is lost (2 Cor. 4:3); and if one adds to it or takes away from it knowingly or unknowingly, he is preaching another gospel and shows his lost state (Gal. 1:6-9). Paul made it clear to the Galatians that if any one came to them preaching anything different from the Gospel he had told them, they were to consider such people accursed: "...if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:9). Notice, Paul did not say these preachers of a different gospel could actually be fellow Christians but just a little confused or ignorant of what the true Gospel is, for there is no such creature! According to Paul’s words, if a Christian came to the Galatians he would preach the exact same Gospel that Paul preached, but if any came in Christ’s name and preached anything other than what Paul had proclaimed, if their gospel differed in any way to any degree with the Gospel Paul had proclaimed, this was to be taken as a SURE SIGN that those people were lost and still in darkness, not knowing the Gospel. Those who do not believe the Gospel of Christ demonstrate that they are lost and in need of hearing, understanding and believing God’s Message concerning His Son.
It is an enigma to this writer that so many say that the Gospel is something which cannot be defined. They even claim it is something which we cannot know! But if it is something which cannot be defined and that cannot be known, how then can it be preached let alone believed? Surely if Christ told His people to preach the Gospel (Mk. 16:15), then the Gospel is a message which is known to those who preach it and will be known by those whom God has elected to savingly receive it by way of hearing and understanding it. If the Gospel is something which is to be preached and heard, then what kind of fool would venture to say that it is something which cannot be understood? The Bible often warns of false gospels and false teachers ( 2 Cor. 11:4; 2 Pet. 2:1). How are we to recognise the false gospels and false teachers if we cannot define and know what the True Gospel is? One Reformed minister, no less, has wishfully stated, no doubt with a gleam in his eye, "If only we could put our finger on what the Gospel is, that would be something." A more ludicrous, asinine, unscriptural and ungodly statement one would be hard-pressed to find. Let us take such ‘reasoning’ to its logical conclusion: If the Gospel is something which cannot be defined, then it must also of necessity be impossible to preach. And, if the Gospel cannot be preached, then how can any man believe it? A message which cannot be defined cannot be preached. A message which cannot be preached, and therefore heard, cannot be understood and believed in. How then can an indefinable and unpreachable message possibly be believed in!! The Gospel must be believed if any are to be saved, for man is lost without it. If the Gospel is something which must be believed in, then it MUST be preachable, IT MUST BE DEFINABLE! The main reason the whole Bible was given to man was to convey the Message of the Messiah Who would be sent to the earth to be the Savior of His people. That Message is called the Gospel: the Good News of God to His people, and is to be preached to every creature! Why would God keep such a Message, which must be believed in if one is to be rightly judged saved, hidden from His own people whom He has elected to hear it, know it and believe it? You cannot hear, know and believe something which has not and cannot be defined. The very fact that a Message needed to be given unto men in the first place shows that prior to hearing, knowing and receiving that Message, all men are in a lost state before a Holy God, for the plan of Redemption is only revealed in that Gospel Message and can therefore only be believed in after that Message has been preached. To preach the Gospel, which is Christ’s command to every believer (Mk. 16:15), is to define the Gospel. The fact that a Savior needed to be sent into the world shows that man, without that Savior, is in a hopeless, depraved state stumbling around in religious darkness not knowing the True and only Way to salvation, for he has no idea how to get to God because he is ignorant of the way and means. That way and means are only disclosed in the Gospel.
It is clear from Scripture that to know God is to believe God, and to believe God is to believe His Gospel which is nothing less than God’s Testimony of Who His Son is and what His Son has done in order to save His people from their sins. To believe anything else is to deny God’s Testimony. In fact, Scripture says that Christ will come "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that KNOW NOT GOD, and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:8; see also 2 Thess. 2:10-12). In light of this verse, let the enemies of the cross try and tell us that knowledge of the Gospel of Christ is not necessary to salvation! Knowledge of the Gospel is not a condition which man must meet in order to ‘get saved’ but is an identifying fruit of salvation. To believe anything more or less than what God has stated is necessary to salvation, is a denial of His Gospel. "For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" (1 Pet. 4:17). The reader will be aware that when one denies something, one has an opposing idea, which is one of the principal reasons why that which is being denied is denied in the first place. This is why it is so important to know God’s Gospel Message, for if one does not know it or overtly denies it, one is literally rejecting what God has stated is the essential to saving faith, and one will be seeking salvation in some other way. In essence, God is saying by His Gospel: "This is My Son, this is what He has done and any denial of My Words is a denial of Him Whom I have sent and declared to be the Savior of His people." There is only one Faith which believes the True Gospel and that faith is the one which is given unto men by God. Any faith which does not believe God’s Message in its entirety is a faith which is not the one which God hands out freely by His Sovereign will and grace, but is one which was born in the deceived heart of man or comes from the wicked and subtle mind of Satan. Man has adorned his multitude of false religious beliefs with a plethora of good deeds and charitable self-sacrificing works, but it is to no avail for the faith which originates within man is not the faith that does, or can, believe in God’s Gospel. One cannot be born again by corruptible seed or by hearing and believing false teachings. No one was ever born again, made a new creature in Christ, by believing in a false gospel. Christ has said "And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32; see also Gal. 3:1; Col. 1:5,6). That Truth is the Word of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. A false gospel is anything which adds to or takes away from God’s only Gospel. So then, if you at the start of your so-called christian life believed in anything more or less than God’s True Gospel, you were not saved and if you do not believe this and do not believe in His Gospel now, you are still unsaved. Belief in anything but the True Gospel as THE Gospel is a sure sign of lostness!
Pray tell, how can anything incorruptible come from that which is corruptible? How can anything corruptible be pleasing to God? How can anything not of Him or by Him be pleasing to Him? How can anyone be born again by believing in a false gospel? No sane person could or would want to argue against such a rationale. How then can the view be biblically vindicated that a person can become a converted Christian, born again of God, a product of His Word, before that Word has ever come to them and unless they hear and believe and understand God’s Holy Gospel, which is the very means a person is converted by! The following terms are synonymous and they cannot be separated: born again, born of God, born from above, born of incorruptible Seed, born of the Truth, born of the Gospel. They all mean the same thing. The seed of dogs gives birth to dogs; the seed of cats gives birth to cats; the seed of sheep gives birth to other sheep and, my friends, take in the profundity of it all if you will: THE SEED OF GOD, WHICH IS HIS GOSPEL, IS THE ONLY THING WHICH WILL GIVE BIRTH TO A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST!! Christ said, "...that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn. 3:6; see also Jn. 4:23,24) . No new creature in Christ can spring from anything else or anywhere else, other than the Holy Gospel of God. The Gospel is not something you grow into, it is something you are born out of! It is not something you walk to, it is that which you come from. You don’t end at the Gospel, you start with the Gospel! Just like a baby does not eventually come to meet its mother weeks, months or years after its birth, but is present with her at the point of birth so, too, the babe in Christ is present at its moment of birth with the one who gave birth to it: the GOSPEL. Everyone who was ever born physically into this world had their mother present with them at the time of birth and everyone who has been born again spiritually was born in the presence of the Gospel. No one is born without their mother and no one is born again without the Gospel. No mother no baby; no Gospel no Christian!
And so we come to the life and death issue of what exactly the Gospel is. What is it that must be believed in if one is to show evidence that one is saved, and what is it that if one does not believe it, one gives evidence that one is in a lost state, regardless of how moral and upright a person one might be? The following will be a brief explanation of what the Gospel is. For a more detailed definition, please see my booklets: ‘God’s Only Gospel’, ‘God’s Only Jesus’ and ‘Who Are The lost?’ Firstly, Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father to this earth to save His people from their sins (Lk. 1:77 & Gal. 4:4,5). A people who were dead in their sins and dead to God: "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). A people who could not and would not come to God, God’s Way: "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (see Rom. 3:10-12). A people who went about according to their fallen nature, doing what was right in their eyes, trying to establish a righteousness of their own in the hope of pleasing a Just and Holy God and becoming acceptable, by their own efforts, in His sight. This may sound like a noble endeavor but it is abomination in the sight of God, for no man is righteous or can become righteous in and of himself before the Holy God (see Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:11). As we shall see, it is not by man’s efforts at obedience that he is saved but wholly by the obedience of Christ alone. Man, by nature, as he is described in Rom. 3:10-12 is ignorant of and not submitted to God’s Gospel Message which is salvation, from beginning to final glory, conditioned on Christ alone. The apostle Paul prayed for the salvation of those people who had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. What knowledge? The knowledge of Christ’s Righteousness; of God’s Way to salvation (see Rom. 10:1-4). Man can have all the religious zeal in the world; he can busy himself with religious deeds and service all he likes, but if that zeal is not according to the knowledge of the Gospel, it is just a manifestation of his cursed state and what he perceives to be service to God is nothing but dead works and a stumbling in the darkness. Paul had earlier said of such people, that they had "...not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law..." (Rom. 9:31,32) and "...by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16; see also Gal. 3:11). Jesus Christ came to this earth to redeem all those whom the Father had given Him: "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him" (Jn. 17:2; see also Jn. 17:6,8,9,14-20). These are they whom God had chosen from before the foundation of the world: "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world..." (Eph. 1:4). Jesus Christ came to this earth to live a life of perfect obedience and to bear, or carry away, the sins of His people (Isa. 53:8,11), which were imputed unto Him, or charged to His account, and Whose Righteousness was imputed unto them: "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus Christ came to this earth to fulfill His Father’s will by saving all whom the Father had elected from before the foundation of the world. Just as with knowing God and sound doctrine, election and the Gospel are also inseparably connected, according to the Scriptures. Paul knew of the Thessalonians’ "...ELECTION of God. FOR our GOSPEL came not unto you in word only but in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance..." (see 1 Thess. 1:4,5; 2:13). According to this, believing the Gospel is a sure evidence that you are elect. All Christ’s sheep will hear and obey His voice and follow Him and they will never perish, but be preserved in Christ eternally: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" (Jn. 10:27,28; Col. 3:3; Jude 1). Can you begin to see that the Christian Gospel is a definite message with no room for doubt as to what is meant by it and that belief in any other message professing to be the way to salvation is a sure sign of condemnation. For any other message is a denial of the True Person and Work of Christ and that His triumphant death was actually an accomplishment and not merely an attempt at making salvation possible (Heb. 9:11,12). Your doctrine identifies the god you worship! All God’s people will repent of their sins and turn forever from ever having believed that they could do anything to satisfy God’s Justice and be obedient enough to merit God’s favor, to gain or maintain salvation, and from the thought that they were ever saved when in this condition (2 Tim. 2:25). The apostle Paul said of all his religion and all that he had done, was and believed in, before hearing and abiding in the doctrine of Christ: "Yea doubtless, and I count ALL things but loss for the EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of ALL things, and do count them but DUNG, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS OF GOD by faith" (Phil. 3:8,9).
This is the Jesus that every Christian believes in. This is the doctrine of Christ which every true believer abides in and this is the Gospel by which every Christian is born again. Everything else is corruptible seed from which springs counterfeit christians and false teachers which look and sound just like true Christians but are in fact wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15; see also 24:5,11; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). The Lord Jesus illustrates this in His parable of the wheat and the tares. The parable tells us that wheat has been sown as have tares. While the tares look exactly like wheat, they are plants unsuitable for human consumption and are often fed to cattle. If any tares should get mixed with the wheat at harvest time, the grain is separated and fed to poultry. The most common tare in Israel is known as the Bearded Darnel. Significantly, "It is a poisonous grass, almost indistinguishable from wheat while the two are growing into blade." Christ explains that the wheat, which He describes as the good seed, is sown by the Son of man (Matt. 13:37). In verse 38 Christ further identifies the good seed and declares in no uncertain way exactly who the tares are symbolical of: "...the good seed are the children of the Kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the Devil..." (Matt. 13:38,39). Most in christendom today are under the impression that the field where the seed and the tares are sown is the Church. But Christ makes it clear in Matthew 13:38 that the field referred to is the world. Many also falsely believe that both the wheat and the tares are symbolic of Christians. Yet Christ, in His definition, clearly describes the wheat as the Christians, who are the children of the Kingdom which God has sown, and the tares as those who are of the Devil which he has sown. The tares shall be burned in the fire and the wheat shall be gathered into the Father’s barn (Matt. 13:30,40). "...Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matt. 15:13).
Those who claim to be believers and those who claim to have been born again whilst ignorant of Christ’s doctrine, have not God and are yet in their sins (Rom. 10:1-4). No matter how much they say they believe in the Gospel, they cannot savingly believe it for they maintain that at a time when they were ignorant of that Gospel they were nonetheless saved. Rather than counting all that preceded the Gospel as rubbish, they count it dear and try to hold onto the Gospel and their much loved pre-Gospel experiences and religion. This cannot be done and will not be done by the true believer. You cannot say to Christ ‘follow me’, but you must heed His command to follow Him and to forsake and repent of all else. Such people are saying that they and many others were saved without the Gospel, which is equivalent to saying they were physically born without the agency of human seed! They deny that knowledge of the true Christ, revealed only in the Gospel, is essential to knowing Him and being truly saved. They are virtually saying that as long as you hold to the basics, it does not matter what you believe about Christ as long as you are sincere in your love for Him and live a moral life. But if we do not KNOW Who Christ is and what He has done, how can we say we love Him? Many simply cannot part with the years of religion and church attendance which they were a part of before hearing God’s only Gospel wherein Christ’s Righteousness is revealed (Rom. 1:16,17). They still maintain their grasp on a false gospel which can do nothing for them, for "In that gospel is represented another jesus who cannot save." Again, claiming to be born again without the Seed of God is like saying one was born without the seed of man! It is ludicrous and is an act of spiritual insanity to make such a statement. This would be like saying that one got to one’s destination before one actually arrived! It simply cannot be done. One man told me that he was saved before he knew any doctrine! This would be like saying one had passed an examination before one had actually seen the questions. Many refuse to accept, and therefore do not repent of, the fact that their religious works and beliefs prior to their claim of believing in God’s only Gospel, were dead works and idolatry. Such a person is lost at this point in time because they are basing their salvation on something other than God’s Gospel. They have made up their own gospel and follow a god of their own imagination who saves without his word. The Gospel is not seen as the starting point for these people but merely one of the sign posts along the way.
Belief of the Truth is a distinguishing feature of every true believer. Speaking to true believers, Paul stated: "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and (through) BELIEF OF THE TRUTH; whereunto He called you BY OUR GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:13,14). However, it is said of those who perish, which includes many professing christians, that they do so "...because they RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, that they might be saved...that they all might be DAMNED WHO BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH..." (2 Thess. 2:10,12). Not damned principally because they were immoral but damned because THEY DID NOT BELIEVE, and HAD NOT THE LOVE FOR, the Gospel! Everyone believes they believe the truth or they would not believe it. But most who believe they have the truth, do not have the love of THE Truth and have instead embraced a lie: "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 16:25). Professing believers, that is, those who claim to have been saved prior to hearing and believing in God’s Gospel, have redefined God’s Gospel by wrenching it apart and making room for false doctrines and various ‘spiritual’ experiences which made them feel ‘spiritual’ and ‘good inside’. They feel sure that they have the truth and the true God, for these things have combined to convict them of God’s existence and of the historical fact that Jesus Christ died on a cross for sinners. This, coupled with a moral reformation, which incidentally any atheist can experience, is evidence enough for them that what they have is THE Gospel. Millions of lost people today believe that God exists and that Christ died on a cross for sins. Hell is full of people who claimed to have believed in Jesus. Demons believe that there is one God and tremble (Jas. 2:19). Many have walked and do walk this earth today ‘calling’ on the name of Jesus. Christ said that many worshipped Him in vain (see Matt. 15:9). When asked if few would be saved, Christ answered: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able" (see Lk. 13:23-27). Christ stated in Matthew 7 that "NOT EVERY ONE that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven..." One must not believe all who come to them in the name of Christ (Matt.24:5) but all must be tested and every one should examine themselves to see whether they are in THE Faith and whether or not they are being taught the Truth by their leaders (1 Jn. 4:1).
People of every religion experience great changes in their lives, but none except the elect of God ever savingly believe in God’s Gospel which reveals the highly significant fact that Christ died for His people according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-3). Paul the apostle had years of religious duty and moral uprightness which he thought recommended him to God. Imagine how many times Paul had been under the impression that God was answering his many prayers. But on learning of Christ and His Righteousness as being the only Way to salvation, as revealed in God’s glorious Gospel, Paul was made to realize the vanity of his efforts, and was by God’s grace made to turn his back on and repent of all his imperfect obedience, vain religiosity and all his Christless morality, and count it DUNG (see Philippians 3). This is True biblical repentance: rejecting everything one believed formed any part of, or in anyway contributed to, one’s ‘salvation’ prior to hearing the Gospel. First comes the seed, then comes the life. There is no life prior to the seed. Paul knew that before hearing God’s Gospel and while being ignorant of the Righteousness of Christ Imputed (see Rom. 10:1-4), he was a lost man. Not an ignorant but nonetheless saved man, but a LOST man.
The Bible states that "...if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the Image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:3,4). Obviously then, if the Gospel is hidden or concealed from a man, if he does not know it and cannot see it, the Bible defines such a person at that point in time to be in a lost state. This does not mean that you cannot know about Jesus or that God is the Creator etc., but it does mean that you cannot savingly KNOW Him, for He is only revealed in the Gospel. Salvation knowledge, that which is revealed to the heart of man, is the fruit of the Gospel and the only place from whence it comes. Without the Gospel you cannot know Him and therefore believe in Him and what He has done to save His people from their sins. Knowing God and believing His Gospel are as one and God will take vengeance "...on them that KNOW NOT GOD and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:8). Before a man hears God’s Gospel and believes and trusts in that Gospel, he knows not God and is a lost man and not merely ignorant. One must know the Gospel; one must believe the Gospel; one must obey the Gospel, if one is to know God and consider oneself saved according to God’s Word (Mk. 16:16 & 2 Thess. 1:8). Ignorance of Christ does not amount to some harmless lack of doctrinal knowledge which carries with it no consequences, but it is a deadly and sure evidence that one is in a lost state. False christs and false gospels abound. One cannot believe in the True Christ and His Gospel if one does not know Who the True Christ is and what He has done. The Bible always equates ignorance with darkness and lostness. The Gospel is what has been given to deliver a man from that darkness.