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Bible Topic Study Jesus' Approach To The Gospel
Recently, I read a little from a fellow Christian's website, regarding how the gospel in modern day has been put into a simple formula and some of the dangers and pitfalls of using this formula, rather than spreading the gospel using the fullness scripture.
The formula, when understood correctly, is not in error. However, there are many churches, teachers and preachers who are taking their theology from the formula and either diluting the Christian message or in some cases, changing the gospel.
The formula many Christians use is this:
Now, as I mentioned above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this formula, assuming you have a good knowledge of what is being accurately conveyed. However, many have forsaken the scriptures and have relied too heavily on this formula in thought and preaching.
Why do I say this? Because, if you read the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), you will never hear Jesus mention this formula one time. If this is the most ideal way to convey the gospel, why did Jesus use completely different ways of preaching the gospel? Some so foreign to the Christian ear, that they would assume the person is saying you are saved by works?
It is because some Christians are niave to the scriptures these days. As God said in the Old Testament, "My people are destroyed by their lack of knowledge".
Let us look at the overall and complete breakdown of the law, gospel and what faith in Christ really entails. And I will do it with the formulas that are within scripture, which truly encompass faith, love and commitment to Christ.
First, I need to clear up something. Many preachers assume that "faith alone" is the only non-work. And they consider anything else a "work". However, I believe that "love" and "commitment" are not works.. And the Jesus uses them often in relation to faith and the gospel. Works are "actions". Love is not an action. Commitment is not an action.
"Keeping the Law" does not equal "Devotion to God". So, all those who think you do not need to love God, do not need to be committed to God and think for some reason, only believing (mental assent) in Jesus is enough to get saved, you should consider this passage here: (James 2:19 ). For true faith in Christ and His Death for your sins, is a loyal, living and repentant faith.. It is a faith that produces action. And, if you have a living faith, you love God. Just as works can not save you, so also dead faith will not save you.
Love God, Love Neighbor = Spiritual commitment to God's 10 Commandments (a right heart towards God, not an extermal keeping of His Law) = Spiritual commitment to All of God's Commandments..
First 4 commandments = Love God.. (Exodus 20:1-11 )
Last 6 Commandments = Love Neighbor. (Exodus 20:12-17 )
Jesus did not change the scriptures or the understanding of right and wrong.. Many people believe he did, but I believe, often, this is a result of simply not understanding Jesus' message..
Jesus said, love one another, as I have loved you.. John 13:34 . Even though Jesus clearly says, I am giving you a new commandment, consider what he is saying here. He is saying indirectly that he is the perfect example of how to follow the commandment: "love your neighbor as yourself" and is saying directly to use him as this perfect example.. So, in actuality, he did not change this scripture, but rather, fulfilled them.
To show how Jesus used these concepts to preach the gospel, consider the situation where the rich man asks Jesus, what must I do to be saved (inherit eternal life). Jesus named 6 of the 10 Commandments (the love neighbor ones). The man says, I have done all these things from my youth. Then, Jesus says, you lack one thing. Go, sell your possessions and give to poor, and come follow me. I think this was Jesus way of saying you are lacking "Love God".. He did not mention the 4 Commandments that equal "love God"..
Lets look at the "Love God" factor:
So, this scripture, at first glance, may seem a bit difficult to understand. But as you can see, it is very logical and well within the gospel message.
Now, some claim, well, this was Jesus trying to show how "keeping the Law" is impossible, but with God, "all things are possible" and that Jesus words were showing how this does not save you. My comment to that is why would Jesus be preaching the "gospel" in the Gospels, but then not, when someone asks "What I must do to be saved?". So, I believe Jesus was both telling the gospel and showing how "Keeping the Law" is difficult. So, its the faith and commitment behind the actions, not the actions themselves. If you are faithful to Christ, you will give up any false god in your life and will be willing to live for Him. But keeping the law is not the intention and I believe Jesus was pointing out how the rich man was keeping the Law. Those keeping the law are not considering how it is a right heart, not good works that God is looking for. As Christ's sacrifice on the cross is the only propitiation for your sins.
Let us look at how the common Gospel formula ties into Jesus' Words:
So love and commitment to Christ produces action. Actions such as praying or not committing adultery or giving to charity can not save you. However, the faith that you have towards Christ, which makes you produce those works, is the channel through which one is brought to Christ. And Jesus' death on the cross is the atonement for your sins to make it possible for you to be reconciled to God. And Christ spiritually washes the new believer from their sins and this is symbolized within baptism (so its Christ atonement that saves you, not your own works). As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast."
So, as you can see, with the fullness of the Gospel understood correctly, you can see Jesus was always teaching the gospel! Yet, because we are so used to this "Four Spiritual Law" formula, some preachers, teachers and Christians have not understood the fullness of the teaching of the gospel and seem to miss the true ties between how Jesus taught and the gospel.