November 20, 2020

There Are Three Fundamentals Of The Gospel

INTERESTING FACTS : United States Congress - 1854
"The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."[1]
Daily Reading : Acts 18 - 20
TEXT : Acts  20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the Church.  20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,  20:19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:  20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,  20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:  20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.
THEME : The Gospel
Acts 18 
In this chapter we have,  I. Paul's coming to Corinth, his private converse with Aquila and Priscilla, and his public reasonings with the Jews, from whom, when they rejected him, he turned to the Gentiles (Act_18:1-6).  II. The great success of his ministry there, and the encouragement Christ gave him in a vision to continue his labours there, in hopes of further success (Act_18:7-11).  III. The molestations which after some time he met with there from the Jews, which he got pretty well through by the coldness of Gallio, the Roman governor, in the cause (Act_18:12-17).  IV. The progress Paul made through many countries, after he had continued long at Corinth, for the edifying and watering of the Churches which he had founded and planted, in which circuit he made a short visit to Jerusalem (Act_18:18-23).  V. An account of Apollo's improvement in knowledge, and of his usefulness in the Church (Act_18:24-28).[Matthew Henry][2]
Acts 19 
We left Paul in his circuit visiting the Churches (Act_18:23), but we have not forgotten, nor has he, the promise he made to his friends at Ephesus, to return to them, and make some stay there; now this chapter shows us his performance of that promise, his coming to Ephesus, and his continuance there two years; we are here told,  I. How he laboured there in the word and doctrine, how he taught some weak believers that had gone no further than John's baptism (Act_19:1-7), how he taught three months in the synagogue of the Jews (Act_19:8), and, when he was driven thence, how he taught the Gentiles a long time in a public school (Act_19:9, Act_19:10), and how he confirmed his doctrine by miracles (Act_19:11, Act_19:12).  II. What was the fruit of his labour, particularly among the conjurors, the worst of sinners: some were confounded, that did but make use of his name (Act_19:13-17), but others were converted, that received and embraced his doctrine (Act_19:18-20).  III. What projects he had of further usefulness (Act_19:21, Act_19:22), and what trouble at length he met with at Ephesus from the silversmiths, which forced him thence to pursue the measures he had laid; how a mob was raised by Demetrius to cry up Diana (Act_19:23-34), and how it was suppressed and dispersed by the town-clerk (Act_19:35-41). [Matthew Henry][3]
Acts 20 
In this chapter we have,  I. Paul's travels up and down about Macedonia, Greece, and Asia, and his coming at length to Troas (Act_20:1-6).  II. A particular account of his spending one Lord's day at Troas, and his raising Eutychus to life there (Act_20:7-12).  III. His progress, or circuit, for the visiting of the Churches he had planted, in his way towards Jerusalem, where he designed to be by the next feast of pentecost (Act_20:13-16).  IV. The farewell sermon he preached to the presbyters at Ephesus, now that he was leaving that country (v. 17-35).  V. The very sorrowful parting between him and them (Act_20:36-38). And in all these we find Paul very busy to serve Christ, and to do good to the souls of men, not only in the conversion of heathen, but in the edification of Christians. [Matthew Henry][3]
There are three fundamental truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You can find all of them in the text above.  The three fundamental truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are - repentance of sin, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (particularly his atonement on the cross), and the continual grace of God in your life.
It is truly amazing as we study the early Church in the book of Acts, the approach of the early Christians especially the Apostles, as they willingly laid down their lives for the Gospel.  In the text, you see the Apostle Paul state that he knows that in every city where he goes to preach, he is going to be imprisoned and/or afflicted for Jesus' sake.  Yet, he mentions that "none of these things move me." That is quite a statement.  It represents the prevailing attitude of the early Church.  That is, the Church was not easily moved away from the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ that we now call Christianity.
Simple but not easy, Christianity in the beginning was more than just a codified system of intellectual or academic beliefs.  It was, as it should be, a way of life.  More specifically, it was the way (early Christianity was known as "the way" because it described a way of life for these early Christians) the Apostles and disciples (read: "Christians") lived every day.  It was more than a once a week service.  Of course, it was also more than mere "lip service." Christ commands were, once again, the way those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ lived every single day.  They obeyed Christ and the commands of the Apostles.  For this reason, within a short space of time, Christianity dominated the entire Roman Empire.
As stated, there were (are) three staple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Further, they have not changed.  God cannot change.  Further, the New Testament is clear that Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Therefore, since God himself cannot change in the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - neither can his Gospel.
First, there is faith.  Even though faith and repentance are concurrent events, faith comes first.  You must believe, truly believe, that Jesus is the Messiah.  Further, you must trust that what Jesus says about "being born again," is initiated by obeying his commands.  Said another way, being "born again," is obeying Christ.  This is the meaning of "faith." Anything else is a mere intellectual assent to a system of truths rather than the actual practice of truth.  Between the two - that is, theoretical knowledge vs. obeying the instructions and commands of Christ and the Apostles, there is a wide gulf.
Thus, we conclude that Christianity is more than just "going to Church." The fact is - the Church (the Greek word for Church is ekklesia, and it means "called out ones") speaks of the people or individuals that Christ has "saved." Although we meet in buildings of all sorts and kinds, the Church nevertheless, is not an edifice made of brick, mortar, and stone.  Interestingly, God said this very thing to Israel when they build the Temple.  He stated that he cannot dwell in a building made by man's hands.  When we come to the New Testament, we see that the "Temple," is the people called by God, living in faith, and receiving grace on a daily basis to live a holy life.  In other words, the Church is people.  They are, you are, the called out ones ordained by God to receive eternal life.
When it comes to repentance (the Greek word metanoia means to "change the mind"), because you believe what Jesus said and commanded, you "turn," from all the Bible calls sin.  Sin, by Biblical definition is - "the transgression of the law." This means, breaking or not keeping the moral law or God contained in the 10 commandments.  Further, with regard to the transgressing of God's laws, the New Testament is that all have sinned.  Therefore, everyone needs to "repent." As defined, you accomplish this by believing the Gospel, and in the process turn to Christ to follow him.  Therefore, faith and repentance are synonymous with one another on certain points, while grace is what is obtained and given to those who - "repent and believe the Gospel."
As mentioned, these three doctrines or truths are fundamental to New Testament Christianity.  Further, as also stated, the Gospel has not changed.  Man has changed, as is evident in every period of both Israel's history and the Church's history.  However, God has not changed.  Neither has his Gospel, his commands, his principles, and thankfully - his promises.
Therefore, it is incumbent on you as well as every human being that comes to Christ, to comply with his Word.  God has not given any man the right to amend or edit his Book.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ - that had three fundamental truths in the early Church, still has three fundamental truths today.  Once again, they are -faith, repentance, and grace.
Some teach - erroneously, that a man is saved by faith [alone]. That statement is a half- truth, unless it includes repentance and the subsequent grace that attends such changing of the mind.  However, without repentance faith, once again, is nothing more than an intellectual or academic assent to religious dogma.  The reason that a person is "born again," is due to the grace of God, predicated on his or her turning from sin to "the way" of Christ.  This is what the early Church practiced and preached.
For their reward, they could face death willingly and with confidence.  This is also a result of faith and repentance and the attending grace of God in an individual's life.  Without that, facing death is tenuous, frightening, and uncertain. Undoubtedly, it is not faced with joy as we see in the life of the Apostle Paul.  He stated, once again - "none of these things move me." He knew, that everywhere he went, he would be put in jail and, or afflicted for what he preached.  Yet, he was not afraid.  Moreover, he was able to finish his ministry with joy and confidence.
In the times in which we live, you need this confidence.  You can obtain it only by following the directives given to you in the New Testament by the Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles.  Again, they are - faith, repentance, and the grace of God.  These are the three fundamental truths of the Gospel.

  • [1] Journal of the House of the Representatives of the United States of America (Washington, DC: Cornelius Wendell, 1855), 34th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 354, January 23, 1856; see also: Lorenzo D. Johnson, Chaplains of the General Government With Objections to their Employment Considered (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., 1856), p. 35, quoting from the House Journal, Wednesday, January 23, 1856, and B. F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 328
  • [2] Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. Public Domain, [1662 - 1714].
  • [3] Ibid;
  • [4] Ibid;
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