• O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name. [Isa 26:13 NASB]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. [Mat 11:29 NASB].

Christ’s Gospel vs The Modern American Gospel

The title could alternately be called: What Is The Gospel Of Jesus Christ. All quoted Scriptures are from the ESV.

The modern American gospel says, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” If you are not saved, this is a lie, because the Bible tells us God is indignant with you everyday (Psa 7:11) and the wrath of God REMAINS on you (John 3:36). Note this: if the wrath of God remains on you and God is indignant with you, God does not love you and you are without hope, so there is no wonderful plan for your life.

The Bible tells us God is “holy, holy, holy.” [Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8]. There is NO mention God is “love, love, love.” Holiness is God’s defining attribute; it is what sets the Creator apart from His creation. Every attribute of God is revealed through His holiness. His love is not a gushy, feel good emotion. His love is a holy love and it begins with Himself. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have loved each other with a holy love throughout eternity. As you read Scripture, it is clear the greatness and praise of each other is their first love.

When man violates this greatness of God, who do you think God loves more? Himself, as in the Father to the Son and such, or the sinner? What would His holiness demand? The Bible tells us, every single person is sinful and falls short of God’s holiness (Rom 3:23). The Word also tells us our sins have separated us from God, so that, He will not hear us (Isa 59:2). Because of this, all men will die and stand before God in judgment (Heb 9:27). This is all bad news.

MAN FELL INTO SIN AND SIN BROUGHT DEATH

Sin began when God told Adam, while in the Garden of Eden, do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told him if he disobeyed, he would die; and Adam disobeyed. He sinned against God and sin brought death. Death to all mankind. The Bible says, “. . .sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin. . .For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation. . .” [Rom 5:12,16]. Here is what God told Adam:

You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. [Gen 2:16-17].

But man did not die that very day. God showed His mercy; He gave man a covering: He made Adam and Eve clothings of animal skins. Their sins were covered at the cost of blood; it cost the lives of innocent animals to cover their nakedness. The Bible says, “. . .without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” [Heb 9:22]. But the blood of animals is powerless to save sinners.

So, God promised He would send a Redeemer. Until that time, the blood of animals was merely a placeholder; a type and symbol of the blood which would come to redeem mankind. The Redeemer would come to undo death, which was brought about by sin. He would trample Satan’s head (Gen 3:15). Jesus Christ is this Redeemer, who died for mans’ sins and rose from the dead, conquering death and the grave (1Co 15:55-57).

When Adam sinned, he did not die that very day. In fact, Adam lived 930 years (Gen 5:5). Until the Flood, most men lived almost 1000 years. Clearly, Adam lived a long time after he sinned. We could go into a study of the words and the semantics to grasp more clearly what God meant when He said, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” But we won’t in this discussion, suffice to say many of the principalities (demons and such) questioned God’s judgment, when He appeared to be slow or even negligent to bring about the penalty for sin, which is death. “For the wages of sin is death. . .” [Rom 6:23].

But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows Himself holy in righteousness. [Isa 5:16].

GOD MADE A WAY TO SAVE MAN

The Apostle Paul discussed this in Romans chapter three. He wrote God sent a Redeemer, whom He put forth as a propitiation for mans’ sin. Propitiation means to satisfy God’s wrath. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness or His justice. Paul said, God, in His forbearance passed over former sins. This does not mean He ignored sin; this means He delayed the penalty. He delayed the penalty until the time the Redeemer would satisfy His wrath. Christ is this Redeemer and He was crushed for our sin (Isa 53:10). Now that the penalty is paid, God’s righteousness or His justice has been revealed, proving He is Just; satisfying the complaint of the principalities.

When Paul was reasoning with the naysayers and philosophers at Mars Hill, he told them in the times of ignorance, God overlooked mans’ sin. This, again, did not mean God ignored sin, it meant He delayed the penalty until the time of the Redeemer. Then Paul warned them, since the Redeemer has been revealed, God commands all men to repent. Furthermore, God has fixed a day of judgment and He assured us this will happen when he raised the Redeemer, Christ Jesus, from the dead (Act 17:30-31).

So, twice the Scriptures tell us, though it appeared God’s judgment was negligent by not requiring Adam’s life the moment he sinned, God sent a Redeemer to pay the penalty for man’s sin. God’s righteousness was demonstrated; soon His judgment is coming. And Jesus said if you do not believe, you are condemned already (Joh 3:18).

Now, you may say you believe, but the fruit of your life says you are still living to please the world. My friend, believing in Christ is not merely believing what the Bible says is true. It is to receive Christ and follow Him in obedience (Joh 3:36). The Apostle James said the demons believe, that is, they know the facts, and they tremble (Jam 2:19). The problem today with most professing Christians is they say they believe, but they don’t even tremble. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [Rom 3:18].

Let us look at Romans chapter three again. Look at verses 20 through 26. This passage begins by explaining we can do nothing to save ourselves. Paul was speaking to the Jew, who believed they were saved by keeping the Law. Paul wrote the purpose of the Law was to give us the knowledge of sin. In Genesis we learn Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve was seduced by the idea man could be like God, knowing good from evil (Gen 3:5). After man had this knowledge, it seems he has looked for ways to disclaim any knowledge of sin within himself. Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to hide their nakedness; they knew they had sin, so they tried to cover it up.

In the course of time, man became more and more unrepentant in his sin. Even a flood of the entire world, did not change the heart of man. Then God chose to make a nation for Himself. He chose Israel, the offspring of Abraham. He gave them a Law to keep; this Law would contrast them from the nations around them. The Law was a picture of God’s righteousness and this nation, with His Law, would be an example of His holiness to all the people upon the Earth.

But even His people, rather than repent and live in obedience, hardened themselves in their sin. Even when Christ was upon the earth, the professing believers made God in their own image. They added to the Law God had given, so they could have the false confidence they had done their part to be saved. Rather than confess they could not keep this Law, they hid their nakedness by adding rule upon rule and deceiving themselves they kept this Law.

OUR WORKS CANNOT SAVE US

Like the Jews of old, the modern American gospel has made God into an acceptable image. This way, the professing believer can feel confident they have done their part to be saved or even their part in “turning their life around.” They hide their nakedness by boasting in what they have done to earn their salvation: they said the sinner’s prayer; they made a decision for Christ; they accepted Jesus as their Savior and such other man glorifying claims as these. But the writings of Paul reminds them there is nothing they can do to save themselves or even assist God in this endeavor.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a [dirty] garment. [Isa 64:6].

Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved by grace, through faith. Now we are told both this grace and this faith are a gift. We cannot be saved by anything we do, “lest any man should boast.” But the modern American gospel has a lot of people boasting. They say things like, “I accepted Jesus into my heart,” “I said the sinner’s prayer,” “I came forward in a meeting,” “I made Jesus Lord of my life,” “I made a decision for Christ,” “I remember the date” and on and on it goes and none of these things are told us in the Bible. This boasting robs God of His glory and subordinates His sovereignty and His authority to man. The modern American gospel declares we control our lives by what we do; we control our destiny. Our lives are no longer God’s choosing; it is up to us to choose God. In this, we have robbed God and brought Him down to our own level.

Let’s continue looking at what Paul wrote in Romans, chapter three. Before the Redeemer was revealed, God’s righteousness was manifested in the Law. But the Redeemer was foretold in the Law and in the Prophets and God’s righteousness is now manifest in this Redeemer. We can have this righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer (2Co 5:21).

Some may argue they don’t need this, because they think they have done enough to save themselves. But Paul argued “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This means, the Jew who thinks he can keep the Law and the Gentile who thinks he has done more good than bad with his life; they have all sinned and they have failed to be righteous before God.

In fact, if we go back a few more verses in Romans chapter three, to verses 10 through 19, the Bible tells us:

  1. No one is righteous. NO. Not one.
  2. No one understands.
  3. No one seeks after God. Period. Final.

Then Paul listed a whole bunch of sins we are guilty of, making it clear even the best of us are vile and worthless. We have turned aside from God’s Law, we speak evil, we do evil and we do not fear God. The righteous requirements of the Law still stand and the purpose of the Law is to shut our mouths from any claim of goodness in ourselves. Then we come to verse 23, “for ALL have sinned.”

But we can be justified by His grace as a gift (v24). John 1:12 says to those who received Christ, God gave the right to become children of God. God gives the gift and we receive. However, don’t think, like the modern American gospel proclaims, this gift is given to all and it is yours for the taking; as if you have the ability to receive this gift of your own freewill. John 1:13 says this receiving is not of our own freewill, it is of God’s will. Jesus said no one comes to Him unless the Father draws him (Joh 6:44). So, the ability to receive this gift is solely based upon God’s choosing. If you think about it: this makes this justification a gift upon a gift.

Another interesting subject this brings up is, a lot of people and most professing Christians believe all people are children of God. They base this upon the idea we are all created in the image of God or at least by God. But there is no place in Scripture which will support this claim that we are all children of God. We already talked about how God hates the sinner who remains under His wrath and John 1:12 tells us those who receive Christ are given the right to become children of God. Romans chapter eight tells us those who walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, this means they obey Christ, they will be adopted as sons into His kingdom. So, according to Scripture, the only children of God are those who receive Christ and follow Him. Those who are not His children, remain under His wrath (Joh 3:36).

Now this brings us, in Romans chapter three, to a part we already talked about. But let’s skim over it one more time.

God put Christ forward as a propitiation for His wrath. You remember what this means, right? Yes. Jesus took God’s wrath for our sin and Isaiah said it pleased the Father to crush His Son (Isa 53:10). The wrath of God had to be satisfied.

Many professing Christians claim God paid a ransom to Satan. That, somehow Satan was owed when he caused man to sin and God had to ransom man or buy man back from the devil. Sorry. NO. This is blasphemy! God forbid He should offer a sacrifice to Satan and NEVER the sacrifice of His Son. From the time Satan chose to exalt himself above God, he has been destined to Hell. Therefore, God did not crush His Son to satisfy Satan. It was God’s wrath which had to be satisfied and Christ alone could pay the price for our sin to redeem man back to God.

This is something which is hard to fathom. I marvel over this, over and over. Christ is God. He left His home willingly, He left His glory behind and He came to earth to die for man who could not save himself. This is a marvelous thing: God, Himself, saved man from God’s wrath. God demanded a sacrifice, but there was no one whose blood could pay the price. Therefore He sacrificed Himself; He took the blood of His Son to satisfy His wrath. This is something awesome and unsearchable.

Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. [Rev 5:9-10].

Many professing Christians say Christ left His divinity when He became man, but this is a lie; another blasphemy. While He was on earth and even to this day and forever, Christ is both fully God and fully man. And, while Christ was on earth, He did things which only deity could do, such as calm a storm on the sea, know the thoughts of man and a whole host of miracles of healing and feeding.

For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily [Col 2:9].

As we said before, Christ paid the penalty for our sin by allowing the Father to crush Him. And this is why Christ died: to redeem those who are His (Mat 1:21). He did this to show God’s righteousness. He nailed our sins to the cross (Col 2:14) and gave us His righteousness (2Co 5:21). As Romans chapter three declares, no longer could the principalities, nor any other created being, accuse God for lack of or being hypocritical in His justice or righteousness. God demonstrated His righteousness, a standard we cannot meet, by crushing His own Son. By this, He proved Himself to be Just. Plus: He proved Himself to be the Justifier of those who come to Christ in faith. The Justifier.

God does not justify the one who falsely believes he can do good works to save himself, nor the one who thinks he can save himself by making a decision for Christ or any such thing he may believe he can do to help himself. God alone is righteous and He justifies those who receive His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ alone. By faith alone.

Who are those who will receive His Son? The Apostle Paul wrote those who believe and are saved were chosen in Christ Jesus before the creation of the world and they were chosen for God’s purposes (Eph 1:4-11). John 1:12-13 says those who received Christ, did not come to Him by their own freewill but by the will of God. Furthermore, Jesus assured us all those chosen in Him will come to Him (Joh 6:37). Lest you think Ephesians 1:4 was describing a foreknowing by God, Jesus said we cannot come to Him unless the Father draw us (Joh 6:44) and, furthermore, we can only come to Christ if the Father authorizes us (Joh 6:65). There is no one who seeks after God (Rom 3:11), unless he is drawn by the Father. As for freewill, those who are slaves to sin, cannot choose righteousness.

For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. [Rom 8:7-8].

Jesus said we must be born again (Joh 3:3) and this is the work of God (Joh 3:7-8). Just as you were not able to determine anything about your birth, where you would be born, into which family, being born male or female, your looks and abilities, so too, you made no decision to be born again. God did this for you. The flesh, that is, your effort to get saved is no help at all (Joh 6:63); lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9).

By now you are thinking, “If salvation is fully the work of God and there is nothing I can do to be saved, then why worry about this?” We obey because we have a duty to God (Ecc 12:13). And God, “commands all people everywhere to repent.” [Act 17:30]. There is a judgment coming upon those who refuse to repent.

There is a tension in Scripture between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. In the Bible, we find commands to do something, even though we are powerless to accomplish this task ourselves. For example, Christians are told to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, but, in the next verse, we are told it is God working in us, both the desire to do the work and the ability to do it (Php 2:12-13). God is sovereign, but we are responsible for our actions and how we choose to live our lives.

You need to receive Christ and not resist. God requires, but man is responsible. On the one hand, God says, “My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all My purpose.” [Isa 46:10]. And Scripture says man makes his plans, but God directs his steps (Pro 16:9). But on the other hand, He says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” [Rom 10:13]. Will you be saved? Will you escape condemnation? Jesus Christ said if you do not believe, you are condemned already (Joh 3:18).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly good news. The news is Christ died for our sins while we were unable to help ourselves (Rom 5:6). If we receive Christ, this is the work of God and we are saved (Joh 1:12-13).

HOW WE CAN KNOW WE ARE SAVED

As for works: Those who are truly saved will abide in Christ; we will be in the Word, and Christ will produce His works in our lives (Joh 15:1-6). Even this is of God. He regenerates us so we will receive, we will desire and we will abide in Christ. Salvation is fully of God alone, by His grace, lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9).

. . .This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent. [6:29].

So get out of your recovery groups. Jesus said you must be born again (Joh 3:3). To be born again is to be made new; to be born again is abandon your sin, to desire it no more. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away.” [2Co 5:17]. Some will argue that many people have prior addictions, which chain them and they need help overcoming. Jesus said to be in His Word and He will produce the fruit in your life (Joh 15:5). If you need more help, be more in the Word. To remain in recovery groups is to remain a slave to sin.

Do not add to the Word of God. Jesus is sufficient. If we think we need to make a decision, say the sinner’s prayer or in any way “do our part” to receive salvation, we are robbing God of His glory and we are adding to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we claim we need recovery groups to work our way out of sin, we are adding to the Word of God. The Scriptures strictly forbid us from adding anything to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. [Deu 12:32].

Remember, we talked about God’s love for Himself. The Apostle Paul wrote Christ became a servant, obeying the Father, and He suffered death on the cross. Then the apostle wrote, “THEREFORE” God has exalted the Son and gave Him a name above every name, so that, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow. This means everyone, the repentant and the rebellious. Every knee will bow and every tongue will call Him “Lord.” This glory to the Son, will glorify the Father (Php 2:8-11). See here why God is jealous for His own glory. See here why God is angered by those who take glory for their salvation. See here why God is angered and His wrath REMAINS upon those who reject His Son, the object of His love. See here God’s holiness. See here the love of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father. See here the love of God for Himself.

Many professing Christians seek an easy faith. They want to add God to their lives as one of their successful strategies. They do not seek Christ; they only seek themselves. When trouble comes, they may attest to faith in Christ, but when trouble persists, they leave the faith. As the Apostle John wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. . .” [1Jo 2:19]. So beware of all man-centered religion. Seek a God-centered religion.

Many professing Christians want to please the world. They want the Gospel to be acceptable or relevant to the world. Jesus told us the world hates Him and, if we stand firm in our faith, it will hate us, too (Joh 15:18-19). This is why many preach God’s love and promise God has a wonderful plan for their life, rather than preach His judgment and the need to repent. If the world loves the gospel you preach, know this: you are not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Beware Christ’s warning: if you care more for the glory of man than the glory of God, you cannot be saved (Joh 5:44).

God said, “Be holy, for I AM holy.” [1Pe 1:16]. The sign of those who are saved is obedience; to be disobedient is unbelief.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. [Joh 3:36].

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. [Heb 3:18-19].

By this we know we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. [1Jo 2:3-6].

The sign of those who are saved is they leave their lifestyle of sin. They desire God and seek fellowship with Him. Many people profess to know Christ but they refuse to honor Him as their King, their Lord and their Master; they may give lip service but their hearts are far from Him (Luk 6:46). For they cling to their sin, which is rebellion to God (Heb 6:1-8; 1Jo 2:19).

. . .God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1Jo 1:5-9].

If you are truly saved, you will seek sound doctrine and seek to fellowship with those who seek sound doctrine. Many professing Christians merely accept the doctrines they hear from the pulpit, but they are not in the Word, examining the Bible for truth (Act 17:11). Jesus said we will only know the truth if we are in His Word and His Word is in us (Joh 8:31-32).

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. [1Ti 4:16].

Many professing Christians declare their pastor “preaches the Word” only because he may have a verse or two in his sermon. While he is merely preaching morality, positive motivation and psychology, using a verse or two to back up his points. This is pro-forma for most evangelical preachers. This is the modern American gospel. This is the itching ears the Apostle Paul warned about.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. [2Ti 4:3].

If you have received Christ. Get into the Word; stay in the Word and examine your life through the Word. This is your responsibility.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. . . [2Co 13:5].

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. [Col 2:6-9].

As you see the fruit of Christ develop in your life, know this is the work of God in you. If you produce no fruit, know this: that you are not saved. For this there is one remedy: repent and follow Christ.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. [Joh 15:4-6].

. . .For You have done for us all our works. [Isa 26:12].

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