Revealing the SIMPLICITY that’s in Christ

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"Knowing the true gospel — part 2"



Notice what Jesus prayed in John 17:17 — “Sanctify them (by implication, this is you and I) by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Basically, the word SANCTIFY means “to set apart”. And we know that you and I are set apart to be His! And according to Jesus here, what has God sanctified us by? His truth. Then Jesus tells us exactly what God’s truth is that we’re sanctified by — His word. So God’s truth is His word and His word is His truth (According to Jesus, these 2 terms — God’s truth and His word — are synonymous with each other. Do you see that?) So the question is, what is God’s word? Usually it is taught to see God’s word as the Bible, but this is not completely accurate. 


God’s word and His truth are Jesus Christ and specifically, the Redemptive work that He’s done for us and has wrought inside us! 


So let me give you some amazing facts about the word “truth” as it’s used in the New Testament. John in his 3 letters, used the words “true” and “truth” 21 times. Paul used those same 2 words 61 times in his 14 letters (assuming that he wrote Hebrews). What about James and Peter? They both used them 8 times in their 3 letters. If you add all the usage altogether, those 2 words — “true” and “truth” — are used 85 times in the New Testament. The bottom line to this — 


GOD WANTS YOU, AS HIS CHILD, TO KNOW AND BELIEVE THE TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! 


I put that sentence in capital letters to emphasize God’s infinite desire for you in knowing His truth revealed in Christ. Going back to Jesus’ prayer in John 17 of the reality that He was about to create through His Redemptive work, look at how He started this prayer in v.3 — “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The eternal life that’s on the inside of you is about you knowing the truth! This is why Jesus said in our familiar verse — “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” One doesn’t make himself free (If one does, the freedom is only momentary, like in “New Year’s Resolutions”). Jesus said that knowing the truth, causes it to make you free! So our answer in experiencing real freedom is by knowing the truth — which is Redemptive truth.



knowing “the gospel truth”


We have a idiom that people use when they’re emphasizing a true statement or fact. They say, “I’m telling you the gospel truth”. This is what I am talking about here — knowing the gospel truth! I believe that I established for you last time, that the truth is in the gospel that Paul preached. His gospel — Paul’s gospel — should be the standard for everything else in the Church. 


Paul’s gospel is the good news of God’s unconditional love for mankind, that’s perfectly seen in Christ Jesus — PERIOD! His gospel is the gospel of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. 


His gospel is all about Redemptive truth, see Eph 4:20-21. In this lesson this week, I want to show you how adamant Paul was about believers knowing the truth of the gospel that he preached. I’ll show you 4 different portion of scriptures from him about this. 


First of all, look at what he said in Gal 1:6-9 — “(6) I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, (7) which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Look at the words of v.6, “I MARVEL”. To say this in modern terms — “I’m speechless!” If one is speechless, he’s at a loss of words because he’s so surprised over what has happened. Paul was speechless that they were quickly turned away from the gospel of grace, to a different gospel!


Second of all, look at what he said in 2 Cor 11:3-4 — “(3) But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (4) For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” To use the word FEAR, as he did in v.1, is showing us how concerned and passionate he was about these believers holding fast to the true gospel — the one that he preached to them — and not give their ear to the preaching of another kind of Jesus, or to receive a different kind of a spirit (a “loveless” spirit), or accept a different kind of gospel.


Third of all, look at what he said in 2 Thess 2:1-3 — “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, (2) not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (3) Let no one deceive you by any means”. Now Paul is referring to the coming of the Lord, but what he said here not only applies to that part of his gospel, but to every other aspect of it. His encouragement here is not for them to be shaken in their mind or troubled, either by spirit (what may be “felt” as true), by word (what they may hear preached), or by letter (what may be written about, like a “Facebook” post). He said, “Let no one deceive you BY ANY MEANS”


Fourth of all, look at what he said in 1 Tim 1:3-7 — “(3) As I urged you (Timothy)... remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (4) nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. (5) Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, (6) from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, (7) desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” A bunch can be said here about Paul’s adamancy of believers knowing, believing and standing in the true gospel that he preached, but I want to draw your attention to his words, “that they teach no other doctrine”, than the doctrine that he taught; “give heed to fables and endless genealogies”; “having turned aside to idle talk” (the KJV says “vain jangling”, like the sound you get by shaking your keys); “desiring to be teachers of the law”. When you see these descriptions, you can start to understand why there are so many denominations in the Body of Christ.



Redemptive truth seen in Paul’s gospel


There are other portion of scripture that Paul said about his adamacy in believers knowing the true gospel, but I believe these 4 give you a clear idea about Paul’s passion for us in knowing the true gospel. Before we go on, I want us to look again at Eph 4:14-15 — “(14) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (15) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”. Focus again on the remedy to immature children that’s seen in v.15, “speaking the truth in love, may grow up…” It’s the truth that has been revealed by God’s unconditional love for you, that causes you to grow up and mature in Christ! 


I can hear someone ask me now, “So it’s Paul’s gospel that we’re to know, believe and grow up in. So how do I know exactly what he preached?” That’s a great question, so let me answer that for you. Look at what Paul said in 1 Cor 15:1-2 — “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, (2) by which also you are saved (delivered), if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” Notice the action words of these verses, “received, stand, delivered, hold fast”! So I want to give you 5 foundational points to the gospel that Paul preached, that every believer should know, believe and grow up in. There are many ramifications to each aspect of the true gospel, but I just want to know what these foundational truths of the gospel are according to Paul and realize that there’s no other foundation to build upon, see 1 Cor 3:11.


Redemptive truth 1# Jesus’ death. He went on in v.3 and said — “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”


The true gospel declares that Jesus Christ became the lamb of God that took away the sin of the world! Through His perfect sacrifice, He perfectly and completely dealt with the sin issue! 


Just like the first Adam in Genesis, Jesus was our last Adam. And as the first Adam was subjected to death by his sin, our last Adam was subjected to death by taking on our sin.


Redemptive truth 2# Jesus’ burial. He went on and said in v.4 — “and that He was buried”. You don’t bury a live person, you bury a dead person. This is important to know, because some have thought that Jesus really didn’t die on the cross, but just went straight to heaven for 3 days and nights. But the reality of the true gospel that Paul preached, is that He did die — with our sin! This is why Paul mentioned in Eph 4:9 — “Now this, ‘He ascended’—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?” The words, “that He first descended into the lowest parts of the earth”, is the significance of Jesus’ burial.


Redemptive truth 3# Jesus’ Resurrection. Paul went on and said in v.4 — “and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”. And then as proof to this reality, he mentions in the next few verses of the people that He appeared to after being raised from the dead. So what does His Resurrection mean? It means that He’s the firstborn from the dead! Just as our first Adam was born again — from life to death — after he transgressed against God, our last Adam, Jesus Christ, was born-again — from death to life. And because He committed no sin, but became our sin and took on our death, after 3 days and nights, He was raised from the dead by the power of God! This reality — “the firstborn from the dead” — open the access for the secondborn, the thirdborn, etc, etc, (that’s you and me!) Paul said that Jesus is the second Man of an entirely new generation, see 1 Cor 15:49!


Redemptive truth 4# our identification with Him. According to Paul through his letters in the New Testament, this reality of our identification with Christ in what He did is as much part of the gospel as the other aspects. 


Jesus did what He did in His death, burial and resurrection, not for His sake, but for our sake! 


Most of us know that Paul’s concentrated teaching of this reality is in Romans 6 with the words, “with Him”. So what you read in the New Testament regarding the Redemptive work of Christ, you’re to know that, in reality, you were with Him every step of the way! Look at what he said in Rom 6:11-12 — “(11) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” The THEREFORE that starts v.12 is “there” “for” a reason. Because reigning over sin, instead of it reigning over you, is a matter of knowing this aspect of the gospel (Also look at how Peter brings this reality out to us in 2 Pet 1:3-4)! This aspect of the true gospel makes Jesus’ Redemptive work a personal, living reality in our lives!


Redemptive truth 5# Jesus’ return. This aspect of the gospel is Paul’s narrative thrust in 1 Cor 15. Look at what he said in v.54 — “So when this corruptible (body) has put on incorruption, and this mortal (body) has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” I think that it’s interesting the 2 descriptions that Paul gives of our “now” human body to our “then” spiritual body: 


Our now present “corruptible” body — in other words, that which can break down and wear out over time — AND our now present “mortal” body — in other words, that which is subject to decay and death.


COMPARED TO


Our then spiritual “incorruptible” body — in other words, that which cannot be broken down or worn out over time — AND our then spiritual “immortal” body — in other words, that which is not subject to death! 


Here’s what Paul says will take place — that which is outside will be swallowed up by that which is inside! See the spiritual body that you will one day wear on the outside, you’re already wearing on the inside — your reborn and recreated spirit is already wearing that kind of life! This is what Paul meant in Phil 2:20-21 — “(20) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” What a glorious hope that the true gospel that Paul preached gives! It just gets better and better, sweeter and sweeter!

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