Accepting Or Fighting The Gospel

The Gospel is a life-altering force. Seriously. It is.

In our day the Gospel has become a cute story we believe about this thing this guy did 2,000 years ago.

But the Bible speaks of the Gospel as something you enter into by faith. You are identified with Christ, placed in His Body. His body which was born to suffer and be broken.

As a believer in the Gospel, identified with Christ by faith, don’t be surprised if you suffer and are broken. That’s what He did; if you follow Him, that’s what you’ll do.

Your flesh will hate every minute of following Christ. Your flesh will fight against this. The world will mock you and fight against you. Satan will throw things in your way to defeat you.

Fight the fight of faith.

Faith is a fight.

War a good warfare.

People would rather have a happy Gospel with happiness upon happiness followed by an eternity of happiness.

You can find that Gospel out there, but it’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When it comes to the Gospel, either way you’ll be fighting something.

You can either accept the Gospel and fight against yourself

or

You can accept yourself and fight against the Gospel.

The lengths people go to in defending their sin and staying away from the Gospel is ridiculous.

You’ll be fighting either way. Just give up the fight against God’s Word. Stop chasing false gospels. Stop twisting Scripture to make you feel better about your sin.

Just give up. Humbly come to the Gospel and receive grace that will strengthen you to fight the real battle.

Christ died to free you from you. Be freed and enter the fight. The victory is assured and the spoils are eternal.

Fight the fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life.

If We Believe Not, Yet He Abides Faithful

These words are found in 2 Timothy 2:13.

I have heard many interpret this verse to cancel out the previous two verses. The interpretation goes like this:

Even if we lose faith, Jesus Christ won’t get rid of us. I can deny Him or not suffer with Him and that’s ok, because Christ can’t deny Himself.

I find this interpretation to be off the mark by quite a bit.

Verse 13 does not cancel out the warnings of the previous two verses. On the contrary, verse 13 is what gives those verses their bite.

Verse 13 is saying that Jesus Christ is faithful, which means He always does what He says. “He cannot deny himself” is the conclusion of the statement.

Jesus Christ cannot go against who He is or what He has said. He can’t deny what He truly is.

People lose faith all the time. People break their promises every day. Jesus Christ never does that, because He can’t deny himself.

To take this to mean that you can lose faith and Jesus will still save you is weird. He said He can’t deny HIMSELF; it doesn’t say He can’t deny you!

In fact, look at the previous verse! He just said He could deny you!

There are many warning passages in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 is just one.

There are many who do not heed these warnings because they sloppily interpret scripture to cancel out any need for a warning.

To use a warning passage to prove you don’t need a warning passage is the height of obstinance.

Read the words on the page. There’s a reason God put them there. God always does what He says, He’s not unfaithful like people are.

Read the words and then adjust your life accordingly. You’ve been warned. Get ready.

If We Deny Him, He Also Will Deny Us

These words are found in 2 Timothy 2:12, right after “if we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him.”

Suffering is no fun.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus describes seed that falls on stony ground. A little green shoot pops up, but when the sun rises to its peak, the little shoot gets scorched, withers, and dies.

This seed represents people who believe for a short time until it gets hard, a little suffering comes their way, and they quit.

Suffering has a way of weeding out the pretenders. A little persecution will show who truly believes and who is playing a game.

When you are healthy and wealthy, faith is pretty easy. But when things get tough and life falls apart, what will you do then?

For the believer, suffering increases faith and leads to spiritual growth. For the unbeliever, suffering drives them further from God, they may even blame God and resent Him.

Peter said many confident things in company with like-minded people, but when Jesus was arrested and things turned bad, Peter denied Christ.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:33, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Jesus Christ was/is consistent on this issue. Paul reiterates what Christ said by saying it again in 2 Timothy.

So, what happened with Peter? Has Christ denied him?

Well, Peter repented and came back. The rest of Peter’s life shows that he did not completely disown Christ. He came back. God is always willing to forgive.

But if you deny Christ and never come back, Christ will deny you too. Stern words, but I see no aspect of Christ’s character that makes Him say things that aren’t true.

Jesus Christ always does what He says, which is Paul’s final point in this section of 2 Timothy 2.

If We Suffer, We Shall Also Reign With Him

These words are found in 2 Timothy 2:12.

Suffering is part of the deal in following Christ.

By faith we identify ourselves with Christ. Not just with Christ’s resurrection, but with His death. And not just with His death, but also with His suffering.

What Christ did, by faith, you will do too because you are following Him.

Our suffering and death are not atoning for our sins, nor are they saving us or anyone else. They are what happens when you follow the Suffering Servant!

There is a notion within Christianity that Christ did all the bad stuff, so we get all the good stuff: health and wealth, best life now, wonderful plan for your life, etc..

This notion is not from the Bible.

The Bible repeatedly says that since Christ suffered, don’t be surprised when you do. It’s part of the deal.

It’s so much part of the deal that if you don’t suffer, you can safely conclude you are not following Christ.

Paul says in Romans 8 that the witness of God’s Spirit with our spirit that we are children of God is that we suffer. If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with Him (8:17).

Paul is saying the same truth here in 2 Timothy.

Paul told the Thessalonian church that their patience and endurance through suffering for Christ was a manifest token of their salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

If you suffer for Christ you will have the assurance of salvation.

People doubt their salvation all over the place today. I believe this is because we rarely instruct people to follow Christ and get suffering.

We live in a happy, luxurious, comfortable age. No one is suffering for Christ, therefore, no one has the assurance of salvation.

Many who do feel assured of their salvation are merely pumping themselves with happy thoughts. They can’t prove their salvation in any tangible way other than, “Well, I’m saved because I think I’m saved.”

Suffering is proof of salvation. Suffering is proof that you are following the Suffering Servant.

Not just bad things happen to you suffering either. Bad things happen to everyone. He’s talking about suffering for Christ. About suffering the loss of all things to gain Christ as Paul did (Philippians 3:8).

People don’t like this message. We don’t like dying with Christ and we don’t like suffering with Christ. So, Paul has to address denying Christ next, because that’s what people do when they run into stuff they don’t want to do for Christ.

If We Be Dead With Him, We Shall Also Live With Him

These words are found in 2 Timothy 2:11.

The Gospel is not just a cute story you believe about what some guy did 2,000 years ago that allows you to go to heaven when you die.

The Gospel is about dying with Jesus Christ. By faith we see ourselves crucified with Christ. Dead to sin. Dead to the law. Dead to the world. Dead to the affections and lusts of the flesh.

In other words: dead.

This is not some kind of philosophical mind-game dead either; He’s talking about real consequences right now.

Dead people don’t care about stuff on the earth anymore. My dead father does not care if I take stuff from his office. He’s dead. He doesn’t care.

Dead people do not get entangled with the affairs of this life. Dead people have nothing to fight over. Dead people don’t demand their rights. Dead people are, in short, dead.

When’s the last time you fought with a dead person? When’s the last time a dead person took advantage of you?

Being dead is pretty easy when you’re dead.

But this is the true sticking point of Gospel living: Although we are dead, our flesh bodies are still breathing. We have to reckon ourselves to be dead. Reckon means to consider it to be so.

We’re dead; live like it.

I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, it is Christ who lives in me.

When Christ died, He resurrected. If we are dead with Christ, we are also raised up with Him to newness of life.

This new life we live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the son of God who gave Himself for you. The new life we live is one that follows Christ.

New life in Christ doesn’t start when you enter heaven; new life in Christ starts when you’re saved.

We present our bodies as living sacrifices. We deny ourselves and take up the cross. It’s not about me anymore; it’s about Christ in me.

This aint easy, but it is what the Gospel is. Your flesh will hate it, but your flesh doesn’t have a clue!

Die with Christ to truly live.

What Does “A Means of Grace” Mean?

We are often told that there is nothing we can do to get God’s grace. If there were something to do to get grace, it would no longer be grace. It would be a wage given for services rendered.

Many of the same people who emphasize this point (often under “sola gratia“), at the same time, hold to a belief in there being “means of grace.”

A “means to an end” refers to stuff you do to bring about a result. A “means of grace” is using the word “means” in the same way. “Means of Grace” means: stuff you do to get God’s grace, (which view, ironically enough, is typically held by people who don’t think there’s anything you can do to get grace).

For the majority of the Protestant church, the means of grace are prayer, the preaching of the word, and the sacraments (typically limited to Communion and baptism).

By doing such things, people will receive God’s grace to build up their faith.

If you pray; God will grace you with faith-building stuff. If you receive the preaching of the Word; God gives grace. If you eat and drink the church’s stuff and get wet in church; grace will be given to you.

If you don’t do these things, presumably, you will not be given God’s grace.

I actually agree that there are things you do to get grace. I believe this because the Bible says this. However, the biblical means of grace are different from the standard view.

God gives grace to the humble: you must be humble to get God’s grace. Humility is a means of grace.

We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is a means of grace.

Note how believing and being humble go together, and also note how neither thing requires you to be at church!

The real issue behind the means of grace is that a church hierarchy is telling people they need to come to church in order to get God’s grace. You need our leaders and our rituals to get grace.

It’s a classic way of guilting people into church attendance. That’s what’s behind the means of grace.

Faith and humility are all you need to receive grace. They are the only biblically sanctioned means of grace there are.  You don’t need to be in church to do either of them.

You can do them right now, in fact. Give them a try. They work wonders. Grace is cool. It would be cool to get more! Go ahead and get more; aint nothin stoppin ya.

Appointed to Obtain Salvation

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ
–1 Thessalonians 5:9

Speaking verses we ignore because they freak people out. . .

This verse is troubling for several doctrines.

First, we deal with the word “appointed.” This word means, “to set, place, or put as a passive object.” If I set a book on the table, I am the active agent and the book is passive. The book gets put there by me. It can’t put itself there.

God has not put us in a place where we passively must accept wrath. This undermines the Calvinist idea that some are created by God specifically for the purpose of suffering His wrath in hell.

Second, we deal with the word “obtain.” In the context we are obtaining salvation. To obtain means, “redemption which will give possession. Acquire, purchase, win.”

Ellicott’s commentaty says this about obtaining salvation, “Means more than “obtain;” the Greek means “acquire” by one’s own efforts;” earn and make our own.”

Flipped out yet? Theologically triggered?

God has not put us in a passive position to have to take His wrath. Rather, He placed us as human beings, people who had no say in being born, as passive objects, in this world, a place where we don’t have to get God’s wrath; we can obtain, purchase, or get salvation.

He placed us in a place where we can do something to escape wrath and be saved.

This is where the church has overblown grace. We’ve been told that if there’s something you do to get, purchase, or obtain salvation that this is contrary to grace.

But it’s not. We can meet a condition that obtains salvation. We don’t earn it by works, or by works of the law, or by being impressive to God enough so He saves us. We obtain it through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ opened a way of salvation through His Gospel, which we can use to obtain salvation. God gives grace to the humble. Being humble is not a work; being humble is the condition to receive grace. You are capable of being humble. Do so and you’ll obtain grace.

There are two ways people could be saved:

  1. completely God’s work, or
  2. we have something to do with it

Calvinism says it’s all God. If it’s all God then we are passive objects being moved by God alone. But Paul says God has not placed us as passive objects to obtain wrath, but placed us in a place where there’s something we can do to obtain salvation.

Therefore, there sure seems to be something I can do to be saved. A response we are capable of making. We respond by faith to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not as a passive object, but as an active object that can acquire salvation.

Much of our Christian doctrine is an oversimplification based on a handful of verses rather than what the Bible says in whole.

I’ll let you hash out the implications of this verse and you can figure out what you want to do with it and why I’m an idiot for interpreting it the way I did.

That’s fine. The verse remains. Do something with it.