The Gospel of Jesus Christ
What is the True Gospel of Jesus Christ?
There are many different "gospels" being preached in the churches today. Some believe that the gospel means once you are in a saved position, you cannot be lost (once saved always saved). Some believe that all you need to do is literally "believe" in Christ Jesus and you will be saved. Some believe that the gospel enables us to forget about God's law and just enjoy life, thinking that God's grace covers our continued wilful sins. And there are some who believe there are many ways to heaven. But what is the TRUE gospel?
As one of the signs of the times, Christ said that ... "THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14). What is "THIS gospel" that Jesus is referring to? He is not referring to any old gospel like those listed above. He is talking about the TRUE gospel. The true gospel is to go to the world before the end can come. So what is the true gospel?
The apostle Peter gives us a GREAT lesson on what the gospel means and how it should change our lives in 2 Peter chapter 1. Let's take a look at the Bible verses in question ...
2 Peter 1:1-11 ...'Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'
So Peter is talking to those of us who have obtained the precious faith through the righteousness of Christ and entrance into the everlasting kingdom of God. This is the good news right? The gospel message. Now all professing Christians are happy to hold onto these words. But it is what Peter says in between that many of us tend to ignore, and yet these words are of great importance, because they show whether you have TRUE faith or not. So let's look at what Peter says.
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." ... Many, if not the majority of professing Christians today believe that we cannot be perfect and live sinless lives. Peter disagrees. He says that God will give us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and GODLINESS. What does all things mean? ALL THINGS! Which means God will give us power to overcome our sinful ways, so that we can develop perfect characters in Christ Jesus. And what did Paul say about this? ... Hebrews 6:1 ...'Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto PERFECTION; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.' ... Leave the old ways and go on to perfection!
Now some will say, "Oh but we are sinful flesh and all have fallen short of the glory of God. All our works are as filthy rags, there is no one perfect." ... Correct. Even if we lived a perfect life FROM NOW ON, we would still need the righteousness of Christ because we have ALL sinned. It is ONLY through Christ's righteousness that we can come before God and not be destroyed. But does that stop us from going on to live perfect lives in Christ? Of course not. And it IS possible because certain people in the past have lived perfect lives ...
ENOCH? ... Genesis 5:24 ...'And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.'
JOB? ... Job 1:1 ...'There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.'
DANIEL? ... Daniel 6:4 ...' Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.'
And take a look at these verses from Peter ... 2 Peter 2:12-14 ...'But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children.' ... Does this sound like we will just carry on living in sin once we have come to Jesus? Do these verses support the belief that we will continue to sin? Not a chance!
Show me one verse in the Bible where it says that once we have come to Christ, we will continue living in sin? Paul said himself ... "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2) ... So the Bible is very clear on the sin issue. All who are in Christ Jesus should be turning away from ALL sin. And what is the consequence of professing faith in Jesus but not turning away from sin? ...
2 Peter 2:20-21 ...'For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.'
Is it possible to develop perfect characters? Yes, but only through the power of Christ in us. If we say we cannot ever be perfect in this life, then we are denying the power of God ... 2 Timothy 3:2,5 ...'For men shall be lovers of their own selves ... Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.'
And what else does Peter say about this? ... "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." ... Is the Divine nature of God perfect? Of course it is. And Peter is confirming that we can be PARTAKERS of it. So we can be perfect too! So hold on to this promise. And anyone who calls you a Pharisee for striving to be perfect in Christ, know that they only have a form of Godliness and are denying the POWER of God.
What else does Peter say? Does he suggest that we should make any effort in striving to be perfect, being holy and doing good works? Yes! ... "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." ... What does "giving all diligence" mean? Does it mean we should make every effort to do these things? Yes. And if you look at the original Greek for diligence, it means to "make haste", to "strive" with "earnestness". Do you see the importance of this? This is an urgent message, and it is so important that Peter in verse 12 says ..."Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things." ... So Peter wants God's people to ALWAYS REMEMBER these things, because they are integral to our faith, and CANNOT be apart from our faith.
We need to keep adding to our faith day by day, moving forward in the love of Christ Jesus. We need to be growing in character, putting on the perfect character of Christ Jesus. And that is the key! We need to PUT ON THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST. Is Christ's character perfect? Yes. So if we PUT ON CHRIST then we should be moving forward to perfect characters.
Galatians 3:27 ...'For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.'
Romans 13:14 ...'But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.'
So, are you giving all diligence to do these things? Are you striving to be holy in Christ Jesus? Have you put on Christ and are a changed person, living according to God's holy law and doing good works for the kingdom of God? Peter warns those who do not have these things ... "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." ... Is someone who is spiritually blind, saved? No. Those who are saved were "ONCE BLIND, but now they see."
Take a look at what Peter says next ... "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." ... Now there are some professing Christians who seem to think that their calling and election is sure WITHOUT making any effort or giving diligence. They believe that it is their simple "belief" in Christ alone that makes their election sure. Well, as James 2:19 confirms, even the devils believe and tremble at the name of Jesus. But are they saved? No. And this verse also confirms, along with many others, that the once saved always saved teaching is false. What did Peter say? That if we DO the things he has said, then we shall not "FALL". Fall from what? Fall from the grace of God. It IS possible to fall from a saved position and be lost, which is why this message is so important.
How dare any one of us claim that we are under the grace of Christ Jesus and happily continue living worldly lives, watching sinful television programs and movies, going out partying and drinking, playing sinful computer games, spending God's money on our own pleasures, dressing to cause men or women to lust after us, telling lies, gossiping, etc, etc. Jesus Christ, the Creator of this world, DIED for our past sins. Do not think for one moment that our future WILFULL sins are covered by His precious blood, without TRUE repentance in turning away from them. Jesus confirmed that if you break one commandment, you break them all. Therefore, even ONE cherished sin that you are not willing to give up will send you to the lake of fire and you will be eternally lost. Please remember what Jesus gave up for you.
Do you see what Peter is saying above? What is the TRUE gospel? The true gospel is that Christ Jesus died to save you FROM your sins, to give you an "entrance" into the kingdom of God. He didn't die to save you IN your sins. An entrance into God's heavenly kingdom has been opened to each and every one of us. But you have got to WALK THROUGH that entrance. Jesus isn't going to drag you in there. And the only way you can walk through that entrance is through the righteousness of Christ, which to all who are WILLING and OBEDIENT, will transform you into a "new creature" who will live no longer in the former sins you lived in.
None can enter heaven by their own works. But if you are willing and make every effort in turning from your sins, and walk with Christ, then He WILL, through the power of His Holy Spirit, change you and transform your life into one of holiness. Are you willing to surrender ALL for Jesus? Do you love Him enough to give Him your ALL? Please heed the call, as time is running out!
For more on the true gospel of Christ and the FULL plan of salvation, see THIS LINK.