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Didaktikon
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Date Posted:22/08/2012 11:25 PMCopy HTML

Good morning, all.

Back in 2002 I wrote a small essay for 'Please Consider' (www.pleaseconsider.info) titled 'The Gospel: Defining the Good News'. I began that essay with a personal reflection about how poorly understood the nature, extent and content of the Christian 'Good News' was, not least of all by Revivalists. In that essay I pointed out that many people had confused the effects or out workings with the message itself, and in doing so had embraced a works-based form of (self) righteousness. In the place of grace they had substituted legalism. Instead of freedom, they had bondage.

In the intervening decade hundreds of people from Revivalist backgrounds have come to embrace the freedom the Christian Gospel affords, thanks be to God. However, given the discussions taking place in the ChatBox of late, I thought it apropos to re-present in simple form, a brief summary of the most pertinent points about the Christian Gospel for a new audience.

So to Scripture we must turn.

Around AD 57 the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the churches of Rome. In the very first chapter he expressed, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ... ' (Romans 1:16). Paul spelled out that the content of this critical message had the power to redeem humanity back to God; to restore us into a right relationship with him. Approximately ten years earlier he had cause to rebuke certain members of the church of Galatia for substituting the biblical Gospel with a human one: 'I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospelnot that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ' (Galatians 1:6, 7). Clearly it's possible to confuse the latter with the former, and clearly nothing much has changed in almost two thousand years.

So what comprises this all important message? And how can we be sure that we've understood it correctly? The answer to both questions can readily be found in Paul's letters.

'Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve' (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). Earlier in the same letter Paul had stated, 'And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified' (2:1-2).

In our passage the apostle Paul affirmed that it was trust in the message which he preachedthe gospelthat assured the believers of Corinth that they were being saved. He appealed to the received tradition of the Christian faith in order to describe the content of this all-important message (the Greek παρέδωκα translated, 'I received', is a form of the verb regularly used throughout the New Testament to denote the oral teaching or tradition that stood at the centre of the Christian belief system). To Paul this tradition was 'most important'. So, what was it? From his pen we read that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was borne out in the Jewish Scriptures, and that the apostles were the principle eyewitnesses to the event. This brief message summarises the content of the Christian 'Good News': the Crucified Messiah is the promised and prophesied Saviour; he is the Eternal One who would redeem and restore fallen humanity to a Holy God.

We can establish that the same message underpinned the evangelistic efforts of this apostle.

Acts 16 recounts the missionary work of Paul and Silas in Philippi. There we read of a young slave girl oppressed by a spirit who was capable of predicting the future. To Paul's chagrin she followed them about announcing, 'These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God' (Acts 16:17). Paul wasn't seeking the testimony of demons, so finally in exasperation, he cast the spirit out. This first miraculous event eventually led to him and Silas being beaten and cast into prison, whereupon they prayed to and praised God, 'and the prisoners were listening to them' (v. 25b). As we know a second miraculous event secured their freedom, which then caused the Gaoler to ask, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' (v. 30b). The oppressed girl had earlier made it known to all and sundry that Paul and Silas were slaves of the Most High God: rendered θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου (Theou tou hypsistou) in Greek; and אֵ֣ל עֶלְי֔וֹן (ʾĒl ʿElyōn) in Hebrew (see, for example, Genesis 14:18, 19 ). When asked what was necessary to be saved, Paul and Silas responded, 'believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household' (v. 31). The expression, 'Lord Jesus' is telling. The Greek noun for 'Lord', or κύριος (kurios), consistently translated the Hebrew יהוה (Yahweh, which was the personal name of God) in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. And it was the Greek Old Testament that functioned as the Bible for Paul's churches. In effect, these 'slaves of
ʾĒl ʿElyōn' were identifying Jesus of Nazareth with the God of Israel! Their message was one of faith: that through believing that Jesus is the God whom Jewish Scripture presents, redemption and restoration is made possible.

The biblical references can be multiplied. In short, however, the Christian Gospel isn't a message about what you or I must do in order to earn God's favour. Consequently, it isn't the '1-2-3' legalism of Revivalism; it isn't the 'different gospel' of Paul's rebuke, such as the so-called 'salvation-message' of Lloyd Longfield. To the contrary, the Christian 'Good News' is all about what God has graciously done in Christ to restore the breach in relationship caused by humanity in sin. The 'sign' of salvation is a crucified Messiah. The 'proof' of salvation is a life changed by a restored relationship.

I'd like to conclude with the words of the Old Roman (i.e. Latin) Creed:

        Credo in deum patrem omnipotentem; et in Christum Iesum filium eius unicum, dominum nostrum,
        qui natus est de Spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine, qui sub Pontio Pilato crucifixus est et sepultus,
        tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit in caelos, sedet ad dexteram patris, unde venturus est iudicare
        vivos et mortuos;
et in Spiritum sanctum,sanctam ecclesiam, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem. 

In English dress it reads:

       I believe in God the Father almighty; and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
       who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
       who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
       on the third day rose again from the dead,
       ascended to heaven,
       sits at the right hand of the Father, whence He will come to judge the living and the dead;
       and in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh.

This summary of the Christian Gospel was used as the baptismal confession from the mid second century onwards. It was the basis of the later Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, which are joyfully recited weekly in orthodox churches the world over. 'Repent, be baptised by complete immersion in water and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues' seems rather anemic by comparison.

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Reflections on the Gospel

Date Posted:25/08/2012 3:26 AMCopy HTML

Good afternoon, all.

I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to review what the Gospels According to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each separately present about the means of salvation, by investigating the use of certain 'trigger' words. Having done so, we can then compare what results to basic Revivalist teaching. This will help us to determine whether anyone in the first two centuries could have independently arrived at Lloyd Longfield's position from a reading of a canonical gospel in isolation. This is a valid inquiry given that it wasn't common practice to 'publish' the four gospels together until the late second century; the Pauline Epistles until the mid second century; and the New Testament as a whole until the early-to-mid third century.

The Gospel According to Mark

The majority of New Testament text critics understand that this was the first of the four gospels to be written. Verbal concordance to passages written by Mark, which appear within the Gospels According to Matthew and Luke, demonstrates that both drew on the former's work as a source when preparing their own.

Mark used the word εὐαγγέλιον ('gospel') seven times: 1:1, 14, 15; 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; and 14:9. It also appears in the popular 'longer ending', not written by Mark, at 16:15. Notably the evangelist always prefixed 'gospel' with the Greek article (i.e. 'the'), semantically indicating that the 'good news' was about Jesus.

Next, the word σώζω ('saved') appears thirteen times: 3:4; 5:23, 28, 34; 6:56; 8:35 (bis); 10:26, 52; 13:13, 20; and 15:30, 31 (bis). Again, our word is to be found once in the popular 'longer ending', at 16:16. Five of the occurrences refer to physical healing, and five refer to the desire to/act of saving one's physical life. The three occurrences that imply something more than simply one's physical health and life (8:35 [second occurrence]; 10:26; and 13:13), are promises tied intimately to the person of Jesus.

And what of the words
βάπτισμα ('baptism') and βαπτίζω ('to baptise')? The former appears four times: 1:4; 10:38, 39; and 11:30. Two of these references are metaphorical, and relate to Christ's suffering; with one being to John's baptism. With respect to the latter, there are thirteen occurrences: 1:4, 5, 8 (bis), 9; 6:14, 24; 7:4; 10:38 (bis), and 39 (bis). There is also a single use in the 'longer ending', at 16:16. The first five appearances refer to John the Baptist's practice; one to a generic 'washing', with the final three referring to Jesus' metaphorically being 'baptised' with suffering.

Finally, the all-important γλώσσαις λαλήσουσιν καιναῖς ('speaking in new tongues'). There are no occurrences where Mark himself wrote these words in the gospel attributed to him. An interpolation written approximately a century later (i.e. 16:9-20) does include them. However, neither Matthew nor Luke, who both used Mark as a source, give any indication of knowing the much later ending.

In conclusion, a person reading of the Gospel According to Mark, as it circulated in the century immediately following its publication, couldn't possibly have reached Lloyd Longfield's conclusions about what was necessary in order to be saved.

The Gospel According to Matthew

This was the most popular account of Jesus' life during the first eight centuries of the Christian era, and was commonly believed by Christians to have been the first Gospel written.

The Greek word for 'gospel' is used by Matthew four times: 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; and 26:13. As with Mark, every occurrence is articular; consequently, all point to the 'good news' being about Jesus.

Our common Greek word for 'saved' appears fifteen times: 1:21; 8:25; 9:21, 22 (bis); 10:22; 14:30; 16:25; 19:25; 24:13, 22; 27:40, 42 (bis) and 49. Three uses relate to physical healing, and seven to the saving of a physical life. The remaining occurrences imply more than simply saving from physical harm, and again, are intimately tied to the person of Jesus.

'Baptism' and 'baptise' are found twice and seven times respectively. 3:7 and 21:25 for the former, and 3:6, 11 (bis), 13, 14, 16; and 28:19 for the latter. Both of the accounts relating to baptism had to do with John's practice, as did all of the baptising accounts with the exception of the last—which was a commission given to the apostles to make disciples.

Obviously there is no mention of 'speaking in new tongues' in this Gospel.

To conclude, there is again no possibility that a person reading just the Gospel According to Matthew could reach the same conclusions as Lloyd Longfield with respect to the requirements for salvation.

The Gospel According to Luke

Luke was a sometimes companion of the apostle Paul, and a careful and precise biographer/historian. His Greek is among the most polished of the entire New Testament; consequently, it's less open to conjecture or confusion with respect to meaning.

The word 'gospel' doesn't appear at all in Luke's bios, with the exception of the common heading that was appended to his work about two hundred years after the fact.

'Saved' appears seventeen times. 6:9; 7:50; 8:12, 36, 48, 50; 9:24 (bis); 13:23; 17:19; 18:26, 42; 19:10; 23:35 (bis), 37 and 39. Seven of these appearances relate to physical healing; one to demonic deliverance, and six to the saving of human life. The final three occurrences, which connote spiritual saving, are linked intimately to the person of Jesus Christ.

'Baptism' and 'to baptise' appears four times (3:3; 7:29; 12:50; and 20:4) and ten times respectively (3:7, 12, 16 [bis], 21 [bis]; 7:29, 30; 11:38; and 12:50). Regarding the former, three occurrences refer to John's baptism, and one to Christ's metaphorical baptism of suffering. Concerning the latter, seven uses refer to John's baptism, one to simple washing, one to the baptism that Jesus would provide, and one to Christ's metaphorically being baptised in suffering.

Again, as with Matthew's account, 'speaking in tongues' doesn't appear. Once more Lloyd Longfield's spurious gospel is altogether lacking in support or validation. No one reading just the Gospel According to Matthew would arrive at the Revivalist '1-2-3' heresy.

The Gospel According to John

Each of the four Gospel accounts is deeply theological. However, a strong argument might be made that John's is the most theologically developed. The last to be written, and distinctly different in content, structure and nature from the three Synoptic accounts, the Gospel According to John is unique.

In common with the Luke's account, the word 'gospel' fails to appear in John.

'Saved' is represented a scant six times: 3:17; 5:34; 10:9; 11:12; 12:27 and 47. Only one of these occurrences refers to physical healing/restoration, and only once is the preservation from physical harm implied. The remaining four references are linked to the person and work of Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Further, John doesn't use the word 'baptism'; however, he does refer to the verb 'to baptise' thirteen times: 1:25, 26, 28, 31, 33 (bis); 3:22, 23, 26; and 4:1 and 2. The majority of references are to John the Baptist's activities, with two being references being to the baptising practiced by Jesus' disciples.

Finally, 'speaking in tongues' nowhere appears in John's account of Jesus Christ's life.

A close reading of the Gospel According to John will provide a raft of insights into the person, message, work and nature of Jesus; however, the Revivalist 'salvation-message' is altogether absent. It's simply impossible to conclude, either deductively or inductively, Lloyd Longfield's mistaken views from this account.

Conclusion

The fourfold gospel accounts have stood at the head of the New Testament since the various letters, Gospels and such were first collected together. The Old Testament looks forwards in anticipation to them; Paul's letters and the remainder of the New Testament looks backwards, retrospectively, at them. The Gospels contain the heart of Christ's message about himself, and the redemption available to us, through him. Excepting for the much later additions to Mark's bios, there is no indication whatsoever of Revivalism's central tenet (i.e. the necessity of so-called speaking in 'tongues'); and almost no indication of baptism as a Christian sacrament. Put bluntly, one will not discover, even by inference, Revivalism's falsely-called 'salvation-message'.

The subsequent uses of the term 'gospel' in the New Testament refer the reader back to the message about Jesus these four accounts present. Consequently, I warmly invite the whomseover to attempt to prove that the convoluted Revivalist message can legitimately be equated with the simple biblical gospel.

I contend that the two are completely dissimilar.

Blessings,

Ian

email: didaktikon@gmail.com
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Re:Reflections on the Gospel

Date Posted:13/08/2015 6:39 AMCopy HTML

Not to take away any thing, but I thought this as a brief conclusion of above. <!--[if !mso]>What is the Gospel?

Taken from Mars Hill (see http://www.marshillchurch.org)


Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . . (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

What is the Gospel? The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, the Apostle Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on across in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.

  • Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.
  • Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
  • Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person. The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.
  • The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control. The goal of the gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
  • Religion is about what I have to do. The gospel is about what I get to do.
  • Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God. The gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus.
  • Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus.
  • Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
  • Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.
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I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C.S.Lewis.
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Re:Reflections on the Gospel

Date Posted:26/04/2016 3:59 PMCopy HTML

I don't want to take away the damage that is done by the false doctrine and behavior that Revival has done/does to peoples lives, but here a topic of some importance also.


My studies on 'Islam' have left me with a not so impressionable mark of what seems to be happening in the world. I do not have 'bios' for the people but the ideology for what they believe. It not only effects them but all people regardless of their beliefs.

This day and age Christians must have a thorough knowledge and confidence of who Jesus is.

The bible tells us that "we fight not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers".

The ideology of 'Islam' is one of those powers that imprison, hold in bondage and destroy not only the body but the soul.

There is much reported by media, and history confirms the movement of those that follow Islam, is to force with hate and violence on the world their belief and rule under the laws of their ideology which runs contrary to the bible and laws of other nations including Australia.

The only sure weapon to stop this is to have faith, arm ourselves with the knowledge and our relationship we have in Christ in the hope that we will be able to tell them and convert Muslims to Christianity. Jesus, not Muhammad, is the only way.

May God bless all.

Ralph

https://www.biblicaltraining.org/conversion/life-is-a-journey

Just take 35 minutes of your time to reflect on this.
I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C.S.Lewis.
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