There are many “Gospels” in the world but only one has been authorized to be preached by Jesus. Do you preach or believe an unauthorized Gospel?
Today’s lesson, The Authorized Gospel, continued last weeks lesson as we apply “doing things with God’s authority” to the message we preach and believe.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel He authorized them to preach HIS Gospel not the “gospel” of someone else. Here is the lesson from this morning that explains what the Gospel is and what we are authorized to preach.
Paul tells Timothy to Hold the pattern of sound words…
When you follow a pattern you do something that 1st graders, seamstresses, and architects have been doing for years, you make something that looks like the designer designed it to look like.
Moses built that tabernacle according to the pattern and Paul preached the Gospel he had received which was “according to Scripture”
Here Paul urges Timothy to make something that is built on a design of sound words. Whether that something is the preaching of the Gospel, the life style of an individual Christian, or the organization of the local congregation, God’s pattern of sound words, when followed will result in the same thing that 1st century Christians made.
Would you follow the pattern of sound words? Step one is to get to know them, so read….
The Bible clearly unites baptism to the preaching of the Gospel. Yet many disagree on what baptism means, what part it plays in the salvation of a sinner, who can be baptized, when they should be baptized, etc., etc.
Rather than talk to the recipients of the Gospel message, I would like to address this post to those who teach the Gospel message. When you teach someone who is not a Christian but expresses interest in studying about God’s word or even in becoming a Christian, what is it that YOU tell them to do in order to become a Christian?
Granted, the question may be a hard one because some don’t think you need to “DO” anything. However, setting aside whatever action might be taken by a sinner, what is the message that a person trying to produce Christians should preach?
Consider this: Two of the Gospels (Matthew and Mark) actually commission the apostles with the word “baptism” just before Jesus leaves the earth to ascend into Heaven.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Both of these statements take place after the resurrection and may even be the same instructions given at two different times. However, even if Jesus only commanded them one time, it took place during the 40 days Luke says he was speaking to them about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3) Since Pentecost took place 50 days after Passover (when Jesus was crucified) it leaves as few as 10 days from Jesus’ ascension to Peter’s first sermon; not much time to forget what Jesus had said.
Since Peter spoke to them, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I think one would be safe in thinking that Peter not only accurately preached what God wanted but that it is also what we should preach too. What did he tell his audience to do?
You see, if we set aside the question about WHAT baptism does; if we set aside the question about is role in the salvation of the one who hears the message, are we able to conclude anything at all about what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost? I suggest that we can.
What we can conclude is that when Peter told those inquiring Jews (who had been convicted that Jesus was the Messiah) what they should do, he told them to repent and be baptized. How many preach that today?
Today, too many preach Jesus and instruct the recipient to pray what is commonly called the Sinner’s prayer. It is in many books, it is included as a “bonus CD”, and placed at the end of many TV religion shows. Something like “Jesus I believe in you, please forgive me of my sins and live in my heart. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen”
My question to those who teach the sinner’s prayer is simple: Where is that in the Bible? What example do we have of the Apostles ever instructing any person to pray such a prayer when they respond to the Gospel message?
Jesus commanded the apostles to baptize, Peter commanded his audience to be baptized, and Phillip, who “preached Jesus” (acts 8) to the Eunuch must have mentioned it because the Eunuch’s question was “here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” When you preach Jesus, do you get that response? Hey, there is a swimming pool, river, baptistry real close, why can’t I be baptized?
Today, few who “preach Jesus” would ever have someone ask them that question. My question is “why not?”
So if you do not preach baptism, if you do not include it in your message as you try to save someone, “why not?”
So the last few blog posts have dealt with Jesus’ view of authority and hopefully established in some small way that when it comes to authority, Jesus both follows it and exercises it in a service oriented way. Perhaps we will talk about the authority that punishes at some point (a very valid point to be made) but today we want to look at a simple thought: the message of Jesus.
Jesus’ message was not his own. We sometimes think of it like that, I suppose and we certainly would say that Jesus agreed with the message He presented but still, it was not His own message.
Unlike Jonah who was told to go and preach a message of repentance and did not want to, Jesus gladly did.
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak. (Joh 12:49)
So what about the message of the Gospel? Whose message is that? I would suggest that this one is the message of Jesus. When Jesus came to the Apostles in Mt 28, He first told them that all authority had been given to Him and then gave them the message to preach!
Here are three passages from the Gospels:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20)
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mar 16:15-16)
and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luk 24:46-48)
It is a simple message: Tell a person about Jesus, those willing to follow (e.g. believe the message), they are to repent of the old life, be baptized and then learn more about Jesus and His commandments.
The question then is this: Can we change the message? Do we have the authority to do so? I would suggest that we do not, any more than Jesus had the authority to change the message the Father gave Him.
Peter seems to have followed the authority of Christ, submitting to the Authority Christ when he preached the first Gospel sermon.
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Act 2:36-42)
You can see (and really you should read the whole chapter 2) that Peter is preaching about Jesus, wanting to make disciples. some of those who listened were willing to respond and he told them to repent and be baptized, then they stuck around and learned more.
So, let me bring this down to a question/slash application. So many times you hear preachers end their sermons with an invitation, final chapters of books have a message about becoming saved. the message is, in short: If you want Jesus to be your savior, pray the sinners prayer, and ask Jesus into your heart.
The question is this: Is that scriptural? was the sinners prayer what Jesus commanded His apostles? If you agree, like I do, that the sinner’s prayer has no part of converting sinners, then just don’t do it? It may be common today, it may seem simple, but without authorization from Jesus, dare we preach it?