Friday, September 11, 2015

The Gospel Defined

In my last Countering Criticism post titled 'An Unexpected Insinuation', I looked at T. Harris's question of my Uncovering the Life of Jesus book review.  After that post, I conversed back and forth with T. Harris on Amazon.com and even though he (not sure of the gender, so I will use the masculine pronoun for convenience) was not clear in his initial question, he did not intend to imply that I am a hyper-dispensationalist.  T. Harris thought that I was saying one couldn't preach the Gospel from the book of Luke alone.

T. Harris hasn't read Uncovering the Life of Jesus yet, but he still defends the author because Ms. Pippert "discusses the suffering and resurrection of the Messiah, repentance and the forgiveness of sins".  My point was and continues to be that because Ms. Pippert believes that man has a role in salvation, promotes an experiential process to achieve salvation, and does not properly define sin, she does not give a true Gospel presentation in her book.

The Gospel can be preached from the book of Luke; I did not make any statement in my review to the contrary.  Even though one can preach the Gospel, Ms. Pippert does not do that.  She does not give a verse by verse exposition of the book of Luke, but she picks the verses that she wants to talk about and does not properly exposit them.  Therefore, I quoted 1 Cor. 15:3-4 to show that the author's view of the gospel in Luke does not align with orthodox Christianity.  My point was not that Ms. Pippert should have used other verses in her book.  She could have given an accurate Gospel account from Luke, but she didn't.  I quoted from the Apostle Paul to show that the "gospel" she was presenting from Luke was different from the true Gospel of the Bible.

In Uncovering the Life of Jesus, Ms. Pippert picks the verses from Luke that supports what she wants to say in her book, and therefore, the verses that she focuses on (along with her commentary) do not lead to a clear picture of the Gospel.  This is clearly seen by her "Gospel" call at the book's conclusion.  She asks the reader to suppose that he witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent resurrection, then to dream up what Jesus might say to him and how he should respond.  This is not a true Gospel presentation.

T. Harris has responded to my contention that Ms. Pippert presents a false gospel by pointing out that 1 Cor. 15:5 reads "And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve."  He goes on to say: "You stopped quoting in the middle Paul's sentence; as Paul continues writing, he immediately focuses on the eyewitnesses to the resurrection! When Paul defines the gospel, he focuses on the eyewitnesses."

At this point, I'm dumbfounded.  I now see why T. Harris continues to defend Ms. Pippert without even reading her book.  It appears that he doesn't understand the true Gospel either.  So let's go back to the basics.  If someone doesn't understand the Gospel, then it is possible that he is not a true believer in Jesus Christ, which is why Paul tells the individual to work out your salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).  It's also possible that someone needs to be taught again because he is in need of milk and not strong meat (Heb. 5:11-14).  The Gospel is the overarching doctrine of all Scripture, but it has been and will continue to be twisted and distorted by the enemy.  The lack of true biblical Gospel preaching is evident in the Christian world today, which is why the Bible repeatedly warns Christians of false teachers.  Therefore, true believers should be discerning in all that they read and hear because not everything labeled "Christian" is truly biblical.

The Gospel is not the good news of the eyewitnesses.  The Apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit tells us that after His resurrection, Jesus was seen by Peter, the twelve Apostles, and 500 brethren.  Paul specifically lays out the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15: 3-4.  He includes verses 5 & 6 about the eyewitnesses of the Christ's resurrection because if you continue reading in verses 12-15 many Corinthians were denying the resurrection of the dead.

So, what is the Gospel?  Does the Apostle Paul define the Gospel by focusing on the eyewitnesses?  No, Paul tells us: "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified," (1 Cor. 2:2).  Like the rest of the Bible, Paul is focused on Christ and Christ alone.  The Gospel is the Good News that the Son of God Jesus Christ was born of a virgin (Matt. 1:23), lived a perfect, sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21), humbled Himself to die on the cross (Phil. 2:8), was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11), and now sits on the right hand of God the Father (Heb. 10:12) so that He is the propitiation through faith in His blood (Rom. 3:25).

All men are commanded to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15), and all who repent of sin obtain forgiveness through Jesus Christ: "And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," (Luke 24:46-47).  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to T. Harris, Ms. Pippert references Luke 24:46-47 in Chapter 6 of her book.  Since my review, I've discarded Uncovering the Life of Jesus, so I can't verify that fact.  Nevertheless, Ms. Pippert can include clear Gospel verses from the Bible all day long, but if she misrepresents the Gospel through the use of those verses, then she is accursed (Gal. 1:8-9).  Many cults like Mormonism and Roman Catholicism use the Christian Bible.  False religious leaders erroneously "teach" and "preach" from God's Word, but Paul warns Christians about these deceivers in this world: "For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple," (Rom. 16:18).

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"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds," (2 John 1:9-11).