“12 For though by this time, you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Today, someone posted the story of the ‘Thief on the Cross’ (Luke 23:32-43). This is the simplicity of the Gospel. And God, in His eternal wisdom, made sure that one of the last things we see and deal with in the crucifixion is that the Gospel is simple. This thief could not be baptized; he was a thief, so we know he broke the Law. He began the fateful morning as a heckler, making fun of Jesus as He was dying for his sins. He never joined a church, never handed out a Gospel tract, never even knelt to pray. No, no, no. He simply believed that Jesus was who He said He was; he addressed Him as Lord; and he, the thief, believed in the resurrection: “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
This simple act of faith of belief in Jesus was all that was needed. Jesus assures him that He would be in Paradise that very day. He will be there to greet us when we arrive as well. This is why it is so important to know the truth of the Gospel and to vigorously defend the simplicity and purity of the Gospel. People will go to Hell when we complicate it and allow it to be polluted. It is important for a local church to repeat the simplicity of the Gospel as often as possible. It is essential that every leader, every Sunday School teacher, and even the very greeters at the doors (if your church is that big) be fluent in the simple Gospel, the pure Gospel of Jesus’ complete and utter sacrifice for my sins and yours.
- First Principles, verse 12
Someone told me a long time ago, or I heard it as an old wives’ tale, that you can judge the cleanliness of the kitchen in a restaurant by how clean the washrooms are. Some of you know that I work in the car business, and I can tell you that often one can determine the way that people kept their cars by looking in the trunk. For some reason, people will clean the whole car and often forget the trunk. In a similar manner, one can judge the scriptural footing of a person or a church by asking about the Gospel.
As we have discussed over the past few weeks and will continue for some time, the Gospel is ONLY about Jesus. We accept by faith all that Jesus has done, and nothing else. Too many people, like the religious leaders who added a myriad of man-made ‘rules and laws’ to Moses’ Law, think that the Gospel is too simple and that somehow we need to prove our worth to attain it. So, we need to jump through the right number of hoops and perform the right amount of penance to be accepted. We must say this prayer, repeat this phrase, and on and on. We have to show the fruits of salvation; we have to cry and be emotionally sorrowful to be saved. But this is not the case.
The Bible is very clear that all that is required is that we accept, put our faith in, believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and we will be saved. In Acts 8:37, the Ethiopian Eunuch says the following (this verse is removed from some Bibles. This is a litmus test for your Bible. If it is not there, you should get a Bible that has it).
“Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God'” (NKJV).
The man is told about Jesus by Philip, and they come to a body of water, and he asks to be baptized. Philip asks him about his belief in regard to Jesus, and we can see his reply above. He is then baptized and goes on his merry way. No sinner’s prayer, no emotional meltdown, just a simple acknowledgment that Jesus is God. John 5:18 tells us that Jesus, by saying he was the ‘Son of God,’ was making Himself equal with God. Keep the Gospel simple and pure. In John 12:42, we see many of the council who believed in Jesus, but they kept it a secret. We do not know for how long they kept it a secret, but they believed; that is as simple as it gets.
- Discerning good and evil, verse 14
When the Gospel is wrong, so will the stand be on other doctrines. Make no mistake; a corrupt Gospel is a sign of other doctrinal corruption, and this is why it is so important to build the right foundations. Be wary of those that pollute the Gospel; they do not do so for your benefit. Either they are seeking more power or more money. They seek to control the free will that God has given man. They seek to curtail what God is allowed to do when people obey Him but not them. They tell you that you are not saved because you did not do this or that. They are lying. If a person denies that Jesus is the Christ, he is not of God. In deliberate contrast, no one can declare that Jesus is the Christ except that it has been revealed by God through the Holy Spirit.
Yes, the devil believes too, but he refuses to acknowledge Jesus as God. Satan is actively seeking to dethrone God. So, yes, there are people who will come to know who Jesus is and then refuse to acknowledge Jesus as God. They are lost; that simple.
As a defense, it is important that we equip people to know and discern the truth. This is why I try to get these lessons out and why I stress that you read and study the truth of the Bible. There is only one truth, God’s truth; all else are lies. It is His truth that sets us free, His truth is the light in a dark world, and His truth is the pure source of eternal life; all else is death. Read and study, ask questions, write verses down, and put them on your walls. Memorize them and speak them out loud. Always answer with ‘the Bible says,’ never ‘I think.’ It is the Bible that has the power and the truth.
The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44), and all who pervert the Gospel are a part of the lies. You should be diligent in seeing where the other lies will be; there will be others. This is what being a mature Christian is; one who is secure in the truth is able to defend it, and one who knows what the Bible says. The muscle of correct doctrinal discernment is essential as we approach the end of the age, and the devil in his death throes tries to take as many to Hell with him as he can. Let us rescue as many as we can with the simple, pure, perfect Gospel of Jesus.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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