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THE REAL GOSPEL

The odds are great that most Christians in the world have never experienced the real Gospel or are aware of it, and have embraced another gospel in its place.

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I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! [Galatians 1:6-9]

Christians in general are not so discriminating in their gospel choices. Rather than do the required reading and research which the Lord Jesus, as our Teacher, demands, in order to locate the real one, they accept whatever gospel they are most familiar with or the one their particular tradition mandates. Many apparently do not even refer to their respective denominational beliefs as a gospel. They have been taught, and have accepted, the notion that anything Christian is close enough and anything Christian is the gospel, and that denominational separation and variation are the norm. This attitude makes a mockery of the Lord’s extensive teachings as though His full curriculum were optional, as though one can deviate from it and create partial gospels based on segments of His teachings. It makes a mockery of all He went through and the struggles and great victories of the Early Church which they achieved through never-ending spiritual warfare and incessant prayer. What they accomplished was extremely difficult and demanded real discipleship. Such remains a foreign concept in most of today’s churches.

Therefore, what I write here is an attempt to set the record straight. The record, of course, is contained in the actual written Gospel presented in the New Covenant Scriptures. This record is our Christian foundation. And though the early first-century believers had no written New Testament, the written New Testament is an absolute necessity in our day. For by it we can discern truth from error.

THE GOSPEL, THE COVENANT

We call it a testament. The better word is covenant—from the Greek word diatheke. The writer of the Book of Hebrews explains the nature of this covenant (in a passage we will get to shortly) in a manner most often not acknowledged or fully understood by the very Christians who claim to invoke it. How is it that the majority of Christians spend their lives going through their respective Christian motions yet never participate in the covenant which decides their eternal fate?

A covenant is a binding legal contract or agreement between two parties. This is exactly what the New Covenant is. The Gospel, or Good News, announces this covenant. The Good News, or Good Tidings, or Glad Tidings, is that God has made a way for people to be delivered from the bondage of sin and have their sins paid for and remitted completely. It is an agreement instituted by our benevolent Creator for the sake of being relationally reconciled with the wayward people of His Creation. And unlike most contracts which involve the participation of both parties in the authoring of the contract, the New Covenant is a contract in which God authors the terms. But unlike authors of covenants who control the terms and thus write for themselves the best terms, God blesses the wayward offending party with the best terms—the highly beneficial terms normally granted by the controlling author to himself. And what is more, the Author of the New Covenant must not only be the Priest which divides the sacrifice to shed its blood (for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin), but be the Sacrifice and shed His own Blood. God has so loved the wayward people of his Creation that He was willing to become one of us, shed His blood for us, and die for us. There is no greater love than this.

The Greek word diatheke, translated into English primarily as covenant, is also translated in some Bible versions in a few locations as will, as in last will and testament, which is a covenant that goes into effect only at death. Paul uses it this way in Galatians 3:15, for example. For our purposes here, we may focus on Hebrews 9:16 in which most versions translate diatheke as either covenant or testament, but a few as will. Thus, the New Covenant necessitated the death of the Testator—the Author of the will—whose last will and testament went into effect only upon His death and which involves the rights of inheritance for the second party.

And due to the nature of the sacrifice He made for sin, it is also a covenant of blood—a Blood Covenant in that two parties agree that a sacrificial death must take place to institute it (the death of the Lord Jesus, the first party), but also that a second sacrificial death must take place to ratify it (the death of the second party):

15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. [Hebrews 9:15-17]

Now, the death of the first party of the New Covenant was a brutal physical death involving horrific torture and suffering. It was, of course, undeserved. The Lord Jesus was absolutely innocent of the false charges His accusers threw against Him. He never committed a single sin and kept the Law of Moses perfectly. This, of course, made His an extremely difficult and dedicated life. His love for wayward humanity was such that He subjected Himself to the otherwise impossible task and living a life with no sin so He could defeat sin and release us from the evil power of sin. The Lord had to be completely innocent and pure in order for the New Covenant to be instituted. He was the Sacrifice Lamb and the sacrifice had to be without blemish.

The death required of the second party in this covenant, however, is not a physical death but a sacrifice of the totality of one’s life. It is illustrated by the anguish, agony, and grief of the full repentance process as one expresses pronounced sorrow for one’s lifetime personal sins and is broken and “burnt” as an offering upon an intangible altar of sacrifice as one surrenders completely to the terms of the covenant which mandates such a death.

The second party, of course, has no leg to stand on as it were and no defense, since he or she is the guilty party, the party of sin. The Author’s terms which one must agree to in order to accept and ratify the agreement cannot possibly be any better, however, since they entail not only a brand new clean and purposeful life in the here and now but eternal life as well. And this eternal life, of course, demands that there also be a later resurrection after physical death, just as the first party had undergone resurrection. The Lord Jesus had died physically but later came back to life. The second party of the covenant will also undergo physical death and will also later come back to life.

But regarding the present, there is more. If the second party repents properly, correctly, and fully, which means he or she effectively dies, the pure Blood of the Sacrifice Lamb, the Lord Jesus, will then be applied to his or her life. The Blood is applied at repentance. Thus, if there is no real repentance, there is no application of the Blood, and there is no ratification of the New Covenant for any particular second party.

If there is real repentance by the second party, then he or she will be thoroughly cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb and all personal sin will be washed away. And since the second party does not actually die physically to ratify the covenant, the Lord Jesus has instituted full immersion water baptism in His Name—it must be in the Name of Jesus—as a type of burial for the “dead” second party. In other words, real repentance signifies death and full immersion water baptism signifies burial.

Now what? You’ve got a person, the second party, who is dead and buried. When he or she then emerges from the waters of baptism it signifies in one sense a resurrection from the tomb. In effect, however, though one is now clean and pure, his or her spirit must be resurrected as well in order to complete the process of attaining the same state that Adam and Eve existed in before they sinned. Remember, God had told them that if they ever sinned they would die. Yet, when they did sin, they did not die physically, but spiritually. They continued living physically but Adam’s spirit had died. Eve’s spirit had died. Because of this, their sin and their dead spirit cut them off from spiritual relationship with God. And because they were no longer innocent and pure they could no longer live in the spiritual Garden made for spiritual people but were required to leave the Garden and go into the wild world.

The last Adam, however, restores this spiritual relationship. He has made a way in which one can return to the Garden (His Kingdom). He does it through the infilling of the second party with His Holy Spirit:

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. [1Corinthians 6:17]

TRANSFORMATIVE SPIRITUAL POWER

Thus, we now see the complete process toward total restoration. This is what was demonstrated in the early history of the Lord’s Community per the historical record of Acts. This is the fullness of the real Gospel. This is the Good News. The second party, previously completely helpless and bound by sin with no chance of changing his or her condition for the better, is fully transformed into a new creation by the sacrifice and power of the first party.

Therefore, the New Covenant is actually a covenant of transformative spiritual POWER. This was demonstrated throughout the ministry of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel accounts. He possessed and demonstrated the power of God. People were miraculously healed. They were miraculously delivered of possession by demons. The poor and downtrodden, those beat down and taken advantage of by others, were blessed with the uplifting Gospel of hope and joy. And the dead were raised to new life.

This great spiritual power and the one Gospel—the only real Gospel—were and remain a package deal. They go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Not only was this great spiritual power (Greek: dunamis) demonstrated in the Lord’s ministry, it was also demonstrated after His initial ministry through the ministry of the Early Church in the first century. So the power never ended with His direct ministry, continued after His direct ministry according to the clear historical record, and was obviously intended to continue throughout the age of His Kingdom on earth until the present and beyond. To support this fact, we have these three passages for starters:

So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:19-20]

“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” [Acts 2:39]

After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. [Hebrews 2: 3-4]

The New Testament, therefore, is: (1) A written record which reveals the spiritual power of God in action, the very cause of the miracles which took place among them and without which the Gospel would have no power or ability to transform. (2) A written record which documents the full teachings of the Lord Jesus—the real Gospel—but also exposes any and all consequent false gospels.

ANY Christian teaching that deviates from the Lord’s pure curriculum is in essence a false teaching, either because it contains error, that which the Lord never taught, or it acknowledges only a portion of His teachings. Whatever gospel thus contains additions to His teachings denotes a false gospel. Whatever gospel thus contains omissions from His teachings denotes a false gospel. And whatever gospel that denies and does not possess the transformative spiritual power of God is a false gospel. It was none other than the renowned Apostle Paul who first claimed this fact in his second letter to Timothy when he wrote:

…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. [2Timothy 3:5]

For greater insight and clarification, the phrase “form of godliness” in the preceding verse is from the Greek words morphosis eusebeia. The first is defined as “a forming, shaping, semblance, a form, embodiment.” The second is defined as: “reverence, respect, religion, piety.” Putting the two together, using various existing Bible translations, we see much better the man-made formulation of the many false gospels in the world and their inherent character:

A Form of Godliness

A Form of Religion

A Form of Piety

A Pretense of Religion

An Appearance Indeed of Godliness

The Appearance of Godliness

The Form of Religion

The Outward Appearance of Religion

The Outward Form of Godliness

THE REAL GOSPEL

Partial salvation is not real salvation. Partial cleansing of one’s soul is not real cleansing of one’s soul. A partial born again experience is not a real born again experience. Partial healing is not real healing. A broken heart cannot be partially healed and actually be healed. The real Christians of this world know they had to surrender all and give their entire heart to the Lord in order to receive all that He had to offer and must be offered in order to be fully transformed. With the Lord Jesus, there are no partial or halfway measures. He will never allow a person to think he or she is okay when he or she is not okay.

HE IS NOT A QUACK MINISTER LIKE MOST OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTERS IN THIS WORLD, EACH OF WHOM HAVE THEIR PRICE AND HAVE SOLD OUT.

And a lawyer (a Torah teacher) stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” [Luke 10:25-28]

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” [Matthew 12:30]

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” [Luke 11:23]

According to the Lord Jesus, who is our only authority, real Christianity is a 100% proposition. One is either with Him or one is not. If one is with Him one is with Him 100% or one is not with Him at all. He has all authority and all power both in heaven and on earth. As part of His ministry, He shares his power with His real followers. He even said His real followers, those who believe in Him, could do anything He did and more:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” [John 14:12-14]

To this astounding statement, however, He adds an apparent caveat:

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:15]

And it is here that we see the answer. We discover how real Christianity works. We understand how the people of the Early Church, not only the apostles, were able to be used of God to allow for the doing of the same miracles that the Lord performed. They must have loved Him with all their heart. No one would ever do all that He commanded otherwise.

Though they believed in Him and trusted Him completely, their obedience went beyond mere trust. They obeyed Him because they loved Him. This is why they kept His commandments. He loved each of them with all His heart. And they loved Him the same. We know the Lord was willing to do pretty much anything for anyone to help them and bless them and that His help went beyond the mere natural into the supernatural. He empowered His disciples to do the same works He did but they were only able to do them after they reached the same point of love for Him that He had for them, and by this they were able to love each other.

It was the bond of spiritual love (agape) which made the early believers so effective in doing miraculous works (ergon). Their love of the Lord Jesus meant that they trusted the difficult discipleship process they had to go through to receive the spiritual power (dunamis) through which the works were activated. Their love of their neighbor allowed them to work well together and meet the spiritual needs of their neighbor.

And this is why the one Gospel—the real Gospel—is founded upon spiritual love and works through the power of spiritual love.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” [John 15:12-14][1]

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

First Day of Spring: New Life

        It is the first day of spring.

         Regardless of the many New Year celebrations that occur on various calendar dates, this is the actual beginning of the New Year in the northern hemisphere.

         It has been a long winter, and a very difficult winter for many. Today marks the time to look forward to the inevitable thaw and the bursting forth of new life.

         Officially, spring arrived three minutes before noon CDT, almost 1 o’clock on the east coast and 9:57am on the west. The planet leveled out at that exact time. Scientifically speaking, it is the Vernal Equinox, a time when planet Earth completes its tilt back from the southern hemisphere, which just completed summer.

         It is a time of perfect balance when the sun shines directly on the equator, and when the southern hemisphere experiences the beginning of autumn. This balancing event thus only happens twice a year, and that briefly.

         God created seasons for a reason. The planet tilts on its axis to give the entire planet its fair share of sun and warmth. He does the same with His people in a spiritual sense. Though I am concerned with sounding trite, life actually does consist of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, and the spaces in-between. There are times things for some are going good, while things for others are not so good. For real Christians, it is an opportunity for their good times to be shared with others who may be going through a rough stretch.

         A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

         A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. [Isaiah 40:3-8]

         John the Immerser quoted these words in part when teaching about the ways of the Lord and about that particular point in history. We are currently at the same kind of historical juncture. The idea of equinox is presently before us in the spiritual realm as well. Let us learn the lesson that we all indeed are our brother’s keeper and act according.

         …The word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.

         And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH; AND ALL FLESH WILL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.’”

         So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

         “Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

         And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”

         And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

         And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

         And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”

         Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

         Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

         “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:2-17] [1]

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.