What Is The Gospel? Part Four: Our Responsibility

499px-end_of_2_peter_and_beginning_of_1_john_in_alexandrinus

In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1 ISV)

New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 to evangelize unreached people groups who have no knowledge of either the God of the Bible or the history of Israel. According to their website “Unreached people groups have no concept of the God of the Bible. So Bible teaching begins at the same place God began with His chosen people: at the beginning. Chronological Bible teaching presents a foundation for understanding Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

Paul used this formula when he spoke to the Athenians. After beginning with the legal requirement of not introducing a new religion, basing that claim on their statue to the unknown god, Paul introduced, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” (Acts 17:24 ISV)

The problem Paul and every Christian up to Augustine had with the Greeks and the Romans is that many believed the earth was brought into existence around 1500 BC. They mocked the Jews for believing that the creation was so old (4000 BC). Ovid’s Metamorphoses is one example. Ovid, like most pagan authors, has creation followed by a Golden Age, a Silver Age, a Bronze Age, and finally the Iron Age.

After teaching the creation, the fall, the flood, the founding of the Jewish nation, God’s call out of Egypt, God’s judgment on the sin of the nation, then we teach the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

Now I’m making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you – unless, of course, your faith was worthless. For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive!—and he was seen by Cephas and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles, and finally he was seen by me, as though I were born abnormally late. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ISV)

We must understand that Paul lived in Corinth for two years teaching the Old Testament. Paul taught the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin, the need for atonement, and the fulfillment of this need through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But in the modern western culture, Christians have an additional barrier to overcome. Western Culture has made Secular Humanism an established religion. A person born into a culture with no knowledge of God has to begin with Creation.

But a person born into the indoctrination system of secular humanism must first understand that they have been indoctrinated. So the person with no knowledge of God who does not have to unlearn indoctrination is easier to teach than the person who is indoctrinated.

It is possible that John wrote what we call the first epistle or 1 John as the last book of the New Testament, making it the last book written of the entire Bible. He faced a very similar problem in Ephesus after being released from Patmos. His answer was to affirm the validity of what they witnessed about Jesus.

What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life! This life was revealed to us, and we have seen it and testify about it. 1 John 1:1,2 ISV

This is the definition of science. Heard, seen, observed, touched, and testify. There are standards for examining evidence. If the scientific evidence for Jesus is ignored and rejected, then history, any history, is impossible to understand. Nothing in all of ancient history is documented as well as the history of Jesus.

But our responsibility when presenting the Gospel is to faithfully present the Word of God to people who are willing to listen. God is responsible for the results.

In the presence of God and the Messiah Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly appeal to you to proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine. But with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s desires. They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths. But you must be clear headed about everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of an evangelist. Devote yourself completely to your ministry.

I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The victor’s crown of righteousness is now waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on the day that he comes, and not only to me but also to all who eagerly wait for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8 ISV)

Image Credit: Codex Alexandrinus of the end of 2 Peter and Beginning of 1 John Public Domain photographer unknown Wikimedia Commons

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