Understanding The Truth of the Gospel

The Truth is NOT Afraid. In this article on how to find God as a believer, we read that Truth remains Truth. If the government decides to hang all mathematicians today, 2+2 will still equal 4. This is how the truth is. It cannot change because it is a constant factor. However, the truth is always hard and tough to say. It is a bitter pill to swallow. That is why it is the truth.

As believers, we have many truths that surround the reality of our newness in Christ. Our ultimate truth is that God is God, Jesus is the son of God and we are God's children. This gives us so much entitlement and liberty as scriptures say: "Ye shall know the truth and it shall set you free."

One basic truth is that we are entrusted with the Gospel and have a mandate to please God in everything we do. In 1 Thessalonians 2:2-4, Paul says "...On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts". The reason for this is not far fetched - Paul’s motivation for “not trying to please men” was because He was passionately in love with Jesus and wanted more than anything to please him. Paul realized that being “entrusted with the gospel” was not a small thing. As such, receiving the life of Christ in our hearts means that every part of our existence should radiate God's glory and represent Him. We automatically become members of God's kingdom and should be proud ambassadors of Him. For an analogy, when somebody hands over something of value to you (maybe as a gift), the right response is to care more about pleasing that person in appreciation rather than throwing stones at him or behaving nonchalant.
What keeps you from wanting to please God instead of pleasing people? You’ve been entrusted with the Gospel: What will remind you of its value?

Being God’s ambassador is an enormous privilege.  He has transformed us from enemies into his children. He has entrusted us with being his representatives to a world that desperately needs to be rescued.  So making decisions based on how it will affect your image and popularity instead of trying to live for the One who loves and gave his life for you will not go down well. Doing that means that there is spiritual myopia, making you shortsighted, focusing on here-and-now, day-to-day temporal things and unable (or maybe unwilling) to see the big picture of God’s calling and God’s kingdom. The only cure for this nearsightedness is to daily fix your gaze on Jesus. That way, you are reminded of his sovereignty and his love in growing people-pleasing tendencies.
Also, one truth that accompanies the understanding of the Gospel of Christ is the evidence of Power or Power Surge. According to Scriptures, “..our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction - 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Paul’s life was radically altered.  He went from being a zealous persecutor of the church to a passionate evangelist and church-planter The dramatic change was because he encountered the power of God in the person of Christ. The story of Paul’s conversion on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-end) is dramatic - the blinding light, the voice from heaven, the healing by Ananias, the baptism.  Paul encountered the risen Jesus and was never the same again, transformed from Christ’s enemy into Christ’s apostle and his name was (eventually) changed from Saul (the name of Israel’s first king), meaning “asked of,” to Paul, meaning “small” – fitting for someone who considered himself “the least of the apostles.”
Paul’s message to the Thessalonians was marked by the power of God (which is how he describes the gospel in his letter to the church in Rome).  The Holy Spirit had softened their hearts and Paul was convinced that the same gospel that had changed his life nearly twenty years earlier would change their lives, too.  Throughout his ministry, Paul was never confident in his own oratory skill or wisdom.  He placed his trust in the power of the gospel message because to him, the gospel was so much more than just words. He understood that the only way people can change – really grow, really mature, really transform – is by the gospel: “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). SEEING CHANGED LIVES is one exciting thing about being in ministry.

How has the power of the gospel tangibly altered your life? What has been the biggest transformation in your character? - For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God -1 Corinthians 1:18
Understanding the Truth of the Gospel by Nelson Vincent Ayomitunde

Another truth of the gospel is that we can dare to preach it everywhere. Scriptures say “with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. - 1 Thessalonians 2:2. While many people do dangerous things as a result of the adrenaline rush that accompanies cheating death, for others it maybe the promise of glory or riches awarded for bravery and valor.  In some cases, it’s sheer insanity. Paul, understanding this does not rightly fit into any of these categories. He risked his life (and eventually gave his life) for something he deemed more valuable.  In his daredevil resume:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers . (2 Corinthians 11:24-26)

Paul’s passion for the gospel and zeal for seeing God glorified in the lives of people drove him to do some treacherous stuff.  He didn’t exactly play it safe and he attempted some feats that left people shaking their heads in disbelief.  This life of courage in the face of danger wasn’t one that he fleshed out on his own.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:2b “we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel in spite of great opposition.”  God provided Paul, his companions and every believer with divine boldness to declare the gospel.  Paul wasn’t afraid to take risks, to spiritually pioneer new areas, to dream big.

People can be relatively cautious, shy and satisfied with mediocrity, settling for the status quo for fear of failure and a tarnished reputation. Anytime you have a chance to speak the gospel to somebody, engage.  The goodness and grace of God empowers the believer to “dare to tell” people the gospel in spite of opposition whether slight or vaguely perceived. You only need to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and strengthened to do this.

We are not ashamed “to declare the gospel boldly.”

The Gospel is full of truth, and overflows with spiritual sustenance. To understand what God says to us through His Word, we must clearly and correctly interpret the Scriptures. There is a right way and a wrong way to divide the word of truth, and the difference between the interpretations can be like the difference between night and day. God’s Word is truth, and Christians are sanctified and set apart because He lives in us. When we listen to His interpretation of the Gospel of Grace instead of the world’s interpretation, we hear Him speaking clearly.

The requirements under the Law of Moses, the old covenant which is now expired, are quite different than those of the present covenant of grace. Our self-efforts are no longer necessary, only our belief in the finished works of Jesus. With that in mind, when we’re studying the Bible we must determine whether what we’re reading was spoken before the cross or after the cross.
After Christ’s death and resurrection, Jesus gave understanding of the truth to two of His disciples when He met them walking on the road to Emmaus. They recognized the truth and the fact that they were in God’s presence only when they yielded themselves to Him. It’s the same way with us. Our minds are opened to the correct interpretation of the Scriptures when we yield to the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know.

Regardless of whether we’re reading the Old or the New Testament, all Scripture was written to teach us how to live and to train us in righteousness. Being aware of who was speaking and when, and reading the Scriptures in their proper context, helps us gain the enlightenment we need. Asking for discernment from the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to true understanding.
2 Timothy 2:15
John 17:17
Luke 24:13-32, AMPC
John 14:17, 26
John 15:26
2 Timothy 3:16
Apostle Paul’s writings, ministry, and his entire post-conversion life was saturated with the gospel.  He was so different from us with extreme passion and zeal about the good news.
To proclaim, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace” (Acts 20:24).
To become “all things to all people . . . for the sake of the gospel”(1 Corinthians 9:22-23).
To confront Peter for “deviating from the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:11-14).
To describe how he was compelled to proclaim the good news: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
To declare himself “a servant of the gospel” (Ephesians 3:7).
To have the optimistic perspective that his imprisonment “resulted in the advancement of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
To implore young Timothy to “join me in suffering for the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8).
Let’s examine the five times Paul uses the word “gospel” in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica (aka 1 Thessalonians).  These passages reveal much about Paul’s heart, his purpose, his reason for existence.
But first, a little background: the book of Acts records that Paul’s stay in Thessalonica during his second missionary journey was relatively short (possibly only three weeks, maybe a few months) and dangerous (hunted by a mob, escaped in the night).  But it was also relatively fruitful.
"This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. (Acts 17:2-4)

Apparently, after Paul left town, the new believers in Thessalonica were persecuted by some zealous Jews and annoyed Gentiles, so Paul sent Timothy back to check on their status.  When Timothy rejoined Paul, he brought encouraging news: the believers were not just surviving the persecution, but thriving in their new faith.  The gospel had taken root in their lives and was growing.  So Paul wrote a letter to these new Christians to encourage them and to reflect back on his time with them.

4. Share and Share a Life
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
Sometimes I view people as something less than human beings.  Don’t get me wrong; I generally like people.  It’s just that they often wear me out or mess up my agenda.  At times, I’ve seen people as commodities. I’ve also treated people as annoyances, thinking that their problems are interfering with my desires For most of my adult life, I’ve been an optimistic extrovert; the life of the party, always wanting to spend more time with people. But the older I get, the more introverted and grumpy I become. Now, when given the choice to go to an event with friends or stay home and relax, I’ll choose the latter option nearly half the time.  So this gradual shift (from sanguine to melancholic) has been a convenient excuse for me to be pretty lousy at loving others. 
Some people view Paul as a ministry machine – and yes, he is probably the most influential evangelist, church planter, theologian, and author in the history of Christianity.  But he wasn’t just about the numbers.  He had genuine care and compassion for people, and poured out his life for them.  He shared the gospel with people: not just because it was strategic but because he loved them.
For discussion/reflection: What are the benefits of sharing life with other believers? What prevents you from sacrificially investing in the lives of others more than you currently do?

5:  Hard Workin’ Man
Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you . . . We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith. (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 3:2)
Paul was no stranger to the concept of hard work.  In fact, he refers to himself (and fellow believers) in terms of labor quite often. (Romans 16:12, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Corinthians 8:11, Colossians 1:28-29, Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Paul didn’t just hang out with Timothy and Silas in order to have good bible study buddies.  Nor did he travel around the Mediterranean region in order to sample the food and experience the culture so he could eventually write a foodie memoir.  He knew that his calling – his job, his task – was to be a missionary of the gospel.  Sometimes he got paid for his labor.  Other times he had to supplement his income by making tents.  But nothing kept him from working hard for the Lord and encouraging others to do the same.  He did this with pure motives – not in order to earn favor with God, but out of gratitude and love for him.

The broader biblical meaning of the Christian gospel includes the existence of the living God and his coming into history with imperial authority over all things as the long-awaited King of Israel and Lord of the universe.  This King was Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior.  He fulfilled the Old Testament expectations of the Son of David, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again triumphant over Satan, death, and hell.  He promised his own Spirit to be with us and help us.  On the basis of his death and resurrection, the gospel promises a great salvation – eventual healing from disease and liberation from oppression, peace with God and others who believe, justification by faith apart from works of the law, forgiveness of sins, transformation into the image of Christ, eternal life, and the global inclusion of all people from all nations in this salvation.

(But) the best and final gift of the gospel is that we gain Christ . . . Focusing on facets of a diamond without seeing the beauty of the whole is demeaning to the diamond . . . If you embrace everything . . . about the facets of the gospel, but do it in a way that does not make the glory of God in Christ your supreme treasure, then you have not embraced the gospel . . . If we do not see him and savor him as our greatest fortune, we have not obeyed or believed the gospel . 

As Jesus carried out his three-year ministry in Palestine, he proclaimed different aspects of the gospel in different places and with different people because the appeal and emphasis of the gospel was (and still is) dependent on the audience.  “Come to me . . . and I will give you rest,” which was a facet of the good news that appealed to people who were “weary and burdened,” was a much different message than “repent,” which is what the self-righteous Pharisees needed to hear.

In conclusion, no matter which face of the gospel holds the most truth for you – the removal of guilt, the promise of heaven, etc – don’t miss the point, the end goal, the ultimate gift of the gospel: God himself.  The gospel is good because it gives us God.  Knowing and cherishing God is the pinnacle of human existence - Philippians 3:7-11

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