Characteristics of The Gospel Truth and How To Handle Gospel Truth
This is easily the funniest topic that I have come across in recent times. It is very true that I had a message boiling in my mind, but I never thought of using this title until God popped it my spirit. I had determined to write about the truth of Jesus, and I as was juggling the definition of the word truth in my mind, suddenly the common phrase, ‘gospel truth’ jumped at me. And the more I latched on to the emerging picture, the more I realized that the message was actually the truthfulness of the gospel and its interpretations by men in different time spheres.
Further, I realized that the phrase have become like a swear word that people resort to conclude some expression building up in their minds without being committal. However, since gospel truth remains absolute truth whose reliability must remain unquestionable, it becomes important for one to understand what its nature truly is. Hence, the wording of our title relates to identifying its specific qualifying criteria.
Criteria for absolute truth
The criteria that confer gospel truth its reliability to it include facts that one can be test it for objective certainty before confirming its claims based on specific criteria that almost always produce the same results as if it were a scientific fact or law. Such validation eliminates doubts and helpfully encourages one to grow spiritually. In fact, since it concerns the gospel, the reinforcement of one’s faith becomes an advantage freeing one to enjoy the benefits of born-again Christianity.
Another character and criteria of gospel truth is that you must know it. There are enough opportunities for one to access information and other resources these days for lack of knowledge to be an acceptable excuse. This pitches one directly against God who has refused to accept ignorance as an excuse for salvation. The only way provided today is by an acceptance of Christ Jesus as one’s personal savior, anything short of that standard is treated as a denial of God. For instance, not going to church is a sin of disobedience on the part Christians (Heb. 10:25). Many are unaware of such truth; yet, they have access to the Bible. So, opportunities abound to learn and to know the truth about the truth; either in the church, in the library, online in our homes, on radio, TV or movies. Yet, until we know the truth to be tested, all other conjectures are deceptive.
Let us review this conversation between Thomas and Jesus:
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14: 5-6).
Now, until you can positively attest to the veracity of the above statement of Jesus Christ, you are still from locating the gospel truth. The bottom line is that if you must commit suicide by hanging, you certainly need a rope strong enough to carry your weight. If you must have faith in Jesus you need to be sure that he is always reliable, just as he claims.
The testimonies of Paul and the Thessalonians form an illustrative case. The Thessalonians in this case have moved beyond the doubting level. They have progressed into the operational mode where they cause the truth of the gospel to showcase positive results:
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake (1 Thess. 1:5).
In other words, the Thessalonians have tested the gospel, tried it out and confessed it before Apostle Paul could turn round to remind them of their joint witnesses. More importantly however, the point being made is that the gospel truth is a personal choice that the life and times story of Jesus confronts us with irrespective of how long ago that was. That truth is encoded in the offer of a new life, a new beginning for all humanity. All Bible stories demonstrate the same theme, namely; that sins and wickedness of men reach such a tempo that God vows to destroy them. Yet, if men repent, and confess their sins, God is always willing to forgive us. Further, God will make provisions for our new lifestyle in order to tackle our immediate needs and spiritual growth.
Whatever beliefs or lifestyles we may have at the moment, we can still fit into the new drama. Most importantly, using the gospel truth to positively influence once life decisions produces very significant changes in one’s lifestyle and company.
Learn this wisdom, Buy this treasure
A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you (Psalm 91:7).
The common finding is that we do not have a problem with the laws, but to observe them bore us. And this is where our problems begin. We start to find excuses to rationalize the laws or the situation. We try to fit the laws into our comfort zones instead of our circumstances. Yet, the same laws have universally been observed over time. And people have been placed on record for keeping the same laws righteously (Heb. 11). Therefore, it is a trick of Satan to appeal to our ego and pride to find an excuse to avoid a behavior that we know is good, that everyone else is sure of, and basically assumes correct. Then, we throw our fingers in air and refer to that spiritual defense, “I don’t believe” or “I am not sure yet”; knowing fully that no one can touch that however much they cared.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Tim. 1:15).
This is the gospel truth, and the last free opportunity. After this, the only other chance will cost you your own blood (Rev. 20:4).
Truth will be the chief judge (Rev. 20: 11-12)
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? Who “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Rom. 2: 1-4,6).
The truth of God as we routinely apply it to our daily lives remains the standard and the basis for judgment. It does not matter how we have lived our life or whatever else we believe if we reject the truth of God. Even, if it is with our final breadth that we confess Jesus Christ, our previous lifestyle becomes irrelevant o our final destination. In other words, it is the basic belief that governed that lifestyle that will form the truth determining the final judgment of God. Unfortunately, that final judgment is a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ situation with no opportunity for a defense, a rebuttal or an appeal.
To be certain of the ‘Yes’ requires a non-negotiable or irreconcilable submission to the offer of the grace of salvation from all unrighteousness by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
God has enough provision for us to live a lifestyle that evidences separation unto Him. From the moment that we accept this truth, it becomes required of us to diligently follow the rules that He provided for us to live a lifestyle which guides us to our rewards on that last day.
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3: 19-26).
So, what we choose to believe will not matter on that day. We have been provided enough historical evidence and other apparently circumstantial evidences for us to objectively confirm the veracity of God.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books (Rev. 20:11-12).
Will how you lived matter?
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work (Rev. 22:12).
Many religions have their strong moral codes to which the adherents usually comply. In the non-Christian faiths, observing these codes usually result in characters that can be humanly classified as righteous, if not revered for the holiness. The Dalai Lama is a living example. Chairman Mao was another good one. Apart from these international figures, I am sure that we can all quote the names of champions from our local cultures and religions.
Shamefully however, many Christians confuse the grace associated with salvation as a justification for careless behavior. The result is that in the society, one can find a spectrum of behaviors and belief systems, many of which are confused about God will judge these situations on that last day. In fact, the water appears so muddled that many people are very confused about what will be the most important criteria for that judgment on that day.
For instance, considering our time in historic perspectives, will hearing the gospel preached to us before we die count or will it not? Will backsliding and/or subsequent restitution be of any effect? How fair is that to people who believe that they have been pious all along, yet refused to accept the gospel? What will happen to children swept by various accidents? It will be rather unfair to suggest that these questions are not valid intellectual challenges; even the most astute evangelists will pause for a while before offering some answers.
God recognizes the issues
Yet, if we look clearly at our scriptures, we have a lot of guidance provided in there for us. for instance, when God decided to send Moses back to Egypt to deliver the oppressed Israelites and Moses was coming up with all sorts of excuses, one God’s answer in that conversation is particularly remarkable. God said:
So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? (Exo. 4:11)
Therefore, God knew that Moses had issues. God recognized that the stammering tongue of Moses was imperfection and a source of embarrassment to him; yet, God had determined to use the same deficiency to advocate the cause of Israel in the courts of Pharaoh from the mind of one (Moses) who very familiar with the protocols of that palace.
More importantly, in this passage God confirmed that He created the imperfections and that He recognizes their existence. Earlier, we had read the account of the His interaction with Noah where God specifically confirmed His creation both clean and unclean animals, as He instructed Noah on the preparations for going into the Ark with his family (Gen. 7: 2-3).
Essentially, this is what entering through the narrow gates instructions of Jesus Christ clarifies for us (Matt. 7: 13-14). It is clear that even as early as the time of Noah, God let us know that He understands that evil, wickedness and unrighteousness exist along with the good and the righteous in this world. Hence, when God decided that the time was ripe to destroy the world, He preserved Noah and his family (Gen. 6:8; Gen. 7:1). The intellectual argument that will challenge the historicity of the Noah story must a tall one. Yet, with the story of Noah arrives the covenant of the rainbow, making the event difficult to debunk (Gen. 9: 13-15).
Rewards for your lifestyle
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15)
So far, we have assumed that the reader believes the scriptures for forever reasons. However, we continue to insist that it is not unholy to examine the very object upon which of from whom all these claims emerge. For instance, is this covenant of the rainbow as recorded in the ancient writings of Moses believable? One may agree that Moses grew up in the best of schooling environment in the palaces of Egypt (credited with the origin civilization). Yet, this record is about all that we have for its historic veracity. It is very important that science may have a description of this weather effect; yet, the origin remains unexplained. It is my suggestion that we include this covenant as an exhibit in favor of the existence of God.
Our first scriptural quote (Rev. 22: 12) refers to a dangerous warning against being caught with carelessness compromising one’s righteousness as Jesus surprisingly returns. It will be too late to retract form the shame of the carelessness. Yet, in the same vision of John, Jesus talks about all sorts of rewards for all sorts of behaviors including the righteous and unrighteous lifestyles, and categories in between in our human imagination:
He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work (Rev. 22: 11-12).
Apostle Peter in his writings also confirmed this concept when he said:
and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) — then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries (2 Pet. 2: 7-10).
Therefore, in all phases of history and their languages God continues to confirm His knowledge of our attitudes, behaviors and characters; essentially, our lifestyles with a promise to reward us at the appropriate time. Yet, that timing is another important issue.
God shut the door
Let use Noah as our example once again. Gen. 7:16 makes us realize that after God had separated the righteous people into the Ark of Noah, He sealed them in. later on, when God decided that it was safe and dry, He released Noah to give him a new set of instructions (Gen. 8: 15-16).
Ever since in history we have continued to record unexpected ways that life has ended. We have heard of earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and the rest of them including nuclear disasters. These are natural occurrences that we have no control over, and whose warnings signs may not give us enough room to escape. If it was Noah that the door of the Ark, he may have been merciful enough to consider some of his old friends that would have come to plead with him to save them, and their own children too. At least, he may have pitied the children and tried to accommodate them as the storm began. But it was beyond Noah this time around, it was God Himself that shut the door.
That is a glimpse to the kind of surprise that Jesus was talking about in the vision of John recorded in the book of Revelations. However, the picture painted is instructive because that is exactly how surprisingly it will turn out when that end comes. Either one dies naturally or in accident, or one is caught up with the Rapture of the saints event or one makes it alive until The Day if God’s Final Judgment. Whichever it turns out to be, it will be beyond human control at that time. We will then be faced with the issue of gratification for how we have spent our lives.
However, we need to be very careful. This is because even the scriptures recognize that as men we tend to rationalize our behaviors for their so-called good.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits (Prov. 16:2).
The danger lies in the yardstick used to measure these behaviors. The scriptures actually reports God Himself saying that our thoughts are continually evil (Gen. 6:5). However, we believe that we are righteous before God or not, we need to remember that the shut will be one fateful day. From that moment one, we will be left to collect our rewards on the other side. Noah did so has it been in principle. That may sound quixotically like the action and reaction equality law? But most importantly, let us take the last word from the wisest of kings, I mean King Solomon:
Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established. The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom (Prov. 16: 3-4).