Got Questions: What Is The Gospel?

Question: “What is the gospel?”

Answer: The word gospel literally means “good news” and occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word euaggelion, from which we get our English words evangelist, evangel, and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of Scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the good news concerning Christ and the way of salvation.

The key to understanding the gospel is to know why it’s good news. To do that, we must start with the bad news. The Old Testament Law was given to Israel during the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 5:1). The Law can be thought of as a measuring stick, and sin is anything that falls short of “perfect” according to that standard. The righteous requirement of the Law is so stringent that no human being could possibly follow it perfectly, in letter or in spirit. Despite our “goodness” or “badness” relative to each other, we are all in the same spiritual boat—we have sinned, and the punishment for sin is death, i.e. separation from God, the source of life (Romans 3:23). In order for us to go to heaven, God’s dwelling place and the realm of life and light, sin must be somehow removed or paid for. The Law established the fact that cleansing from sin can only happen through the bloody sacrifice of an innocent life (Hebrews 9:22).

The gospel involves Jesus’ death on the cross as the sin offering to fulfill the Law’s righteous requirement (Romans 8:3–4; Hebrews 10:5–10). Under the Law, animal sacrifices were offered year after year as a reminder of sin and a symbol of the coming sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:3–4). When Christ offered Himself at Calvary, that symbol became a reality for all who would believe (Hebrews 10:11–18). The work of atonement is finished now, and that’s good news.

The gospel also involves Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The fact that Jesus conquered sin and death (sin’s penalty) is good news, indeed. The fact that He offers to share that victory with us is the greatest news of all (John 14:19).

The elements of the gospel are clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6, a key passage concerning the good news of God: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living.” Notice, first, that Paul “received” the gospel and then “passed it on”; this is a divine message, not a man-made invention. Second, the gospel is “of first importance.” Everywhere the apostles went, they preached the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Third, the message of the gospel is accompanied by proofs: Christ died for our sins (proved by His burial), and He rose again the third day (proved by the eyewitnesses). Fourth, all this was done “according to the Scriptures”; the theme of the whole Bible is the salvation of mankind through Christ. The Bible is the gospel.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is a bold message, and we are not ashamed of proclaiming it. It is a powerful message, because it is God’s good news. It is a saving message, the only thing that can truly reform the human heart. It is a universal message, for Jews and Gentiles both. And the gospel is received by faith; salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9).

The gospel is the good news that God loves the world enough to give His only Son to die for our sin (John 3:16). The gospel is good news because our salvation and eternal life and home in heaven are guaranteed through Christ (John 14:1–4). “He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).

The gospel is good news when we understand that we do not (and cannot) earn our salvation; the work of redemption and justification is complete, having been finished on the cross (John 19:30). Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). The gospel is the good news that we, who were once enemies of God, have been reconciled by the blood of Christ and adopted into the family of God (Romans 5:10; John 1:12). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). The gospel is the good news that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

To reject the gospel is to embrace the bad news. Condemnation before God is the result of a lack of faith in the Son of God, God’s only provision for salvation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17–18). God has given a doomed world good news: the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Recommended Resource: What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Credit: Gotquestions.org

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A Case For The Empty Tomb

Question: “What is the importance of the empty tomb?”

Answer: From the earliest apostolic period, the reality of the empty tomb—the biblical truth that the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was found empty by His disciples—has been at the center of the Christian proclamation. All four Gospels describe, to varying degrees, the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1–6; Mark 16:1–7; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1–12). But are there any good reasons to think that these claims are historically accurate? Could a fair-minded investigator conclude that, in all probability, Jesus’ tomb was found empty on that first Easter morning? There are several arguments that have convinced a good many historians that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was indeed found empty on the Sunday following His crucifixion.

First, the location of Jesus’ tomb would have been known to Christians and non-Christians alike. While it is true that most victims of crucifixion were either thrown in a graveyard reserved for common criminals or simply left on the cross for birds and other scavengers to feed upon, the case of Jesus was different. The historical record indicates that Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, the very group that had orchestrated Jesus’ execution. Many skeptical New Testament scholars have been convinced that Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to have been a Christian fabrication. Given the understandable hostility of the earliest Christians toward the Sanhedrin, whom they felt were largely responsible for their Master’s death, it is unlikely that Jesus’ followers would have invented a tradition about a member of the Sanhedrin using his own tomb to provide Jesus with a respectable burial.

In addition, recent archaeological discoveries have demonstrated that the style of tomb described in the burial accounts in the Gospels (an acrosolia or bench tomb) was largely used by the wealthy and other people of prominence. Such a description fits nicely with what we know of Joseph of Arimathea. Moreover, when we couple these considerations with the fact that Arimathea was a town of little importance that lacked any type of scriptural symbolism and that no competing burial tradition exists, any serious doubt that Jesus was buried in Joseph’s tomb is eliminated.

The significance of these facts should not be overlooked as the Sanhedrin would then have certainly known the location of Joseph’s tomb, and thus, where Jesus had been interred. And if the location of Jesus’ tomb was known to the Jewish authorities, it would have been nearly impossible for the Christian movement to have gained any traction in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus was known to have been buried. Would not any of the Jewish religious leaders have taken the short walk to Joseph’s tomb to verify this claim? Did not the Sanhedrin have every motivation to produce Jesus’ corpse (if it were available) and put an end to these rumors of a resurrected Jesus once and for all? The fact that Christianity began to gain converts in Jerusalem tells us that no corpse had been produced despite the Jewish religious leadership having every motivation to produce one. If Jesus’ crucified body had been produced, the Christian movement, with its emphasis on a resurrected Jesus, would have been dealt a lethal blow.

Second, the empty tomb is implied in the early oral formula quoted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. While all four Gospels attest to the vacancy of Jesus’ tomb, our earliest hint at the empty tomb comes from the Apostle Paul. Writing to the church at Corinth in approximately AD 55, Paul quotes an oral formula (or creed) that most scholars believe he received from the apostles Peter and James just five years after Jesus’ crucifixion (Galatians 1:18–19). Paul states, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3–5). When Paul writes “…that he was buried, that he was raised…” it is strongly implied (given Paul’s Pharisaical background) that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty. As a former Pharisee, Paul would have naturally understood that what goes down in burial comes up in resurrection; he accepted the idea of physical resurrection even before his encounter with Christ. Given that Paul’s source for this creed was most likely the Jerusalem apostles and their proximity to the events in question, Paul’s citation of this oral formula provides strong evidence that Jesus’ tomb had been found empty and that this fact was widely known in the early Christian community. The oft-repeated objection that Paul was unaware of an empty tomb is answered when we see that elsewhere Paul taught that Jesus’ resurrection was bodily in nature (Romans 8:11; Philippians 3:21). For Paul, a resurrection that did not produce a vacant tomb would have been a contradiction in terms.

Third, there appears to be strong enemy attestation of the existence of an empty tomb. The first of these comes from within the pages of the Gospel of Matthew itself where Matthew reports that there was an acknowledgment of the empty tomb by the Jewish leaders themselves (Matthew 28:13–15). They were claiming that the disciples had come and stolen away Jesus’ body. Given the proximity of the writing of Matthew’s Gospel to the event in question, such a claim would have been easy to disprove if untrue. For if Matthew were lying, his report of the Jewish response to the empty tomb proclamation could have easily been discredited as many of the contemporaries of the events in question would still have been alive when Matthew’s Gospel was initially circulating. But why would they accuse the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body if the tomb still contained the dead body of Jesus? The counter-accusation made by the Jews presupposes that the tomb was empty.

That the Jews accused the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body is corroborated by the Christian apologist Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century (Dialogue with Trypho, 108) and then again around AD 200 by the church father Tertullian (De Spectaculis, 30). Both Justin and Tertullian were interacting with the Jewish debaters of their day and were in a position to know what it was their Jewish opponents were saying. They were not simply relying on Matthew’s Gospel for their information. For both Justin and Tertullian mention specific details not found in the Gospel of Matthew. In fact, all three of these writers cite details not mentioned by the others. Based on these considerations, it appears that there was an early Jewish acknowledgement of an empty tomb.

Fourth, all four Gospels report that the tomb of Jesus was discovered empty by women. This point is especially significant given the patriarchal nature of first-century Israel. While it is true that, under very limited circumstances, women were allowed to testify in a court of law, it is also the case that, in first-century Jewish society, a woman’s testimony was worth far less than that of a man. If you were making up a story in an attempt to persuade others that Jesus had been resurrected, you would never have used women as your primary witnesses. Any made-up story would have featured male disciples like Peter, John, or Andrew as the discoverers of the empty tomb, as the testimony of men would have provided much-needed credibility to the story.

Yet the Gospels report that, while Jesus’ male disciples were cowering in fear, hiding from the authorities, it was women who were the earliest witnesses of the empty tomb. There would simply be no reason for the early church to concoct such a scenario unless it was true. Why would the early Christians portray their male leadership as cowards and place females in the role of primary witnesses? One of these named female witnesses (Mary Magdalene) was said to have been possessed of seven devils earlier in her life, thus making her an even less reliable witness in the eyes of many. And yet, despite these evidential handicaps, the earliest Christians insisted that the first witnesses to the empty tomb were, in fact, women. The most likely explanation of this insistence is that these women were the initial witness of the empty tomb and that the earliest Christians were unwilling to lie about it despite its potentially embarrassing nature.

All four of these arguments help to provide cumulative proof that the tomb of Jesus Christ was empty on the first Easter. Particularly telling is the conclusion of historian Michael Grant, himself a skeptic of Jesus’ resurrection, “…if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was, indeed, found empty.”

Of course, there is more to the story than merely an empty tomb. The reason the tomb was found empty was that the man who was buried there had risen from the dead. Jesus would not only vacate His grave but appear to numerous people individually (Luke 24:34) and in groups (Matthew 28:9; John 20:26–30; 21:1–14; Acts 1:3–6; 1 Corinthians 15:3–7). And His resurrection from the dead would be the sure proof that He was who He claimed to be (Matthew 12:38–40; 16:1–4)—the risen Son of God, our only hope of salvation.

Recommended Resource: The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas

What Does It Mean That Jesus Fulfilled The Law, But Did Not Abolish It?

Question: “What does it mean that Jesus fulfilled the law, but did not abolish it?”

Answer: In Matthew’s record of what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, these words of Jesus are recorded: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).

It is frequently argued that if Jesus did not “abolish” the law, then it must still be binding. Accordingly, such components as the Sabbath-day requirement must be operative still, along with perhaps numerous other elements of the Mosaic Law. This assumption is grounded in a misunderstanding of the words and intent of this passage. Christ did not suggest here that the binding nature of the law of Moses would remain forever in effect. Such a view would contradict everything we learn from the balance of the New Testament (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).

Image result for jesus and the lawOf special significance in this study is the word rendered “abolish.” It translates the Greek term kataluo, literally meaning “to loosen down.” The word is found seventeen times in the New Testament. It is used, for example, of the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans (Matthew 26:61; 27:40; Acts 6:14), and of the dissolving of the human body at death (2 Corinthians 5:1). The term can carry the extended meaning of “to overthrow,” i.e., “to render vain, deprive of success.” In classical Greek, it was used in connection with institutions, laws, etc., to convey the idea of “to invalidate.”

It is especially important to note how the word is used in Matthew 5:17. In this context, “abolish” is set in opposition to “fulfill.” Christ came “…not to abolish, but to fulfill.” Jesus did not come to this earth for the purpose of acting as an opponent of the law. His goal was not to prevent its fulfillment. Rather, He revered it, loved it, obeyed it, and brought it to fruition. He fulfilled the law’s prophetic utterances regarding Himself (Luke 24:44). Christ fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law, which called for perfect obedience under threat of a “curse” (see Galatians 3:10, 13). In this sense, the law’s divine design will ever have an abiding effect. It will always accomplish the purpose for which it was given.

If, however, the law of Moses bears the same relationship to men today, in terms of its binding status, then it was not fulfilled, and Jesus failed at what He came to do. On the other hand, if the Lord did accomplish His goal, then the law was fulfilled, and it is not a binding legal institution today. Further, if the law of Moses was not fulfilled by Christ—and thus remains as a binding legal system for today—then it is not just partially binding. Rather, it is a totally compelling system. Jesus plainly said that not one “jot or tittle” (representative of the smallest markings of the Hebrew script) would pass away until all was fulfilled. Consequently, nothing of the law was to fail until it had completely accomplished its purpose. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus fulfilled all of the law. We cannot say that Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system, but did not fulfill the other aspects of the law. Jesus either fulfilled all of the law, or none of it. What Jesus’ death means for the sacrificial system, it also means for the other aspects of the law.

Recommended Resource: The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology by Jason Meyer

Credit: gotquestions.org

YOUR CHANCES

Twixt doubt and dismay you are smitten

You think there’s no chance for you?

Why?

Did you not know…….

The best books haven’t been written

The best race hasn’t been run,

The best score hasn’t been made yet,

The best song hasn’t been sung,

The best tune hasn’t been played yet,
Cheer up, for the world is young!
No chance? Why the world is just eager

For things that you ought to create

Its store of true wealth is still meagre

Its needs are incessant and great,

It yearns for more power and beauty

More laughter and love and romance,

More loyalty, labor and duty,

No chance – why there’s nothing but chance!
For the best verse hasn’t been rhymed yet,

The best house hasn’t been planned,

The highest peak hasn’t been climbed yet,

The mightiest rivers aren’t spanned,

Don’t worry and fret, faint hearted,

The chances have just begun,

For the Best jobs haven’t been started,

The Best work hasn’t been done.

So

Keep moving

The world is counting on you.

The chances have just started.

AAT

​WHO ARE YOU BECOMING?

WHO ARE YOU BECOMING? (IN A SPLIT SECOND)

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

 And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. 

ROMANS 8:29-30

mostimportant-01Things can go sour really quick sometimes maybe because of our impatience, laziness and other pretty little stuff – things we know of, read on, and seem to understand the way they work but still …

They’re painful and annoying, we keep doing it or such situations seem to befall us day in day out and we can’t seem to get rid of, it becomes like a thorn in our flesh.

It really hurts and all we do is to be honest with God in such situations but they just don’t go like we expect it to be right? Like in a split second or at the blink of the eye.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away (it: that thorn in the flesh). 

Each time he said, “MY GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED. MY POWER WORKS BEST IN WEAKNESS.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.   

2 CORINTHIANS 12:8-9 [NLT]

Hope you can relate, countless times we have asked God to take that thing away.

This brings me to my message, God is more interested in the long run who we are becoming than the just granting us wishes. Romans 8:30 shows us the process. Think about it; it is step by step and the Holy Spirit is not man that he will fail or disappoint us. Have faith in the God who chose you and has a purpose for you.

14. So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered Heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 

15. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing we do, yet he did not sin. 

16. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. 

Hebrews 4:14-16

O what a loving, gracious God He is. He who knows our anxious thoughts but still loves us the same and gave His life for us May His name be praised forevermore.

God alone is our peace and joy. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

In a split second we can lose all our achievements (degrees, houses, cars etc) we could lose even our loved ones but we can never lose who God has molded us to be and who He is in our lives, the peace and joy in our hearts, mind and souls in the midst of trials and pain.

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,

or, whine, Israel, saying,

“God has lost track of me.

He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.

    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.

He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.

    And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,

    gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,

    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,

They run and don’t get tired,

    they walk and don’t lag behind.

Isaiah 40:27-31

Much love.

Cecil O. N.

Thy Mighty Grasp of me.

Between gleams of joy and clouds of doubt

Our feelings come and go;

Our best estate is tossed about
In ceaseless ebb and flow.

No mood of feeling, form of thought

Is constant for a day;

But thou, 0 Lord, thou changest not:

The same thou art alway.
I grasp thy strength, make it mine own,

My heart with peace is blest;

I lose my hold, and then comes down

Darkness, and cold unrest.

Let me no more my comfort draw

From my frail hold of thee,

In this alone I rejoice with awe

Thy mighty grasp of me.
Out of that weak, unquiet drift

That comes but to depart,

To that pure heaven my spirit lift

Where thou unchanging art.

Lay hold of me with thy strong grasp,

Let thy almighty arm

In its embrace my weakness clasp,

And I shall fear no harm.

Thy purpose of eternal good

Let me but surely know;

On this I’ll lean—let changing mood

And feeling come or go—

Glad when thy sunshine fills my soul,

Not lorn when clouds overcast,

Since thou within thy sure control

Of love dost hold me fast.

                 

                 Hebrews 13:8

                     [KJV]

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.


aaT~to Him, the glory be.

NoTHinG

My pen

How priceless you are

I would like you to talk about “nothing”

It is a most peculiar word

I have heard it used so often

The way it’s used is often absurd

I’m told there’s “nothing” to worry about

Yet I worry about “nothing” for days

When the what-ifs I worry about happens not to be so

There isn’t another word for “nothing”

With “nothing” only “nothing” can compare

When a woman speaks about all her clothing

How is it possible she has “nothing” to wear

When she tells me I’m “nothing” short of amazing

What in the world does that “nothing” mean

If that “nothing” is really something

If I look will that “nothing” be seen

We are told that everything comes from “nothing”

A “nothing” theory that lacks evidence

A Big Bang and a boom from a “nothing”

If an explosion is something

Is that why “nothing” makes sense

So if “nothing” in the end becomes “something

Then “nothing” is “nothing” at all

Just a word that causes confusion

“nothing” can be big or quite small

If “nothing” can separate us from God’s love

Please keep “nothing” away from me

For if I settle for “nothing”

It will separate me from eternity

So you can see why “nothing” is a problem

I am “nothing” if I can’t be me

“Nothing” in the end is perplexing

For “nothing” is a mystery.

AAT