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March 13, 2013

The True Gospel of the Love of God

By Anthony Wade

When it comes to the Gospel...what is love?


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -- John 3: 16 (NIV)

Writing about matters of discernment within the church regarding false teachings can have a habit of wearing on you. Going against popular culture, while having eternal value, can cause strains in the temporal. People reflexively prefer to consider their church as infallible rather than Scripture. That is because as humans we tend to think only about the intent of people. That is how the more popular heresies infiltrate the church. When I try to discuss matters of doctrine I am often greeted with matters of personality.   As if the fact that someone might be a good fellow has any relevance to whether their teaching is false. The other argument offered usually goes something like this: "well what's the big deal?" The big deal is that the eternal souls of men are at stake with every utterance of false doctrine. For every person that might be able to "eat the meat and spit out the bones"; there are ten who choke to death on the bone because they do not know the difference yet. For every ten people who might be somehow reached or helped through a false teaching there might be a hundred that think they are saved and are not. Doctrine is so important it is one of only two things Paul warned Timothy to guard closely -- his life being the other. When I was considering why it is so important to me, I keep coming back to two Scriptures:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God's curse! -- Galatians 1: 8-9 (NIV)

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. -- James 3: 1 (NLT)

I am not talking about matters of secondary importance. Quite frankly I prefer that we talk about what joins us together. The love of Christ. The sacrifice of Calvary. Our personal relationship with God and working out our salvation with fear and trembling. But these two Scriptures should resound in the ears of anyone who dares to try and teach anything to the elect of God or those seeking Him. The Apostle Paul declares a curse upon anyone who distorts the Gospel and James reminds us that as teachers we will be held to higher account when we stand before God. We were supposed to care about all of the sheep entrusted to us and will be held to account for each and every one of them. For every careless word spoken. Every time we used the Gospel for personal gain. Every time we were willing to cut corners and compromise the Gospel for the sake of constructing temporal buildings and the works of man under the guise of "reaching as many for Christ as we can." We might impress ourselves here with our human rationales but when we stand before God our excuses will fall to the floor like chaff on the threshing floor.

I say this as the backdrop because I asked God for a feel good message to write today. Something about Your love, ya know? He said to write about how He sent His only Son to die for our sins, the very thing that separates us from Him. Not so we can waste it chasing myths and fairy tales but so that all may come to repentance. I said, "I don't think You got the point." He said, "No, you didn't..."

Soundly rebuked I retreated back into the Word to find a verse that would sum up what God wanted written and when it comes to the true Gospel message -- John 3:16 fits the bill better than any other verse. As we start to exposit the verse we see the first message God always wants us to understand is that He loves us. For He so loved the world. Just insert your own name where "world" is in that verse and make it personal. For God so loved Bob. For God so loved Mary. How does the Bible describe this love?

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. -- Ephesians 3: 17-19 (NLT)

The world and the devil have done a masterful job of perverting love. Within the world system we have denigrated love to something akin to a bear trap that we "fall into" and we can't get out of. We use love as an excuse to stay in abusive situations. We assign disabling terms to love such as blindness and think that it is romantic. When it is no longer convenient for us we claim to then have magically "fallen out" of love as well -- wanting our cake and eating it too. Our concept of love is largely conditional. As long as the other person meets those conditions we seek in the relationship we stay "in love" but the second we think we have unmet needs our eyes start wandering. God's love is positional. It stems from His position as our Creator. Look at these Ephesians verses! Christ doesn't just want to be alive in our lives but in our hearts! His love is so great that we will never fully understand it. We couldn't imagine speaking nicely to someone who cuts us off in traffic, let alone loving them, yet while we were still sinners Christ went to the Calvary for us! The shape of love is not a heart -- it's a cross.  

The second teaching point in the key verse is that God so loved the world beloved. Not America. Not just the people in the pews next to us. Not just republicans or democrats. Not just white people or black people. God does not have our prejudices. We are supposed to love everyone as God does! We are supposed to love the homosexual. We are supposed to love the Muslim. We are supposed to love the unlovable. Jesus loved the sinners. He loved the lepers. He loved everyone. Take the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus purposefully made the hero of the story someone who was reviled by the Jewish people in that time. Samaritans were considered half-breeds and were contemptuously looked down upon as such. Yet in this story -- religion walks by the bloodied man twice in the forms of the Levite and Temple Worker.   The Bible says they even crossed over to the other side of the road! But the Samaritan stopped and helped. He showed love. Remember, the reason Jesus told the parable was someone was asking who his neighbor was when Jesus said we must love our neighbors. We hear a lot about the love of God from televangelists but rarely within this context.

Thirdly in the key verse we see that God gave us the gift of His only Son. I say this because too often churches can abuse people and make them feel as if they are under constant condemnation. While many churches have embraced grace alone teachings, which is a distortion of the Gospel, many then contradict themselves by strictly enforcing emergent church theories which demand service to the church. The danger again is that false teachings lead many to the broad path because people believe they are saved when they are not. There has been no serious discussion of sin and repentance. Why after all did God give His Son? The verse following the key verse explains:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. -- John 3: 17 (NIV)

I read recently where a popular pastor felt that we needed to stop using the term, "saved", because people were not understanding it. That is where seeker-friendly and emergent church theories of growth end up. People do not understand the term saved because they are not being taught the word salvation. They are not being taught why God gave His only Son and why they need saving. They are not being made to examine their own sin sick soul. We then ask them vacuous questions like "do you want to go to heaven"; call them up to a compromised altar and make them recite a three sentence prayer in order to "welcome them to the family." It doesn't work like that beloved. The falsely converted then embark on their service to the church and essentially live out a salvation based upon works:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--   not by works, so that no one can boast. -- Ephesians 2: 8-9 (NIV)

This is how people will come to the last day only to say "Lord Lord, didn't I do this and that in Your name" only to be turned away. The gift of salvation is free but without the presentation of the uncompromised Gospel it stays unwrapped.

Fourth in the key verse we see that this gift requires a response from us. We will not get to heaven based on our mother's faith. We will not have eternal life based upon our spouse. Whosoever believes indicates that we must make a choice beloved. So do our loved ones, family, friends, and co-workers. Everyone will have the same choice. Atheists make their choice to reject the Bible and place science on the throne. Agnostics believe in the general concept of a higher being but do not bother to try and figure it out. They too have said "no thank you" to the gift. Others believe in false religions, based upon the imaginations of men instead of the inspired Word of God. Mormonism for example follows the teachings of a 19th century bigamist pedophile who claims God gave him new revelation to add to the Bible, even though the Bible clearly says that all of the curses contained in it would apply to the fool who tries to add a single word to it. Whatever the alternate religion, these folks have also heard the Gospel message and said "no thanks." So what is it that we must believe? This is vitally important because therein lies the Gospel in its purest form:

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 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, -- 1Corinthians 15: 1-4 (NIV)

The Gospel message is not about getting rich. It is not about chasing experiential emotionalism. It is not about word faith, being seeker friendly, or purpose driven. Of first importance beloved is that Christ died for our sins! Any discussion that omits this is not a Gospel presentation! You can talk about the abounding love of God but without the qualifier of why, it is not an adequate Gospel to save anyone. Why? Because it is our sins that God is saving us from! You cannot preach grace without preaching why God needs to extend such grace. Who shows more love for some driving off a cliff? The one who holds your hand on the way down telling you how great you are or the one who screams at you to turn around your course? The loveless Gospel messenger is not the one who speaks of sin but rather the one who pretends it doesn't need to be discussed.

The fifth point is that there is a hell to shun beloved. There is a hell to be very afraid of. A place of darkness, gnashing of teeth, fire, sulfur and an eternal separation from God. I know we do not hear it too much within the mainstream evangelical circles anymore. We see such blatant heresy such as Rob Bell's "Love Wins" where the doctrine of hell is literally eliminated. Everyone wants a hell-less religion because then there is no consequence for sin. The key verse says that we will not perish! This cannot be any clearer. Any Gospel that refuses to deal with hell is a false Gospel and will not save anyone! We can all hold hands and sing kumbya until Jesus comes but when that day arrives you better make sure you have more than faux unity when you stand before Him! The love of God is infinitely wrapped up in His forgiveness of our sins, His sacrifice of His son and the eternal destinations of men.

The final point for today from the key verse is that while there is a hell to shun, there is also a heaven to gain! The eternal life we get to live now! Here is The Apostle John's description:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." -- Revelation 21: 3-5 (NLT)

That is the Gospel beloved -- it makes everything new. It is the love of God that compelled Him to send His only Son to earth to die in our place for our sins. Teachers will be held to a higher standard and accursed will be anyone who adds a single word to the Bible or who presents a different Gospel. This is serious business. Gospel of prosperity! Accursed! Gospel of word faith? Accursed! Gospel of seeker friendliness, which waters down the actual Gospel so as to not offend anyone? Accursed! Gospel of the emergent church theory, which changes the Gospel in order to be relevant to a dying and corrupt culture? Accursed! False healers? Accursed!

This is the true message of love from God for you today. God so loved YOU that He gave His only Son to die for YOU, because of your sin sick soul, that YOU will be forgiven, escape hell and the wrath of God. All the while inheriting eternal life. Never settle for less than the whole Gospel because it alone sets you free and delivers you into the house of the Lord"all else is sinking sand"

Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 13

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.