(This is the second in a series called “New Direction”) – With the introductions out of the way, we jump right into the meat of what this show is about. As I mentioned before, my wife, friends and I desire to share what we have learned over two decades of following Christ and living for His Glory outside the context of a traditional church gathering. Of course, much of what I share will also benefit those who play a role in a traditional church, as well. Today’s entry, in particular, can benefit anyone, believer or not. Today we talk about the Gospel message. The word gospel means good news.
Here are some scriptures which plainly convey the Gospel message.
1 Cor3.1 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time.
John 3.16 – For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten child that whosoever believes in Him will not parish but have ever lasting life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
This is the plot of Bible for me, as it were, or the Heart of the Matter. With little exception, most matters outside of this message are debatable for me, at best, but not worth castrating a brother for. For the most part, sticking to the above message alone seperates us from most major religions. Jews, for example, do not believe Jesus was the messiah, and, therefore, did not die for our sins. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, and did not die on a cross for the sins of the world. The list goes on, but suffice to say, if you believe what the New Testament scriptures say above, you have a hard line division with just about every non-Christian faith out there. This should not suprise us. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father but by me!”
One major religion might give pause…the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After all, they have His name in their title, and a quick search brings up their following statement, “Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross—that is, by performing the Atonement —Jesus Christ saves us from our sins (1 Peter 2:21) as we follow Him. Because of the Atonement, you can be forgiven of your sins when you sincerely repent (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 26:30).” So far, so good. This seems to add a message of repentance onto the requirement of ‘believe in Him (Jesus)’ noted above. Normally, I do not have an issue with that, as numerous Bible passages show that repentance leads to life. Faith in Jesus and repentance from sin are two sides of the same coin. To have faith in Jesus, we must turn from sin. (I would like to write more, but that’s beyond the scope of this article, See more here.)
However, a little more digging brings up their following statement on repentance.
When we sincerely repent, we:
- Confess the sin to both God and anyone who has been harmed by our sin. In cases of serious sin, confession needs to be made to the proper priesthood authority.
- Ask forgiveness from God and from anyone we have harmed.
- When possible, repair the damage we have done.
- Forsake our sins.
- Strive to keep the commandments.
As the southern saying goes, the devil is in the details… prescribing specific steps required for true repentance, where the Bible does not spell them out, pushes a line, at best. Stating that ‘serious sin’ must be made to the proper priesthood authority not only goes clearly beyond what scripture teaches, but also puts the way to salvation behind a man-made wall never meant to be there. Therefore, based on what they clearly add to the gospel message, I would definitely say that the qualified as heretical teaching, or teaching that does not qualify as Gospel.
These finer points get into doctrine, and there are a few I would point out as heretical, namely those which change the gospel message. Most differences we can argue, create different groupings, and agree to disagree on. However, I would still consider them my brothers and sisters, supporting them as God leads. On my next blog entry, “Doctrines,” I will review some of those in detail.