About Jesus Steve Sweetman
The Indisputable Essence Of The Gospel
In the year 2003 as I
write these words, our Canadian society has adopted the philosophy, or
as some conclude, the religion of tolerance.
We have become a nation and a society that has attempted with
great vigor to define and practice a lifestyle of tolerance.
The thinking concerning tolerance is not only that we tolerate
everyone in society, but include everyone in all aspects of society.
This can be seen of late in the legalization of same sex marriage
The very nature of
Christianity is somewhat exclusive.
It is exclusive in the sense that Christians believe in the
authenticity and inspiration of the Bible.
The Bible teaches that there is one God, one Lord, one Saviour,
and one way to approach God and His salvation.
As a result of this teaching of “oneness”, it excludes any
other notion of who God is, what He does, and how one can approach Him.
The Bible also teaches
that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all things and that He is in fact God
in human form. It goes
on to say concerning God, that
He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the God that Christians serve.
Thus Jesus is central in Christian thinking, especially in
relationship to whom God is. Jesus
is the only way in which mankind can approach God, as defined in
Biblical terms. Once again,
by making such a statement we exclude any other way of thinking
in an attempt to explain the nature of God and how we can
approach Him. Admittedly,
we are therefore exclusive in our approach to religious matters.
We cannot tolerate, or include other religious ideas into our
thinking. If we did, we
would not be consistent in our own beliefs, thus we would be denying the
God we claim to serve, that is, the God of the Bible.
As Christians there is no logic in being religiously inclusive.
If we did include other religious concepts, then we would
undermine the basic elements of Christianity.
Christianity then would no longer be Christianity.
It would be something else.
“Something else” is what we find in many so-called liberal
According to the Bible,
all truth comes from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It also teaches that God, or truth does not change.
The evolutionary process of truth is not consistent with Biblical
thinking. By this I mean,
that we cannot change any definitions or values promoted by God in
Scripture. Our society has
adopted the idea that truth is evolving.
This is called “relativism”.
How can this be? If
truth is truth, then how can truth change into something different, or
even something opposite to what it is?
If truth could be changed into something altogether different,
then it is no longer truth, or perhaps it wasn’t true in the first
place. Truth cannot change.
Can two plus two equal five? No.
Two plus two will never equal five.
It is impossible. In
the same respect, truth cannot change into something else either.
That just doesn’t make sense.
Therefore as a Christian I cannot redefine who God is, what He
says and does, and how He wants us to live.
In this world of
tolerance, I am sure a
non-Christian would find these words of mine very irritating and
frustrating. I have
personally been called intolerant and 100% non-Christian because I
don’t appear to love and accept everyone and the lifestyle they live.
Yet my first allegiance is to God.
It is not to love everyone, as some would define love.
Besides, true love, as defined by the Bible has nothing to do
with tolerating people in whatever activity they may be involved in.
Jesus in fact loves the whole world.
This is why He made such a great sacrifice.
Yet even though He loves everyone, He does not tolerate
everything they do. People will thus reap what they are now sowing.
God will judge us all according to how we respond to Him.
a non-Christian chooses to criticize me and the rest of the Christian
population, they shouldn’t do it on the basis of our belief system.
They shouldn’t criticize us on our apparent lack of loving tolerance.
They should criticize us for our stand on the Bible, for we
believe the Bible to be authentic and inspired by God, and this is where
we formulate our belief system.
Therefore I come to the
reason why I write this article. I
will attempt to relate the “Indisputable Essence Of The Gospel”,
that is, the basic elements that make the Christian faith what it is.
What do I mean by the
title “Indisputable Essence Of The Gospel”?
By “indisputable” I mean, what I have to say in this article
should not be disputed over by Christians.
These are truths that all Christians should accept.
If after reading these elementary truths you find yourself not
believing some of them, then you cannot really call yourself a true
Christian. These elementary
truths should be accepted by all Christians.
If you take away one truth, then you redefine what a Christian
is, and this is something that we should not do.
There are many secondary issues that we as Christians differ
over. In this respect, we do
need to tolerate one another. These
secondary issues can be vigorously debated, but in a peaceful, non
The “essence” of a
thing means, the essential things that make that thing what it is.
Thus, the essence of the Gospel means, the essential ideas that
make up the meaning of the Gospel. These
core things can be called the “central truths of the gospel”.
If you take out any of these central truths, that which makes the
gospel what it is, then you no longer have the true gospel.
For this reason I have
titled this writing, “The Indisputable Essence Of The Gospel”.
I will proceed to explain as simply as I can the basic elements
of God’s Salvation that we as Christians need to agree on.
These doctrines are “indisputable”.
I use the word “indisputable” because Paul tells us in Romans
14:1 not to pass judgment on others over “disputable matters”.
If there is such a thing called “disputable matters”, then
there must be a thing called “indisputable matters”.
Once again, the essence
of anything are the key ingredients that make that thing what it is.
If you take any part out, then that thing becomes something
different. So let us see
what the essentials of our Salvation are.
I have one last reminder.
My presupposition in all I say is that I believe the Bible to be
the Inspired and Infallible Word of God. Also, all Scripture I quote in
this book is from the New International Version of the Bible, 1994
edition. If this is not your
belief, then it is impossible for us to come to the same conclusions.
Before I proceed with
what I want to say, I feel that there are certain words that I would
like to define, so that when you read them you will understand what I
mean by them. Many
Biblical words and concepts are difficult for the modern reader because
Christianity and the Bible are becoming less familiar in our society as
we move towards a more post Christian era in thinking and practice.
One of these words that
we don’t use too often anymore, and in many cases when we do use it we
use it in a wrong sense. The
word is faith. When I use
the word faith, I simply mean “trust”.
If I have faith in a chair to hold me up as I sit in it, I trust
that chair. If I have faith
in a person, I trust that person. If
I have faith in Jesus, I trust Jesus.
Often faith is seen today
as a certain religion or a denomination within the Christian Church.
We may ask, “what faith are you”?
This type of thinking concerning faith is not found in the Bible.
Once again, faith simply means “to trust”.
The word believe is
similar to the word faith. Without
getting into a history of words, faith and believe in New Testament
Bible days both meant the same thing.
They both implied the idea of giving ones self to another in a
trusting relationship. Roughly
between 1150 and 1450 AD in the English language,
these two words had a departure in meaning.
The word faith still implied giving ones self to another in a
trusting relationship, but the word believe took on a new meaning.
The word believe became defined as “mentally accepting a way of
thinking”. No longer did
the word believe have anything to do with trusting someone.
It was degraded into a “mental acceptance of a belief
system”. Or to put it
another way, to simply agree with a particular way of thinking.
Yet in Jesus’ day the
word believe did not simply mean mental acceptance to something.
When Jesus said so many times to “believe in me”, He was not
telling people to merely acknowledge who He was.
Jesus meant that we should give ourselves to Him in a trusting
relationship. Do you see the
difference? There is a big
difference between accepting the idea that there was or is a Jesus and
then actually giving yourself to Him in a trusting relationship.
This is critical for us
to understand today as Christians. When
we tell someone today to believe in Jesus, how do you think they
understand these words? I
think they understand you to say that they should mentally accept
what you are saying to them, since this is the modern day meaning
of the word believe. But
this is not what Jesus wants them to do. This is not how Jesus wants
them to understand the word believe.
It is important for us to make sure people understand the
Biblical definition of the word believe, or else the very foundation of
what they call Christian will be inaccurate.
The word “righteous”
is another Biblical word that is seldom used in modern language.
We say that God is righteous.
By this we mean that He is perfectly right in every aspect of who
He is and what He says and does. There
is no wrong element that is part of who God is.
The good thing about trusting Jesus, is that God views us as
being righteous, even as He is righteous. We will get into that later.
When I say the words Holy
Spirit, I am not talking about some thing.
The Holy Spirit is not an it.
He is a He, a real person. He
in fact is God because God is Spirit as it says in John 4:24.
When I use the phrase,
“The Deity Of Christ”, I mean that Jesus is in fact God in human
flesh. That is what the word
When I use the word
“depraved” in relation to man, I mean that man is good for nothing,
or worthless. Depraved means
worthless. I will elaborate
When I use the word Law,
I am not simply talking about the Ten Commandments.
They are only part of what the Bible calls the Law.
The Law is numerous commands that taught the Jewish people in the
Old Testament how to live. It
included many types of rituals that God wanted them to perform, many of
which had to do with their sin. The
Law, otherwise known as the Law of Moses, is actually just as much
prophetic as it is a list of rules.
It foretells the life of Jesus as well as the history of
Talking about sin, this
is another misunderstood word. Many
think that sin is disobeying the Ten Commandments.
Sin is that and more. Sin
is anything we do that is outside our trust in Jesus.
Sin is anything we do that is not related to our faith in Christ.
Jesus Himself redefined
certain sins. For example
the Ten Commandments said, “don’t commit adultery.”
Jesus said, “if you look at a woman in a lustful way, you have
committed adultery in your heart”. (Matthew 5:21-37)
The same with murder. The
Law said, “don’t kill”, but Jesus said, ”if you get angry at
your brother, you have killed him in your heart”.
Sin is a matter of the
heart, the mind and the actions of our bodies.
Even good things we do can be seen as sin by God, because even
the best of things we do fall far short of God’s perfection.
So let us not think that sin is simply disobeying the Ten
We also need to
understand the word justice. In modern society we are said to have a
justice system. This is a
system set up to uphold certain rules that we should live by in order
for society to work properly. If
we brake one of these rules then there is a justice system that will
prove we broke a law and then punish us for that.
In many respects our western system of justice has been based in
As Christians we say that
God is just. God, who is perfect in all aspects of who He is, is
obviously then perfect in His sense of justice, or justness.
If this is so, He cannot sit back and watch people do wrong and
not do anything about it. His
action in fixing the problem of our wrong doing is what the good news of
Jesus is all about. God is
totally just. That means He
is more than fair. The word
fair does not really represent God’s justness properly.
His justness is perfect and He cannot be swayed in what He says
This brings us to the
word “justify”. This is
another Biblical word that seems to have little relevance in modern
thinking, although it is one very important word in the Bible.
The Bible speaks of us as “being justified” by God when we
give our lives to Jesus. This
means that God has done certain things and as a result He views us as
being righteous, or totally right in every aspect, even as He Himself is
totally right in every aspect of who He is.
This too is part of the good news Jesus has to tell us.
We can be viewed by God as being totally right in every aspect of
who we are, even though we are far from being right.
This is called being justified.
When we first come to
Jesus and are justified as I have just said, we often say that we get
saved. Another way in which
we say it is that we have received salvation.
Salvation is actually a three part process.
When we first come to Jesus, we say that we get saved.
We are saved from God’s wrath and many other lesser things.
Yet salvation is a process. Therefore
we also say that we are in the process of getting saved.
By this we mean that each new day as we walk with Jesus, we
become a little more like Him. Then
at some future date when Jesus returns to this earth to take us home to
Heaven, we will say that our salvation will be complete.
At that point the process is all over.
We will be like Jesus and have everything that He has planned for
us to have.
Anywhere that I use the
word Scripture, I am referring to the Bible as a sacred book that has
been inspired by God Himself. Christians
believe that in the original documents there are no errors, and that
they are totally God breathed upon.
We do not have the original documents with us today.
What we do have are close to the originals.
Without going into detail, the Bible, in a historical sense, is
the most authentic book ever written.
This is a historical fact.
When it comes to the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself, we see that His earthly name is Jesus.
Lord and Christ are two titles that have been given Him.
He is Lord, or King over all there is or ever will be.
He is the final authority in the universe.
He is Christ means that He is our Saviour.
By Saviour I mean, that He has saved those who trust in Him from
many things, not the least of which is the wrath of God.
When I say that words
“wrath and anger” I mean this. Wrath
is a powerful emotional outburst of anger that is directed to someone.
Wrath is very intense. Wrath
differs from anger in that anger can be more controlled, and is more of
a thing of the mind or a state of being.
Anger, unlike wrath, does not have to be acted upon.
Unfortunately popular belief today thinks that God can’t get
angry or He can not demonstrate wrath.
This is far from what the Bible says.
Once again, the good news that Jesus has to offer is that He has
provided a way to escape God’s anger and wrath. He has provided a way
to save us from this aspect of God’s character.
This is where Christians derive the words, “I am saved”.
Many other Biblical words
should be defined for us today so that we can better understand what the
Bible says. I have only
mentioned a few that are important to what I have to say.
Who Is Jesus?
We begin with the most
important truth, and that is “who is Jesus”?
Romans 1:2-4 says it very clearly.
Let me quote the verse. “the
gospel … regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a
descendent of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared
with power to be the Son of God, …
Jesus Christ our Lord”. In
this verse we see the two natures of Jesus, that is to say, He was fully
human, yet also fully God, while on earth.
Paul says that according
to Jesus’ human ancestry, He came from the lineage of David.
Yet Paul did not stop there.
He said that Jesus was also declared to be the Son of God.
This means that Jesus was God in the flesh.
Believing this fact is the first
key doctrine of Salvation.
Romans 9:5 says, “…
from them (
John 1:1 says, “In the
beginning was the Word, … and the Word was God”.
I don’t think there has been a Christian theologian in history
who hasn’t believed that Jesus is the Word that is spoken about here.
John 1:18 says, “No one
has ever seen God, but God the One and Only …”
Once again without going into great detail, Jesus is that One and
Only, that One and Only Son of God.
In reply to Thomas seeing
the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and side, he said, “my Lord and my
God”. (John 20:28) The
fact that Jesus did not deny this statement made by Thomas tells us that
Jesus believed that e was God.
Titus 2:13 says, “while
we wait for … the appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus
Christ”. Paul clearly
calls Jesus God in this verse.
Hebrews 1:8 says, “But
about the Son he says, your throne, O God, will last forever”.
The Son mentioned here is obviously Jesus.
Paul says to Timothy in 1
Timothy 3:16, “He appeared in a body”.
Most scholars would tell you that the pronoun He refers to God in
this verse. Thus Paul is
telling Timothy that God
appeared in a body. This is
consistent to what Paul also tells the Colossians in Colossians 2:9.
He says that “in
Christ, all of the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.
Both of these Scriptures tell us that God lived in a human body,
who was Jesus.
Peter also speaks of
Jesus as being God, when he says “…our God and Saviour, Jesus
Christ”. (2 Peter 1:1) Peter
calls Jesus both Saviour and God.
Let us look at Romans
1:2-4 again. Paul calls Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is His earthly name. He
has two tiles. They are Lord
and Christ. He is Lord of
all there ever was and ever will be.
He is also Saviour (or Christ)
for all who trust in Him.
Many lengthy books have
been written on the Deity of Christ, so it is not my intent to go into
more detail on the subject. There
are many other convincing proofs from Scripture that Jesus is in fact
God. For example, all five
of the Divine Attributes of
God can be seen in Jesus. Is
short; God is omnipotent, or all powerful.
So is Jesus. God is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere at all
times. So is Jesus by the
"Spirit of Christ", who is the Holy Spirit.
See Acts 16:6 to 10 for the term "Spirit of Christ". God
is eternal. So is Jesus.
God is omniscient, or all knowing.
So is Jesus. God is immutable, or doesn’t change in who He is.
The same with Jesus.
Once again, I could give
you many Scriptures to prove that these five attributes of God are found
in Jesus. I could also give
many other reasons why we can easily say that Jesus is God, but this
will do for now.
So to sum things up.
Jesus is God. Jesus
is Lord, the highest authority over all that exists anywhere.
He has become the Saviour (the Christ), by virtue of His
sacrifice on the cross for those who trust Him.
By Saviour I mean that He has saved us from God’s wrath that is
based on His justice. He has made it possible for mankind to be
reconciled to God.
The reason why Jesus’
sacrifice worked, that is, why God His Father was pleased with it, was
that it was perfect. It was
perfect in every aspect possible because Jesus Himself being God was
perfect in every aspect possible. No
other sacrifice could satisfy God, even the ones He asked
What About Man?
We have just clearly seen
who Jesus is. Now we need to
understand ourselves, and the condition we are in.
What I have to say about mankind is far from popular today in
modern psychology. As
a matter of fact in some areas of the church, even the Evangelical
church, what I have to say is not all that popular.
To understand man we must
take a quick look back to his beginning.
God made man in His own image. (Genesis 1:26)
Simply put, all that man is can be seen in God first.
When we laugh, we must realize that God laughed first.
When we get angry, we must understand that God got angry long
before we ever did. When we
love, God loved us before the world was ever formed.
We truly are made in the image of God.
God also made man with
the freedom of choice. This
is evident when He told Adam that He could eat of any tree but one.
(Genesis 2:15-18) If God did
not give us the freedom to choose, He would not have given Adam the
command not to eat of that tree in the first place.
Man is a free agent. This
Adam chose not to obey
God’s command. In his
disobedience, God’s promise came true.
God told Adam that if he ate from the tree, he would die.
(Genesis2:15-18) Adam, Eve,
and all mankind after them died. They
died spiritually, that is to say, they were now separated from God.
They lost their close relationship with Him.
This is evident in the fact that they actually tried to hide
themselves from God. (Genesis 2:8-10)
What a farce. Can you imagine trying to hide from God.
They also died socially, By
this I mean, they lost their good relationship that they had with each
other. Adam and Eve covered
their naked bodies. (Gen. 2:7) No longer did they feel comfortable
together in their nakedness. No longer could they enjoy their nakedness
with each other in the way God meant it to be. This testifies to the
fact that they died socially.
Lastly, both Adam and Eve died physically.
They did not live forever on earth as God originally intended.
The did not experience death right away, but they did eventually
Adam and Eve died in all
ways possible. We have
inherited the same fate. We
now find ourselves in a state of being that is far from what God
intended for us. We are in
very bad shape. To see a
clear picture of this we will look at Romans 1 and 2.
This Scripture is the definitive Scripture on this subject.
Historically speaking, this subject has been called “The
Depravity Of Man”. The
word “depraved” simply means “worthless -
good for nothing”. It
is for this reason why I said that modern psychology, and even parts of
the church choose not to accept this teaching.
You might want to take
the time to read Romans 1 and 2. We
will now see a few things about what Paul has to say about our
Paul, in Romans 1:20 says
that man is without excuse when it comes to knowing that God exists.
Man knows this by God’s creation.
Just by looking at the world around us, we should know that there
is at least a Creator.
In chapter 1 verse 21
Paul goes on to say that even though man knows God, that means knows
that there is a God, he “did not glorify Him as God”.
By this Paul means that man did not acknowledge God as being God,
even though he had proof of His existence in creation.
Paul goes on to say that
“… their thinking became futile,
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and they
exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like
mortal man…” (Romans 1:22-23) Man has forsaken the one true God for
their own man made gods. How
far man has fallen from the truth. What
a foolish thing to do.
“Therefore God gave
them over to their sinful desires…”
(Romans 1:24) Paul
uses this phrase a few times in Romans 1, that is, the phrase, “God
gave them over”. This
means that God saw man’s ways and that man wanted to do what he felt
like doing, which was sinning and rebelling against God.
God basically said, “if that is what you want to do, then go
ahead, do it until your heart is content”.
God let man do whatever he wanted, to whatever extreme he wanted
to do it. God just gave man
over to his sinful ways.
Paul gives many examples
of the sinful things that man has done, from same sex relationships, to
opposite sex adultery, to greed, and
to many other things.
Romans 1:28 says,
“since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of
God, He gave them over to a depraved mind…”.
The word “depraved” means worthless, or good for nothing.
Thus we get the doctrine of The Depravity of Man”.
Man has become depraved, worthless, or good for nothing.
These are not my words. These
are the words found in the Bible. Paul
clearly says that God gave man over to their depraved minds.
In Romans chapter 2 Paul
puts the religious man in his place as well.
He had just spoken about mankind in general, but in chapter 2,
just in case the religious man, or in his day the Jews, thought they
were better than the rest, he tells them that they are in the same boat
of sin as well.
Paul says to the
religious man that when you pass judgment on the so-called sinner, you
condemn yourselves. Why?
Because the religious man is doing the same evil things.
So in condemning the sinner, the religious man becomes a sinner
himself because he does the same things.
Paul therefore concludes
by lumping both the religious man (Jews) and the non-religious man
(Gentiles) in the same category. He
says it this way in Romans 3:9 and following.
“We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike
are all under sin. As it is
written: there is no one righteous, no not one; there is no one that
understands, no one who seeks God. All
have turned away, they have all together become worthless…”
There is the word worthless once again.
Paul is not saying that some have become worthless.
He is saying that
“all” have become worthless.
Just to stress the point
a little clearer, and just in case you might think that Paul might have
excluded anyone from this worthlessness, look at this verse.
In Romans 7:24 Paul says, “what a wretched man I am”.
Paul included himself in this fallen state of worthlessness and
wretchedness. He did not
leave anyone out.
So in conclusion we need to accept the Scriptural truth concerning man’s condition of worthlessness. It is very clear that we have become totally depraved, totally worthless. Once again this is far from what the world around us believes. Yet if we are going to line our thinking with Scripture, this is one of the indisputable truths we must believe. We must believe this or else we cannot repent and put our faith in Jesus. If we think that we are very good, then we don’t have anything to repent of, or turn from. If this is the case then, why does Jesus tell us to repent? And if we don’t repent, how can we truly believe and trust in Jesus? Both repentance, and faith will be discussed in later chapters.