About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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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 in the province of Ontario.  In my thinking, this all-inclusive thinking may be fine in the areas of economics, education, politics and other such areas of life.  For example, everyone should be on an equal ground when applying for a job. Yet when it comes to Christianity and its fundamental belief system, tolerance can’t work. 


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 churches today. 


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. 


 If 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 divisive way.     


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 Deity means.


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 later.


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 Israel . 


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 Commandments.


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 Christianity. 


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 is just.  


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 ( Israel ) is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all.”  Do you see what Paul is saying here?  He is saying that Jesus is God. Along with this verse there are eight other Scriptures that say Jesus is in fact God. They are; John 1:1, John 1:18, John 20:28, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:16, and Colossians 2:9.   Let us take a quick look at each verse.


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 Israel to perform in the Old Testament. This is why believing that Jesus is God is so important.  If He were not God, His sacrifice on the cross would be no different than any other sacrifice made by any other man in history.  The Deity of Christ is the number one fundamental truth for Christians to embrace.       


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 is clear.


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 die. 


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 condition.    


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.


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