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7 Questions to ask when you study “The Gospel”

By, Cedric Thomas

In any bible study, we are challenged to do one very simple yet necessary thing.  We are encouraged by the nature of truth to lay our lives alongside the word of God and critically compare the difference.  In an honest analysis, we must then fix whatever doesn’t match up with the truth of scripture.

            This method of study will constantly place the inspired standard of truth in a position above man’s opinion, subjective feelings, and existential proofs of spiritual direction.  God has supplied man with an all-encompassing means of direction out of the human struggle into a relationship with Him.  Our relationship begins when we surrender our will to His.

            There are, however, hindrances to effectively study of scripture.  One of these hindrances is pride.  Pride arises when we allow ourselves to be lifted up above God and His word.  One should answer pride by saying like Jesus did, “…not My will, but Thine will be done (Luke22:42).”  Another hindrance to effective bible study is prejudice.  Prejudice arises when we allow ourselves to think in terms of liking one person over or above another and not keeping our focus on truth.  We answer prejudice by saying, “It is not who is right, but what is right.”  The last hindrance to effective bible study is pressure.  Pressure arises when one believes they are under compulsion to do anything.  We answer pressure by saying that we walk by faith.  One must do what they are convinced and convicted of through honest study of the word of God (James1:21).  It is by and through such a study that we understand that God has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness.  (2 Pt. 1:3)  It is through such study that we are thoroughly furnished for every good work.  (2 Tim. 3:16 ff)     

            Being aware of the hindrances of personal study allows one to avoid the pitfalls of broken theology and frees one from the chains of tradition.  A person that stands on an objective, evidential standard of study can confidently allow the word of God to guide them into the way, the truth, and the life (Jn.14:6).

            The purpose of this tract is to consider seven questions that one should ask while studying the gospel so that the subject is defined, the command is honored and whatever the Lord requires is obeyed.  The passage for our treatise will be Mark 16:15-16

 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15-16KJV

Question 1:  Who is giving the orders?

            This text is often called the “Great Commission,” or the “Disciples Commission.”  In the context of this book, we see Jesus at an awing moment in the life of His disciples.  Having just scolded them for unbelief, He stands as validation to all everything that God, through prophecy, declared would happen.  (Lk. 24:44; 1 Cor.15:1-4)  We see Him in a victorious posture of power that no other man ever has nor could claim as his own.  The command is coming from the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

            Jesus is the Anointed One.  He is made Lord and Christ by His resurrection. (Acts 2:36)  He is proved and declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection (Rom. 1:14).  He claims that all power has been given to Him in heaven and in earth (Mt. 28:18).  He is the prophet, the mouthpiece of heaven that every man must hear (Dt.18:18-19; Acts 3:11-26).  He is the priest, the faithful one who will do according to what is in the heart of God (1 Sam. 2:35; Heb.3:1).  He is the king, the everlasting rule from God (2 Sam 7:12-16; Col.1:13; 1Tim.6:14-16).  He is the Prophet, Priest, and King.

            Whatever He says, we must hear and do.  The sacrifice He has offered is atonement enough and the extension of His rule must be revered.  In our passage of study, we find it is this sovereign Lord and Christ who issues the command.  An honest student would acknowledge him as an absolute and sovereign Lord and appreciate why one should listen to Him.

Question 2:  Why should I listen to Him?

            This is a very reasonable question when one considers its pertinence.  There are some very powerful reasons to listen to Jesus.  The first reason why one should listen to the Christ is because, as stated, He has all power.  His power is more than declarative; it is also relevant to man’s salvation.  The power for man to recreate their status and situational dilemmas cannot come from the same source that allowed them to get there in the first place.  The Christ has creative power.  (Col. 1:16-17; Jn. 1:1-4)  He also has delivering power.  There is no situation known to mankind that our Lord cannot deliver us from (Col. 1:12-13; 2Cor.1:10).  He has the power to maintain our peace of mind.  (Phil. 4:4-9)  He can keep us from the prison of depression and mental duress and glory in a triumphant life of victory.

            The second reason why one should listen to Jesus is because He came to save us from our sins.  The reason for His birth in to this depraved, decaying world that remains laden with the chaos of sin’s disease is to rescue us from sin.  (Mt. 1:21).  He was born to die for our sins.  The bible teaches about the damaging effects of sin.  We learn that sin is pleasurable in its nature.  (Heb. 11:24-25)  Because it is pleasurable, it is easily engaged in and practiced (Rom. 3:23).  This is why Christians still struggle with sin.  (1 Jn. 1:5-10).  Without atonement and mediation for our sins man would realize the only fate that is offered by sin, death (Rom 6:23).  Scriptural death is both physical and spiritual.  Just as the body with the Spirit is dead so also may a man be separated from God.  (Is. 59:1-2)  Jesus was born to save us from our sins.  This is why we listen to him.

            The third reason why one should listen to Jesus is because He is coming back.  The absolute sovereign prophet, priest, and king left in clear view upon the clouds and He is returning in like fashion.  (Acts 1:9-11)  What no man knows is when his return will occur.  What everyman must do is be ready when He comes.  (2 Thes. 1:7-9; 2 Pt. 3:10-14).  Paul says we need to know God and obey the gospel.  Peter says that we should be found spotless, and blameless in Christ Jesus.  What does Jesus want every creature in the entire world to know?  In order to answer this we have to know what he said.

Question 3:  What did He say?

            Jesus said that His disciples should go everywhere and preach or teach the gospel to every creature.  The scriptures clearly show us a number of things.  The gospel should be preached to everyone.  Notice the cross-cultural intent of our Lord.  The message of the gospel is intended to be told to the greatest and least of man.  The message of the gospel goes beyond the boundaries of ethnicity.  Our sovereign Lord said “all” and “every.”

            We also know that this message is singular in nature.  The same powerful message should be heard from every creature all over the world.  The message of the gospel, which would lead to salvation, is not different for each hearer, but according to the text the same message for every man.  This is clearly the intent of our Lord’s pre-passion prayer (Jn. 17:20-21).  An interesting cultural phenomenon is in the misunderstanding of what the gospel is?  Notice what Jesus says.  1.  Go and preach.  2.  Once the message has been preached, man should believe.  3.  As a result of one’s belief they are baptized.  In fact, you do what you believe.  Finally when the gospel has been preached, believed, and a person does what they believe in baptism, they will be saved.

            This what our absolute sovereign Lord and Christ commissioned, but what does it mean?  Clearly, if an individual has never understood the importance of the gospel then everything else pales in efficacy.

           

Question 4:  What does it mean?

            Many various sundry answers are given to the question, “What is the gospel?  Some say that it is the teaching of Scripture.  Some even go as far as to equate the Gospel with an experience or feeling.  Others will simply say it is the good news.

            Understanding the importance of knowing what the gospel is seen in scripture.  The power that God uses to save is in the gospel (Rom. 1:16).  If then, an individual has never heard the gospel, they cannot be saved.  If a person has never understood the gospel then whatever actions they took for the saving of their soul are in vain, because it is by the gospel that God saves men today.  Paul also teaches that the gospel can be obeyed (2 Thes. 1:7-9).  This helps us to know that what Jesus wanted preached to every creature is an identifiable, understandable and obey-able teaching, not a broad application of sort.  It is something one can know and do. 

            We know that it is God’s power to save.  We know that it must be obeyed but what is it?  Scripture teaches that the Gospel is understood to be facts that must be believed and commandments to obey with promises to enjoy.

            In 1 Cor. 15:1-4, Paul’s discussion on the resurrection of the gospel is introduced with the fundamental facts of the Gospel.  In an itemized fashion, he states that the first fact of the Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, according to the scripture.  This fact is necessary and a capstone to man’s desire to be saved.  One must believe that the death of Christ is satisfaction enough, all that God desired for propitiation, atonement, and the price of sin.  Anything more nullifies the death of Christ.  Anything less is not enough.

            Paul goes further to teach the second fact of the gospel as the burial of Christ.  This fact validates the humanity and the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.  It proves He was given as a complete offering to God for mankind (2 Tim. 1:9).

            The last fact, the text teaches is that He was raised from the dead the third day according to the scriptures.  This fact connects the victory of the seed promise from the Garden of Eden and the fall of man to our present day and time.  The resurrected Lord is an eternal source of hope and help for any kind of trouble.  The resurrected Lord is the supreme strength for the human struggle.  The resurrected Lord has competed the work for man and sits at the right hand of God ruling even now.  All mankind must honor His work and humble himself to His will.  This begins by accepting the facts of the gospel, His death, burial, and resurrection.  If one believes it, they will do it.

Question 5:  How does one do what He said to do?

            We do what he says by doing what we believe.  If you believe he died for you, then you must die.  If you believe He was buried, you must be buried and if you believe He was resurrected, you must be resurrected.

            Does this mean that man must do what Jesus did on a literal cross like He did?  NO!  What this means is, we must do what Jesus says to do, understanding why we are doing it!  Remember the commission?  (Mk. 16:15-16).  We are to understand that the facts of the gospel are obeyed in baptism.  Paul teaches the facts as the teaching that he delivered to the Corinthians and it is the same teaching that was delivered to the Romans  (Rom. 6:17).  This teaching was delivered and obeyed by the Roman Christians at which point they were made free from sins and became servants of God (Rom. 6:17-18).  What did they do?  Let’s follow the text. 

            Paul writes that the same three facts of the gospel are done or obeyed in baptism.  In Romans 6:3, he writes that the Roman Christians where baptized into the death of Christ, and the first fact of the gospel is that He died for our sins.  I believe He died and in baptism, I am immersed into His death.  Therefore, my belief is done in baptism. 

            In Romans 6:4, Paul states that the Roman churches have been buried with Him through baptism.  The second fact of the gospel is that he was buried.  Again, we see that one’s belief is done in baptism.  I believe he was buried; therefore, my belief is done in baptism.  Paul writes in Romans 6:4 that we are resurrected from baptism.  The third fact is that Jesus was raised.  I believe He was raised and from baptism I am raised.  Therefore, my belief is done in baptism.  So, Just as Jesus commission that baptism follows belief, Paul also teaches that in baptism, we do the very thing we believe.  One participates in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus in the waters of baptism.  One obeys the gospel of Christ in baptism.

           

Question 6:  What do I get when I do what he says?

            According to Jesus, our Lord, and Christ, when you do what Jesus says according to the Gospel, you will be saved.  In that same text, the adverse is now understood.  It you don’t believe then you do nothing.  If you have not been properly taught, then you will not properly believe and thereby do that which the Lord did not command. 

            Our belief and actions match perfectly as seen in Paul’s teaching of 1 Cor. 15:1-4 and the Roman Christians in Rom. 6:1-6.  As a result of doing what the Lord says we will be saved.  (Mk. 16:16)

            Following Paul’s teaching, he says that three things occur as a result of one’s obedience.

            First, the old man is crucified, second the body of sin is destroyed, and third, one’s service is changes from sin, Satan, and self to the Sovereign Savior and redeemer.

            In fact, if we were able to look at the history of Christianity, we notice a pattern of similar actions concerning the teaching of the gospel.  Notice the following. 

1. Acts 2:22-42 

a.  22-33 - Peter teaches about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus

  1. 34-36 - Peter teaches the sovereign absolute power and person of Jesus.
  2. 37 – The people are convicted and want to know what to do as a result of (implied) believing what has been taught.
  3. 38 – Peter commands them to do what they believe by turning to Christ and being baptized.
  4. 39 – Peter further teachers that this same teaching and promise is available for all.
  5. 40 – Peter equates salvation to obedience in warning them. 
  6. 41 – They that received Peter’s teaching were baptized the same day they believed and where added to the number that the apostles belonged to.  This text shows the urgency of doing what you believe because of the purpose of baptism.
  7. 42 – They continued their growth in service to God (Rom 6:6) by following hard after the teaching of the Apostles.

2.  Acts 8:26-40

a.       26-33 – Philip meets and begins teaching the Eunuch about the prophetic text of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

b.      34-35 – Phillip teaches the eunuch of the death of Christ according to the scriptures, His burial and His resurrection

c.       36 – The eunuch understands the sacrifice and the gospel message in such a way that he wanted to obey in baptism!

d.      37-40 – Philip takes his confession of Jesus as Sovereign Lord and Christ and they went down into the water.  Philip immersed the Eunuch and they camp up out of the water, going on rejoicing.

 The pattern establishes a continued foundation of truth that is offered and is effective for the saving of man’s soul this very day!

Question 7: What do I do now?

            In making application to this treatise’s explanation, one should do three things.  First, explore the truth shared in this lesson in a comparative way.  Consider what the Sovereign Lord says as it completely conflicts with the philosophies of the world and the traditions of men.  You will find also that the truth of the gospel may differ to an experience of the feelings of man.  Truth has an exploring quality.  You can ask questions and compare the truth to opinion.  Truth however must always be the standard by which the opinion of man bows to.  Next, examine yourself.  Consider the requirements of the gospel, understanding that He wanted this truth to go into the entire world and be understood by every creature allowing them to choose to follow Him or reject Him.  Ask yourself the question, “Have I obeyed the gospel of Christ?”  Recall your salvation experience.  Write it down and honestly look at the examples mentioned in scripture.  Are there differences?  Finally, execute the command.  Don’t settle for differences.  Do what the Lord teaches and do it now.  Contact the church of Christ and do so having understood the following. 

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