The word “gospel” simply means “good news.” Many Christians proclaim to know the gospel of Messiah Yeshua and, for the most part, I think they have it about right, albeit with some very important exceptions. Let’s go over the most common points of Yeshua’s gospel and then I’ll point out where I think the church has missed some very important things.
At the birth of Christ, the heavenly host appeared to the shepherds:
Luke 2:13-14 [KJV]
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The peace that Christ brought was due to the fact that God was no longer limiting his covenant of salvation ONLY to the Hebrews. When Christ would fully establish his kingdom, he would reconcile all men together with God under himself, including the tribes of Judah, the dispersed 10 tribes of Israel, the Gentiles who sought God, and even completely pagan nations who had never before sought God. All men would be called and offered a saving, loving relationship of forgiveness of sins and the extension of grace from God the Father through believing in his holy Son! THIS is the gospel in a nutshell. That God declares all men are unrighteous sinners and have fallen short of his righteousness. That God desires ALL men to repent of our unrighteousness and acknowledge our need for His Grace to pardon our sins. That this Grace was lovingly provided through the atonement of Yeshua Christ to cover man’s sins and nakedness (shame) before a holy, righteous God who wants to fellowship with us and give us the gift of eternal life! It’s really that simple! God loves us and wants to WALK WITH US TODAY so he can enjoy being with us through all eternity! His kingdom exists in fullness NOW, TODAY, in the hearts of men, no longer does he dwell in stone temples made by human hands. All you have to do is BELIEVE IN CHRIST and then walk in the light of God’s love, letting your light shine to others, Christ living and dwelling inside you by faith! That is the true gospel of Christ! AMEN!!
Ok, now here is where things begin to come unravelled…where “systematic theology” begins to replace simple, child-like faith. Let’s start with the most common doctrinal views that are most widely held by the general Protestant Christian churches.
The orthodox Protestant Christian faith contains some doctrinal points which all (or most) Protestant Christian denominations recognize as minimal points of faith for all professing members of the body of Christ. They are generally as follows:
- That Christ was born of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- That he was the only begotten Son of the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of the Hebrew faith.
- That he voluntarily laid down his life as a ransom and sacrifice to redeem lost souls in bondage to sin.
- That he was delivered by the Hebrew Sanhedrin to Pontius Pilate to be crucified.
- That he died after being mercilessly beaten and nailed to a Roman cross outside the gates of Jerusalem.
- That following his death on the cross, he was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea where his body remained sealed in the tomb for three days and three nights.
- That he was resurrected and arose from the tomb by the power of God the Father on the third day.
- That he appeared to his disciples in the flesh, talked and ate food with them.
- That he ascended from the Mount of Olives, being received into the clouds in the sight of his disciples, to sit at the right hand of the Father where he fulfilled all the spiritual work necessary in the heavenly temple of God to make our full and free atonement.
I think beyond this point, the doctrines of many denominations begin to diverge into disagreement. There are Trinitarians who believe that God exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, collectively referred to as the Trinity or The Godhead. There are also those who do not hold to a Trinitarian view of God. Personally, I think it is somewhat presumptuous to form “creeds” by which we seek to define God into a box that fits our finite understanding. I used to be very Trinitarian in my doctrine, but I have backed away from being overly dogmatic about it and have come to accept that Messiah simply declared that he and his Father are in unity as ONE. To try and define anything more beyond that and the caution light comes on for me. The same goes for the Holy Spirit. God is Spirit. He now chooses to dwell inside us, the adopted sons, by his spirit and be one with us just as he is with his only begotten Son our Messiah. What more do we need say on the matter? It is our western, Hellenized mindsets which demand concise creeds and neat, organized statements of precise, systematic theology.
Again, beyond point number 9 above, theology starts to get into areas of contention between the various denominations. It is my view that most, if not all, of this contention is completely unnecessary when we come to view the entire contents of the Bible as a unified whole that speaks in terms of God’s covenants with man.
The final establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom, the subject matter of eschatology, is where my views really begin to differ from the orthodox view of the church. Whereas orthodoxy holds that the return of Yeshua remains as an unfulfilled reality, I believe that the scriptures, both O.T. and N.T. when properly understood in the context of Audience Relevance and a Hebraic mindset, reveal that our Messiah and his apostles fully taught and believed that his 2nd coming would occur sometime during the 1st century A.D. in their generation. I wholeheartedly reject the notion that Christ was mistaken in his prophecy about his coming or that his inspired apostles could also have been “mistaken” in their understanding of their Master’s teachings. What is far more likely is that the early Gentile Christian church got it WRONG and that everyone else down the line did too!
I will not lay out a scriptural case for my beliefs in this post, as it would take far too long to document. However, I will do so convincingly in the aggregate of my posted bible studies. I encourage you to read ALL of my posts and the linked pages at the top menu of this blog to gain a proper understanding of the prerequisite interpretational paradigms necessary to rightly divide God’s word. It is imperative that we begin to see the scriptures through the eyes of the ancient near eastern Hebrew writers who penned them instead of interpreting these writings as modern, westernized, Hellenized Grecians with a completely different worldview and cosmology. Studying the Bible is far different than merely reading it and committing the text to memory. Almost anyone can do that. To gain understanding in the same fragrances and flavors in which that understanding was committed to paper takes some positive effort on the part of the reader some 2000 to 3500 years after the ink has dried.
A good place to start is learning to understand the significant differences between the Hebraic and Grecian mindsets which blind us to the proper hermeneutics which are necessary to rightly interpret God’s word. This ARTICLE is a great place to start!
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject matter. I also believe that the church is far too divided over non-essential issues.
I personally hold to a Trinitarian view, but more so because it’s what I’ve always been taught and not because it has been something I have done an extensive study on. I will say that I don’t view it as a hill to die upon.
I also wanted to let you know that I appreciate your passion in bringing out the Hebrew mindset of the Bible and doing away with modern Western/Grecian ways of interpreting the Bible. I think this is one of the most fundamental paradigm shifts any Christian can have regarding the study of God’s word.
Thank you for your thoughtful post and gracious words. My background is also one of Trinitarian foundations. But I must admit, even that sacred cow must either stand or fall based on the truth of God’s word, rightly divided. My opinion of that doctrine is that, while it has been a long-time Christian standard, it is really nothing more than a concept which man has formed in his finite mind about an infinite God and Creator. We can’t fit God into our private little box like the Genie in a bottle.
When I study the Bible these days, it is with a mind that is now well aware that man’s mental constructs are always suspect and subject to continual scutiny and further revelation from God’s illuminating word.
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ to you!