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The Lost Gospel of Jesus, part 3

(This is part 3 of the Lost Gospel of Jesus series, part one is here, part two here.)

The Gospel of Christ

Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

        Paul calls the gospel which he preached, “the gospel of Christ,” at least that’s how the King James version has it. The modern translations omit “of Christ,” as there is apparently a variation in the original Greek documents, some have “of Christ” others do not. Either way is okay with me. The point I wish to make is that if you prefer the “gospel of Christ” translation, then you need to understand that it does not mean the Gospel about Christ, but Christ’s Gospel, i.e. the Gospel which Christ preached. Whether you call it just the Gospel or the Gospel of Christ, Paul, as we’ll see, preached the same Gospel that Jesus preached.

        So what did Paul preach? If you were following along in a Bible I would tell you to turn back a page or so, from Romans 1 to the last chapter of the book of Acts. The last Chapter of Acts takes place quite a while after Paul wrote his letter to the Roman Christians. In Romans 1, Paul said he wanted to come and preach the gospel to the Christians at Rome. In Acts 28 Paul has at last arrived at Rome, albeit under arrest, and finally gets to preach to the Romans:

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The Lost Gospel of Jesus, part 2

(This is part two of the Lost Gospel of Jesus series, part one is here.)

The Gospel that Paul preached.

        Let me start at the end and work backwards, by looking at the Gospel the Apostle Paul preached and working my way back to the Gospel which Jesus and his disciples preached.  I want you to see that as far as Jesus, the disciples and the Apostle Paul were concerned there was only one Gospel message.

        In the letter which Paul wrote to the Christians who lived in the city of Rome, what we call the Epistle to the Romans, Paul tells the Roman Christians that he desires to come and preach to them.

Romans 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Paul says he wants to impart a spiritual gift to them. The words Paul uses here, are the same words he uses to refer to the spiritual gifts he mentions in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. These gifts are what we could loosely call miraculous or supernatural gifts, e.g. healings, working of miracles, words from God. Paul is, in essence, saying he wants to come to Rome to preach to the Roman christians and work miracles among them.

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The Lost Gospel of Jesus

           Google “the lost gospel" and you’ll discover quite a few lost gospels. The Lost Gospel of Thomas, The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot, The Lost Gospel of Peter, and even the Lost Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Some of these are newly discovered Gospels, others are Gospels which weren’t considered authentic by most Christians at the time they were written. But the Lost Gospel of Jesus that I want to talk about is a Gospel that has been “lost” while remaining in plain sight. The Lost Gospel of Jesus is right there in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and in the Book of Acts and the writings of the Apostle Paul.

          The Lost Gospel of Jesus is the actual message that Jesus taught and preached. It is the message Jesus said he was sent to preach. It is the great news he, his disciples, and the Apostle Paul proclaimed.  The Lost Gospel of Jesus is the, long awaited, announcement of victory to an oppressed, tyrannized humanity. The Lost Gospel of Jesus is the proclamation, to all the world, that the hoped for relief has at last arrived. It is the message that God would help, heal, and deliver those who heard and believed.

          When Jesus, his disciples, and the Apostle Paul preached this message miracles happened, the sick were healed, the blind saw, the captives were set free, that's how we can identify the Gospel of Jesus. Where the Gospel of Jesus is preached in faith and believed, miracles, healing, and rescue follow. This message of Jesus has been lost to the world, overshadowed by philosophical arguments which absolve preachers of powerlessness but leave the oppressed unchanged. The Lost Gospel of Jesus is the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in a field, it is that to which a reasonable man would gladly commit his life and all that he has. That is the Gospel I want to show you.
          We don’t readily notice that Jesus preached a Gospel even though it’s clearly stated in the Bible:

Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Luke 20:1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,

I think we fail to see it because we tend to associate the word “Gospel” with the stories about Jesus, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The word “gospel” means good news. (In the Greek language of the oldest existing copies of the New Testament, gospel meant, “…news of victory…” The verb form, i.e. proclaiming the Gospel, “…is used for bringing news, especially of a victory or some other joyous event…” (TDNT 267) I believe the meaning suggests news of something that has already occurred not something that is going to happen. The Gospel is news of a great victory that has already come to pass not a forecast of something that will will happen tomorrow, or the next day or the day after that. )

          Some Christians overlook the Gospel that Jesus preached, because, for them, the Gospel is the salvation formula, e.g. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and on the third day he rose again so that we could go to heaven when we die. They have substituted an evangelistic formula for the words Jesus actually spoke.

          Earlier Christians, the ruling elites anyway, appear to have ignored the Gospel of Jesus out of an excess of enthusiasm for sophisticated philosophical speculation about things like the nature of God, the substance of Jesus, and the meaning of history. So, as one pastor from the UK noted, the Nicene Creed, a fundamental document of Christianity written some 1700 years ago and still recited without fail at every service in some churches, contains no mention of the words of Jesus, and omits all mention of his earthly ministry, skipping directly from, “Was born of a virgin” to “and was crucified by Pontious Pilate.” But if Jesus is who the Nicene Creed claims he is, the son of God, God manifested in the flesh, what could possibly be more important than the message he was sent to preach? If God really took flesh and went among us teaching and preaching, it makes no sense to supplant his message with man-made solutions to philosophical puzzles.

           Many Christians can recite, at least part of, the Nicene Creed, and some can even tell you the salvation formula but how many can tell you the words of the Gospel that Jesus preached? 

Well,…what were they?


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Jesus Became Poor So You Could Be Rich, Revised

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

        This is my favorite prosperity scripture.

        Jesus became poor so that you through his poverty might be rich. What could be plainer than that? What could be gooder news to the poor than that? And yet most Christians, and some quite vehemently, deny what it plainly says. I've had people in my own church, I'm thinking of one lady right now, people who love me and greatly enjoy my ministry, say to me, “But pastor you know that scripture doesn’t really mean that.

            No, it means precisely that.

            I'm pretty sure that even the "Prosperity Gospel" haters would agree, if they'd pause seething and fulminating long enough to think about it, that Jesus has redeemed us from poverty. Now, they might believe that we won't get to experience this redemption until we get to heaven or until Jesus returns, but if they don't agree that the work of Jesus includes the redemption of mankind from poverty they leave themselves with two uncomfortable choices.  Either, Jesus redemption of mankind is incomplete and the problem of poverty, that entered into the world at the beginning  will continue with us forever,  or Jesus redemption of mankind is insufficient and something more powerful than the death and resurrection of Jesus must happen to complete our redemption. Put differently, if God becoming man, dying on the Cross and rising from the dead, isn't sufficient to redeem the world from poverty, what is?

        If Jesus has redeemed mankind from poverty then there can be very little objection to taking this scripture at face value, Jesus became poor so we could be rich. You might argue that it's for a time not yet and I might argue that it is for now, but that's a completely different argument.

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