The Essential of Preaching the P

The Essential of Preaching the Person of Jesus Christ
by David A. DePra
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The true gospel of Jesus Christ is a proclamation of Christ and all He has done, but just as importantly, the gospel is the revelation of all that Christ IS. The preaching of the good news is the preaching of a Person. In a nutshell, the gospel of Jesus Christ includes all of the Truth of Jesus Christ – revealed in the believer and experienced by the believer.
There is only one Truth. That Truth is a Person. Thus, once we begin to preach another gospel, we are not just misrepresenting a message. We are misrepresenting Jesus Christ Himself. In other word, if we preach another gospel we are preaching a false Christ, and consequently, a false Christianity.
This is why Paul wrote that if any one preach, “another gospel” – “let him be accursed.” In fact, he said that they that preach, “another gospel,” were PERVERTING the good news of the Person, Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:7)
That word, “pervert,” in Galatians 1:7 from the NT Greek actually means, "to transform into something of an opposite character." Of course, Paul wrote specifically against the gospel of righteousness by works. But in principle, herein we can find the definition of a false gospel: It is the presentation of Christianity as that which transforms the nature and character of the Father and His Son into that which is NOT the Truth. Again, it is a false Christianity.
This is why true doctrine is essential. No matter what doctrine I may teach or believe – that doctrine is a statement of the nature, character, attitude, and intent of God Himself. And it will result in belief, direction, and my view of God and of life in Christ. Doctrine says, “This is the Truth about God, His plan, and His purpose. This ought to govern your thinking, conduct, and relationships.”
In this we see that all doctrine goes back to God Himself. Doctrine is not merely a body of teaching that is independent of God. Rather, it is a written or spoken representation of God.
Again, there is only ONE Truth – the Person – and if I present written or spoken doctrine that is error, then I am misrepresenting the One about Whom I am preaching.
What makes doctrine to be true? It must agree with the Bible? Yes. But then, what makes the Bible true? It rightly represents God Himself. Thus, in the final analysis, my doctrine is only true if it represents God Himself. It is error if it does not.
One elementary example: The Catholics used to teach that if you eat meat on Friday -- and died before you made it to confession -- you would go straight to hell. They also believed the same thing about missing mass on Sunday. But are such teachings nothing more than a faulty message? Are they simply false doctrines? Just a misinterpretation of a Bible verse? Well, those teachings are all of that – but in the end they are a misrepresentation of God Himself. For if I say that I go to hell for missing mass once, or for eating meat on Friday, then I am saying something about the nature and character of God. I am describing God – I am stating how He deals with humanity. I am describing the kind of God that we must follow and grow to know.
Another example: Calvinism. Calvinism teaches many valid things about the Redemption of Jesus Christ. But behind those teachings is their doctrine of unconditional election: That God, before any human being existed, ordained precisely who would be saved and who would be damned – God decided this and nothing and no one can change it. The choices of each group are simply the outworking of what God has already decreed. In short, Calvinism takes what God freely offers to ALL and limits it to a few – this is the related Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement – Jesus died ONLY for the elect and never intended to die for the non-elect. But let’s ask: Is the God of Calvinism the same God as the God who, “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son?” Is the Jesus who died for only a relatively few human beings the same One who died for ALL? Is this simply a matter of doctrine; of getting our teachings in order? No. It is a matter of the nature and character of God. It is a matter of the TRUTH about God – a matter of representing Him. Calvinism is ANOTHER CHRISTIANITY. Calvinism is ANOTHER GOSPEL.
And of course what I believe on these matters will have a ripple effect. Other doctrines will be impacted. But most of all, my discernment of Jesus Christ – of His love and His grace – is going to be greatly governed. That will be the cases even if I do not realize it.
Scripture tells us that the Truth will set us free. It tells us that our minds need to be renewed by a knowledge of the Truth in Christ Jesus. Well, if we believe error, then at best, that is not going to happen. But in reality, if we believe false doctrine, we believe lies about God – and spiritual bondage will result. And our minds will actually begin to degrade in our relationship with God. And if we are fully deceived we will not even realize what is happening to us.
But the good news is that Jesus promised that if we kept an open heart – and that is a big IF – then one of the primary purposes for the sending of His spirit would be to, “guide us into all Truth.” No one needs to be deceived. But we do need to keep our hearts open to God no matter what it takes.
So when we talk about another gospel, the real issue there is not that we are preaching a wrong message. No. It is that we are preaching the wrong Jesus and the wrong God. We are preaching ANOTHER CHRISTIANITY.
Note that Paul did not say that the Galatians had removed themselves from a MESSAGE. No. He said, “I am shocked that you have so quickly removed yourself from HIM…” They had taken their faith off of Christ. Not just off of a message. This had to do with their personal relationship with Christ Himself.
Knowing Christ
John the apostle said, “No lie is of the Truth.” There is only one Truth because there is only one Jesus Christ -- who IS the Truth. And something is either Truth or it is not. And if it is not Truth then it is a lie; error – and it is not of Jesus Christ.
We need to understand that Truth is eternal. It NEVER changes. Truth is not dependent upon whether we believe it or know it. But what this means is that while we cannot decide what the Truth is -- we must discover what the Truth is. That is only possible if we are discovering Christ Himself.
We discover Truth as God reveals Christ IN US -- by bringing us into an inward realization of His Son. Note that this is not merely facts or information – but it is inward revelation. We must keep our hearts open continually and ask God to do whatever it takes to accomplish this purpose.
Now, a lot of folks get nervous when you begin to talk about God’s desire to bring us into an inward realization of Jesus Christ. They get nervous and think you are saying that God is going to begin to reveal stuff that is not in scripture. No. This is what the Bible tells us must happen. Besides, as noted, there is only ONE Truth. God will never speak to us, or reveal anything to us, that does not fully agree with His written Word.
In Galatians 4:19, Paul summarizes the solution to not only the false gospel preached to the Galatians, but it really is the solution to ALL:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)
The Greek word translated, “formed,” means, “to inwardly realize and express.” An inward realization or knowledge of the Living Christ is the only solution to all error. And as noted, this will ALWAYS agree complete with the Bible.
Paul also wrote:
Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach. (Col. 1:27)
Paul preached, yes, the true message concerning Jesus Christ – but Paul preached Christ Himself. May God open the eyes of those who are preaching a false Christ represented by false doctrine, and wake up the church before the end of this age!
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