Identifying the Gospel message with political, economic, or cultural aspirations has caused the "Christian Gospel" to be especially reprehensible to the leaders of many nations. When we send a message forth, tailored after the desires of mankind, which has nothing to do with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we enter into areas of activity that threaten political rulers. I am sorry to say that in the past (and it is still happening today), missionaries often went to China and to many other countries spreading a gospel heavily flavored by their Western culture. Thus the gospel message they brought became identified to a great extent with the physical prosperity or some kind of political freedom. But that is not the Gospel of the Bible. These missionaries, unfortunately, were giving the wrong signals altogether. They had begun meddling in the affairs of the nations to which had nothing to do with the true Gospel message.
The fact is that the Gospel is unconcerned with the kind of rulers that a nation has. It is unconcerned with the political system under which a people live. It does declare, however, that it is God who puts up and puts down rulers. It does warn that the citizens of any country are expected to be obedient in all things lawful to those who rule over them. But it does not indicate that one kind of government is to be obeyed more than another.
The Bible is not concerned about the economic situation of those who hear the Gospel. In the day that Jesus ministered, and as the disciples went out, did man's inhumanity to man exist? Indeed, it did. There were slaves who were piteously beaten and mistreated. Was there economic uncertainty? Indeed, there was. It was a day when there were no mercy ships. Certainly there were people dying of starvation. Were there people who desperately needed a healing who did not receive it? Indeed, there were.
Some people misunderstood Jesus' mission when He healed the sick. Christ did not come with a gospel that promises good health. He simply did those miracles of healing as proofs that He was God and in order to give us historical parables through which we can see the spiritual nature of the Gospel. They were earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. Once Christ went to the cross and the apostles died, we do not find any further statements in the Bible regarding physical healing. The Gospel is concerned with spiritual healing: "…by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray…" (I Peter 2:24-25). The Gospel has to do with the healing of our sin-sick souls.
So the message of the Gospel is that mankind is on its way to the Lake of Fire-- the second death---eternity in The Lake of Fire, but that anyone can know God's love by trusting in Christ. When we become saved, we are transferred out of the dominion of Satan, which encompasses all the unsaved people of the world, wherever they are found, in whatever political system they are found. We are translated into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is a spiritual nation made up of those who are born-again believers, regardless of political ideology, or cultural differences, or whatever. Salvation has nothing to do with political nations.
Many theologians fracture the truths of the Bible concerning the nature of the Gospel when they attempt to understand the meaning of the Christian unity. Ephesians 4:4-5 teaches us that: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;" One Lord kind of unity does God have in view? Well-meaning but misguided theologians, in attempting to explain this unity, have tried to introduce concepts into the Gospel that are foreign to it. They effectively believe we are one in faith and one baptism when we have equal political freedom, or equal economic prosperity.
But the true Gospel has nothing to do with political activity. It has nothing to do with economic desires or desires for good health. It looks far beyond all of this. When we have the true Gospel, whether we live in Russia, China, Germany, South America, the United States, or any other country, there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. It is a spiritual unity. It is a faith wherein we understand that our sins are washed away. Spiritually we have become right with God. Spiritually we know that we are not sentenced to the Lake of Fire and that we have eternal life. Spiritually we have become one body, even though politically or economically or culturally we have no relationship at all to each other.
We must not fall into the snare that many fall into. In the Old Testament they read about all the gold and the silver of Solomon, and they read about the riches of Abraham, as well as many other statements about great physical prosperity. They conclude, "You see, that is what happens when we become saved." But they fail to realize that God has set up types and figures in the Bible. Old Testament Israel was part of an earthly story, an historical picture pointing to the spiritual meaning of what the New Testament church was to be, that is what it means to be a child of God. The physical property of Old Testament Israel was an earthly story pointing to the heavenly meaning that believers in Christ become spiritually prosperous, copiously feeding their souls on the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Himself. The wine vats that were filled to overflowing in the Old Testament were a dramatic earthly story pointing to the plenteous flowing of the blood of Christ, for the complete payment for all of our sins. Whatever historical freedoms ancient Israel had represented the fact that in Christ we are free from the bondage to sin and Satan.
The problem is, however, that our sin-tainted minds prefer to go to these historical antecedents (which are meant by God to be just figures and types) and make them the very essence of the Gospel. That caters to our sensual nature. That caters to what all men want: political freedom, economic freedom, and good health.
But that is not the Gospel! If we try to make the Gospel fit the physical characteristics of the Old Testament figures, then we must also offer the sacrifices that were to be offered by the Old Testament believers. In other words, we are affectively denying the fact that Christ has come! In the New Testament we do not find any references teaching political freedom, economic security, or good health. The whole essence of the Gospel is spiritual freedom in Christ. Freedom from what? It is freedom from the wrath of God! It has nothing to do with the politics of this world! Simply stated, we have been translated out of the dominion of Satan. The law no longer can send us to the Lake of Fire. We are free in Christ. We have eternal life. That is the nature of the Gospel. That is the only message that we are to proclaim.
Now we have come to the third point that needs to be examined. We have already looked at the authority that structures and determines the Gospel, and we have looked at the message of the Gospel. Now we should examine the mandate of the Gospel. In the most lucid fashion, God has decreed that we are mandated to bring the Gospel message to all the world: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Jesus commanded this; it is not an option. It is not something we can do if it is convenient, or if we feel like it. It is an imperative command of the Bible that we are to go out into the world and preach the Gospel. We are Christ's ambassadors to this sin-sick world. Christ, as it were, making His appeal through us
(2 Cor 5:20).
Remember, Jesus said that He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). He has people in China whom He has come to seek and to save. He has people in America whom He has come to seek and to save. He has people in Germany and Russia and in every nation of the world. We do not know who they are, but we know from the Bible that they are people who were already named in the Lamb's Book of Life from the very foundation of the world. So we know that God has obligated Himself to save these people.
The true ambassadors for Christ are the born-again believers. They are the only ones who understand the real nature of the Gospel. They have come face-to-face with the reality of the Lake of Fire, because they have learned to trust the Bible implicitly. They are the ones who have been given the marvelous task (which is a mandate as well as a fantastic privilege) to send the Gospel into the world. There are to be no alibis. We must do it by whatever means the Lord has made available to us.
But let us be very certain that we are bringing the Gospel of the Bible, and not the Gospel of Europe or the gospel of the United States or the gospel Mexico or any other perverted gospel. As long as we focus on the basic fundamentals, the true Gospel is absolutely common to every nation. It makes no difference what nation we are in. we all have the exact same spiritual need for the exact same spiritual antidote. We need to be set free from sin through the blood of Christ. Once we are free from sin, knowing that Christ has endured the second death—The Lake of Fire for us, then, even if we must live out the rest of our lives in a concentration camp, dying of beatings and starvation, we still have everything. Whether we are to merely exist like Lazarus as a beggar with only the dogs to lick our sores, or whether we live in a palace with all the blessings of this world, it makes no difference. If we are saved, we know that we have the greatest good that we could ever have.
The Bible also says that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27). But what does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves? In John 13:14 Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." That establishes the nature of the love we are to have for others. We are to love our fellow man as Christ has loved us.
What was the nature of Christ's love for you and me? Did He come to bring us economic security or political freedom or good health? Did He do any of those things for Lazarus (Luke 16)? The answer is no. Absolutely no. In His love for us, He laid down His life. He endured the wrath of God, the equivalent of spending an eternity in the Lake of Fire, in order that we might have eternal life and not go to the Lake of Fire ourselves.
Jesus exhorted, "…love one another; as I have loved you…" (John 13:14). If Christ has desired eternal life for me to the extent that He went to the cross and endured the wrath of God that I might be saved, if that desire was the focal point of His love, then that desire must be the focal point of my love for others as well.
As we look at the world, the one thing we should see, the one terrible specter that should grip our souls, is the Lake of Fire grasping out for the lives of the unsaved of the world. Because most people die unsaved, at a rate of almost 300,000+ a day, the Lake of Fire is getting its dues. That is the truth that we should see. That is the truth that Christ saw when He went to the cross. In our love for our fellow man, we want to warn them: Don't you see it? Because of your sins, the Lake of Fire is coming and the Lake of Fire is real. But there is a wonderful way of escape through the Lord Jesus Christ. In my love for you, I want the very best for you. Sure, I could spend some money to help you in many ways. But if you die unsaved, even though your life may have been extended because you were given some antibiotics, or whatever, what difference does it make? You are still going to die, and after death comes the judgment. Can't you see it? If you will only become a believer in Christ, then your physical situation, your political situation, your health situation, is altogether unimportant. You are like Lazarus. You can still have the very highest good. You, too, can have salvation. To desire this for others is true love.
Notice that Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." But how do I love myself? What is the highest good that I could possibly desire for myself? Is it that I might have more physical prosperity? Is that the highest good for me? Not in any sense at all. In fact, it may even temp me away form serving the Lord the way I ought. Well then, is it to be famous? Is it to have a name? Is it any of the things to which the world aspires? The answer is no. None of those things are the highest good. The highest good for me is what I should desire for others. So what is it? The one thing I need to be sure of is that I have been saved. That is, I must be sure that my sins have been paid for, so there is no possibility of going to the Lake of Fire when I die.
Can anyone living on the face of the earth possibly think that they are going to escape death? Since this world has been, with only two exceptions (Enoch and Elijah), every human being that has ever walked the face of the earth has died-everyone. No one has escaped. This is in accordance with the Biblical rule that it is appointed unto men once to die and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So this means that that is going to happen to me- unless, of course, the Lord comes first. Therefore, if I truly love myself, I am not going to aspire for more of this world's goods. I am not going to aspire to have a little better place in this world. Because, in the measure that I desire those things, I am going away from the path that is the very best for me. My first and all-important concern must be that I am a child of God, that I am saved. Only then will I realize that all these other things are unimportant. It really does not make any difference how many clothes I have, what kind of car I drive, whether I even own a car, or what kind of situation I live in. these things really do not have any kind of lasting value at all.
As a matter of fact, God declares in Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded to tithe, that is, give 10 percent of all their income. That is the way the priestly offices were supported. But in the New Testament God wants everything. The Old Testament tithe was just an example to us pointing to the fact that God wants everything. Jesus is simply saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Luke 10:27,as in putting Christ FIRST, in all things. “15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25. In this order, that your task as ambassadors of Christ may be done.. That task is to present this precious Gospel of salvation to the world that is headed for the Lake of Fire.
Can we begin to see the truth more clearly? The Golden thread that runs through the Bible is the message of salvation. Any time we get off that thread, or focus, we can be sure we no longer have the Gospel of the Bible. We will have a gospel that has been designed in the minds of men, and we are going to get into trouble as we try to bring it to other nations of the world. A gospel that wrongly talks about economics or politics is going to be resisted, particularly by political authorities that rightly feel their rule is being threatened by political or social gospels.
Obviously, the true Gospel will also be resisted. It is reprehensible to man. Mankind does not like to be told that he is going to the Lake of Fire. No one wants to hear that. It is reprehensible to the mind of natural man to hear that there is nothing he can do to save himself. Such resistance can only be changed in the heart of those who become saved by crying out to God: "O God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" it involves having a child-like trust in Jesus Christ, who walked the face of the earth a couple of thousand years ago. It means my ego must be shattered. It shatters my self-respect. It shatters everything that I am.
But that is the only reason the Gospel should be reprehensible. May it never be that the gospel we present is resisted by the political authorities because we are preaching the culture and politics of a political nation. Such a gospel cannot be the Gospel of the Bible.
When we have become children of God, we have come to know that the highest good in our lives is that we are saved from the wrath of God; the Lake of Fire can no longer clutch at us. We are never going to have to stand before the Judgment Throne of God and answer for out sins. Christ has paid it all. We are covered by Him. We read in John 5:24 that those who believe on Him do not come into judgment, but have passed from death unto life. And, in our love for others, that is the good we should earnestly desire for them. That is the message God has mandated us to faithfully bring to the whole world.
As we live out our lives as believers, faithfully obeying the command to bring the Gospel to the world, the Bible insists that we are to walk very humbly. Our example is the Lord Jesus Christ; we read of Him that He was meek and lowly. So it is that we should be ready to be reviled without reviling back again, be ready to take whatever is brought against us patiently, and be ready to give credit to anybody who wants it. Let someone else have the worldly honor. The child of God, who has become a citizen of Christ's Kingdom, is to walk humbly.
But why? Why are we to walk so humbly? First of all, because God has so commanded. Jesus, who came not only as our example, but also as our King, was meek and lowly. He emptied Himself of all His heavenly glory and took on the form of man, sinful, rebellious man. Then He became laden with our sins. Nobody has ever humiliated himself like the Lord Jesus Christ, as He established His Kingdom by going to the cross. We, who believe in Him, are in His Kingdom, and He is our King, ruling over us and commanding us to walk honestly and humbly. We also are to be ready to be humiliated. We are to be ready to walk as the most humble people on this earth.
Besides that, we walk very humbly because we cannot take any credit for our own salvation. It is nothing we can boast about. We cannot say, "Well, you know, the real story is that God saw me and saw that I was a little bit better than somebody else, and therefore, He decided to save me." No way! As Ephesians 2:1-3 indicates, we were dead in our sins. We were followers after Satan and after the lusts of the flesh like the rest of mankind. It is only God's mercy; it is only by God's grace that He saved us. So we live out our Christian life saying, "O my, how is it possible that I can be a child of God, that I can have eternal life, so that I fear no man? No matter what happens to me, I know that the moment I die, I am going into the heavenly palaces, into glory with the Lord Jesus Christ, and I have got everything going for me. All I want to do is live out my life in service to Him. I really want to sacrifice my life, to lay it down on the altar of sacrifice. I am consumed with passion that others might hear the Gospel so that they, too, can know the wonderful salvation which God has so richly provided."
Don't we have a wonderful Savior? Don't we have a wonderful Gospel, when we really see what the Gospel is? We can just stand amazed before the glory of God as He glorifies Himself through this kind of Gospel. So let's be sure that we keep this Gospel message in the forefront of our thinking and in our hearts. If we find that at any time the gospel we bring begins to differ from the true Gospel, let us cry out to God, "O God, forgive me that I might have had something else in my head when I was trying to bring the Gospel, that I was trying to tailor it to my own lustful desires." The true Gospel is this: I want this to wonderful salvation for everybody else, and because I know I have become saved, there is nothing else in this world I need for myself.
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, least the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:
'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.' Is 29:14
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." 1Cr. 1: 17-21