One of the great mysteries of the Bible concerns the gospel message. There seems to be as many opinions as to exactly what this message is as there are people to ask about its meaning. However, most of these people will agree that it concerns Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. The gospel is indeed about these two things, and within the meaning of these two things lies the reason why the Creator God divested himself of his immortality, came to earth in human form, lived and died the human experience, and proclaimed the gospel message.
The true gospel message was not a popular message. It was not a popular message when Jesus preached it, when the apostles and the early church preached it, nor is it a popular message today.
Jesus Christ was crucified for preaching it, most of the apostles along with many members of the early church were murdered for preaching it, and many others will also be murdered just before the return of Jesus Christ for preaching this truly astounding message.
Jesus says that most people, including those who say they love him and his Father, would hate those who proclaim the gospel message:
"I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant in not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you, And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" (Jn.15:19-20; Mk.13:13 Para.). See also Matt.10:16-23; 24:8-14; Lk.21:16-17.
But why will the vast majority of people hate the followers of Jesus? Do not all people desire to live happy and prosperous lives, and is not this what Jesus promised to those who follow his teachings?
Two Questions To Answer
If the message that Jesus and his followers taught is a message of good things, why would Jesus warn of hatred and persecution for those who follow him? And what was it that Jesus and many of his followers said and/or did that caused them to be persecuted and murdered?
These two questions are extremely important to any who truly desire to follow Jesus Christ and reap the rewards that are offered for diligent service to him and his Father. These questions and many others will be answered in the following study into the gospel message that Jesus brought, the prophecies that concern this message, and world events just before Christ's return.
Now that we have established that the gospel message comes from God the Father, and that Jesus Christ was its first messenger, we can look into this highly inflammatory message that was preached by Jesus and the early church and will be preached just before Jesus' return.
The beginning of the gospel message is found in Genesis 3:15 with the prophetic promise from the Creator to destroy the evil spirit who deceived Eve into disobeying his instructions forbidding her and Adam to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Creator also made a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, promising that all humanity would be blessed through him (i.e., his descendent Jesus Christ). Both of these promises are a major part of the gospel message because they both result in the removal of obstacles to human salvation.
Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve, the promises contained in the gospel message and the prophecies about who was to give this message have been revealed through many of God's servants. Two of the more well known prophecies about the gospel message and its first messenger are as follows:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in. . ." (Mal.3:1 KJV).
"The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to the captives, and to open the eyes of the blind. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God's favor to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies" (Isa.61:1-2 Para.).
JOHN THE BAPTIST
Jesus said of John the Baptist, "Truly I say to you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt.11:11 KJV).
The birth and ministry of John the Baptist was the second most important birth and ministry that has ever happened on earth. Why? Because John made the announcement of the coming of the Messiah who would reveal and proclaim the good news from God the Father.
Before John the Baptist's birth his father was told that he would father a son, who would herald the coming of the Messiah who would bring salvation to the world:
"He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. . . and he will be filled with the holy spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah. . . to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteousto make ready a people prepared for the Lord " (Lk.1:14-16 NIV).
"And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest [God the Father]: for you shall go before the face of the Lord [Jesus Christ] to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,. . . To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Lk.1:76,77,79 KJV). See also Matt.1:18-23.
"As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face which shall prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Mk.1:2-3 KJV). See also Matt.11:7-10.
It is important to understand that John's mission was to lay the foundation for God's messenger to build upon. John was to make the announcement of the coming message and the messenger and set the boundaries of the message that the messenger would explain and expound upon"make his paths straight." Therefore, John's message contained the foundational elements of the things that Jesus Christ would teach, such as repentance, forgiveness of sin, baptism, and the Kingdom of God:
"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission [pardon or deliverance] of sins" (Mk.1:4 KJV).
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt.3:1-2 KJV).
Jesus did not deviate from the message that John announced that Jesus would proclaim. From the beginning to the end of his ministry Jesus explained and expounded in great detail the things that concern repentance, pardon of sin, baptism, and the Kingdom of God.
THE WORD AND THE LIGHT
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him [The Word, The Logos]; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (Jn.1:1-5 KJV). See our study concerning who God is for details pertaining to the relationship between the Creator God and God the Father.
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world" (Jn.1:6-9 KJV).
The apostle John clearly said that Jesus was the Light of God who came to illuminate the world with spiritual insight, and that John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Light (i.e., Jesus Christ).
THE LIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE
One of the very first things that we see recorded about the ministry of Jesus Christ is his announcement that he is the one sent from God to proclaim the message of good news.
"He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Lk.4:16-19 NIV).
There are many significant things that we can learn concerning the gospel message and its messenger from Jesus' quotation of Isaiah's prophecy:
1. When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, he did not quote the last part of the prophecy that says, "And the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn." By leaving out this prophecy, Jesus clearly revealed that his mission was one of proclaiming a message from God and that he did not come to punish humanity for their rebellion against God and the violation of his laws, nor did he come to establish God's rule upon earth at that timeboth of which the Redeemer of humanity will do at the proper time.
2. He came to preach to the poor. We know that God is no respecter of persons; therefore, the preaching of good news to the poor was symbolic of revealing the true word of God to those who were spiritually poorthose devoid of the spiritual riches that can only come from hearing, understanding, and obedience to the wonderful truth of God.
3. Jesus was sent to proclaim the good news that humanity was going to have the opportunity to be set free from the prison that held them in bondage and slavery to sin, and to be set free from the result of sineternal death.
4. He was sent to open the eyes of those who were spiritually blind by revealing the truth of God concerning him and his Father and their plan for the salvation of humanity. And he was sent to reveal how to be removed from the oppression and subjection of this world's evil religious and governmental systems.
5. He came to proclaim the "year of the Lord's favor" which concerns the total ministry of the Messiah including his death, resurrection, and return as King of the earth. All of these periods of time have to do with God's favorhis grace toward humanity.
After he had fasted forty days and nights, and had overcome the temptations put to him by the devil, Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been put in prison. He then went to Capernaum in order to fulfill a prophecy concerning the bringing of the message of enlightenment to a people who were in spiritual darkness:
"The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up" (Matt.4:15-16 KJV).
I AM THE LIGHT
"Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Jn.8:12 KJV). See also Isa.42:1-7; Mal.4:2; Acts 26:13-18.
Jesus knew who he was, and why he had been sent to earth. The problem was that prior to the completion of his ministry, no one else truly knew or understood who he was (except John the Baptist), or why he had come. The Jewish people, the priesthood, and the religious leaders whose sacred trust it was to preserve God's word in its purity and meaning had, instead, perverted God's law and worship system. Therefore, they did not understand the prophetic meaning of the events that transpired concerning John and Jesus. The Jews and those who lived around Palestine, at this point in time, were in spiritual darkness and did not recognize who John and Jesus truly were, nor did they recognize the message that these two men brought.
"Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophecy about you, saying, This people draws near to me with their mouth, and with their lips honor me; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the ordinances of men" (Matt.15:7-9 KJV Para.). See Isa.29:13; Ezk.33:31-32.
Both John and Jesus began their ministries among a people who were in great spiritual darkness. Although the Jews of Jesus' day were extremely religious and zealous in what they believed, they were not correctly worshiping the true God.
Matthew and Mark record that after John the Baptist had completed his mission of preparation for the Messiah who would proclaim and fulfill the gospel message, Jesus came from Galilee preaching about his Father's government.
"From that time [John's imprisonment] Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt.4:17 KJV).
"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, saying, the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 Para.).
While John was in prison he heard of the many things that Jesus taught and the works that he did. Being curious to find out whether his cousin Jesus was indeed the Messiah, he sent two people to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah or if they should be looking for someone else. See Matt.11:2-3; Lk.7:17-19.
Because of many prophecies, the Jews of Christ's day were expecting a Messiah who would deliver them from their physical bondage, and restore national Israel as a world power. They were not looking for spiritual enlightenment, or for the Messiah to come and sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity.
John understood the prophecies concerning national Israel and knew, beyond a doubt, that he had been selected by God to announce the coming of the Messiah. Because of the expectations concerning the restoration of national Israel, John and the rest of the Jews had trouble understanding Jesus' ministry:
"John's disciples asked John's questions of Jesus. Jesus replied, Go back and tell John all that you have seen and heard here today: how those who are blind can now see, the lame are walking without a limp, the lepers are healed, the deaf can hear again, the dead are raised back to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. And tell him, Blessed is the one who does not lose faith in me" (Lk.7:20-23 Para.).
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people" (Matt.4:23 KJV).
BELIEVE THE GOSPEL
Although there was plenty of proof that Jesus was the Messiah, there were very few who believed the message that he brought. Why? Because they were looking for something very different from what they heard him teach:
"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, The time is at hand: repent and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 Para.). See also Matt.4:12-17; 9:35-38; Lk.8:1.
It is evident that, during the ministry of Jesus, the apostles, and the early church, there were very few people who understood and truly believed the good news message that was being proclaimed. This same situation exists today. Although there are over 20,000 differing sects professing to follow the God of the Bible, most do not believe or understand the good news message that the Son of God brought centuries ago. Most have believed a false message that has hidden and perverted the true message that Jesus brought.
Jesus Christ, the one who was the Creator God, said that it is necessary to believe his message in order to have eternal life (Mk.16:15-16), yet millions of professing Christians do not even know what this good news message is.
Today there are many different philosophies and teachings that claim to be the gospel message. Among these are the "Gospel of Salvation," "The Gospel of Grace," "The Gospel of the Kingdom," The Gospel of Jesus," and the "Social Gospels."
Why are there so many different gospels being taught and proclaimed? Why is there so much confusion today concerning what the good news message is and what it means? Because there are so many different gospels being taught today, does it make any difference which one a person believes?
Yes, it does make a difference what a person believes in relation to the Gospel. Why? Because there can be no doubt as to what Jesus meant when he says, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; and he that does not believe shall be damned" (Mk.16:16 Para.).
Yes, in addition to repentance and baptism, the following things must be believed in order for one to escape the death penalty and live forever:
One must believe the things that Jesus was sent by his Father to proclaim concerning his Father's offer to extend his grace to humanity and his offer to establish peace between himself and humanity.
One must believe that Jesus is the Son of the Sovereign God of all that exists, and that he, who was the Creator God, was sent by his Father to become the Redeemer and Savior of humanity.
One must believe in, and practice the way of salvation in order to have eternal life and enter into the Family and Kingdom of God.
Yes, one must believe the true gospel message that Jesus Christ, his apostles, and the early church proclaimed in order to reap the benefits offered by God the Father. Yet, many hundreds of millions who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ do not believe or understand the message he brought or how it relates to their personal salvation or the salvation of humanity today and in the future.
THE OTHER GOSPEL
Most of Christianity has believed and accepted a false gospel. As inconceivable as this sounds, it has happened. Jesus Christ warned his disciples to be on guard against false teachings that would be preached in his name:
"Take heed [beware] that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ [I am the Christ]; and shall deceive many [the majority of people]" (Lk.21:8; Mk.13:5-6; Matt.24:4-5 Para.).
Even before the end of the first century, the apostles of Jesus Christ warned their followers to be aware of deceptions, because they could see false teachings about the way of God beginning to emerge.
Toward the close of the first century Jude, one of the brothers of Jesus Christ, wrote that evil men were turning the grace of God into a license to sin, and he admonished the elect of God to recapture the original faith that Jesus Christ had delivered:
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4 KJV). See also 2.Pet.2:1-3.
About forty years before Jude wrote his warning to the church, and barely twenty years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Galatia giving them a strong warning to be aware of false teachings. Even then (52-53 A.D.), as the early church grew in numbers, so did those who opposed the truth of God. During Paul's time, the true gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ were being perverted by people who were determined to distort the truth of God for their own purposes.
Paul issued a severe condemnation, and warns of punishment for those who attempt to change or corrupt the true gospel:
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. . . So I now say again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed" (Gal.1:8-9 Para.).
This is no shallow meaningless threat by the apostle Paul, this curse is backed by the authority of Jesus Christ whom the apostle Paul served as a minister of the gospel. What is recorded here is a historical fact: during the lifetime of the apostles, the true gospel was being corrupted, and another gospel was being taught to confuse and seduce the elect of God and the world at large into believing a false gospel.
Does it really matter which religious organization a person is associated with, or what basic philosophy one holds to be true, as long as one believes that it is correct and tries to be a good person?
If God the Father and his Son do not exist, and the Bible is not the word of God, it does not matter what one believes or how one conducts one's life.
However, there is abundant proof that God the Father and Jesus Christ do exist and that the Bible is their instruction manual to the elect of God and to the human race. If one is truly seeking to obey God the Father and Jesus Christ, then one will desire with all their being to associate with people who are truly following the ways of God, and one will be making a diligent effort to conduct every aspect of one's life in a way that will please the Father.
The true message that Jesus Christ brought from his Father is very different from what has been taught by popular Christianity throughout the centuries.
No matter how cleverly crafted and eloquently stated the other gospel is, it teaches a message that is diametrically opposed to the Father's message. This false message will always lead away from the truth of God and will result in eternal death for those who believe it.
A COUNTERFEIT GOSPEL
What occurred to cause the original gospel to become corrupted into a false gospel? How could such a thing happen? What made people believe and follow the heretical teachings of those who professed to follow Jesus, but did not?
The Bible reveals that it is Satan the Devil and his ministers who have counterfeited the true good news message with a perverted version. It is this false gospel that has been accepted as the original teachings of Jesus Christ:
"That old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives [Greek, 'is deceiving'] the whole world. . ." (Rev.12:9 Para.).
This powerful spirit-being known as the Devil (Satan) and other evil spirits are actively deceiving the entire world politically, philosophically, and religiously.
Here is what Paul was inspired to write to the Galatians concerning the other gospel:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different good news messagethat is in reality no good news message at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the good news of Christ" (Gal.1:6-7 Para.).
The Bible tells us how this other gospel started and how it differs from the true gospel message. Secular as well as religious history also record these perversions of the true gospel since it was originally proclaimed. It is also openly admitted by many biblical scholars and religious leaders that what is taught today as Christianity is very different from what was taught during the days of the apostles.
Satan, through his followers, has taught a counterfeit Christianity and gospel message. These false teachings that began centuries ago were accepted as original truth. Today, almost all of professing Christianity has accepted these false teachings as the truth of God.
Because the Father does not want his children to be ignorant of these attempts to pervert his truth, there are many warnings in the scriptures about false prophets, teachers, and doctrines.
The historical facts found in a variety of sources clearly show how the iron fist of this satanic counterfeit was enforced upon the world. It is openly admitted by most historians and religious leaders that what was enforced as truth was contrary to the scriptures and commandments of God.
Here is what Paul was inspired to write to the Corinthians concerning the other gospel:
2.Corinthians 11:3-4; 13-15 KJV
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled [deceived] Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes [and is] preaching another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit [an evil lying spirit], which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted. . ." (vs.3-4).
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming them- selves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (vs.13-15).
Another Jesus and another gospel were preached by these false apostles and deceitful workers. This same false Jesus and message is still being preached and taught today.
THE WAY OF TRUTH SPOKEN OF AS EVIL
The apostle Peter warned that people teaching heresies would rise up and that many would follow these people and their false teachings:
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many [the majority of people] shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of " (2.Pet.2:1-2 Para.).
There are many things that people consider to be truth; however, what God reveals as the way of truth is many times not what people believe as truth. It is God's way of truth that most people hate and ridicule.
The Bible defines for us what is meant by "the way of truth." "As he prayed to the Father, Jesus said, Sanctify them [true children of God] through your truth: your word is truth" (Jn.17:17 Para.). Sanctify means "to set apart." Jesus asked his Father in heaven to set apart his followers from the way of the world. A further biblical definition of truth is revealed in Psalm 119: "Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth. . . all your commandments are truth. . . your word is true from the beginning" (vs.142,151,160 Para.).
"Jesus said, God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:24 Para.).
The way of truth is the word of God that is revealed through the Bible and taught by true servants of God. This truth, if believed and acted upon in a positive manner, will result in one living the way of truth (Lk.4:4; Matt.19:17; Jn.14:15; Rev.12:17; 14:12; 22:14).
This is the way of truth that is spoken of as evil. The message of the false ministers of Christ is this: Christ has released humanity from the obligation to keep the law of God. This deception is preached as freedom from the harsh law of God. But this deception leads to bondage, because the message is a lie that encourages sincere people to disobey God and practice lawlessness: lawlessness is sin; sin is bondage.
CAN ONE WORSHIP THE GOD OF TRUTH WITH LIES?
There are many sincere and dedicated people who have been mislead by false prophets and teachers who teach a counterfeit of God's way of life. They have been taught that these heretical practices are acceptable by God and have believed it. But, only truth is truth! Sincerity and dedication do not equal truth! Sincerity only shows the attitude with which people do what they do. It is apparent that many are truly dedicated to their religious precepts, but it does not mean that they are dedicated to the truth of God.
There is a vast difference between worshiping God the Father in spirit and truth and zealously doing what is thought to be righteous. Only God can determine what is righteousness. The Bible teaches that "There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Pro.14:12 KJV).
Would God the Father who is a God of love and truth, and whose holy spirit is called "the Spirit of Truth" ever accept a satanic counterfeit and a lie as a means of worshiping him? Never!
There are literally hundreds of thousands who preach against the truth of God by not teaching what the Bible reveals as truth. Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits (Matt.7:15-20). The apostle Paul said that if a person teaches things that are against truth, they will receive the wrath of God:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom.1:18 Para.).
The vast majority, as the apostle Paul foretold, changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator (Rom.1:25). Thus was the truth of God exchanged for a lie.
REJECTION OF TRUTH
"Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2.Thes.2:10-12 Para.).
When people reject the truth of God's Word, the truth of his commandments, and the truth of his laws, they believe a lie.
It is very clear what a Christian should do in order to please the Father and Jesus Christ. A Christian must love God, love his truth, and believe and live by his truth. As simple as this seems, most people refuse to believe or live by the truth of God's Word.
It is a fact that most people believe in God, a form of God, or a higher power, but most do not believe God. On the surface, it may seem religious to believe in God or have a mental concept of a higher power, but such a concept places most people in a perilous situation.
The apostle James, a brother of Jesus, explains it very clearly for us:
"Do you believe there is one God [the Sovereign God, God the Father]; You do well: the demons also believe, and tremble" (Jms.2:19 KJV).
Those who believe in the Sovereign God of the Bible and refuse to obey him by keeping his law and worshiping him as he instructs are in the same category as evil spiritsthey are adversaries of God.
Because most people believe what they want to believe or what they are told, rather than searching for and believing the truth of God as they should, this prophecy of believing a lie has been fulfilled for centuries. The vast majority of those who profess to be of the Christian faith have accepted and believed the lie that those under the New Covenant are no longer required to keep the law of God.
A GOSPEL PARABLE
Although there are many variations of the other gospel, the other gospel usually contains a perversion of the truth concerning Jesus Christ and his relationship with God the Father prior to his human existence. It also usually contains perversions of the truth concerning Jesus' physical life, his death, and his resurrection, and it contains lies about how to obtain salvation and the way to the Kingdom of God.
In the parable of the good shepherd Jesus reveals the basic elements of the other gospel:
"Jesus said to them again, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: If anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and will go in, and will not go out, and will find pasture. The thief does not come except that he may steal, and to kill, and destroy: I came that they might have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn.10:7-12 Para.). Please read the entire chapter and parable in order to place this parable in its proper context.
Although there are many things that can be learned from this parable, there are three things to take note of:
1. Jesus shows that the only way to enter into eternal life is through him. All other philosophies or religions that offer a way to escape eternal death and enter the Kingdom of God are false and will lead to eternal death instead of eternal life.
2. Anyone who teaches that there is any other way to enter into eternal life than the way Jesus taught presents a false message in order to steal people's opportunity for eternal life.
3. Jesus gave his life in order for humanity to have eternal life.
This third point is extremely important because false religions and philosophies do not truly teach or understand this awesome truth about the God who died to save his creation.
Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things (Jn.1:1-3). Prior to being human, he was an immortal spirit-being who inherently possessed the highest form of existence: life that springs forth from itself, never dying or decaying. The Creator God emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become a mortal man subject to death. He then allowed his creation to murder him. He voluntarily gave up his life and for a short time, he completely ceased to exist as a living entity:
"Who, being in the form of God [the Sovereign God], thought it not robbery to be equal with God [the Sovereign God]: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross" (Phil.2:6-8 KJV).
Jesus died; he ceased to exist. All that remained of his life was the physical and spirit record of his existence which could have been completely destroyed and erased if the Father had not resurrected him from the dead. See Matt.10:28; Lk.12:4-5; Gal.1:1; Acts 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30.
In the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, the apostle John records his encounter with Jesus Christ who calls himself the God Alpha and Omega:
"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev.1:17-18 Para.). See also Rom.6:8-10; Acts 2:24-32; 3:15, 26; Heb.2:9; Rev.2:8.
THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE GOSPEL
The gospel, the good message, or the good news that Jesus commanded his followers to teach and proclaim is in actuality only one message for humanity; however, the message does have two distinct divisions: 1) the good news about the coming Family and Kingdom of God to rule the earth; 2) the good news about how a person can become a part of the Family and Kingdom of God through the sacrificial blood and authority of Jesus Christ.
Today, just before the return of Jesus Christ, the true gospel that was taught by Jesus Christ, the apostles, and the early church is again being taught by those who are truly the elect of God.
By B.L. Cocherell, file b1w4