Vol. 11 No. 7 July 2009
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Lately, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Christianity about which it teaches appeals mostly to those whose ethnicity and historical experience is not tied to a western, Judeo-Christian heritage. Whereas for the past one hundred and fifty years especially Christianity has blossomed in the United States of America, for instance, presently and for the past five decades, the greatest appeal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of Christianity has been in India and some other Asian countries as well as various countries in Africa. Arguably, there are now more Christians in India and African nations than there are true Christians in the entire western world. The affect of materialistic prosperity has dulled and hijacked the appeal of the Gospel of Christ and of Christianity in America and other western nations. Yet, the appeal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of Christianity is vibrant with unwavering conviction among distant peoples whose religious experience historically has been anything but Christian and whose economic prosperity continues to be an elusive yearning. What is the appeal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of Christianity to the millions of non-Caucasians and non-Afro-Americans in distant mission fields who have warmly embraced the church of the Bible, in the neighborhood of billions of precious souls who will give the Gospel and Christianity a hearing? The answer to that question ought to be the solution to rekindling the fervor for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and genuine Christianity in the western world, including in the United States of America.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christianity are appealing because of definitive, down-to-earth, track-record proven religious instruction in a concise, unchanging book—the Bible. In addition, what sets the Bible far aloft above every other volume of religious instruction is its divine origin (2 Peter 1:16-21) and comprehensiveness (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). No other source of religious instruction depicts man’s origin (Genesis 1), chronicles mankind’s spiritual fall (Genesis 3), provides a failsafe, divine solution to the degradation of humanity (John 3:16-17; Mark 16:16), guides man in God-approved worship (John 4:24), steers him in divinely approved daily living (1 John 1:7; 2 John 4) and service (1 Corinthians 15:58; Titus 2:14), and produces sufficient moral encouragement (Philippians 4:13) or hope (1 Corinthians 15:19; Colossians 1:5) to endure sometimes the worst that this world has to offer (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16). Dear Reader, please don’t gloss over these Scripture citations, but take the time to read each of them.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christianity are appealing because in them only can the distraught and downtrodden find enduring refuge for their souls (Hebrews 6:18). World religions, which attempt to compete with and displace Christianity, are unable to offer their followers uplift from distress like Jesus can (Matthew 11:28-30) and a lasting hope (Hebrews 6:11), because they deal in earthly matters, whereas the Gospel of Christ and Christianity pertain to spiritual and heavenly, eternal matters (John 18:36). Likewise, the counterfeit religions of denominationalism (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Galatians 1:6-12) can only offer a hollow, unvalidated, temporary, earthbound hope (1 Corinthians 15:9) that is not only unauthorized (Matthew 7:21-13), but that will not be realized at the end of time, because mortals cannot make up the rules for religion and obligate God to accept them (Matthew 15:9, 13; John 12:48). Dear Reader, please don’t gloss over these Scripture citations, but take the time to read each of them.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christianity are appealing because they are the product of objective, unchanging truth (John 8:32; Jude 3) rather than subjective feeling and evolving manmade doctrines. I recall one of my greatest satisfactions when I left manmade religion behind and became a member of the church that Jesus built was that I could look forward to religious doctrine being the same year after year; though I might understand more of God’s Word better over the years, the doctrine or teaching itself remains the same. Bible ink dried about 2,000 years ago! One can know that he knows (1 John 2:3) God’s will for him from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and God’s will for humanity is an undenominational, Bible-based Christianity. Reader, please don’t gloss over these Scripture citations, but take the time to read each of them.
Each of us ought only to desire to be a member of the church of the Bible, the one Jesus Christ promised to build (Matthew 16:18), which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28), over which He alone is the Head (Colossians 1:18) and also the church for which He will return someday to take back with Him to Heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Anything besides the church that is divine in origin, having been in the eternal mind of God (Ephesians 3:10-11), is a hopeless house build on a foundation of sand (Matthew 7:26-27). The New Testament or Gospel reveals the identifying characteristics and mission of that church (no other church or religious organization has a divine mission). Those characteristics include organization into independent congregations (Acts 14:23), overseen by biblically qualified elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Acts 20:28), served by biblically qualified deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13), taught by able teachers (2 Timothy 2:24; Hebrews 5:12-14) and preachers (Romans 10:14), and its many good works shared by all of its members (1 Corinthians 15:58; Titus 2:14). In addition, the God-authorized worship of the Lord’s church is unique: (1) The body of believers assembles each first day of the week for corporate worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2), at which time each local church (in no particular order), (2) prays (1 Corinthians 14:15), (3) sings hymns (1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19), (4) partakes of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7), (5) gives back to God out of one’s prosperity (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) and (6) and studies God’s Word (Acts 20:7). The primary mission of the church that Jesus built is to take the saving power of the Gospel to a sin-sick and dying world (Mark 16:15-16; James 5:19-20), whereas secondary, supporting missions of the church are building oneself up with the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) and benevolence toward all men (beginning with fellow Christians) (Galatians 6:10). Dear Reader, please don’t gloss over these Scripture citations, but take the time to read each of them.
We close with this thought in the form of a question on which each of us would do well to reflect. “How appealing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christianity to you and me?”