GOSPEL WITH(out) JESUS
Gospel with(out) Jesus by Bola Olu-Jordan
THE GOOD NEWS
The simple interpretation of The Gospel is Good News. However, good news is not the Gospel: Good news is good news!
While God is good, good is not God. While all gold glitters, not all that glitter is gold. What many believe to be ‘good news’ today is certainly ‘good’, but the question is: is it the Good News that Jesus Christ brought for mankind that cost God His only begotten Son and cost Jesus His life, or just the good news of meeting people’s immediate needs? If it were the latter, then Jesus needn’t have come, because the needs continue to be around us and will continue (1Cor. 15:19). But Jesus came to do something no one could do from eternity past or future (Heb.2:15) and after that, He confessed that ‘it is finished’ (Jn.19:30) and that is why it is called ‘The Gospel’.
The Gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto SALVATION to everyone that believeth…” (Rom. 1:16). The angel, while announcing the coming of Jesus to Joseph, clearly stated what Jesus’ mission was: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Mat. 1:21). Paul said: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1Tim. 1:15).
The Gospel that only preaches materialism, escape from poverty, witches, and only solve immediate problems instead of deliverance from sin and hope of eternity is like a man that plucks rotten fruits from a bad tree instead of uprooting the whole tree ‘Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Mat.7:19). Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10); to return man to the kingdom of God (paradise) that was lost through sin in the Garden of Eden. He came to bridge the gulf and restore man to the place of communion man used to enjoy with God in the cool of the day before the fall. (Gen.3:8). Christianity is a relationship with the person of Jesus and not a gain acquiring mechanism or problem solving formula.
It is therefore expedient for us to differentiate between the gospel of man and The Gospel of Christ. The Good news man preaches may be good, but that doesn’t make it The Gospel. Man’s work may be good, but that doesn’t make it of God. Many religions may be good and indeed, they are, but that doesn’t make them the way to God, just like many individuals posses sterling characters, but it doesn’t make them children of God.
There are many individuals who are better than presidents of nations, but are not presidents. So, for the fact that some preach good news, doesn’t say they preach The Gospel. Miracles, healings, prosperity, etc are certainly good news, but are they The Gospel and can preachers of such be called Gospel preachers?
The difference between the good news of man and the good news of Christ is, the former meet immediate needs, which is deliverance from lack, evil powers, sickness, situation, etc, and give blessings, prosperity, etc, while the latter meet eternal need, which is deliverance from sin and Satan and also hope of eternity with God.
For anyone to present and peddle the good news of man to unsuspecting, indolent and gullible congregation as The Gospel of Jesus Christ and persuade them away from the real purpose in which God sacrificed His Son to come to the earth and which His Son, Jesus, suffered, bled and died, so that man can be free from sin and Satan, is a grievous iniquity. It is even worse that some present themselves as gospel preachers, deceiving even the elects. (Mat. 24:24). Their weapon of deceit is in showing ‘great signs and wonders’, retailing miracles and solving problems, but the remnant only look up to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith (Heb.12:2).
It is altogether appalling how terribly people could be easily deceived into embracing half truth and are willing to compromise their eternity for the immediate and the transient. Not many could withstand the lust of the eyes in face of acute needs! Eve sacrificed humanity for just ‘apple’, Esau sacrificed his destiny for porridge and many preachers today are sacrificing destinies of [innocents] followers for their belly (Phl.3:19). They have became consultants and experts in various fields and see ministry as churning out information about Christ with endearing abandon and proffering solutions to people’s problems, instead of leading people to Jesus and discipling them until Christ is formed in them (Gal.4:19).
Ignorantly or ingeniously, men have been able to build religious empires and institutions for themselves on the bill of preaching the ‘good news’ and continue to find it very rewarding in fulfilling their clandestine ambition. How many can resist the temptation Jesus faced when thousands showed up for a program He did not even advertise? Many would see it as a divine opportunity to build a membership structure and denominational movement, which today, is seen as a major point in church growth and success in ministry. But instead, Jesus simply gave them what they needed – the truth - and because man, by default, reject the truth, they all left Him!
To them, that was not the type of ‘good news’ they wanted; they wanted the good news of prophetic pronouncement of favour coming to them, breakthrough waiting for them, God is expanding their horizon, God is taking them to a greater height and destroying their enemies, which things are good and needed, but must not be equated to The Gospel of Jesus! For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape’ (1Th.5:3).
Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:51-56). How many pulpits still preach this type of Gospel today?
What is the effect of this message on the thousands of people who came to hear the ‘good news’? “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? … From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away”? (John 6:60; 66-67).
To them, such message is ‘a hard saying’, because they are shopping for teachers who will pamper their sins and indulge their unrighteous lives. We are in the time spoken of by Paul when people “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim. 4:3-4). The Gospel is not enticing words of man’s wisdom, logic, rhymes, excitement and formulas, but in revelation and demonstration of the power of God (1Cor.2:4).
The itching ears that the people had then, is yet to be cured. They are still looking for preachers who will tell them fables, facts and exciting news; predict their future, prophesy good to their sinful lives and use the name of Jesus to conquer every demon of lack, while excusing their wayward lives and the token of sin in their lives. Those who preach such type of the messages of Jesus are name ‘hard liners’ and their churches are often deserted, just like the disciples were called ‘Christians’ in Antioch to ridicule them. Truth is bitter and disperses, but fact is sweeter than honey and attracts. Jesus simply told them the truth and they left, because they were looking for facts that excites, not the truth that convicts.
Since crowd has now become the major yardstick for measuring success in ministry today, Jesus could have been tagged a failure, who lacked ability to manage people by not injuring their sentiments. Crowd is the major reason many self-acclaimed prophets tarry at strange mountains, but Jesus knew that ‘No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him’ (John 6:44). He knew what He came for: not to distribute bread for the world, but bread of life; to do the will of He that sent Him (John 6:39). Many preachers are looking for a crowd of mere miracle seekers, but not God seekers.
SETTING IT RIGHT
How sad that our society today cannot discern the difference between gospel preachers and motivational speakers! Motivational speakers, regardless of what title they burden themselves with are not Gospel preachers, they may have a platform through which they motivate people and call it church with huge congregation, but if they only encourage people to look inward for the power in them to achieve purpose or fan into flame the dormant but unlimited ability in people to achieve destiny by confession or positive thinking, then, that has nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus, although, it help people achieve destiny. The Gospel of Jesus is not all about achieving destiny, but attaining eternity. You can achieve destiny here on earth and don’t attain eternity. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mat.16:26). “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1Cor.15:19).
Paul summarized the Gospel very beautifully to the Phillipian Church: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Php 3:10). The Gospel is about knowing Jesus one-on-one and the power that conquer sin and partake of Christ’s passion.
It is good to be motivated, but must not be confused with The Gospel. Quotable quotes, rhetoric, philosophy, rhymes, and other beautiful poetic verses being preached with some bible citations, packaged in the name of Jesus and delivered in a religious atmosphere must not be mistaken as the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus did not come for that and He never charged any man to preach or believe that as the Gospel. Preaching that as the Gospel of Christ is an error that must be repented of. Our gatherings must be to celebrate Jesus, not the latent power of the soul. We are to seek and preach first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. Let us get it straight. There is no sin listening or preaching it, but it must not be presented as the Gospel and preachers of such must not deceive people that they are gospel preachers. One is soulish, the other is spirit and we must give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. The things of the spirit are spirits.
ALL THESE THINGS
Paul said to the church at Corinth: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1Cor. 2:2). The Gospel is about seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness (Mat.6:33) and not the all these things that THE GENTILES seek for (Mat.6:32). Although, many who seek for these things call themselves believers, Jesus call them gentiles. Who shall we believe? Jesus promised that all what the gentiles are seeking for are mere additions for us and we must not seek for them. But that is what people seek for today and that is what many preach. They are good and Jesus promised to give us, but is not The Gospel. The Good News of Jesus is about the kingdom of God, the other Good news is about materialism.
When we have Jesus, we have all these things, but having ‘all these things’ does not necessarily mean we have Jesus; they may become a mammon to us (Mat.6:24) and that’s why Jesus warned that they are additions and not the main course, don’t seek after them; they will turn your heart away, but seek first the kingdom and his righteousness.
Any good news, whose main and only object is not Jesus, but Jesus is however used or mentioned as a means to achieving the object is not The Gospel. The Gospel begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus (Heb.12:2). It is Jesus that brings every other thing and not every other thing brings Jesus. The main emphasis of our preaching is The Gospel we preach. If our main emphasis is breakthrough, prosperity, healing or even witches, then, we must ask ourselves: is this why Jesus endured so much humiliation, leaving His throne in heaven and coming to die?
When sermons and messages in our churches are reduced to mere prophetic declarations and motivational talks, believers must beware and run! While those are good, they must not be confused with the message of the cross. Jesus did not come to declare prophetic unction on the congregation, provide steps to riches, avenues to prosperity or escape from witches and troubles of life, but that they might know the truth and the truth would set them free (Jn.8:32).
Many so called prophets today know how to remove curses, poverty, lack, etc in the lives of the people, but do not know how to remove their sins. They preach so much about blessing, breakthrough and prosperity with practical examples, but can’t preach holiness and righteousness with practical examples. Jesus came for the eternal rest of the spirit not the immediate escape of the soul. He did not teach the disciples some motivational talks or quotable quotes which can be used as medicine in times of trouble, but to preach the kingdom of God and as they do that, the Holy Spirit is present to save, heal and deliver.
JESUS IS THE GOSPEL
We should not be part of them that modernizes the Gospel. God is an ancient God and needs no modernization. We must preach Jesus and Him alone ‘in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine’ (2Tim. 4:2), because these are the last days and perilous times has come (2Tim. 3:1). People only have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof: from such, we must turn away (2Tim. 3:5), lest we be partaker of their iniquities.
If you must come to Jesus, you must come through the door, the cross, and not through the window, lest you become a thief (Jn.10:1). You must seek Him and not His. Jesus is the center of the Gospel, not materialism or benefit.
Gospel without Jesus is like a sea without water or the sky without the cloud. Let us desire and preach Jesus and watch ‘all these things’ follow, rather than preach ‘all these things’ and expect Jesus to follow. Miracles follow Jesus, but Jesus does not follow miracles. You can go to hell with your miracles, blessings, prosperity, breakthrough, etc, but you cannot go to hell with Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus comes with the cross and not funfare.
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee (Mic.6:8). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev.2:29).