Man has created and continues to create many things. As man has learned more about science and technology, the achievements of mankind have become more and more impressive. Many useful inventions and gadgets have been assembled over the course of history.
Currently, we live in a very materialistic society. Due to strategic marketing campaigns and people’s love of material possessions, the public always seems to be waiting for the next exciting and trendy purchase that will help them stay up-to-date. You’ve probably heard the stories of people camping outside of stores days in advance to purchase some item that you would think was as crucial to them as receiving a heart transplant.
As usual, the item that is in hot demand is nothing more than something those people already own, just slightly updated and with a fresh coat of polish, producing that new product shine that calls out to the public.
Did you know that all of the flashy inventions that man creates have two things in common?
1. Instruction manuals. How are we going to use all of those great products if we don’t know how to properly operate them? What do the buttons do? What are all of those different settings for? New inventions are increasingly complicated, and we need instructions for them.
2. Temporary life. Nothing that man creates lasts forever. All of it will wear out, break down, and cease to work at some point, without a level of maintenance. But maintenance doesn’t change the fact that man cannot create something that lasts forever.
Did you know that there was a man who did manage to create something that lasts forever? Yes, this did indeed happen once in history. His name was Jesus Christ. (Ok, so He was the Son of God, but He was on the earth in human form.) One day, this man was taken to a place called Calvary, and there, He accomplished something that no one had done before, and that no one has done since. He created something that would last forever. Further impressive was the fact that this creation did not require lengthy instructions. It was, and is, quite simple.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He opened up the door of eternal salvation to the world. You may think that your cell phone is important. You may think that your computer is important. You may think that your (fill in the blank) is important. All of these things are temporary. If they don’t expire first, and they somehow manage to outlast you, they will still do you no good once you are done with this life. We get so wrapped up in temporary things. But what about eternity? Wouldn’t you be more concerned with where you are going to spend eternity than you would the latest gadget that will be obsolete in two years? Let me put it into math terms:
Eternity > cool new gadget
One day there was this jailer who was guarding a prison (Acts 16:23-34). I don’t know much about this man, so let’s imagine what his life may have been like. Let’s say that he was paid well. He had a nice, two-story house. He had a pretty trophy wife. He had kids who were on the honor roll at school. He had a great social life and many friends. He had the latest model of the cup attached to another cup with a string. (Hey, they didn’t have cell phones back then.)
As fate would have it, on this particular day, this jailer had a pair of men, Paul and Silas, locked down in one of the prison cells. The jailer was so sure that his prisoners were constrained that he was actually taking a nap. Suddenly, there was an earthquake. The very foundations of the prison shook, and all of the cell doors were opened. The jailer woke up, and seeing that all of the cells he was supposed to be guarding were opened, he figured that all of the prisoners had escaped. Fearing what his boss would do to him, the jailer pulled out his sword and prepared to kill himself. Then, from one of the prison cells, a voice called out to the jailer. It was the apostle Paul, and he told the jailer “Hey, don’t do it! We’re all still here!” The jailer came into the cell with a light, where he found the prisoners that he had locked down before his nap. These were those men that were claiming to be servants of God. Rumor had it that these men had performed miracles in the name of someone called Jesus Christ. Now here they were, unshackled and free to go, even though the jailer himself had secured them. Suddenly, that big house didn’t matter. That wife, those kids, that social life, even that latest model of the two cups and a string, none of it mattered. The jailer was trembling, and he fell to his knees before Paul and Silas. All of the temporary pleasures of life suddenly weren’t so important, and the jailer had a very important question for these two prisoners.
Acts 16:30-31: “And brought them (Paul and Silas) out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
The jailer washed the wounds of these two prisoners, was baptized, and brought the men to his house, where he led them into the kitchen and had a great meal prepared for them. The jailer was happy as could be and celebrated as Paul and Silas shared the Gospel of Christ with the jailer’s family, and the whole household believed. (Aside from those initial assumptions about the things that the jailer may have owned, the rest of this story is true, and you can read it for yourself in Acts 16:23-34.)
Eternal salvation. The most important thing that you could ever own. It will never break down, and you don’t need instructions for how to operate or maintain it.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.
Salvation will never break down on you. Have you ever broken something that you owned? Of course you have. Did you know that you could never break your own salvation? Once God saves you, it cannot be undone. Even if you purposely try to break it, you cannot do it. When you become saved, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13: “In whom (Jesus Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”
Did you notice how the word “spirit” was capitalized in the verse above? That word is capitalized because that spirit is not just any spirit. It is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God and Jesus Christ. When a person believes on Jesus Christ, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is a permanent seal.
2nd Timothy 2:13: “If we (believers on Jesus Christ) believe not, yet he (Jesus Christ) abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
When you believe on Jesus Christ, you are saved. You could eventually decide that you no longer believe, and you will remain saved, because the Holy Spirit is still living inside of you. When it comes time for you to go to Heaven or Hell, even if you have decided you no longer believe, Jesus Christ will still take you to Heaven. Once the Holy Spirit is inside of you, to turn you away would be like Jesus turning Himself away. He cannot do it, and this was done on purpose so that salvation cannot be lost. If salvation could be lost, then salvation would in some way be dependant on what people do, and that is not the case. Salvation is a free gift given to believers due to God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:15-18). Salvation does not wear out or break down. Ever.
Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he (God) which hath begun a good work (eternal salvation) in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (the Rapture, the end of the age of grace):”
2nd Timothy 1:12: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed (Jesus Christ), and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him (the soul) against that day (the Rapture, the end of the age of grace).”
Salvation requires no instructions for how to operate or maintain it. You would think that something so important would need an instruction manual, but it doesn’t. (The Bible provides instruction and understanding for believers, but we are talking about the act of getting saved.) The instructions are as simple as follows:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.
If you want to go deeper, Paul wrote that the Gospel of Christ is what saves the soul of the believer (Romans 1:16). So what is this Gospel?
1st Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
That’s it. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, was buried, and rose again three days later. Now you may have questions about what it all means. You may not understand how this system is possible. Those answers are in the Bible. But the fact remains that if you want to be saved, all you need to do is believe in that message about Jesus Christ.
Remember how we talked about the things that man creates? Man creates things that are fallible and weak. They just don’t hold up over time. So God created eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, and what did man go and do? Man did what he does best. Man got involved and messed around with God’s simple creation. And guess what we have now?
1. A set of instructions for how to be saved. It’s no longer good enough to simply believe in the Gospel of Christ to be saved. Now religious people tell you that you must turn away from all your sins, hate all sin, perform good works, and kneel while facing northeast at sunset as you cry and promise God that you will obey Moses’ law. Man put his dirty hands where they don’t belong, and now we have a complicated and impossible set of instructions for how to be saved.
2. Temporary salvation. The eternal salvation that God gives to believers is no longer good enough. Now religious people tell you that salvation is dependant on your lifestyle. That means that if you make the wrong move, your salvation will break down. Man put his dirty hands where they don’t belong, and now we have eternal insecurity that guarantees to save no one.
God made salvation simple and secure. Man made salvation complicated and insecure. One way that man does this is by perverting and distorting the meaning of the word “repent.” (For
lots of information on repentance, see my page “Repentance 101.”) Paul’s message for how to be saved was the Gospel of Christ, a message that called for simple belief. Man saw the word “repent” in Scripture and decided to give it a false meaning (turn away from sin), and man also decided to create a new salvation method. Repentance was merely a change of mind. Repentance was preached in the Bible before Jesus Christ died on the cross. John the Baptist taught repentance, and Scripture defines what this repentance was.
Acts 19:4: “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When John the Baptist taught repentance, he was not teaching people to turn away from their sins. He was teaching people to change their minds and believe on Jesus Christ, who would be arriving soon. John was actually spreading a message much like the one Jesus Christ shared when He began His earthly ministry. Let me show you.
Matthew 3:1-2: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
This message was for the Jews only.
Matthew 10:5-7: “These twelve (disciples) Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel(the Jews). And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
This was the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Matthew 9:35: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
Jesus and John were teaching the Jews that the kingdom that the Jews were promised was near. They needed to believe on the Messiah, the King they were promised would come.
Mark 1:14-15: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Translation: Change your minds and believe the good news! The kingdom you have been waiting for is here!
Well, the Jews did not believe and they instead crucified Jesus. Did Jesus fail? Heck no. This was the plan all along.
Romans 11:25: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel (the Jews), until the fulness of the Gentiles (non Jews) be come in.”
God put His plan for the Jews on hold in order to show fairness to the Gentiles. God even chose an apostle for the Gentiles.
Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” – the apostle Paul
With a new mission that was not aimed at the Jews, God needed a new Gospel, since the Gospel of the Kingdom was meant for the Jews. The Gospel of the Kingdom will return one day, during the Tribulation. Jesus Christ dropped this bit of information one day when His disciples asked Him about the times leading up to His Second Coming.
Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
But what about now? What is the Gospel that God has for us in this in between phase? It’s called the Gospel of Christ.
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
This Gospel is the good news I told you about earlier. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, was buried, and rose again three days later. Believing this message saves the soul for all eternity. Good news? More like great news. Jesus Christ provided a much better deal than the one that God had given to the Jews only.
Hebrews 8:6: “But now hath he (Jesus Christ) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”
So here we are with this great Gospel, and some people just can’t leave well enough alone. Religious people opened up the Bible, not understanding what they were reading, and they came to a verse like the following:
Mark 6:12: “And they (the twelve disciples) went out, and preached that men should repent.”
This was the book of Mark’s account of what happened in Matthew 10, when Jesus Christ sent out His disciples. Jesus said that this message was for the Jews only, and as I already stated, this was not a message about turning away from sin. It was a message telling the Jews to change their minds from unbelief to belief. Unfortunately, many religious people don’t have a clue as to what repentance is. They believe that we should all be telling the unsaved a Gospel message that revolves around them cleaning up their lifestyles rather than focusing on what Jesus Christ accomplished for the world on the cross. Here’s another verse of Scripture these confused religious people love to quote, while making themselves look ignorant in the process:
Acts 17:30: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
Once again, repentance does not mean to turn away from sin here. Many religious people do not understand the concept of “context.” When you place the above verse into its proper context, you learn that the apostle Paul was dealing with a superstitious group of Greeks who were into worshipping all sorts of false gods. What Paul was saying was that everyone needs to change their minds from whatever or whoever it is they believe in and place their faith in the true God. Sin was not mentioned here. The repentance very clearly refers to belief in God. But this definition isn’t good enough for religious people. They prefer to go around condemning everyone else for their sins, forgetting that they themselves are sinners. They look down on you for that cigarette in your hand, while pride eats them up inside and makes them forget all of their own sins. They say that you cannot be saved because you live in sin, while affirming that they are saved because they have turned from all of their sins, making themselves liars (1st John 1:8).
Not only do we have religious people who do not understand what repentance is, but furthermore, they completely miss the fact that the gospel they think they are spreading correctly is based on a Gospel that was created for the Jews only. So they took a Gospel not meant for the present age and twisted it to make a gospel that was never meant for any age. By failing to understand that there are different Gospels for different time periods/audiences, and by perverting the true meaning of repentance, these religious people proudly deliver a corrupt gospel message. They reject the Gospel of Christ and have accepted a false gospel, one which requires complicated instructions and is pure junk because it breaks down very easily. No thanks. I will stick with the real thing. The Gospel of Christ wasn’t created by man. It was created by God.
Galatians 1:11-12: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This Gospel did not come from man. It came from Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
You can listen to the gospels that man creates. You may even think they are the real deal because they seem to come from the Bible. You better be sure of that. There is one Gospel, and one Gospel only, that applies to us in this age. That is the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel of the Kingdom, meant for the Jews, is on hold until the Tribulation arrives. All other gospels either do not apply to us, or they are fakes created by man putting his dirty hands where they don’t belong. Man’s inventions will always break down. If you believe in a gospel that was created by man, just know that man’s creations are weak and temporary. God created salvation and the Gospel of Christ. These things will never break down. Make the right choice. 1st Corinthians 2:5: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
Repentance was preached to the Jews through the Gospel of
the Kingdom. The Gospel of Christ focuses on what Jesus Christ accomplished on
the cross. The Gospel of Christ is what should be preached to people
everywhere. 1st Corinthians 1:18: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish
foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
1st Corinthians 1:23: “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock,
and unto the Greeks foolishness;”
1st Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ,
and him crucified.”