Category Archives: Salvation

The Only Gospel Command to Be Obeyed

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For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? I Peter 4:17 (NASB)

In Scripture, there are many biblical commands or imperatives to be obeyed yet they are not direct ‘gospel commands’.

Mark 1:1 declares the beginning of Jesus’ gospel, and in Mark 1:15, Jesus said,

“”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Regeneration and saving faith both being gifts from God, only the elect unto salvation will believe, of course, yet the imperative to believe in the Gospel is there.

Again, through the Apostle Peter, specifically in the quoted passage above, there is only one ‘Gospel imperative’, that is, one Gospel command specifically regarding the Gospel, and it is not for Christians to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. It is simply to believe its good news. The Gospel is good news to be believed, not good news to be therapeutically repeated daily.

In the latter portion of I Peter 4:17, the Apostle asked the question:

“what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

What does he mean by ‘obey the Gospel? The answer lies in the text itself. The Greek  word for obey here is ἀπειθούντων—note the present active tense of this participle (derived from ἀπειθέω (I refuse to believe and obey)).

Peter is asking in essence “If judgment begins with the house of God, what will become of those who are willfully, intentionally disbelieving and refuse to comply with the command to believe the Gospel?”

It is that simple my brethren. To obey the Gospel is to believe it.

The Scriptures, that is, the whole counsel of God, teaches us how to make progress in holiness and press on to maturity in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, Who is our Helper!

Let us be biblical by sticking to the Bible and not the latest fads of ‘spiritual disciplines’ and the error of so-called ‘gospel-sanctification.’

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The Obedience of the Thief On the Cross

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I’m often asked, What obedience did the thief on the cross display in regards to his salvation?

Clearly, he did everything required. He believed the Gospel. Everything required for salvation.

Obeying the Gospel – believing it – is not only evidence of genuine faith, it is required for full possession of salvation in the end. See Luke 23. For those of you who think ‘good works’ has nothing to do with salvation, ever, in any way, shape or form, ever. Think again. The Gospel commands obedience.

Professing Christ is one thing, possessing salvation in the end is another – it will not be had without good works. This is not saying we are justified in any way by our works, that is a declaration by God alone, apart from works, by means of faith in the finished work of Christ. What it is saying is this: Sanctification, your pursuit of holiness is not by faith alone, because you are involved, co-laborers with God. The saved thief on the cross gives you no excuse for ‘grace without obedience.’

1. He openly rebuked the other thief:

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? – Luke 23:40

2. He repented of his sins. He admitted his own guilt, and that he and his co-thief deserved punishment of death on the cross.

And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; (v. 41)

3. He confessed with his own mouth the innocence and sinlessness of Jesus and did that before a public audience (soldiers, Jewish leaders, eyewitnesses to the crucifixions).

but this man has done nothing wrong. (v. 41)

4. Before everyone within earshot, this thief gave testimony that Jesus Christ is Lord and King:

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (v.42)

Yes, indeed, the thief on the cross who went to be with Jesus that day, obeyed the Gospel – because he had been regenerated, given faith to believe and was justified before God. Salvation, even in the case of the rare exception such as this, is completely of the Lord.

The Honor of Believers in Jesus Christ

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For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – I Peter 2:6-10 (ESV)

I am often asked why I do not “stand with Israel”, meaning, why do I not support that people across the waters which we refer to as “natural” Israel. It is very simple actually.

I will not pretend that unbelievers possess the favor of God.

As long as individuals within natural Israel continue their rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior, they are currently under the wrath of God and continue to store up for themselves the wrath  that will surely engulf them for all eternity should they die without being born again by the sovereign act of God in salvation.

Look at the passage quoted above, I Peter 2:6-10.

Now let me ask you a few questions.

  • 1. To whom is “the honor” bestowed?

Ans: To those who believe in Christ. Is honor also to natural Israel who reject Christ? No.

  • 2. Who does God declare “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession”?

Ans: The believers in Christ only.  Are natural Israel called these things? No.

  • 3. Who was called out of darkness into His marvelous light?

Ans: Natural Israel? No. Only believers in Christ, according to God through Peter.

  • 4. Who, according to the above passage are God’s people?

Ans: Unbelieving Israel? No, not at all. Only the believers in Christ.

Peter, a Jew, addresses believers, using Isaiah 43:20, 21 to show us that believers in Christ, and only those, are the fulfillment of God’s promises. Christ Jesus has but one bride, and it is the Church – regenerated sinners who are continually believing and following Christ and His commands.

Unbelieving ‘natural’ Israel is not the bride of Christ. If they do not repent, individually, and believe, they will perish in their sins along with the rest of the unbelieving world should they die before Christ returns, or, at Christ’s second advent. After all, how many brides does Christ have? Just one, the Church.

That is why I do not ‘stand with Israel’, so to speak. By any and every means possible, take the Gospel to this people, but do not give them false assurance of being a chosen people having the favor of God apart from believing in Christ. Let us speak the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.

I do not “stand with Israel” because I am Israel, just one of many, many believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.