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Can we be the church of the New Testament?
Yes, if we obey the gospel of the New Testament
On January 25, 2005 Elaine Solowey, a botanist at
Ketura, Israel, planted three date seeds. The seeds were carefully
prepared. After being soaked in warm water containing fertilizer to
facilitate germination they were planted in three
There was something remarkable about those date
seeds. They were two thousand years old. They had been found thirty
years earlier by archaeologist Ehud Netzer during excavations at
Masada, a mountain-top fortress on the shore of the Dead Sea.
Carbon dating revealed them to be 2000 years old, plus or minus
No one expected them to grow. But in one of the
pots, after five weeks, the ground was broken by the new sprout of
a date tree. The first year, the tree grew to a height of 30 cm. A
date tree in Israel produced a seed that was preserved for 2000
years. When given the right environment, it sprouted, and grew into
a tree like the parent plant.
The gospel went forth from Jerusalem some 2000
years ago (Isaiah 2:3; Luke 24:47). It was proclaimed first by
Jesus Christ, the Son of God. After His death and resurrection, it
was proclaimed by His apostles and preserved in the New
This gospel seed has life-giving power. It
sprouts and bears fruit when planted in good and noble hearts (Luke
Yes, we can be the church of the New Testament if
we obey the gospel of the New Testament.
The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good
news’. What is the good news of the new covenant, and what
does it mean to obey it?
God sent His Son to become “the author of
eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Thus,
to obey the gospel is to obey Christ, to heed His message of
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead
He told His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the
gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be
saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark
You might be thinking, “Well, do not all
churches preach the gospel?” Unfortunately, No! One of the
most common departures from the new covenant among denominations is
that they have changed the gospel.
This is nothing new. Even in the first century
false teachers changed the gospel. Paul wrote to the churches of
Galatia: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him
who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which
is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to
pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from
heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached
to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians
The gospel may not be changed because it is from
God. Paul continues: “But I make known to you, brethren, that
the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I
neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but
it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ”
(Galatians 1:11, 12).
Thus, to be the church of the New Testament we
must obey the gospel of the New Testament.
The gospel is based on historical facts, things
God has done for us in history.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
To obey the gospel we must believe in
When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you
say that I am?,” Peter replied, “You are the Christ,
the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). John the
Baptist testified about Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world!” (John
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans
6:23). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God” (Romans 3:23). Thus, all of us stand condemned and are
worthy of death. That is the bad news.
What is the good news? Jesus, as the Lamb of God,
suffered the penalty for our sins in our stead so we can be
forgiven: “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the
tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness --
by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more
then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved
from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were
reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having
been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our
sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1
John 2:2). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that
He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our
sins” (1 John 4:10).
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Romans 3:4). Propitiation is ‘appeasement’, that which makes peace.
The Son of Man came “to give His life a
ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). A ransom is the price of a
life, a payment made to free someone. “For there is
one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ
Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5,
Christ’s death for us and His resurrection are the foundation facts of the gospel. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
The gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). To obey the gospel we must believe in Christ.
To obey the gospel we must
“Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the
gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe
in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14, 15).
To repent is to be sorry for our sins and to
determine to turn away from sin and dedicate our lives to God.
Shortly before His ascension Jesus told His apostles: “Thus
it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer
and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and
remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46, 47).
To obey the gospel we must confess our
faith in Christ.
“But what does it say? ‘The word
is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is,
the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your
mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised
Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one
believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made
unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10). Of unbelievers, Paul goes
on to say: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel”
Thus, to obey the gospel we must repent and
believe in our heart that Jesus is the Christ and that God raised
Him from the dead. We must confess this faith with our mouth. This
may seem to be a small thing, but many Christians through the ages
have been killed because they confessed their faith in Christ. Paul
wrote to Timothy: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on
eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the
good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy
To obey the gospel we must be
Jesus commanded: “Go into all the world and
preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is
baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16).
Few denominations obey this simple command. Jesus
places faith and baptism before salvation. Churches that practice
infant baptism place baptism before faith. They do not obey the
gospel. Churches that teach salvation by ‘faith only’
place salvation before baptism. They do not obey the gospel. Jesus
said, “He who believes and is baptized will be
Baptism in the New Testament is by immersion.
John baptized in Enon “because there was much water
there” (John 3:23). “Both Philip and the eunuch went
down into the water, and he baptized him,” they then
“came up out of the water” (Acts 8:38, 39). These two
passages demonstrate that baptism is by immersion. The Greek word
translated ‘baptize’ [βαπτίζω] means
‘to immerse’. Churches that baptize some other way, are
not obeying the gospel.
When Peter was asked on Pentecost, “What
shall we do?” he replied: “Repent, and let every one of
you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of
sins” (Acts 2:38). To obey the gospel we must be baptized for
the remission of sins. Churches that do not baptize for the
remission of sins are not obeying the gospel.
When we obey this gospel-command and are baptized
on the basis of faith and repentance, we are born again
spiritually. Paul explained to the Christians at Rome: “Or do
you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him
through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life” (Romans 6:3, 4).
Jesus told Nicodemus: “Unless one is born of water and the
Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John
Peter explains the rebirth thus: “Since you
have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in
sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a
pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but
incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides
forever. ... Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached
to you” (1 Peter 1:22, 23, 25).
When Jesus comes again He will punish the
disobedient: “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven
with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those
who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our
Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the
house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will
be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of
God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
We can be the church of the New Testament if we
obey the gospel of the New Testament. Jesus died for our sins and
rose the third day. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world. He bore our sins in His own body on the cross. We sin
and deserve to die. But God loved us so much that He sent His Son
to die for us and make amends for our sins. We obey this good news
by believing in Christ, repenting of our sins, confessing Christ
and being baptized for the remission of our sins to be born again
of water and the Spirit, that we might rise to walk in newness of
Can we be the church of the New Testament?
Certainly, if we keep the covenant, and obey the gospel of the New
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson
Permission for reference use has been granted.
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