PO Box 3425
September/October Issue 2009 - Volume 28 Number 5
The New Testament Church
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 pots.
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 fifty years.
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 8:15).
Yes, we can be
the church of the New Testament if we obey the gospel of the New Testament.
‘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 16:15, 16).
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”
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).
the gospel we must believe in Christ.
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 1:29).
“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).
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 5:8-10).
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).
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, 6).
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.
the gospel we must repent.
“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).
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” (Romans 10:16).
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 6:12).
the gospel we must be baptized.
“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).
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 saved.”
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).
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).
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 life.
Can we be the
church of the New Testament? Certainly, if we keep the covenant, and obey
the gospel of the New Testament.
in The Old Paths Archive