Jesus Christ claimed to have been begotten of God, “his only begotten Son … the only begotten Son of God” (Jhn 3:16,18). And that He had “proceeded forth” and “came out from” God, “I proceeded forth and came from God” (Jhn 8:42), “I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world” (Jhn 16:27-28). He was begotten, not created. His beginning was His begetting.
Having been begotten of God as the same kind of divine being, He had the ability to create all things: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Jhn 1:3), “the world was made by him” (Jhn 1:10); “God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9); “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col 1:16); “by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb 1:2).
Throughout the six days of creation and seventh day of rest, it was said to be ‘ĕlōhîm or God that created, “In the beginning God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1), “And on the seventh day God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] ended his work which he had made” (Gen 2:2). But starting in the second chapter which details the creation of the man and woman, it was Yᵊhōvâ‘ĕlōhîm or Jehovah God, “And the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] formed man of the dust of the ground” (2:7), “And the rib, which the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] had taken from man, made he a woman” (2:22). The Son of God created all things under God’s direction as His Agent. They both are said to have created the man and woman, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … male and female created he them” (Gen 1:26,27), but it was the Son that did the work.
It was the Son of God that called to Adam after he sinned, “And the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] called unto Adam” (3:9), spoke to the woman, “And the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] said unto the woman” (3:13), and to the serpent, “And the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] said unto the serpent” (3:14). When Jehovah God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, they weren’t seeing God but the Son of God. The Hebrew word for God is ‘ĕlōhîm but Yᵊhōvâ is His name as He later revealed to Moses, “The LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] God … this is my name for ever” (Exo 3:15).
The Son of God declared that nobody but Himself had seen God the Father, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father” (Jhn 6:46). And John wrote twice, “No man hath seen God at any time” (Jhn 1:18; 1Jo 4:12). All the times in the Old Testament that people were said to have seen God, they actually saw the Son of God: “And the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] appeared unto Abram” (Gen 12:7); “I have seen God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] face to face” (Gen 32:30); “And they saw the God [‘ĕlōhîm 430] of Israel … they saw God [‘ĕlōhîm 430]” (Exo 24:10,11); “we have seen God [‘ĕlōhîm 430]” (Jdg 13:22); “I saw the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] sitting on his throne” (1Ki 22:19); “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068]” (Eze 1:28).
When Christ said “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (Jhn 8:56), it was the day that as mal’āḵYᵊhōvâ or Messenger of Jehovah, He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and made the promise to him, “And the angel [mal’āḵ 4397] of the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] called unto him out of heaven” (Gen 22:11), “And the angel [mal’āḵ 4397] of the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068] called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time … By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD [Yᵊhōvâ 3068]” (Gen 22:15,16). Christ claimed to be the Messenger of Jehovah, the Messenger that spoke to Hagar, Abraham, Moses, Balaam, Gideon, Manoah, David, Elijah, and Zechariah. Therefore, Jehovah interacting with His people throughout the Old Testament, wasn’t God Himself but His Messenger, His Son.
The Son of God was the Messenger of Jehovah as His agent, emissary, delegate, or representative. When people saw Jehovah, they saw God’s Son in the place, or in the stead of God. Thus, it could be said that they saw God. This doesn’t make God’s Son, God Himself. When John said, “the Word was God” (Jhn 1:1), it was simply a metaphor. As the Son isn’t literally the Word or Message, He isn’t literally God either. He said Himself, “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me” (Jhn 12:45), “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jhn 14:9). When people saw Him and heard Him, they saw and heard God the Father vicariously, not literally.
The issue in Hebrews chapter one, “And of the angels he saith … But unto the Son he saith” (vs. 7,8), was that many Jews claimed mal’āḵYᵊhōvâ was only an angel while the writer was proving from the Scriptures it was God’s Son. He wasn’t God Himself but His representative, “the express image of his person” (v. 3), “the exact representation of his being” (NIV), “the representation of his essence” (NET).
The euangelion or “good message” that the Lord Jesus Christ preached is the same message His apostles preached. There’s no difference whatsoever in message because the apostles were sent by the Lord to preach His message. And the message of the Lord is faithfulness to Him: “No man can serve two masters” (Mat 6:24); “No servant can serve two masters” (Luk 16:13); “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Mat 24:45); “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Mat 25:21); “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luk 16:10); “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luk 19:17).
About 500 years ago the Protestant Reformation introduced a new message—that we’re saved by faith or belief. And Bible translations have been “doctored” ever since to support and further this deception. It isn’t the message of faithful obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ that He preached.
The good message
The Greek noun euangelion is derived from the adverb eu for “good” and the noun angelos for “messenger.” It literally means “good message.” However, rather than transliterating it into English as “evangel” or something similar, it’s widely translated into the coined meaningless word “gospel.” When asked what “gospel” means, the typical answer is that it’s “good news.” What happened is that the broader meaning of euangelion has been diminished by replacing this word with something meaningless that could be instilled with a narrower definition. While “news” is strictly a report of information, “message” not only communicates news and information but other ideas as well—it has a broader meaning.
By limiting euangelion to simply “good news,” such statements as “But they have not all obeyed the gospel [euangelion]” (Rom 10:16), “them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel [euangelion] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8), are puzzling. Obey the news? When we pick up the newspaper from our driveway in the morning, we don’t think to ourselves about obeying it. In translating euangelion as “gospel” and ascribing the definition of “good news” to it, the directive of obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord has been expunged from the message He preached. Therefore, we’re taught that all we must do to be saved is receive the good news and believe the information.
The Messenger of the Lord
The Greek noun angelos transliterated as “angel” is the root of the noun euangelion for “good message.” This word angelos, and its Hebrew equivalent mal’ak, means “messenger,” one that is sent by another to deliver a message. Messengers can be celestial beings called “angels” in accordance with their primary created duty, or they can be human beings functioning as messengers. Although used as the name for the celestial messengers of God, angelos and mal’ak isn’t a type of being but a role, service, or function.
In the following passage, the same word mal’ak is used for celestial beings sent by God to Jacob, and for human beings sent by Jacob to Esau, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels [mal’ak] of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. And Jacob sent messengers [mal’ak] before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.” (Gen 32:1-3). In these next two verses, angelos is used for John the Baptizer sent by God as His messenger to His people ahead of Jesus, “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger [angelos] before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee” (Mar 1:2), and is also used for celestial beings sent by God to minister to Jesus, “And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels [angelos] ministered unto him” (Mar 1:13).
In Abraham’s days, we’re introduced to a particular Messenger called “the angel [mal’ak] of the LORD [Yehovah]” (Gen 16:7, 9, 10, 11, 22:11, 15). This Messenger isn’t mentioned again until He appears to Moses in the burning bush, “And the angel [mal’ak] of the LORD [Yehovah] appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exo 3:2). This, of course, is the pre-incarnate Son of God sent by the Father as His Messenger.
However, the Jews that rejected Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah and as the Son of God, claimed that “the angel of the LORD” in their Scriptures was simply a great celestial being—one of God’s created angels. This is what the writer of Hebrews was disputing particularly in the first chapter, “For unto which of the angels [angelos] said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Heb 1:5), “But to which of the angels [angelos] said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Heb 1:13). The Messenger of the Lord isn’t an angel because God called Him “my Son” and said to Him “Sit on my right hand.”
The writer of Hebrews went on to say, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle [apostolos] and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb 3:1). The Greek apostolos is someone sent as a messenger. In this case, it’s the Messenger of the Lord that called to Abraham from heaven, “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven” (Gen 22:11), “And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven” (Gen 22:15). He also later quoted from the passage where the Messenger of the Lord called to Abraham, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee” (Heb 6:13-14).
And the angel [mal’ak] of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)
The message that the Messenger of the Lord was sent to deliver to Abraham was that of praise for his obedience to God through this test, “God did tempt [test] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). God was testing or proving Abraham—if he would do what he had been commanded though stopped short of carrying it out.
James cited this event as an example of faithfulness, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith [faithfulness] without works [actions] is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works [actions], when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith [faithfulness] wrought with his works [actions], and by works [actions] was faith made perfect?” (Jas 2:20-22). The Greek pistis translated here as “faith” is actually “faithfulness,” and ergon translated as “works” is simply “actions.” He was saying that Abraham’s obedient actions showed his fear of God and faithfulness to Him, “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (Gen 22:11-12). That he was “justified by works [actions],” is that his fear of God was validated by this actions of obedience.
This same message of obedience delivered by the Messenger of the Lord to Abraham is the euangelion or “good message” delivered by the Lord in His ministry. The message delivered by God’s pre-incarnate Son is the message delivered by God’s incarnate Son—the good message of obedience to Him in the fear of God.
Obey the good message
The Greek verb hypakouo means “to obey” as with a servant obeying his master, “Servants, be obedient [hypakouo] to them that are your masters according to the flesh” (Eph 6:5), “Servants, obey [hypakouo] in all things your masters according to the flesh” (Col 3:22). Derived from the preposition hypo for “under” and verb akouo for “to hear,” this word carries the idea of “under the hearing” of someone. A servant is “under the hearing” of his master in the sense that he’s obligated to do whatever he hears his master say. Paul used the noun form hypakoe in these two parallel verses that form the bookends of his letter to the Romans, “obedience [hypakoe] to the faith [faithfulness] among all nations, for his name” (Rom 1:5), “made known to all nations for the obedience [hypakoe] of faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 16:26).
Paul stated several times that his writing to the Romans is the euangelion of God and of Jesus Christ which he was sent to deliver as his own message: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to bean apostle, separated unto the gospel [euangelion] of God” (Rom 1:1); “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel [euangelion] of his Son” (Rom 1:9); “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion] of Christ” (Rom 1:16); “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel [euangelion]” (Rom 2:16); “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel [euangelion] of God” (Rom 15:16); “I have fully preached the gospel [euangelion] of Christ” (Rom 15:19); “I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel [euangelion] of Christ” (Rom 15:29); “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel [euangelion], and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25).
Romans is the most detailed and thorough discourse on the euangelion or good message of Jesus Christ ever penned. From the introductory statement “obedience [hypakoe] to the faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 1:5), to the concluding one “the obedience [hypakoe] of faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 16:26), it’s all about faithful obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord. This is the good message of Jesus Christ.
Chapter six in particular defines obedience to Jesus Christ as His servants, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey [hypakoe], his servants ye are to whom ye obey [hypakouo]; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience [hypakoe] unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16). He clearly stated that we’re servants of whom we obey, not necessarily of whom we claim to obey. Just calling Christ “Lord” doesn’t make Him our Lord if we’re not doing what He said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46). While it’s true that we obey the Lord Jesus Christ because we’re His servants, it’s not true that we’re His servants if we don’t obey Him. We obey Him because we’re His servants, but if we don’t obey Him we’re not His servants.
In chapter ten, confessing Jesus as our Lord isn’t empty speech or a magic formula, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). Just confessing He’s our Lord doesn’t save us. The implication is that our confession of Him as Lord obligates our faithful obedience to Him as Lord. Our confession is our commitment to loyally and faithfully obey Him for the rest of our lives. This is also evident by Paul quoting from Moses earlier in this same chapter:
It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deuteronomy 30:12-14)
By confessing Jesus as Lord, we’re stating from our mouths that we’ve heard Him and are committed in our hearts to do what He said. It’s a confession of commitment to Him, “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word [rhema] of faith [faithfulness], which we preach” (Rom 10:8). Faithful obedience to the Lord is what Paul and his companions were preaching.
Obedience to Christ as Lord is also evident by the conclusion Paul drew from Isaiah’s prophecy, “But they have not all obeyed [hypakouo] the gospel [euangelion]. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Rom 10:16), “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isa 53:1), “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4). The arm of the Lord is God’s power to work miracles, signs, and wonders. The healings Jesus performed in His ministry proved He was Israel’s Messiah in fulfilment of what Isaiah said, “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Mat 8:16-17). Although He proved to be their Messiah, yet they esteemed Him stricken and smitten by God in His crucifixion as a common criminal.
The conclusion is that He can only be one or the other—the living Lord at the right hand of God, or just another dead criminal in the grave. If He is alive today at God’s right hand, we should obey the good message He preached while on earth, “But they have not all obeyed [hypakouo] the gospel [euangelion]” (Rom 10:16). Otherwise, why obey what an executed criminal preached?
Trusting and committing
The Greek verb pisteuo appears almost 250 times in the New Testament. It’s consistently translated “believe” except in only seven verses where the contexts forced it to be rendered either “commit” or “trust”: “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit [pisteuo] to your trust [pisteuo] the true riches?” (Luk 16:11); “But Jesus did not commit [pisteuo] himself unto them, because he knew all men” (Jhn 2:24); “Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed [pisteuo] the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2); “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me [pisteuo]” (1Co 9:17); “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust [pisteuo] with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1Th 2:4); “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to [pisteuo] my trust [pisteuo]” (1Ti 1:11); “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed [pisteuo] unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour” (Tit 1:3).
The point is that the contexts of these seven verses attest that pisteuo means “commit” or “trust.” However, in the 240 other places where there’s not a context that forces this meaning, the translators took the liberty of rendering it inaccurately as “believe.” This is one of the means by which we’ve been sold the bill of goods that salvation consists of only believing some facts while the directive to commit our trust in the Lord is suppressed.
The following verses all from the Gospel of John speak of trusting on Him: “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed [pisteuo] on him” (Jhn 2:11); “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth [pisteuo] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jhn 3:16); “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe [pisteuo] on him whom he hath sent” (Jhn 6:29); “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth [pisteuo] on me hath everlasting life” (Jhn 6:47); “He that believeth [pisteuo] on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (Jhn 7:38); “As he spake these words, many believed [pisteuo] on him” (Jhn 8:30); “And many believed [pisteuo] on him there” (Jhn 10:42); “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth [pisteuo] in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (Jhn 11:25); “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed [pisteuo] on him” (Jhn 11:45); “Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed [pisteuo] on Jesus” (Jhn 12:11); “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed [pisteuo] not on him” (Jhn 12:37); “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe [pisteuo] in God, believe [pisteuo] also in me” (Jhn 14:1); “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe [pisteuo] on me through their word” (Jhn 17:20).
We’re not saved by just believing Jesus Christ existed, believing some facts about Him, or even believing He rose from the dead. That isn’t what Paul meant by “shalt believe [pisteuo] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). It’s trusting Him to save us from death because He was saved from death. But we can only trust Him when we fulfill our commitment of obeying His good message, “But they have not all obeyed [hypakouo] the gospel [euangelion]” (Rom 10:16).
The two complementary Great Commission passages convey this same understanding, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Mat 28:19-20), “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [euangelion] to every creature. He that believeth [pisteuo] and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not [apisteo] shall be damned.” (Mar 16:15-16). After hearing the good message of Jesus Christ, “preach the gospel [euangelion] to every creature,” we declare our trust in Him to save us by being publicly baptized, “He that believeth [pisteuo] and is baptized shall be saved,” and we commit ourselves to Him as our Lord to obey everything He commanded, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
In addition to deceiving us into believing that we’re saved by believing, we’ve also been duped into calling ourselves “believers.” But there are only two verses in the KJV that include the term “believers” and both are mistranslations. In the first case, “And believers [pisteuo] were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Act 5:14), the verb pisteuo is mistranslated as a noun. A few versions do render it correctly as a verb, “Yet more and more people believed” (NET), “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed” (NIV), but still incorrectly as “believed.” It’s not saying they believed but that they trusted. In the second case, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers [pistos], in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1Ti 4:12), the adjective pistos for “faithful” is mistranslated as a noun. Paul wasn’t telling Timothy to be an example of the believers but of the faithful—faithful obedience to the Lord.
There’s no record in Scripture that Christians ever called themselves “believers.” There are, however, several places where they called themselves “servants”: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:1); “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ” (Phl 1:1); “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ” (Col 4:12); “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas 1:1); “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2Pe 1:1); “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” (Jde 1:1).
We’re also told that they were called and called themselves “Christians,” “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Act 11:26), “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1Pe 4:16). Christians are Christ-like. Since Christ didn’t just believe some facts were true but always did the will of His Father, likewise we’re to always do the will of Christ.
Trusting in the Lord
Because we’ve all sinned, we can’t approach God on our own terms or merit. The only way God can be reached is through the one means He provided and will accept—His Son Jesus Christ. We must trust His Son to Justify us before God.
Justification under the Law of Moses meant that God’s people were trying to merit right-standing before God of themselves. They were endeavoring to establish their own way to Him rather than submitting to His, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth [pisteuo].” (Rom 10:3-4). And His way is trusting in His Son Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God justifies us before God when we faithfully serve and obey Him. The Father will accept whoever the Son confesses before Him. Therefore, it’s all about doing what the Son says so that we can trust Him for access to the Father, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph 2:18). Trusting and obeying the Son justifies us before the Father.
The Son of God was sent into this world by His Father to deliver His message and to sacrifice Himself for our sins. The good message He proclaimed isn’t strictly news. It certainly includes news but also is comprised of His commandments that we must obey to be saved, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9).
Obedience to the Lord has been obscured by translating euangelion as the coined word “gospel” then limiting the meaning of this word to that of news or information that only needs to be believed. Also, commitment and trust in the Lord has been shrouded by translating pisteuo as “believe.” We’re taught that all we need to do to be saved is become a “believer” by believing some facts are true. But this isn’t the good message that our Lord Jesus Christ preached. He preached obedience to Him as Lord, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46).
The message of faithfulness to God was declared from the beginning by the Son of God through the creation itself. It was later proclaimed to Abraham, and again to God’s people under Moses. And it was the message preached by the Son of God in the flesh. Salvation is by faithfulness to God in submitting to His only begotten Son Jesus Christ—obeying His commandments, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for His sake.
The message of sola fide or “faith alone” conceived about 500 years ago during the Protestant Reformation isn’t the message the Son of God preached. Its purpose all along is to be just another means of keeping people on the broad way that leads to annihilation, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [annihilation], and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14).
The message of faithfulness from the beginning
God’s message of salvation from the beginning is faithfulness to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. In the creation account narrative, He showed that He would choose a people to Himself, separate them from all other people, and seat His Son at His right hand to rule over them and advocate to God the Father on their behalf. His people would be saved by their faithfulness in submission and obedience to His purpose and plan from the beginning.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided [bāḏal 914] the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. (Genesis 1:1-5)
The Hebrew verb bāḏal means “to divide,” “to separate,” or “to sever.” These very first words of God were figurative and prophetic of what He would later perform by dividing, separating, or severing His people from all other people, “I am the LORD your God, which have separated [bāḏal 914] you from other people … have severed [bāḏal 914] you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev 20:24,26). God’s people would be light which He called “Day,” and all other people darkness which He called “Night.” Then God proceeded to distinguish them both by the ruler over them.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide [bāḏal 914] the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide [bāḏal 914] the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14-18)
This is what Paul meant by “in heavenly” at the beginning of Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [epouranios 2032] places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:3-4). God’s chosen people were shown by the Greater Light in heaven ruling over them while all other people are ruled by the lesser light, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios 2032] places” (Eph 6:12). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are yelight in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). The Greater Light shown in the beginning is now sitting at the right hand of God, greater and far above all principalities and powers, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set himat his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios 2032] places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21).
Salvation, therefore, is by faithfulness. It’s becoming one of God’s people, separated from all other people by faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ at God’s right hand in heaven. It’s being ruled by Him in faithful submission—obeying Him, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for Him.
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). Abraham’s faithfulness was tested and proven.
And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [Yehovah Yireh]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:11-14).
The Messenger of the Lord—the Son of God in heaven—saw Abraham’s faithfulness by his actions. James said, “shew me thy faith [faithfulness] without thy works [actions], and I will shew thee my faith [faithfulness] by my works [actions] … Was not Abraham our father justified by works [actions], when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (Jas 2:18, 21). The Hebrew Yehovah Yireh means “the existing One sees.” And this is what we were told in the beginning, “And God saw the light, that it was good” (Gen 1:4). God hid in a mystery the message of faithfulness—that He sees the light when He sees the faithful actions of His people. There was nobody on that mountain to see Abraham’s sacrifice except, of course, the existing One, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Gen 22:14). Faithfulness consists of sacrifices made that nobody but God sees.
And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)
As God’s people hoping in the promises made to Abraham, we partake of the same heavenly calling when our faithfulness is tested and proven, “Wherefore, holy [separated] brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle [apostolos 652] and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house” (Heb 3:1-2). The Greek apostolos is someone that is sent. In this case, it’s the Messenger of the Lord—the Son of God sent from God the Father.
Five times in Hebrews the Son of God is said to be seated at the right hand of God: “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3); “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (1:13); “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (8:1); “sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12); “and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2). That we’re “partakers of the heavenly calling,” is that when our faithfulness is tested, we’re blessed with the same calling from heaven as Abraham, “And the angel [messenger] of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham” (Gen 22:11). Our Advocate at the right hand of God in heaven, calls us by name and blesses us, “So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9).
The faithfulness once delivered unto the separated
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace [favor] of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed [trusted] not. (Jude 1:3-5)
When Jude said, “earnestly contend for the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jud 1:3), he wasn’t talking about a body of doctrinal beliefs that was delivered to the early church by the apostles, but the faithfulness that had been delivered to God’s people in the Exodus, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt” (Jud 1:5). God delivered His people from slavery, separated them from all other people to favor them, and began teaching them faithfulness to Him as soon as they crossed the Red Sea.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (Exodus 15:22-24)
This was the first of a series of hardships orchestrated by God to test and prove their faithfulness to Him, “and there he proved them” (Exo 15:25). However, they didn’t trust Him but continually complained: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exo 16:2); “the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD” (Exo 16:8); “And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses” (Exo 17:3). These tests of their faithfulness continued a total of ten times until culminating with their failure to trust God to defeat their enemies in the promised land.
Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice … How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me. (Numbers 14:22,27-29)
Their unfaithfulness was cited as an example to us, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith [faithfulness] in them that heard it” (Heb 4:2). The vast majority of God’s people joined themselves with those that brought up the evil report and not with the faithful—namely Joshua and Caleb—that trusted God. This is “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jde 1:3).
Many times God proved or tested His people’s faithfulness to Him: “and there he proved [nāsȃ 5254] them” (Exo 15:25); “that I may prove [nāsȃ 5254] them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exo 16:4); “God is come to prove [nāsȃ 5254] you” (Exo 20:20). It’s the same Hebrew word nacah as when He tested Abraham, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [nāsȃ 5254] Abraham” (Gen 22:1). The difficulties He caused His people to suffer humbled them and proved what was in their hearts, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, andto prove [nāsȃ 5254] thee, to know what wasin thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deu 8:2), “Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove [nāsȃ 5254] thee, to do thee good at thy latter end” (Deu 8:16).
God’s people today are saved by the same faithfulness that was delivered to them. Therefore, our faithfulness is also tested, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith [faithfulness] worketh patience” (Jas 1:2-3), “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith [faithfulness], being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pe 1:6-7).
The good message of Jesus Christ
The Greek euangelion translated as “gospel” means “good message.” It’s the message that Jesus Christ Himself preached: “preaching the gospel [euangelion 2098] of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23; Mar 1:14); “gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ” (Rom 1:16; 1Co 9:18; 2Co 4:4,9:13,10:14; Gal 1:7; 1Th 3:2); “Christ’s gospel [euangelion 2098]” (2Co 2:12); “gospel [euangelion 2098] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8).
The message Jesus Christ preached is that we’re to obey His commandments: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20); “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26); “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:20); “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jhn 14:15); “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (Jhn 14:21); “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jhn 15:14).
His good message wasn’t sola fide or just believing some facts are true—it’s obedience to Him and His commandments: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel [euangelion 2098]” (Rom 10:16); “that obey not the gospel [euangelion 2098] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8); “eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9); “what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel [euangelion 2098] of God” (1Pe 4:17).
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
Paul taught that when God said “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:3), that it was figurative and prophetic of the good message Jesus Christ would preach 4,000 years later. The truth He taught and the commandments He gave made a clear division between God’s people and everyone else, “and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Gen 1:4-5). God’s people—the “Day”—would be ruled by His Son Jesus Christ, “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen 1:16). The gospel message from the beginning is that we must be one of God’s people, separated from the world by the hagios pneuma or separated breath of God in our hearts and keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being ruled by Him.
Paul quoted from Psalm 19 about the gospel, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel [euangelion 2098] of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things … Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom 10:15,18). The creation itself has been preaching the good message of the Greater Light ruling over the day and the lesser light ruling over the night, “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There isno speech nor language,where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun” (Psa 19:2-4). Every day and night for 6,000 years—almost 2.2 million times—the gospel has been preached to all people regardless of language by the orbiting and rotation of the sun, earth, and moon. Salvation is a change of master, from being ruled by the lesser light to being ruled by the Greater Light.
This is also what the apostle John taught, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (Jhn 1:1,5). The light that shone in the darkness by Christ preaching His good message was in fulfillment of “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:3). He is “the greater light to rule the day” (Gen 1:16), “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe [trust]. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (Jhn 1:6-9).
Jesus Christ taught faithfulness
Jesus taught that we must be faithful servants to Him as our Lord: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Mat 10:24); “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Mat 24:45); “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:21); “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 25:23); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46); “And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” (Luk 12:42); “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters” (Luk 16:12-13); “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luk 17:10); “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luk 19:17).
Jesus taught faithfulness toward God, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith [faithfulness] toward God” (Heb 6:1). He healed and forgave the people’s sins that were faithful to God in receiving Him as their Messiah: “When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith [faithfulness], no, not in Israel” (Mat 8:10); “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith [faithfulness] said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mat 9:2); “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith [faithfulness] hath made thee whole” (Mat 9:22); “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us … Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith [faithfulness] be it unto you” (Mat 9:27, 29); “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith [faithfulness]: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Mat 15:28).
Jesus taught the fear of God, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28), “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luk 12:5).
Jesus knows our actions, “I know thy works [actions]” (Rev 2:2,9,13,19,3:1,8,15), and will render to us accordingly, “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works [actions]” (Rev 2:23). As with Abraham, He sees our faithfulness by our actions.
Jesus was teaching faithfulness when He said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me … Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (Mat 25:40, 45). We’re going to be judged, not by how we treated those esteemed by society as more important but “the least of these.” As James taught, “My brethren, have not the faith [faithfulness] of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (Jas 2:1).
God routinely tests our faithfulness and ultimately what’s in our hearts, “to humble thee, andto prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deu 8:2). At the time it’s happening, we don’t even realize we’re being tested which is why we’ll say later, “when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” (Mat 25:37-39). He puts us in situations, for example, where two people cross our path—one is rich and influential while the other is poor and needy—and He is watching how we treat them both. Our hearts are shown in how we treated the least esteemed, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Faithfulness to Him is shown by how we treated them.
The just shall live by faithfulness
The Greek pistis appears about 250 times in the New Testament and is almost always translated as “faith” but should be “faithfulness” instead. The key statement that indicates this is Habakkuk 2:4, “but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness” (NET), “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV). This is quoted three times in the New Testament but as “The just shall live by faith [pistis]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). But it’s not about our faith but Christ’s faithfulness, “his faithfulness.” Christ was faithful to His Father in always doing His will, culminating in His faithfulness to die for our sins on the cross.
In Romans, Paul quoted Habakkuk indicating that he understood “faithfulness” as the good message Jesus Christ preached, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion 2098] of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [trusts]; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith [faithfulness] to faith [faithfulness]: as it is written, The just shall live by faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 1:16-17). And he reiterated this at the end of his letter, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel [euangelion 2098], and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25).
Jesus taught that most people are on the broad way that leads to annihilation while only a few are on the way that leads to eternal life, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [annihilation], and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life [eternal life], and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14). And the determining factor is either doing or not doing what He commanded, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26).
The word is near you
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
In these last words to God’s people from Moses, he was referring to the instructions he had given them to carry out once they entered the land, “These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people … And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse” (Deu 27:12-13), “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deu 27:26). And this they did under Joshua, “half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law” (Jos 8:33-34). Since all the people said “Amen” to the commandments they heard, the word was now in their mouths! They couldn’t plead ignorance later for not doing because they had affirmed from their mouths that they heard with their ears and understood with their hearts. Paul quoted Moses and applied it to the faithfulness we are to have toward the Lord Jesus Christ:
But the righteousness which is of faith [faithfulness] speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above🙂 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, evenin thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith [faithfulness], which we preach. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:6-9)
The hearing and doing of which Moses spoke, “that we may hear it, and do it … in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deu 30:11-13), was prophetic of hearing and doing the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24, 26). Therefore, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), isn’t a confession of faith but of faithfulness. We’re essentially saying “Amen” from our mouths that we’ve heard His commandments and we’ll do them.
Baptism is our commitment to do everything Christ commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:19-20). Being baptized into His name means that we’ve died to our name and have committed ourselves unto death glorifying and defending His. It’s confessing our commitment to faithfulness, then keeping that commitment.
The Protestant Reformation
Paul’s last words about the time that would come have indeed become what we have today, “For the time will come when they 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 [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). The Greek noun mythos is where our English “myths” is derived. The teaching of Protestant churches that God is a Trinity of Persons, man is an immortal spirit being, and salvation is by faith are simply myths.
The Protestant Reformation was an apparent split from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) about 500 years ago and is hailed as the point where the church finally returned to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jde 1:3). However, it wasn’t a reforming at all but a rebranding. The Reformation kept the same wrong view of God and man, then simply formulated another false gospel message from it. Protestant churches today are essentially the RCC rebranded under a new name and image with a new message—the same “product” but new packaging.
The Reformation also wasn’t a protest but was by agency and design of the RCC. Its own Martin Luther appeared to lead a dissent from the mother church after having come to the “enlightenment” that justification is by faith. The true intent of this event, however, was that in the course of diverting everyone’s attention to the noble endeavor of getting the gospel message right, it was covertly reinforcing the Trinitarian view of God as right! In other words, it was a deflection from the underlying issue while buttressing it in the process. Though both sides have been hotly debating for hundreds of years whether salvation is by faith plus works or by faith alone, hardly a peep has been chirped about the correct view of God. This was never in question. Fighting passionately against certain things that were wrong left the false impression that everything else was substantially right.
A false view of God and a false view of man can only result in a false view of salvation. The Protestant doctrine of justification by sola fide or “faith alone” is just as false and damning as the RCC doctrine of “faith plus works” because it’s based upon the same underlying false view of God and man. It only sounds more appealing because it’s the view that supposedly glorifies the finished work of Christ on the cross by excluding our meritorious “works.” But in reality, working versus believing is a fabricated false dichotomy—an artificial antithesis concocted to support sola fide. There is no working versus believing juxtaposition in Scripture because all three of the main passages used for support are about the Law of Moses versus the faithfulness of Jesus Christ:
“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works [actions] of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (although it is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction” (Rom 3:20-22 NET)
“yet we know that no one is justified by the works [actions] of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works [actions] of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:16 NET)
“and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness” (Phi 3:9 NET).
The doctrine of sola fide is a dangerous double-edged sword in that it not only falsely assures of salvation by simply believing some facts are true, but also discourages obedience to Christ’s commandments—the good message of salvation He preached—as trying to save ourselves by our merit. The doctrine of sola fide conjoined with once-saved-always-saved is aimed at diminishing the fear of the Lord and promoting unfaithfulness, because if salvation is by believing some facts are true and salvation can never be reversed, then there isn’t much reason to fear God as Jesus warned, “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28), “Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luk 12:5). Add to all of this the myth of being born with a depraved sinful nature that prevents anyone from living righteously, and the masses are kept marching devotedly down the broad way leading to destruction.
Initiatives to keep people on the broad way
The Reformation wasn’t about finding the way to eternal life but keeping people from it. As the Bible was beginning to be translated and released to the world, it was an initiative pushed to continue the containment of the truth under the fog of myths. Its goal was to expunge God’s people from the plan of salvation thereby leaving a vacuum to change the message of salvation from faithfulness to faith.
The Reformation effectively displaced God’s people from the New Testament by three main tactics. First, it suppressed and concealed “the faith [faithfulness] which was once delivered unto the saints [separated]” (Jde 1:3), by turning it into the concept of a body of doctrinal beliefs delivered to the church by the apostles. And that body of beliefs is the systematic theology they teach—a system foreign and disconnected from the promise made to Abraham and hope of God’s people.
Second, it directed Bible translations that shrouded God’s people by rendering vocabulary about them with generic or inaccurate words: ekklesia as “church” instead of “assembly” or “congregation,” eklektos as “elect” instead of “chosen,” charis as “grace” instead of “favor,” pistis as “faith” instead of “faithfulness,” pisteuo as “believe” instead of “trust,” ergon as “works” instead of “actions,” hagios as “holy” or “saints” instead of “separated,” and pneuma as “spirit” instead of “breath.” It’s not that they just got a word or two wrong by mistake. The consistent pattern and genre of “mistakes” betrays their agenda.
Third, it formulated the ideology of Calvinism to suppress doctrines about God’s chosen people. God elected who will be saved rather than chose a people to Himself. God predestined each individual rather than predetermined to adopt children to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. God has foreknowledge of the future rather than knows His people in time past. And God chose in eternity past before the creation of the world rather than showing His chosen people in a mystery before casting down the system.
Besides these initiatives to remove God’s people from the Scriptures, Protestant leaders enforce their control by Trinitarian seminaries training and commissioning the pastors that oversee the churches, sending and supporting missionaries bound to their Trinitarian organizations, and maintaining Bible translation groups using only the Alexandrian tradition of manuscripts while ensuring the finished product conforms to their theological system.
Probably the most disheartening and discouraging undertaking is their missions efforts cloaked as a virtuous endeavor to bring the gospel to the unreached when it’s just a sinister scheme to poison the well. They arrive first with their myths so that the people will turn away their ears from the truth when it ever comes, “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos]” (2Ti 4:4). They masquerade as chauffeurs of the narrow way only to drive people down the broad way.
Deceiving, distracting, and diverting doctrines
Protestant Trinitarian leaders—theologians, pastors, missionaries—keep people on the broad way that leads to destruction by falsely assuring them that they’re on the narrow way that leads to life. They give them everything they need to be thoroughly convinced they’re on the right road but withhold from them just enough to keep them on the wrong road. They teach many things that are true and helpful but not what’s necessary for eternal life. And they also teach a plethora of nonsense intended to keep them busy wasting their time and diverted from the truth.
The entire Calvinist and Arminianist war is a hoax. They’re both on the same side fighting the truth by feigning an internal conflict designed to do nothing but divert attention from God’s chosen people. It’s all about distracting, confusing, and wasting precious time and resources. The babbling practice under the pretense of the gift of tongues has been another colossal means of diverting and squandering time. And more recently the doctrine of the rapture has detoured people from the hope of eternal life at the return of the Lord to an escape to fly around in heaven.
They want people engaged in hearing and debating about all kinds of foolishness because it deceives, confuses, and distracts from doing God’s work. What they don’t want is anyone teaching the true view of God and man, or helping others keep Christ’s commandments because they don’t want them on the narrow way that leads to eternal life. They love having Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, and Unitarian churches around that they can cite as to what happens to those that aren’t Trinitarians—therefore, it’s best to stay home with them where it’s safe and cozy.
Hearing, and hearing, and hearing
Protestant leaders teach the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They teach topically, expositorally, and verse-by-verse. They teach Theology, Christology, Soteriology, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Bibliology, Angelology, Harmartiology, Pneumatology, and Eschatology. They teach good things about marriage, family, and morality. They teach sermons, classes, podcasts, and webinars. They hold camp meetings, revivals, conferences, and retreats. They write books, commentaries, study Bibles, and magazines. It’s all about hearing, and hearing, and hearing but not doing Christ’s commandments. They’re always learning but not learning the truth, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Ti 3:7).
It’s very sobering and heavy to realize Jesus said that if we don’t keep His commandments, one day He will ban us from His presence, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:23-24, 26). Multitudes in churches are hearing and learning week after week but they’re not being taught Christ’s commandments. They’re being taught that salvation is by “faith alone” and that faith comes by hearing, “So then faith [faithfulness] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). So they keep hearing, and hearing, and hearing but not doing.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord” (Mat 7:22). Multitudes of people are going to be aghast to stand before the Lord one day and be told by Him that He doesn’t know them. They’re going to be crying, pleading, and begging “Lord! Lord! Please!” But He isn’t going to be showing mercy anymore, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).
We must reach people with the gospel Christ preached. This begins with being unashamed of His good message, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [euangelion] of Christ” (Rom 1:16). It’s being unashamed that salvation is by faithfulness to Him—keeping His commandments, trusting Him, agreeing with Him, and suffering for Him. It’s being unashamed of Him and His words, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luk 9:26). It’s being unashamed that there is one true God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. It’s being unashamed to gather with and be associated with God’s people, and suffering for His sake, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner” (2Ti 1:8), “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2Ti 1:16).
It’s being one of God’s people separated from the world by the hagios pneuma–the separated breath of God in our hearts—and obeying His Son Jesus Christ. It’s being on the same side of the truth as Jesus, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (Jhn 18:37 NIV). It’s being set apart from the world by Him, “For both he that sanctifieth [sets apart] and they who are sanctified [set apart] areall of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11). That we’re “all of one” is that we’re all in unity and agreement with Him about the truth. We must be faithful to Him as He is to His Father.