Archives For Gospel

Acts 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

God has given evidence of Himself to all people that He exists and is good to all!

Dios escogió a Jesucristo para ser el que moriría por los pecados del mundo. Él habilitó a Cristo a través del poder de su Espíritu Santo para hacer todo lo que Él hizo. Él le dio la autoridad para hacer todo lo que Él hizo. Cristo viajó alrededor haciendo el bien y sanando a todos los pueblos que el diablo oprimía, porque Dios estaba con Él.

Cristo, el Hijo de Dios, que fue elegido, facultado y autorizado por Dios, nos amó lo suficiente para morir por nosotros en la cruz por nuestros pecados en cumplimiento de lo que Dios prometió sucedería siglos atras. En la cruz, los soldados llegaron a romper sus piernas, pero no lo hicieron porque Él ya estaba muerto. Después de eso, uno de los soldados puso una lanza a través de su lado y sangre y agua salieron de su lado; esto efusión fue una prueba segura de que Él realmente estaba muerto.

Alguien más quitó su cuerpo muerto de la cruz y preparó su cuerpo para el entierro envolviéndolo con 75 libras de tela de lino y especias. Luego Él fue enterrado en una tumba. En la boca de la tumba, rodaron una enorme roca. Después, la tumba fue sellada con un sello a todo su alrededor. Finalmente, los guardias romanos, que bajo amenaza de muerte habían sido mandados para custodiar la tumba, se colocaron alrededor de la tumba.

Al tercer día, el Padre a través de Su Espíritu levantó a su Hijo de entre los muertos. Jesucristo de la descendencia de David, fue resucitado de entre los muertos en cumplimiento de lo que Dios había predicho y prometido se llevarían a cabo hace siglos.

Muchas personas diferentes en diferentes momentos durante un período de 40 días vieron a Aquel que era el Hijo de Dios con poder. Apareció a aquellas personas a quienes Dios había escogido específicamente y que de antemano iban a ver a su hijo después de que Él había resucitado de entre los muertos.

Ese Cristo resucitado se apareció a las personas cuyas vidas cambiaron para siempre después de que ellos lo vieron vivo después de muerto. Se le apareció a Pedro, que pocos días antes había negado tres veces que lo conocía. Sin embargo, poco después se le apareció a Pedro, Pedro estaba predicando valientemente su resurrección.

Cristo apareció entonces a los Doce, y poco después de ese aparición, todos ellos fueron testigos de su resurrección de entre los muertos. Después de eso, más de 500 personas vieron ese Cristo resucitado, al mismo tiempo. La mayor parte de ellos todavía estaban vivos cuando los apóstoles predicaban que Dios lo había resucitado de entre los muertos. Si hubieran querido hacerlo, las personas hubieran podido consultar con ellos para ver si realmente habían visto a Cristo vivo de entre los muertos.

Jesús se apareció por último al Apóstol Pablo. Él no estaba buscando a Cristo antes de ese punto. Después de que Dios estuvo complacido en revelar a su Hijo a Pablo un día, él dio su vida entera a decirle a la gente la buena noticia de que Jesucristo había resucitado de entre los muertos. Pablo pasó de ser un perseguidor de los cristianos a ser un predicador de Cristo por el hecho de que Cristo se le apareció a Pablo después de que Dios le había resucitado de entre los muertos.

Lo que todas las autoridades judías y romanas habrían tenido que hacer para detener la propagación del cristianismo habría sido proporcionar el cuerpo. Habrían destruido ese movimiento infantil si hubieran sido capaces de producir el cuerpo. Ellos, sin embargo, no pudieron hacerlo porque su cuerpo no estaba allí. Él había resucitado de entre los muertos, así como Él prometió que lo haría!

Dios exige a todos en todas partes, que ya no piensen por más tiempo que Él es como los numerosos objetos de culto que los hombres a través de la imaginación y el arte han hecho de oro, plata, piedra, y otras cosas. Ahora manda a todos en todos los lugares a que se arrepientan y crean su Evangelio acerca de su Hijo, Aquel a quien Él ha hecho Señor y Cristo.

Dios ordena a este arrepentimiento y la fe en el Cristo resucitado por lo que ha establecido un día en el cual se va a juzgar a los vivos y a los muertos a través de ese hombre a quien designó, Su Hijo, el Cristo de Dios. Dios ha señalado ese Cristo ha ser el Juez de vivos y muertos, y Él ha aportado la prueba a todos los hombres que Él va a juzgar a todas las personas a través de ese hombre con haberlo levantado de los muertos.

Porque Dios ha hecho todo esto, Él manda a la gente a cambiar por completo su forma de pensar acerca de Él y a hacer obras de acondicionamiento para el arrepentimiento. Él quiere que ellos se arrepientan y sean bautizados en el nombre de Jesucristo para el perdón de los pecados. Él es el Señor de todos.

El Padre envió a su Hijo, Jesucristo, para ser el Salvador del mundo. Él hizo a Jesús, que no conoció pecado, pecado por nosotros, para que nosotros fuésemos hechos justicia de Dios en Él. A través de Él, Dios quiere que usted sea reconciliado consigo mismo.

Jesús está vivo hoy y quiere salvarte. Como Juez y Salvador, Él te salvará si se va a arrepentir, creer en el evangelio, y confesarlo como Señor. Cualquier persona que invoque el nombre del Señor Jesucristo, será salvo.

Llamalo a Él como Señor, creyendo que Dios le levantó de los muertos, y pidanle por el perdón de todos sus pecados!

(Trasladado con la ayuda de Google Translate y Daniela Medina.)

In his very popular work Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Dr. Wayne Grudem devotes a chapter to a treatment of “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling.” In this chapter, he writes, “In human preaching of the gospel, three important elements must be included” (694). He says that these elements are the following:

I. Explanation of the Facts Concerning Salvation

II. Invitation to Respond to Christ Personally in Repentance and Faith

III. A Promise of Forgiveness and Eternal Life

These headings cover many essential aspects of giving the gospel to sinners, but unbelievably and inexplicably, Dr. Grudem does not say anything anywhere directly about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in this treatment of the subject, “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling”! How is it possible that a renowned biblical scholar like Dr. Grudem does not say that testifying to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is an essential fact that must be explained concerning salvation!

I was shocked when I first saw this omission years ago and could not believe what I was reading. I am still amazed that this lacking treatment of the gospel was published and has not been addressed for all the years that the work has been available. How could those who have proofed this work not have noticed the lack of any mention of the Resurrection in the chapter that explains what the Gospel call is?

Apparently, Dr. Grudem and others have thought that in giving the gospel, it is enough to say that Jesus Christ “is a Savior who is now alive in heaven” and who is Himself appealing to the sinner to come to Him.1 The Gospels2 and the apostolic preaching of the gospel throughout the book of Acts,3 however, show that this is not a sufficient testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Leaving it to sinners to infer the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not how we should present the gospel to them.4 Explicit, detailed, and emphatic testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very essence of biblical gospel preaching!

In his own thinking and practice, every reader of this leading theological work needs to correct this omission in Dr. Grudem’s teaching concerning the gospel call. Those who are responsible for training future leaders must take care to address this matter with those that they train for gospel ministry who have encountered this teaching by Dr. Grudem.


1 After quoting Jesus’ invitation to sinners that is recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, Dr. Grudem writes in this regard,

It is important to make clear that these are not just words spoken a long time ago by a religious leader in the past. Every non-Christian hearing these words should be encouraged to think of them as words that Jesus Christ is even now, at this very moment, speaking to him or to her individually. Jesus Christ is a Savior, who is now alive in heaven, and each non-Christian should think of Jesus as speaking directly to him or her (694).

2 Every Gospel ends with extensive testimony to the bodily resurrection and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28; Mk. 16; Luke 24; John 20-21).

3 Explicit mention of the resurrection is part of the climactic content of key evangelistic messages that are recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 2:31-32; 10:40-41; 13:30-37; 17:30-31).

4 Paul told the Corinthians that the gospel that he preached to them was the message that included testimony that Christ “rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). He did not relate that he had testified to them that Jesus was alive—he had borne witness that God raised Jesus from the dead (1 Cor. 15:15).

Is overemphasizing the deity of Jesus even possible? Mark 1:1-3 is a crucial passage for showing that such overemphasis is not only possible, but also is very widespread and has negatively affected the theological understanding of many believers.

The Proper Approach to Interpreting Mark 1:1

The Gospel of Mark begins with vital teaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). This theologically pregnant statement juxtaposes many key theological terms: “gospel,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “the Son of God.”

Self-evidently, a right handling of this text is of preeminent importance. How then should we approach interpreting what Mark affirms here?

The Holy Spirit answers that question by how He has inspired what immediately follows in the passage: “As it is written in the prophets …” (Mark 1:2a). To interpret Mark 1:1 properly, we must relate it properly to how the Spirit has signified that Mark 1:1 is to be understood through our attention to previous biblical teaching.

What Does Mark 1:2-3 Itself Teach Us?

Before we can understand how Mark 1:1 relates properly with Mark 1:2-3, we must examine what Mark 1:2-3 teaches us itself. Mark 1:2-3 directs our attention to teaching found elsewhere in Scripture:

Mar 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

A careful analysis of verse 2 reveals that this biblical citation speaks of three distinct persons:

(1) the Speaker of the statement (“I,” “my”);

(2) the one who is sent by the Speaker as His messenger and who will prepare the way of another Person to whom the Speaker addresses the statement;

(3) the One Whom the Speaker addresses the statement to and Whose face the Speaker will send His messenger before and Whose way the messenger will prepare before Him (the third Person spoken of in the passage who is the referent of both occurrences of the pronoun “thy” in this verse).

The Speaker is God the Father, the one whom He sends as His messenger is John the Baptist (cf. especially 1:4-6), and the third Person in the passage is Jesus (Mark 1:7ff.).

Because Mark 1:3 informs us that the messenger would proclaim that the One whose way he would prepare (Mark 1:2) is the Lord, interpreters rightly understand that the passage is affirming the deity of Jesus. Is this affirmation of His deity, however, the only essential teaching of the passage about the gospel of Jesus Christ?

What Mark 1:1 Signifies Based on Its Relation to Mark 1:2-3

Many interpreters hold that the phrase “the Son of God” at its essence signifies Jesus’ deity in this passage and support this understanding by noting how that phrase is used elsewhere and by how 1:3 speaks of Him as the Lord whose way the messenger would prepare. Arguing in this way, they affirm that the essential truth about the gospel that Mark is stressing here is that Jesus Christ is deity Himself.

All too often, as they handle the passage in this way, however, they lose sight of another essential truth that the passage plainly affirms about Jesus before it speaks of Him as the Lord—Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a distinct Person from the Father who sent His messenger before Him to prepare His way and His paths! Yes, this passage affirms the full deity of Jesus Christ, but what it teaches about His deity is not the only essential truth that this passage provides us about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Discussion

When interpreters emphasize one truth that a passage teaches to such an extent that they obscure or minimize without biblical warrant other key truths that the passage also teaches, they are guilty of what I call “theological reductionism.” Such reductionism, when it is repeatedly done, easily leads to widespread neglect of key biblical teaching and the mishandling of key passages of Scripture.

Yes, Mark 1:1-3 affirms the deity of Jesus Christ as the Lord. No, the passage does not teach that Jesus Christ as the Son of the God means only that Jesus is God Himself.

Rather, through inspiring Mark 1:2-3 as the essential explanation of the meaning that He intends for us to understand about the gospel significance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit teaches us to hold that “the Son of God” here denotes both His deity and His being a distinct person from God the Father. To emphasize the former at the expense of the latter is to be guilty of theological reductionism.

Moreover, the passage teaches us that the Father sent His messenger to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus to people as the Lord. The emphasis on the preparatory ministry of the messenger shows us that what would take place in Jesus’ life as the Lord was not a self-determined expression of and exercise of His own deity; Jesus came as the Lord whose paths His Father directed and determined.

Conclusion

Mark 1:1-3 teaches that a right understanding of the gospel significance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God includes both His deity and His distinction in person from God the Father. It also teaches us that another key truth about the gospel significance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God is that the Father prepared His way to come to people as the Lord.

We must take care not to reduce the vital theological teaching of this passage about the gospel in such a way that we communicate that the gospel at its essence is reducible to merely an affirmation of and an expression of the deity of Jesus Christ. To furnish people with a proper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must communicate to them not only the deity of Jesus but also both His distinction in person from God the Father and the Father’s essential working in the life of Jesus.

Scripture teaches that every human being (other than Jesus of Nazareth) has sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Because of our sin, we have all earned death as our wages (Rom. 6:23).

When we repent toward God, confess Jesus as Lord with our mouths, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we are saved (Acts 20:21; Rom. 10:9). Calling on the name of the Lord, we receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life because we honor Jesus as we honor the Father who has given all judgment to Him by appointing Him as the Judge of the living and the dead (John 5:22-24; Acts 10:42-43; Rom. 6:23; 10:13).

According to Scripture, however, genuine salvation is much more than just having one’s sins forgiven and going to heaven when we die. When a person is genuinely saved, he is delivered from the power of Satan and darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:12-13) so that he would walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4)!

Praise God for so great a salvation!Salvation - The Kingdom of God

In many ways, the NT highlights the evangelistic importance of testimony about Jesus’ exorcisms. This evidence calls for adjusting our evangelistic strategies so that they properly account for this importance.

The Synoptic Gospels Provide Much Testimony about Jesus’ Exorcisms

The Synoptic Gospels underscore the evangelistic importance of Jesus’ exorcisms by providing multiple accounts of his casting demons out of people. The following list provides in chronological order[1] the passages that record Jesus’ performing exorcisms (parallel passages among the Gospels are indicated by the use of “/” between references):

1. Mk. 1:21-28/ Luke 4:31b-37;

2. Matt. 8:16/ Mk 1:34;

3. Matt. 4:24/ Mk 1:39/ Luke 4:41;

4. Matt. 12:22-37/ Mk. 3:20-30;

5. Matt. 8:28-34/ Mk. 5:1-20/ Luke 8:26-39;

6. Matt. 9:27-34

7. Matt. 15:21-28/ Mk. 7:24-30;

8. Matt. 17:14-21/ Mk. 9:14-29/ Luke 9:37-43a.

9. Luke 11:14-36

The Synoptic Gospels also underscore the evangelistic importance of Jesus’ exorcisms by providing information about other exorcisms that Jesus performed for which the writers of the Synoptic Gospels chose not to give an actual account of His doing so (seven demons cast out from Mary Magdalene [Mk. 16:9]).

This data makes clear that the Holy Spirit viewed including testimony about Jesus’ exorcisms as vital in the writing of these Gospels. Because the Gospels were written to evangelize people, the inclusion of these accounts shows us the importance of evangelistic testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms.

The Synoptic Gospels Record Jesus’ Commands to Testify about His Exorcisms

The Synoptic Gospels further emphasize the evangelistic importance of testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms by recording on at least two occasions that Jesus commanded people to give testimony about His exorcisms:

 Luk 8:38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.

Luk 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. 

Because the Synoptic Gospels not only provide testimony about Jesus’ exorcisms but also make known that He commanded some people to testify about them, we learn that such testimony has great evangelistic importance.

Acts Records Apostolic Gospel Testimony about Jesus’ Exorcisms

Like the Synoptic Gospels, Acts also shows the evangelistic importance of testimony about Jesus’ exorcisms, but it does so in different ways than the Gospels do. Acts emphasizes such testimony by recording a seminal statement in Peter’s gospel message in Caesarea:

Act 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Luke highlighted testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms in a profound way with this statement because that testimony is the only explicitly recorded information that we have about how Peter testified on this occasion to the miraculous works of Jesus.

Through directing Luke to record this gospel testimony for us, the Holy Spirit also has provided us with a superb model of how we should evangelize people concerning their understanding of the term Christ (for more information about this point, see the brief discussion of Acts 10:38 here).

Acts Highlights the Evangelistic Importance of Testimony to Jesus’ Exorcisms through a Striking Account of Jewish Failure in Exorcism

Acts further emphasizes the evangelistic importance of testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms through a striking account that contrasts apostolic success in exorcising people possessed by demons versus Jewish failure to do so (Acts 19:11-17). While Paul was in Ephesus, God worked special miracles through him, including even the casting out of demons from people through their coming into contact with handkerchiefs or aprons from his body (Acts 19:11-12).

Some Jewish exorcists then attempted to perform an exorcism by invoking the name of Jesus whom Paul preached (Acts 19:13-14). Not only did these men fail to drive out the demon, but also the man who had the demon overpowered them and drove them out “naked and wounded” from the house where they were (Acts 19:15-16).

Through the spreading of news about their striking failure, the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly magnified among all who were in Ephesus (Acts 19:17). Hence, through testimony that dramatically contrasted the successful apostolic exorcisms with the unsuccessful attempt of these Jewish exorcists, many lost people received a powerful evangelistic witness of the power of Jesus’ name.

As the readers of Acts, we thus see that Acts accords with the Synoptic Gospels in emphasizing the evangelistic importance of testimony about Jesus’ exorcisms.

Discussion

Both the Synoptic Gospels and Acts instruct us in various ways about the evangelistic importance of testifying to Jesus’ exorcisms. This evidence is more than sufficient to teach us that we should include such testimony in our evangelism whenever possible.

Some may object to this conclusion by pointing out that explicit testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms is strikingly lacking in the Gospel of John, which has an explicit statement about its evangelistic purpose (John 20:31). Does this seemingly major difference between the Synoptics and the Gospel of John mean that testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms is not an important aspect of proper evangelism?

For several reasons, attaching such determinative significance to this lack of testimony in the Gospel of John is invalid. First, as noted above, the Synoptic Gospels and Acts provide abundant evidence that such testimony is important.

Second, because the Gospel of John was almost certainly written after all the other Gospels and Acts were written, any reader of the Fourth Gospel would need to interpret it in conjunction with all that God had revealed prior to giving this final Gospel.

Third, at the point that John was written, the apostles and other believers had already been evangelizing people for several decades and thus already knew well what was important to include in evangelistic testimony. For that reason, the lack of explicit testimony to Jesus’ exorcisms in John would not have played any important role in changing the thinking of believers about what they should say when they evangelize people.

Finally, although John lacks any explicit accounts of Jesus’ exorcisms, John has implicit teaching that fully accords with that vital aspect of Jesus’ ministry. John writes that Jesus interpreted a voice that thundered from heaven (John 12:28-29) by giving vital testimony concerning what His upcoming death would mean for the devil:

 Joh 12:30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out (Gk. ekballw).

 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. 

Jesus’ statement that the devil would be cast out (John 12:31) ties at least implicitly to many passages in the Synoptic Gospels about His casting out demons from people because the same verb ekballw is used both in John and in those passages in the Synoptic Gospels.[2] This strong link between John and the Synoptic Gospels further supports the conclusion that lack of explicit testimony in John to Jesus’ exorcisms does not negate the vast evidence in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts about the importance of such testimony.

Conclusion

Profuse testimony in the Synoptic Gospels about Jesus’ exorcisms makes clear that such testimony is of great importance in proper evangelism. Additional evidence in Acts further supports this conclusion.

We should include testimony about Jesus’ exorcisms in our witnessing whenever it is possible to do so. We can provide such testimony by sharing Acts 10:38 with everyone we witness to and explaining that statement to them thoroughly.

 

[1] This chronological listing is based in part on information provided in “An Outline For a Harmony of the Gospels” (Thomas and Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels, 7-14).

[2] Matt. 8:16, 31; 9:33, 34; 12:24, 26, 27, 28; 17:19; Mk. 1:34, 39; 3:22, 23; 7:26; 16:9; Lk. 11:14, 15, 18, 19, 20; 13:32

Overall, my perspective over the years has been that many believers consistently emphasize negative aspects of Peter’s life at the expense of a number of key good things that Scripture reveals about him. To help change this unwarranted emphasis, this post presents four points about Peter that show that he was a uniquely blessed disciple of Jesus Christ.

God the Father Uniquely Favored Peter

In Caesarea, Peter made his famous confession of Jesus as the Christ (Matt 16:13-20). Jesus responded by declaring that the Father had uniquely favored him to enable him to do so:

Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

In spite of all Peter’s failings, the Father chose to bless Peter in a special way with glorious revelation about His Son!

Jesus Uniquely Favored Peter

Not only did the Father specially favor Peter on that occasion, but Jesus did so as well. Jesus promised that He would build His church upon the rock of Peter’s confession of Him as the Christ (Matt. 16:18). In addition, He gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19)!

Certainly, Jesus knew Peter through and through, including how he would shortly thereafter be an offense to Jesus Himself (Matt. 16:22-23). In fact, even Jesus’ full knowledge of how Peter would yet fail Him grievously in the future (Matt. 26:34, 75; Luke 22:31) did not lead Him to withdraw the special calling that He had given to Peter.

The Holy Spirit Uniquely Highlights His Selection of Peter

While Peter was thinking about a miraculous vision that he had seen (Acts 10:17-19a), the Holy Spirit spoke directly to him:

Act 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I [Gk. egw, emphatic personal pronoun] have sent them.

Remarkably, the Spirit emphatically asserted (using an emphatic personal pronoun) that He had sent the men who came to summon Peter to come speak words to Cornelius and his household by which they all would be saved (Acts 11:14).

This is the only evangelistic account in Scripture that the Spirit directly declares that He purposed that a specific disciple would be the one who would preach the gospel on a specific occasion.

The Book of Acts Uniquely Emphasizes the Gospel Ministry of Peter

The book of Acts recounts how the Church was born (Acts 1-2) and how the disciples proceeded to evangelize the world thereafter (Acts 3-28). Of the lengthy accounts of apostolic gospel ministry that the Spirit provides us with in Acts, the records of Peter’s ministry in Jerusalem (Acts 2) and in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18; 15:7-9) are the two that are highlighted both by their being the two longest accounts and by their being the two most important accounts.

Furthermore, the inspired record of the Jerusalem Council proceedings uniquely emphasizes the gospel ministry of Peter in a way that sets his ministry in Caesarea apart from all other evangelistic accounts. To understand this unique emphasis, we must closely consider the following facets of what transpired in Jerusalem at that time.

First, Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders to resolve an all-important question—did the Gentiles have to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-2)? Although Paul and Barnabas did contribute heavily to the proceedings of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:4, 12), Scripture provides only a one-verse summary of their ministry to Gentiles (Acts 15:12) in reporting what they contributed to the actual proceedings of the Council.

By striking contrast, the Jerusalem Council report highlights Peter’s ministry in Caesarea by providing five verses concerning his ministry and its implications (Acts 15:7-11). Remarkably, Peter’s ministry on that occasion is the only specific evangelistic encounter mentioned in the entire record of the Jerusalem Council proceedings.

This comparison shows that the inspired record of the Jerusalem Council features an explicit emphasis on Petrine gospel ministry while only providing a summary statement about Pauline ministry to Gentiles!

Second, James authoritatively settled the issues at hand by again referring to God’s use of Peter in Caesarea and how what took place on that occasion was in fulfillment of the words of the prophets (Acts 15:13-21). In this way, we see that the Jerusalem Council account clearly presents a unique emphasis on Petrine gospel ministry.

Conclusion

The four points discussed above show that Peter was a disciple who was uniquely favored by the Father, Son, and the Spirit! Moreover, the inspired records in the book of Acts (of apostolic evangelism and of apostolic determinations concerning how Gentiles are saved) show that Peter was a uniquely important God-chosen minister of the gospel.

Based on the biblical data, we should take care not to emphasize negative aspects of the Scriptural record about the apostle Peter at the expense of much glorious revelation concerning how he was a uniquely blessed disciple of Christ. Let us appreciate Peter properly as the blessed disciple that he was!

John 4:4-42 and 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 record evangelistic encounters in two widely differing settings: Jesus’ evangelizing a sinful woman in Samaria versus an unbelieving person who enters a local church and receives prophesying from a congregation of worshiping believers. Despite their differing settings, these passages reveal a striking correlation that illumines a key element of genuine salvation.

John 4:4-42

Jesus conversed about living water with a Samaritan woman who came to draw water from the well where He was sitting (John 4:5-14). The woman responded by saying to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw” (John 4:15).

Instead of immediately giving her that gift of God (John 4:10) when she seemed eager to receive it, Jesus supernaturally confronted her with her sinfulness by telling her how she was currently living in sin (John 4:16-18). Recognizing that He had exposed sinful details of her life that she would have thought that He would have had no way of knowing about her, the woman related that she perceived that He was a prophet (John 4:19).

Through His exposing her secret sinfulness and His further dealings with her (John 4:20-27), the woman became convinced that He was the Christ whom she knew would come and tell them “all things” (John 4:25). Leaving Him and going into the city, she testified to men repeatedly that she had encountered the Christ who told her all things that she had ever done (John 4:29, 39).

By correlating these three statements (John 4:25, 29, 39), we see clearly that her persistent testimony to that specific truth shows that His supernaturally convincing her of the sinfulness of secret aspects of her life was a crucial facet of her coming to genuine faith in Him. In particular, the final statement about her testifying to that truth shows that many others also came to believe because of her testimony to that truth (John 4:39).

1 Corinthians 14:23-25

In the only New Testament passage that explicitly recounts worship taking place in a local church (1 Cor. 14:23-25), Paul provides strikingly similar revelation to what was crucial in Jesus’ evangelism of the Samaritan woman:

1Co 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

This passage shows that true worship of God by an unbelieving sinner who comes into a local church results from God’s making manifest “the secrets of his heart” (1 Cor. 14:25) and convincing him of his sinfulness (1 Cor. 14:24) through the collective ministry of all who minister to him in that service (see The Consummation of Public Worship for a fuller explanation of this passage).

Discussion

Both John 4:4-42 and 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 teach us about the importance of a sinner having his secret sins exposed supernaturally. To understand further the evangelistic importance of this striking correlation between these two passages, we need to correlate them with key Pauline teaching about his gospel ministry:

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Rom. 2:16).

A careful handling of Romans 2:16 shows that Paul is teaching that a key truth that he testified as part of his gospel was that God “in the day” would judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (see this post for a detailed explanation concerning this vital point).

We learn from this statement that Paul evangelized sinners by telling that them that God will one day judge their secret sins and that He will do so through Jesus Christ. Paul thus evangelized sinners with testimony that closely correlates with the Samaritan woman’s testimony to others that Jesus as the Christ had exposed her secret sinfulness and convinced her of that sinfulness by telling her all things that she had ever done.

Furthermore, because Paul tells us that part of his gospel testimony was to tell people about how God will one day judge their secrets through Jesus Christ, we are justified in inferring that this truth was one of the truths that was prophesied to the unbeliever who came into the local church service recorded in 1 Corinthians 14:23-25.

Conclusion 

John 4:4-42 and 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 correlate strongly with each other and with Romans 2:16 to reveal the vital evangelistic importance of testifying to sinners that God will one day judge their secrets through Jesus Christ. We who evangelize sinners in our day should testify to this key gospel truth and allow God to use it to expose to them their secrets and to convince them of their sinfulness.

Doing so, we will provide them with vital testimony that God will use to bring those who repent and believe to fall on their faces and worship Him!

 

Many Christians today think that those believers in Scripture who preached evangelistically or who evangelized sinners in other ways did so with messages or testimonies that varied substantially from occasion to occasion. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear believers today say that sometimes the disciples preached that people should repent and other times they preached that people should believe.

This view of biblical evangelism stems from an approach to the evangelistic accounts in Scripture that I believe does not account for all the biblical data. To see why this is the case, consider the following analysis of the gospel ministries of John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul.

The Gospel Ministry of John the Baptist

The Gospels consistently present John the Baptist as preaching repentance to sinners (Matt. 3:2, 8; Luke 3:3, 8). Noting this data, many have concluded that John only preached that people should repent and that he did not tell people to believe.

In the book of Acts, however, Luke makes clear (through a widely overlooked statement by the apostle Paul) that this is an incorrect assessment of the evangelistic ministry of John:

Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

This Pauline summary statement about the gospel ministry of John the Baptist shows us that it was a ministry of preaching to sinners that they should both repent and believe. It also teaches us that we should not take brief statements about evangelistic ministry (such as Matt. 3:2 and Luke 3:3) and draw definitive conclusions about what content that ministry did not include.1

The Gospel Ministry of Jesus

A key statement in the Gospel of Mark shows that the gospel ministry of Jesus included the same dual emphasis that was in the evangelism of John the Baptist:

Mar 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Notice that this statement is not just about Jesus’ preaching in one location on one specific evangelistic occasion—it is an inspired summary statement of certain key elements of His gospel preaching throughout His gospel ministry in Galilee. Both John the Baptist and Jesus, therefore, preached to sinners that they should both repent and believe.

The Gospel Ministry of Paul

A summary statement of Pauline evangelistic ministry over an extended period (“from the first day that I came into Asia” [Acts 20:18]; cf. “by the space of three years” [Acts 20:31]) reveals that his gospel ministry included similar testimony to both repentance and faith:

Act 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

For three years, Paul told both Jews and Greeks everywhere he went in Asia that they had to repent toward God and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist and Jesus, Paul’s gospel ministry thus had the same dual emphasis of preaching to sinners that they should both repent and believe.

Discussion

From the Gospels and Acts, we have seen that John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul all evangelized sinners by telling them both to repent and to believe. Because we have seen that summary statements about the gospel ministries of all three of these leading evangelists in Scripture explicitly mention this dual emphasis, we should adjust our views of biblical evangelism to reflect properly this key biblical data.

Moreover, the lack of explicit testimony to both elements in many evangelistic accounts in Scripture does not show that the disciples often preached only one of these elements but not the other. Rather, we should allow the above-discussed comparison of Acts 19:4 with the other evangelistic accounts of John’s ministry to teach us that the lack of an explicit record of testimony to a key evangelistic element in a particular evangelistic account does not provide valid evidence that such testimony was lacking on that occasion.

Conclusion

Whenever our circumstances allow us to do so, we should preach both repentance and faith to the people that we evangelize. Doing so, our gospel ministries will best reflect all the biblical data about the evangelistic ministries of John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul!


1 A close comparison of two statements in Acts 9:20-22 with Acts 26:20 fully confirms this interpretation. Luke writes that Paul’s evangelistic ministry began in Damascus and provides two brief summary statements about that ministry:

Act 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

Act 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Neither of these reports about Pauline evangelism in Damascus mentions that he told people there to repent. In Acts 26, however, Luke records that Paul testified to King Agrippa about his entire evangelistic ministry by giving him this key summary statement:

Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

Based on Paul’s own testimony, we can be certain that he preached repentance in Damascus—even though Acts 9 does not record that he did.

Watching Dr. Billy Graham’s recent message[1] has motivated me to write again about sound gospel ministry that is based fully on all that the Bible says. To that end, I share this assessment of his message.

Biblical Aspects of His Message

Dr. Graham’s message has many biblical aspects to it. The following are things that stood out to me:

1. A moving, proper emphasis on God’s love for sinful mankind

“The Cross expresses the great love of God for man.”

2. A necessary testimony to both Jesus and God the Father that distinguishes them from each other

3. A valuable underscoring of the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation and the only hope for ending the misery of living a sinful life

He quotes John 14:6, and the message makes this truth plain in other ways as well, including through two moving testimonies from people whose lives have been delivered from hopeless entrenchment in sin.

4. An appropriate confrontation of every viewer with the reality that the leading causes of the world’s greatest problems are spiritual in nature

5. A clear declaration that all humans are sinners and worthy of hell and judgment

“The Cross was the most terrible form of execution by the Romans for criminals, and Jesus endured all that in our place because of our sins. We deserve the Cross. We deserve hell. We deserved judgment and all that that means.”

6. An inescapable testimony to the Cross and to the Resurrection

 “In that terrible moment, He and God the Father were separated.”

 “The Cross and the Resurrection of Christ offers forgiveness of sin.”

7. A strong exhortation and challenge  to receive forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith

“The Cross and the Resurrection of Christ offers forgiveness of sin, offers a whole new life, and offers you eternal life, if you come to the Cross by repentance and faith.”

Given that the message has these many biblical aspects to it, some may wonder what could possibly be wrong with such ministry.

Unbiblical Aspects of His Message

Although there are many important aspects of this message that are biblical, it also has many key aspects that are unbiblical.[2] The following are some of the main criticisms that I have of his message:

1. A declaration that God has directed him to friendship with some who belong to a system of belief that has led to the martyring of millions of Christians

“As I look back over my life, it’s full of surprises. I never thought that I would become friends with people in different countries all over the world. . . . I see how God’s hand has gathered me. . . . God has done this.”

These statements are made as various pictures are shown at that point in the video, including one of Dr. Graham meeting a high-level religious official of Roman Catholicism.

A sound understanding of biblical teaching about separation (2 Chron. 19:2; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 John 9-11) informs us that such a declaration has no place in sound gospel ministry.

2. A besmirching of the holiness of God (cf. Rom. 12:1-2) by using someone (Lecrae Moore) to testify how he was saved who now employs a depraved worldly means of communication (hip hop) to present the truth to others. The presentation of how and where Moore “ministers” undercuts the call to repentance presented elsewhere in the message.

3. A complete lack of testimony to the infernal role of Satan in bringing about the problems of the world and of all the people in it (cf. Gen. 3:15; Acts 10:38; I John 3:8)

4. A disproportionate emphasis on the Cross

Unlike the gospel preaching of the apostles that highly emphasized the Resurrection, Dr. Graham and the others who testify in the video spend far more time talking about the Cross than they do about the Resurrection. In fact, Dr. Graham’s testimony to the latter is limited to the word “Resurrection” early in the message and to two brief sentences toward the end of the message.[3]

5. A highly objectionable and erroneous explanation of what happened when Jesus died

“And when Christ died on that Cross, He became guilty of lying, He became guilty of slander, He became guilty of jealousy, He became guilty of the most filthy, dirty sins. Christ took the hell that you and I deserve.”

Yes, Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sins, but Scripture presents no evidence that He became guilty of committing any sin!

6. A lack of biblical testimony to the bodily resurrection of Christ and its significance for all men

It is tragic that Dr. Graham did not take advantage of such an excellent opportunity to communicate clearly and emphatically to potentially multiplied millions of viewers that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. He does not mention anything about those who saw Him after He arose (1 Cor. 15:5-8), and he does not testify that those witnesses heard Him, touched Him, and ate and drank with Him (cf. Acts 10:41).[4]

Instead of spending so much time focused on testimony to the Cross, Dr. Graham should have used some of that time to provide vital testimony that would have made it impossible for any attentive and honest viewer to come away with a deficient understanding of the nature of the Resurrection of Christ (e.g., Christ only rose spiritually). He also should have borne clear testimony to what God has proven to all men everywhere through His raising Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).

7. A problematic model prayer

At the end of his message, Dr. Graham asks people to follow him in praying to God. He begins that prayer in this way:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe that you’ve died for my sins and rose from the dead.”

God the Father did not die on the Cross! The apostles never taught people to pray this way. This is not a biblical way to pray.

Discussion

Dr. Graham’s video message presents many biblical truths that God could use in the lives of unbelievers. It is highly questionable, however, that a lost person with little or no biblical background would understand the truths communicated properly so that he would be genuinely saved.

Lacking sufficient and proper testimony to key truths and presenting an emotionally moving message, the video has significant potential for resulting in false professions. Lost people, however, who have had other exposure to the gospel that has given them a proper understanding of the key aspects that this message does not communicate could be genuinely saved through God’s use of their viewing this video.

Believers who view the video and invest the terminology communicated with proper biblical meaning will likely find the video to be stirring in spite of its serious flaws. For believers who have not had thorough training in biblical evangelism, the video has the potential of misleading them concerning how key biblical truths about salvation should be presented.

Conclusion

In spite of the many flaws in this video message, may God graciously see fit to use the truths that are properly communicated to work in the hearts of many needy people who are lost and need salvation from their sins. From both the biblical and unbiblical aspects of this message, let us who already know Him learn better (and put into practice) how we should properly communicate God’s saving truth to lost people.



[1] The Cross-Billy Graham’s Message to America (a Youtube video)

[2] The points in this section follow the order of what is presented in the video. They are not arranged in any particular order of increasing or decreasing seriousness.

[3] Lacey Sturm, another key person in the video, actually bears more testimony to the Resurrection in the excerpt from one of her songs shown in the video than Dr. Graham does in his entire message.

[4] Moore and Sturm also do not bear testimony explicitly to the bodily resurrection of Jesus.