by Mike Ratliff
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)
We have been discussing the horrific battles for truth that the church is undergoing with the attacks from the Federal Vision Heresy creeping in and gaining acceptance with many who claim to be orthodox while on a totally different front, the Seeker Sensitive leaven has caused those in our churches to never be fed the truth from the Word so those left to fight the fight are the ones who have seen the dangers, refused to compromise, turned from them, and have either fled or were ousted from those dead or dying churches. God is drawing us together because we need each other. It is amazing how often I hear the same story about how a local church was taken over, changed and ripped away and now good Christian people have no local church home. Oh, they could attend a local church if they wanted to tolerate the leaven, but we were warned by our Lord to beware of that because it contaminates and ruins the whole lump.
I honestly thought the PDC or Seeker Sensitive attack was the major offensive against the Church. When that was beginning, I noticed that many fled to the Reformed churches because those who had not succumbed to liberal Christianity (yet) were still strong. They still preached the Gospel and held to the doctrines of grace and the doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, as we have seen in the last few posts, the attack is now coming into these churches in the form of the Federal Vision heresy, which is the Reformed version of the New Perspective of Paul (N.T. Wright) which is heretical since it attacks Justification by Faith and the reality of the Visible and Invisible Church as well as perseverance of the Saints and their assurance. While this battle is ongoing to be sure, the Federal Visionists are working very hard to be declared mainstream and orthodox within the Reformed Churches. With it comes ecumenicalism on a major scale and an emphasis on salvation through sacramental means such as baptism rather than justification by faith. To do this requires a redefinition of what the Gospel really is.
Therefore, in this post, let us look at the Biblical definition of the Gospel rather than what men are trying to make it into. Start by reading the passage I placed at the top of this post (Ephesians 1:13-14).
We will focus on v13, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…”
Here is v13 from the NA27 Greek text, “Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ…”
Here is my translation of v13 from the NA27, “In Whom also you, having heard the Word of truth, the Good News of your Salvation, in Whom also having believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…”
The phrase “the Word of truth” translates the Greek words τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας. The Greek noun λόγον is the Accusative, Singular of λόγος or logos. In this context the Apostle Paul is using λόγον to refer to the “message of God.” He calls it the Message or Word of ἀληθείας, which is the Genitive, Singular noun form of ἀλήθεια or alētheia, which means “truth.” This word is truth because it is the word of God not the word of man. I pray you see the point. This isn’t philosophy or opinion. What Paul is talking about here is the Gospel; and he calls it the Word of Truth and it is so because it is God’s message.
The next phrase, referring to this word of truth, is that it is “the gospel of your salvation.” This interprets the Greek words τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν. The word εὐαγγέλιον is actually a composite word. It is made up of εὖ or eu, which means “good,” and αγγέλλω or aggellō, “ which means “to proclaim, tell.” In other words, it is the telling a good message. This word “salvation” translates σωτηρίας the Genitive, Singular of σωτηρία or sōtēria. In this context, Paul is telling the Ephesians that they “heard the word of truth, the gospel of σωτηρίας ὑμῶν (their salvation) and so were saved.
In the Greek the definite article (the) is present three times in v13. “THE message of THE truth, THE good news of your salvation…” What does this say? There is only one Gospel, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.“ (John 14:6).
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
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Soli Deo Gloria!