What is the Light of the Gospel?

by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)

In our church we have been studying the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament for the last several weeks and our teaching pastors have done a fine job of relating God’s truth there to the Gospel and the New Covenant truths from the New Testament. As always, we have been looking at why it is vital to know what we believe and why we believe it. In light of that we have also looked at the disturbing truths from God’s Word that show us clearly that his Truth is not knowable by those to whom it is not given.

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Paul speaks of a veil that that lies over the hearts of those who reject the genuine Gospel. Paul used the Jews as his example of those who, with hearts hardened against the Gospel, believe they are serving God in their rejection of it. In the 21st Century Church, we have a parallel of this in much of the visible Church. Before I took my time off I received several emails from many of you about an escalation of attacks on what we refer to as Reformation Theology from those who are convinced that Christians are saved by exercising their will with absolutely no help from God. In fact, they view this as sacred and if God were to interfere, He would be in violation somehow and this would nullify the veracity of their salvation. This is part of the struggle for the truth with which we must deal, but we also have outright heretics preaching in some pulpits teaching Eastern Mysticism as if it is part of the Gospel. We also have those who are seemingly desperate to be seen as separate from anything “Orthodox” so they reject what the Bible clearly teaches about Homosexuality being a sin. It is as if these who are consistently attacking God’s truth and rejecting His Sovereignty are doing the very same thing the Jews of Paul’s day did. They insist that the focus of Christianity must be all about people, while we teach that it is all about God and His glory.

1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)

The Greek word used in v1 translated as “ministry” is διακονιαν. This word describes a ministry that is a service. When used outside of this context it can refer to a table waiter for instance, but in this context it refers to the service of a Christian minister to the Body of Christ. Paul’s διακονιαν was what? It was to preach the Gospel and the Law to all would hear depending totally on God to open hearts and draw people from darkness to light. That is the ministry which is the very same for God’s ordained preachers and teachers today. Even though it can appear at times that the most popular “preachers” are those who never come within shouting distance of the real truth of the Gospel and the Law of God, these whom God has called by His mercy must not lose heart. The Word Paul used here, which is translated as “by the mercy,” is ηλεηθημεν. Paul is telling us that he was saved and was ordained as a minister of the Gospel both by the mercy and compassion of God. This verb is in aorist tense, passive voice, and indicative mood. He did not choose to be minister. He obtained it along with God’s mercy and according to His compassion totally by God working in Him and commanding Him to “suffer much” for the Gospel. Because of this, he “does not lose heart.” The KJV renders this phrase, “we faint not.”  In other words, he is a Christian and in the ministry according to the mercy of God and no matter how tough things get with rejecters of the truth preaching heresy and denigrating those who shine God’s light of truth into their ministries, he stays the course in the power of God. This is a message those who contend for God’s truth day in and day out need to take to heart.

Because of this, Paul says in v2 that he refuses to use “disgraceful and underhanded ways” in his ministry. He preaches and teaches by the power of God. He plants churches and shepherds many into the Kingdom, but he is not much to look at nor is he a great orator. He simply preaches the truth and nothing but the truth. He never waters it down. He never preaches topical sermons so he won’t run off the “seekers.” He never makes peace with false teachers and their false religions in order to build bigger churches. Instead, his conscience is clear in the sight of God because He has not practiced cunning nor has he tampered with God’s Word. Preacher, can you say the same about your ministry?

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  (2 Corinthians 4:3-6 ESV)

Now we come to the reason so many today have edited the Gospel to make it more palatable to those who don’t want to repent. Not everyone who hears the Gospel is saved. Many reject it. Why? To them the gospel is veiled. It is veiled to all who are perishing. Satan has blinded their minds to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel. So, how can any believe if this is true? First, the veil must be removed and this is done when God draws those whom He saves to the Son.

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me– 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life.  (John 6:44-48 ESV)

All those whom God gives to the Son are saved. These come to Him and will never be cast out. Only those who are drawn by God to the Son come to Him. These believe and have eternal life. What about those who are not drawn by God to the Son? In the following passage from John 3 we have the wonderful promise that all who believe in the Son will not perish, but have eternal life, but those who do not believe are condemned already.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)

We cannot simply preach John 3:16 and ignore the rest of scripture which clearly teaches that God is Sovereign in election and salvation. This is the Gospel taught in Sacred Scripture and if you look at the “gospel” preached by those who are quickly moving away from the truth into apostasy you will find that they all reject these truths. Why? Their focus is on pleasing men and building their ministries by using techniques and the ways of the world to appeal to man’s reason to become part of  churches and ministries. However, this is exactly what Paul was teaching against in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. My brethren, we must examine how we are treating the Gospel and how diligent we are in relying on the mercies of God to minister rather than in our own wit and abilities.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “What is the Light of the Gospel?

  1. To present the Gospel of Christ to sinners then tell them to choose, or make a decision, etc. for Christ is found nowhere in the Bible. One of the ‘proof texts’ of free will theology is John 3:16. I saw this verse more clearly in this teaching from Jim McClarty – http://youtu.be/BDxRss_v78A

    This accursed gospel has produced multitudes of professing Christians who profess Christ but know nothing of His regenerating power, nor of repentance. Many who speak this accursed gospel from their pulpits will soon be held accountable by God.

  2. Pingback: What is the Light of the Gospel? | GalatiaU

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