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Distinctives of the NT Church – O. Jean Gibson

January 13, 2007

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Virtually every Christian organization and church has what is called a “statement of faith”. Unfortunately, very few of regular attendees ever read them. Among evangelicals there is a common denominator among the creeds centered in the basics of true salvation. They usually cover elements in what is called “the Nicene Creed”. This was based on an agreement among leaders of the church at that time (4th century) as to what must be believed by true Christians. They did not create any items listed. They simply formalized what was believed since the apostolic era. This creed has guided other statements and is solidly Biblical.

There is one area which they did not cover until the twentieth century. This refers to the organization and function of the local church. Why is there a need for its inclusion? It is because of a considerable number of New Testament verses which tell us how the early church functioned. Why should it matter? First, because the Lord Jesus Himself is the Head and His work is to build this church (Matt. 16:18). We believe the pattern of local churches today should function under His headship according to the principles of that day, although not necessarily the details. The latter would cover such matters as Sunday School and timing of the meetings. Principles would include leadership or officials (elders, deacons), the central meeting (Breaking of Bread) and opportunity for use of all gifts by those in active fellowship.

What are the distinctives of the New Testament church? These are the major distinctives of the local church in New Testament times:

1. There is a celebration on the Lord’s Day called the Breaking of Bread (communion) which is the central gathering of believers (Acts 20:7). There is multiple audible participation by the men (I Cor. 14:26) and silent worship by the women (I Cor. 14:34). Worship is addressed directly to God alone and consists of more than singing.

2. There is no distinction between so-called clergy and laity (clericalism). All believers are priests (I Pet. 2:5, 9). Leadership in the church is not limited to the head pastor. Leadership should involve more than one man (Phil. 1:1). There are no special religious titles according to Scripture, such as Reverend or Bishop. The latter word is a translation used in I Tim. 3:1-2, Titus 1:7, Acts 20:28 which is meant to include all elders (Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5). It also refers to pastors and shepherds (I Pet. 5:1-5). Another translation is overseers, referring to care of the flock. The word is familiarly used of God as the Shepherd of His people (Psalm 23John 10:11, Heb.13:20). There is no Biblical authority for these men to wear special clothing (clerical garments) or wear crosses. Plain clothing such as worn by ordinary shepherds or even the Lord Jesus is the example.

3. No denominational names or sectarian labels are authorized in Scripture (Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Episcopal, etc.). All Christians are called saints, believers, brothers and sisters. All true believers are the people of God, part of His family, not separated by divisive labels as sects (I Cor. 1:13).

4. There should be opportunity for those in fellowship to exercise whatever spiritual gifts, as given by God, exist within the local church (I Cor. 12:1-7). This obviously includes preaching or teaching the Word, pastoral visitation, counseling and varied leadership roles. This should not be restricted to either one man or a hired staff.

Aside from these major distinctives, there are two other important doctrines that should be taught and practiced. These are:

1. Believer’s baptism, rather than infant baptism is very important. This is commanded by the Lord Jesus and is part of what is called the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19). Its condition is that you believe in your heart in the Lord Jesus and trust alone in His substitutionary death on the cross (Acts 8:36-37). Everyone who believes the Gospel (I Cor. 15:1-4) and accepts Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9), which includes believing He was raised from the dead, ought to be baptized. No infant can believe this and there is no provision for such baptisms in the New Testament. There is no mention of such things as godparents making a commitment to guide you into the knowledge of God’s way of salvation. There is no mention of a later catechism class (memorizing doctrinal statements). There is no such practice as a confirmation service in which a “bishop” lays his hands on someone’s head and pronounces the person to be a Christian. Many people are trusting their hope of salvation on pre-conversion baptism. The manner of New Testament baptism is by immersion, not sprinkling water on the forehead. The act symbolizes the way of salvation by reason of His death, burial and resurrection, taken completely underwater and raised out of it (Acts 8:38-39). Believer’s baptism is called being “buried with Him” (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12). It is a memorial of our identification with Christ in His burial and resurrection. Is baptism by water required to wash away our sins (baptismal regeneration or the new birth)? No, only the blood of Jesus cleanses from sins (I John 1:7, Heb. 9:22). What is the purpose of believer’s baptism? It is “the answer of a good conscience towards God” (I Pet. 3:21), not to cleanse away our sins, called “the removal of dirt from the flesh (sins)”. It is our public confession of Christ as our Lord and Savior. If baptism helped to save us Paul would not have said that he personally baptized very few (I Cor. 1:14-17). Baptism still is commanded for a convert after conversion, although not essential when critical illness or like experiences makes it impossible (Luke 23:42-43).

2. The other doctrine which is important, although not required, is what is called eternal security. This means believing that once a person is truly converted, then his or her salvation is eternal (John 5:24, Heb. 10:14). The new birth takes us into the family of God (John 3:3-8, I Pet. 1:23). There is no such thing as being born again the second time, just as physical birth is not repeated.

There are other considerations to be borne in mind in functions of the local church.

1. How is the work of the Lord to be financed? Certainly it is not by the support of unbelievers who are often attenders at the morning preaching service on the Lord’s Day. The Lord Jesus is never recorded as seeking funds from any observer coming to listen to his teaching. Monetary gifts were given to the Twelve for their support. (Judas was the treasurer) but never solicited. Paul worked to support his own ministry when funds were short (Acts 18:3). Many times the churches which he helped establish failed to send money in fellowship (Phil. 4:11-12) but he did not complain or solicit. God’s work should be supported by God’s people, “taking nothing of the Gentiles” or unsaved
(III John 7). Believers are to contribute regularly, proportionately, and systematically (I Cor. 16: 1-2). There is no authority for seeking pledges or asking for money as commonly practiced today. To “live by faith” is to depend on God for support.

2. It is popular to copy the programs of nationally known mega-churches (Willows Creek–Saddleback). Imitating the style of well-known preachers’ techniques and elaborate facilities are used for growth in attendance. Mostly these churches drain membership from small churches. They do not rely on the Spirit for power and blessing (Zech.4:6). People live on the spiritual food of one hour per week. There is great emphasis in special music rather than systematic and powerful teaching of the Word which challenges believers and wins souls for Christ. Unlike the prophets they give messages that show relevance to temporal issues with a large dose of what is called “psychobabble”. MacDonald, Hunt and the Bobkins critique “the psychologizing of the church “(self esteem, positive thinking). There certainly is very little of crying out against the sins of the people and especially avoiding disturbing them by the thought of eternal punishment (never mention hell, although Jesus certainly did).

3. Missions emphasis especially on needy parts of the world should be an active concern of any New Testament church. Are workers being trained to go out to the unreached billions of souls in the Muslim world, India and even in Europe where state churches have withered and died?

4. Is personal discipling (one on one) or leadership training emphasized? This creates new workers for the harvest field.

5. It is important to have a strong community emphasis in order to draw those needing salvation. Small group evangelistic studies can bring in people who do not go to church on the Lord’s Day. This can be reinforced by a vigorous home visitation effort.

In summation, is the local church a key area of emphasis, emulating the preaching of the Lord Jesus, the Apostles and Old Testament prophets? Are you seeing souls saved, baptized, and added regularly to the local church (Acts 5:14)? Then you are truly a New Testament church.

Profitable Things
Part 3

Alfred P. Gibbs

The Word of God is profitable because of the purpose for which it was given. This purpose is seven-fold.

(1) To make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15): “Able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Man, in his natural state, has no desire for or capacity to understand spiritual things. He is ignorant of eternal realities, and is described as being “Alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts” (Eph. 4:18). Though man may pride himself on his possession of secular wisdom, and his great advance in scientific knowledge and his prowess in invention, yet he remains in abysmal ignorance of the true, eternal and spiritual realities that God has revealed in His word. Moreover he is described as being incapable of “receiving the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

God’s commentary on the boasted wisdom of this world is not calculated to inflate its ego, for we read: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by (its) wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:20-21).

The age-long question of Job: “Where shall wisdom be found?” (Job 28:12), has its complete answer in the statement: “The holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” Within the pages of this Book, the believing reader may be made wise as to his true condition as a guilty, lost, helpless and hell-deserving sinner in the sight of a holy God (Rom. 3: 1-23). He will be made wise as to God’s wonderful provision for his lost condition in the gift of His beloved Son, whose incarnation, substitutionary sacrifice, death, resurrection and glorification have made possible a full, free and eternal salvation for all who will own their need and receive Him as Saviour and own Him as Lord (Rom. 10:6-17). He will be made wise as to the true and eternal blessedness of all who have been born again by the Spirit of God (Eph. 1:3-14).

Well may we lift our voices in grateful praise to God for this inspired revelation of His Word, by which we are granted divine wisdom and enabled to understand these things which make for our eternal profit!

(2) To reveal doctrine: By doctrine is meant teaching. The great foundation truths of Christianity are found within its pages, and are woven into the warp and woof of this divine revelation from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is not like a book of systematic theology, where each great doctrine is first stated, and then all the Scripture verses relating to this doctrine are gathered together to verify its veracity and authority. In the Bible, all these great truths are woven into the fabric of the entire Book. In fact, the word, “text,” comes from the Latin, “textus,” which means something woven.

Inasmuch as doctrine forms an integral part of Holy Scripture, it is essential that every Christian should make himself well acquainted with the Bible as a whole. In so doing, he will become “nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine”

(1 Tim. 4:6). We are living in days of drift, doubt, declension and denial of the truth of the Word of God. These great foundation truths of the Bible are being attacked, denied and discredited, not only by men of the world, but by those who profess to be ministers of the gospel, and who occupy pulpits which are professedly Christian in character.

The tragedy is that vast numbers of professing Christians, through lack of the reading and study of the Word of God, are ignorant of these foundation truths, and consequently unable to combat the encroaches of the enemy. They do not realize the truth of that statement from the good Book: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Psa. 11:3). It is in view of this that the believer is urged to: “Sanctify Christ in your heart as Lord, and be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is within you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 4:15). It is to be feared that many Christians, if challenged by a worldling as to the truth of some doctrine of the Word of God, would be unable to give an answer that would either satisfy or silence the inquirer.

Let us state a few of these great doctrines which Scripture reveals and which form the foundation of Christianity. Every believer should familiarize himself with these truths, by earnest and concentrated study of Holy Scripture. There is no substitute for this personal study of the Bible. This is the solemn responsibility of each believer who must determine he will both make and take time for the daily reading and systematic study of the Word. It is still true that “The entrance of Thy Word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple” (Psa. 119:130). Now let us look, very briefly, at a few of these fundamental doctrines of our most holy faith which are found in the Word.

1. The divine Triunity of the eternal Godhead, consisting of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. These are not three Gods, but one Godhead, subsisting in three Persons, each equal and eternal with each other, and each possessing all the prerogatives of Deity and the essentials of personality. This is a truth entirely beyond our finite comprehension, but not beyond faith’s apprehension for it is clearly revealed in Scipture. See Matthew 28:19John 15:26Hebrews 9:13-14Ephesians 2:182 Corinthians 13:14.

2. The essential and eternal Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His virgin birth, sinless and real humanity, substitutionary sacrifice to secure our eternal redemption, bodily resurrection, ascension, glorification and present ministry as the great high Priest in the presence of God and His literal and personal second coming. See Hebrews 1:3Luke 1:26-35;2 Corinthians 5:211 Peter 2:221 Corinthians 15:3-41 Timothy 2:5-6Acts 1:6-11;Hebrews 4:14-161 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

3. The Deity and personality of the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writing of the Bible; who convicts the sinner of his lost and guilty state before God and, on the sinner’s acceptance of Christ as his own personal Saviour and Lord, regenerates, indwells and empowers him to live a godly life and effectually serve the Lord Jesus on earth. See 2 Peter 1:19-21John 16:7-15;Ephesians 1:13-141 Corinthians 6:19-20.

4. The Bible is the divinely inspired, authentic and authoritative revelation from God, and is therefore the Christian’s complete guide and final authority on all matters of faith and practice. See 2 Timothy 3:14-16Matthew 24:25Psalm 119:11, 89, 105.

5. That salvation from sin’s penalty, secured at the infinite cost of the precious blood of Christ, has been provided for every sinner who will avail himself of it. This salvation is wholly of grace and therefore entirely apart from human merit in any shape or form. It is conditioned by simple faith in Christ’s finished work of redemption which He accomplished on the cross, acceptance of Him as one’s own personal Saviour and confession of Him as Lord. See John 3:14-18; 5:24; 10:9; 14:6Romans 10:9-10Ephesians 2:8-9Romans 4:1-51 John 5:10-13.

6. Each regenerated believer is not only eternally secure in Christ but, by the Holy Spirit, has been united to the mystical body of Christ, the Church, of which Christ is the sole Head and every believer a member. See John 10:27-301 Corinthians 12:12-27;Ephesians 1:15-23.

7. The eternal retribution of God upon all who die in their sins, either rejecting, despising or neglecting the great salvation provided by the redemptive sacrifice of the Son of God. SeeJohn 3:36; 8:21-242 Thessalonians 1:7-10Hebrews 2:3Revelation 20:11-15.

Such, in condensed form, are some of the principal fundamental doctrines on which the truth of Christianity rests. Each Christian should therefore know, love, proclaim and defend these truths and thus become a profitable servant of his Lord and Master.

Profitable Things
Part 2

Alfred P. Gibbs

The Holy Scriptures
(2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect (or mature), throughly furnished unto all good works.”

First and foremost in this list of things to profit is the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God, concerning which Sir Walter Scott, perhaps quoting Byron, wrote:

“Within this sacred volume lies
The mystery of mysteries.
Happiest they of human race,
Of whom their God has given grace
To lift the latch and force the way,
To read, to learn, to watch, to pray.
But better had they ne’er been born
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn!”

We will state three reasons for the unestimable profit of this Book of Books.

1. It is Profitable Because of its Origin:

God is its Author. It came from Him, through the instrumentality of holy men of God who wrote under the absolute control of the Holy Spirit. We are definitely informed that, “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved (lit. borne along) by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21). In other words, the Spirit of God so energized and controlled certain specially selected men that what they wrote were the very words of God Himself.

The words, “by inspiration of God,” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is expressed by one word in the Greek, “Theopneustos” (From “Theos,” God, and “pneo,” breathe). Thus the Scriptures are declared to be the God-breathed record of the Divine revelation to man. As in creation God “formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul,” so God has taken the material of human language and breathed into these human words the breath of His life, and the Holy Scriptures have become a living book which, when received into the heart by faith, generates spiritual life in the believing soul. See Hebrews 4:12;Acts 7:381 Peter 1:23. One has only to open the Bible to read very many times, such expressions as, “And God spake all these words,” “And God said,” “Thus saith the Lord,” etc. etc. Thus the Bible itself flatly states it is the revelation of God to man.

Someone has summed up beautifully the message of the Bible in these words: “This” Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practise it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here paradise is restored, Heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment and be remembered for ever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor and condemns all who trifle with its sacred contents.”

Not only does the Bible claim to be the Word of God to man, but it can be demonstrated to the unbiassed reader that this claim is true in many ways. We will name but seven of these evidences: First, its fulfilled prophecies. These were given with meticulous detail hundreds of years before the event was fulfilled exactly as had been predicted. Second, its historical accuracy. Names, places and events are recorded which have been proved beyond a shadow of doubt to be true. Third, the unity of its revelation. Here are 66 different books written over a period of hundreds of years, and yet each book fits into each other book to present a complete exposition of the great truth of Redemption and the revelation of the glorious Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Fourth, the exhaustless depth of its teaching yet conveyed in simple language. Thus profundity of thought is combined with simplicity of expression. Fifth, its indestructability.In spite of all the attacks on the part of its many enemies throughout the centuries, it has emerged scathless, and stands like a great mountain peak unmoved above the wrecks of time. Sixth, its influence for good in the lives of those who believe its truths and practise its precepts. A tree is known by the fruit it produces. Lastly, its many translations and vast circulation throughout the nations of the world. It has been translated into over 1200 different languages, and each year over 25 million copies are published throughout the world.

The Holy Scriptures are not only profitable because of their origin and Author, but they are essential to a knowledge of the true and living God of the universe, to whom alone belong omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence and immutability, and who desires “all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). How thankful we should be for such a divine revelation concerning God, Christ, sin, redemption, the Holy Spirit, salvation and eternal blessedness.

2. It is Profitable Because of the Person it Reveals:

This Person is the eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible exists for the purpose of revealing one Person, the Lord Jesus, and the exposition of one theme, redemption through His most precious blood. Christ is predicted in the Law and the Prophets; typified in the offerings of Leviticus and the tabernacle; presented in the four Gospels; preached in the Acts of the Apostles; expounded in the Epistles and described as glorified in the Revelation. The whole Book is redolent with the Son of God. If Christ were removed from the Bible only the covers of the Book would remain!

Notice the Saviour’s own testimony to this fact, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:40). To the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, “He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Ere He ascended back to Heaven He declared, “These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).

Speaking prophetically by the Spirit in the Psalms, our Lord declared hundreds of years before He came, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God” (Psalm 40:7-8Heb. 10:7). Two things are here plainly affirmed; the Divine Person who was to come, and the Divine volume in which it was revealed, the Holy Bible.

The Old Testament was the only Scripture the early disciples had. From its pages they proved that all the prophecies concerning the Messiah of Israel had been fulfilled by the incarnation, life, ministry, miracles, teaching, death, resurrection and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter could say “To Him give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:43).

Christ thus rides forth on the chariot of the Holy Scriptures, and is presented, in all His dignity as the essential and eternal Son of God who “through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God” as a substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of sinners, and thereby secured eternal salvation for all who will receive Him as Saviour and own Him as the Lord of their lives. SeeHebrews 9:13-14Romans 10:1-17.

“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” (Psalm 2:7)

There are many today (especially Muslims, Jews, and Christian “liberals”) who are monotheists, believing in one supreme God but rejecting the deity of Christ. They argue that the doctrine that Jesus was the unique Son of God was invented by the early Christians and that the God of the Old Testament had no Son. Orthodox Jews in particular emphasize Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”

The fact is, however, that there are a number of Old Testament verses that do speak of God’s only begotten Son. Note the following brief summary.

First, there is God’s great promise to David: “I will set up thy seed after thee, . . . I will be his father, and he shall be my son. . . . thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:12, 14, 16).

Consider also the rhetorical questions of Agur. “Who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Proverbs 30:4).

Then there are the two famous prophecies of Isaiah, quoted so frequently at Christmas time. “Behold, a (literally ‘the’) virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (meaning ‘God with us’)” (Isaiah 7:14). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: . . . and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Perhaps the most explicit verse in this connection is our text. “The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son” (Psalm 2:7). Then this marvelous Messianic psalm concludes with this exhortation: “Kiss the Son, . . . Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). HMM

Man and His Labor
April 3, 2012

“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” (Psalm 104:23)

The 104th Psalm is a beautiful psalm of creation and the Flood, supplemented by God’s providential care of His creatures in the post-Flood world. Our text makes man’s activity seem almost incidental in the grand scope of God’s activities on behalf of His whole creation.

Nevertheless, it reminds us of God’s first great commission to mankind concerning that creation. “Have dominion . . . over all the earth . . . to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 1:262:15). This primeval mandate, though still in effect as man’s stewardship responsibility for the earth and its creatures, has been seriously impacted by sin and the curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” God told Adam; “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:17, 19).

And so it is that men (women, too!) must work, and the work often is laborious, and stressful, and unappreciated. Yet the divine rule is “that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands . . . That ye may walk honestly . . . and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). “For . . . if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Thus labor is necessary, even for those who don’t know the Lord. But it is far better if we work, not just to earn a living, but to please the Lord. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).

Whatever our job may be (assuming it is an honorable occupation), it can be regarded as serving Christ and as helping to fulfill His primeval-dominion commandment, and even as helping to lead others to know Him. Therefore, whether the work is easy, or hard, we should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord . . . your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM

Preached in All Creation
April 2, 2012

“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23)

Many times Christians piously say, “Why get worked up over creation, why don’t you just preach the gospel?” But such a question reveals a faulty knowledge of what “the gospel” consists of, for, as has been noted many times on these pages, the gospel consists not only of the redemptive work of Christ, but His entire person and work as well. The message of the “everlasting gospel” is to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). Elsewhere, the gospel includes His coming Kingdom (Matthew 4:23, for example). From creation to redemption to ultimate restoration, all is “good news,” all the work and person of Christ.

In our text we see that the gospel “was preached to every creature,” or perhaps better translated, “in all creation.” What was the message of the gospel for which Paul was so jealous? The answer is found in the preceding verses.

Christ is preeminent, literally “the firstborn of every creature” (v. 15), totally God (v. 19). He is the Creator of all things, both physical and spiritual (v. 16), and continues to maintain His creation (v. 17). He leads the church, assuring victory over death (v. 18). He is the Redeemer, the perfect sacrifice for sins (vv. 20-22), providing each believer total sanctification (v. 22). He will ultimately restore all of creation to i ts original created intent (v. 20).

Only as we recognize and believe the teachings of His Word on the entire “good news,” from creation to consummation, can we hope to victoriously “continue in the faith grounded and settled.” JDM