THE ONE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
There are forms of Christian experience that are an abstraction. They deny spiritual gifts and make a ‘position’ out of cessationism. They judge the gifts of the Spirit as an unwarranted reliance on ‘experience’ when it’s clear that the life many of these persons are advocating is a self-made construct whose experience is the absence of the real presence of God.* This is why so much of the New Testament consists of Christ’s battle with the pharisees and an evidence that religion that is not Christ our life is anti-life. The New Testament is there for a reason.
WORDS ABOUT GOD ARE NOT GOD
Let’s be clear. There are prophetic words that are nonsense, but there been many sermons preached that are perversions of the Gospel. Some are derivations of Arianism and others are gospels denuded of life by fundamentalism and legalism. In this category, some Christian cultures have a generalised legalistic bent. With others, the law is the core of their Belief System.
GOSPEL OF JESUS AND PAUL
The one gospel of Jesus Christ, is Christ our life. It frees us from the law and replaces the law with the incarnation. Here with Christ woven into our being by the Spirit, we enter that state of being called ‘Now we are the sons of God.’ It’s not New Age. It’s Christ come in our flesh. John warns us that opposition to this state of being comes from the spirit of anti-christ.
‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV.
Jesus did not bequeath us a religion. He gave us an incarnation. ‘In Him we live and move and have our being. Or not. We can live in this reality or live in bible deism.
THE LETTER KILLS
Don’t look for your being in words instead of The Living Word. Words independent of Christ are the letter that kills, while the Word of God that is the Christ of God is our light and life. This is why the life and the light of God is not often to be found in the fundamentalist mindset. Our life in God is not an ideology but a state of being that is inclusion in the fellowship that is God.
WORDS DISCONNECTED FROM BEING ARE NOTHING
Thomas Torrance observes that “Rationalistic fundamentalists are those who think they can treat biblical statements as independent from the ultimate Being to whom they refer. Once this move is made, they can then apply preconceived rational structures to fit biblical statements.. into a dogmatic system.” The bottom line is that there is a kind of fundamentalism that supports ‘making stuff up’.
The epistemology of the legalist is a fractured and often contradictory schema because its basis is the frame that is the knowledge of good and evil and its inherent Gnosticism.*
Gnostics offer an alternate gospel and a different Christ derived from ‘special knowledge’ like an additional revelation. Legalism is probably the most common form of gnostic belief today. It distorts the gospel and amends the christ to fit the inherent self-centredness of man in the mindset of separation from God – yet seeking to reconcile itself to God by reason and self-effort.
Another form of Gnosticism is the attempted cocooning of godliness in a bubble of gifts, signs and wonders. By itself this is not a full gospel. In a genuine Gospel we live in reconciliation with God as a result of the at-one-ment and the mediation of Christ into our lives. Our interwoveness by Christ into God is the source of our Godliness, the anointing and the gifts. Be aware than the major manifestation of the Spirit is God incarnated in you.
Fundamentalism with its reduction of Christ to words is certainly an aberration, if not a form of gnostic gospel. The genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ has made us one with God. Reject ‘gospels’ that have you earning Christ as a first step to earning salvation.
Jackson Lashier, writes in the introduction to his book, Irenaeus (130-202 AD) and the Trinity, “Irenaeus of Lyons is a seminal figure in the development of Christian thought. In terms of both scope and volume, he is without rival among writers of the first two centuries. Previous writers had addressed issues of belief and practice piecemeal offering little by way of a comprehensive theological system.”
Piecemeal interpretations of the Gospel can be offered by way of support for partisan versions of Christianity (other gospels) that seek to be imposed on the Bible, rather than derived from it.
“As is often noted, Irenaeus refuted his ‘Gnostic’ opponents by constructing a means of reading those texts later known as the Old and New Testaments as one cohesive narrative, a narrative that found its unity in the saving purposes and actions of the one God manifested in an economy of salvation encompassing both creation and redemption.”
A valid frame is always a frame built from who God is in His being, what God has done in the world and who we are as a result of His action on our behalf. Such a frame is never some construct arising from a school of thought or the distillation of writings that present themselves as a special revelation – which is gnostic in essence.
PART OF HIS BEING
“Thus, the battle with ‘Gnosticism’ was decidedly exegetical, one that required not the listing of a verse here and the quoting of a verse there, for the ‘Gnostics’ employed such a method, but rather, one that required the identification and use of an overarching narrative consistent with the regular fidei and the faith once delivered, a narrative not imposed on the scriptures but drawn out and revealed as their inner but often obscured logic.”
Gnostic error is not dissolved with recourse to cleverly chosen proof texts or scrappy position statements, but by the over-arching narrative that is the alpha and omega of the revelation of the Father, of ourselves and the plan in place from before the foundation of the world in the person of Jesus Christ.
*Leanne Payne’s book, Real Presence, is an excellent book on the importance of the incarnation as a way of life.
*Salvation by special knowledge.