Separated Unto the Gospel of God
The apostle Paul wrote, in Romans 1, verse 1; “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” You too, are called by God. Not called to be an apostle, but to be a Christian. And just like Paul, you are “separated unto the gospel”. As a Christian, you are called out from the world.. 2 Corinthians 6, verse 17 says; “Wherefore come out from among them..” “Them” doesn’t only refer to sinful people. It refers also to the sinful “things” of this world. Sinful habits, sinful words, sinful doctrines, and even sinful thoughts. “..and be ye separate, saith the Lord. And touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
But to “touch” in this verse, means more than just touching. It means to fasten yourself to something, and to lay hold of it. And again, it’s referring to sin; We simply cannot embrace sin, in any form! Don’t join yourself to the company of sinful people, don’t join yourself to sinful activities, and don’t even join yourself to sinful thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10, verse 5 says; “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing, that is exalted AGAINST the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ.”
God is contrasting our human imaginations, and our human speculations, with knowledge! Knowledge of God. Knowledge obtained only through the bible. Bring even your thoughts, into obedience to Christ’s words, which are “knowledge”.
Proverbs 1, verse 7 tells us; “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of knowledge.” And Proverbs 9, verse 10 tells us; “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom; And the knowledge of the Holy One, is understanding.”
Knowledge, is understanding. Do you want to understand the bible? Do you want to understand God’s will? Then you need the knowledge of the bible. But if knowledge is understanding, how can so many people read the bible, and I suppose, have a “knowledge” of what it says, and yet misunderstand it so badly?
Maybe just knowing what the bible says, isn’t really the kind of knowledge, that the bible is talking about. Just knowing what the bible says, I suppose makes you aware of words, but is that what the bible is referring to as “knowledge”?
The bible talks a lot about knowledge, such as those verses that I read from Proverbs; “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of knowledge.” But to “fear” the Lord, and to “reverence” the Lord, must be more, than just knowing what the bible says about the Lord.
And the Proverbs say that.. “Knowledge of the Holy One, is understanding.” But doesn’t true understanding of God, require much more than just knowing what the bible says about God?
Jesus said in John 8:32; “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” But yet, actually being free from sin, is much more than just knowing what the bible says about sin.
The Apostle Peter wrote, in 2 Peter 1, verse 8; “For if these things are yours, and abound, they make you to NOT be idle, nor unfruitful, unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“These things” that Peter was speaking of, were named, in verses 5 thru 7. And they are; “Faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.” And Peter says, that “if these things be yours, and abound, they make you to not be idle (in other words these things will cause you to actively do something) So then, you won’t be idle, “nor unfruitful, UNTO the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You can see right there, that in order to come unto the “knowledge” of the Holy One, which is equates to an “understanding” of the Holy One, there’s a lot more involved, than just knowing what the words of the bible say! There’s a lot more to it than that!
Someone put up a quote on facebook last week, and it was a quote from a man named Max Lucado. Max Lucado used to be a faithful member of the Lord’s church, but he fell away, and got involved with denominationalism, and as far as I know, he’s involved with that to this day. But Max made a statement about understanding, and evidently, someone else thought that it made sense, and so they basically repeated it. I on the other hand, don’t think it makes any sense, and I think it illustrates a severe lack, of understanding of God.
Let me read to you the statement that Max Lucado made..
“What God did makes sense. It makes sense that Jesus would be our sacrifice because a sacrifice was needed to justify man’s presence before God. … However, WHY God did it, is absolutely absurd.”
Now allow me to stop, and interject something at this point; I would suggest to you, that WHY God did what He did for man, is in fact, the part of all this, that is the easiest to understand. We don’t even have to “know” God that well, to understand what love will motivate us to do. Because love seems to be something that’s already ingrained in us all, by nature. For example, to love our family, and our offspring, is instinctive, to a human being.
But let me continue with this quote; “What God did makes sense. It makes sense that Jesus would be our sacrifice, because a sacrifice was needed to justify man’s presence before God. However, WHY God did it, is absolutely absurd.”
“When one leaves the method, and examines the motive, the carefully stacked blocks of logic begin to tumble. That type of love isn’t logical; It can’t be neatly outlined in a sermon or explained in a term paper. It IS inexplicable. It doesn’t have a drop of logic nor a thread of rationality. And yet, it is that very irrationality that gives the gospel its greatest defense. For only God could love like that.”
Now there’s no question that only God can love to the degree, and to the extent that He loves, but it is totally logical, and it is totally rational, that because of God’s deep love, He would sacrifice, Himself, in the body of Jesus Christ, so that His creation, His offspring, could spend eternity with Him, in heaven. I submit to you that there is not one thing that is illogical or irrational about it! All you have to do, is understand love, and you will understand God’s motive!
Understand love, and you’ll understand God!
But here’s some guy, who does more thinking than believing, and he decides that God’s love is irrational. Do you find God’s love irrational? I don’t, and I don’t think you do either. But that’s where a man’s imaginations, and speculations get him. They get him to fall away from the lord, and from the Lord’s body. And instead of remaining “separated unto the gospel”, he separates himself FROM the gospel.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself AGAINST, the knowledge of God..” But it takes knowledge, doesn’t it? Knowledge is understanding, but yet so many people that claim to know what the bible says, don’t understand God’s will. They don’t even understand God’s plan of salvation. Why is that?
They don’t understand the purpose of baptism. Why is that? They don’t understand our spirit’s condition after physical death. Why is that? They don’t understand being resurrected with a spiritual body. Why is that?
They don’t understand that the old covenant has been abolished. Why is that? They don’t understand that the faithful who have “fallen asleep”, as the bible says, are in a condition “likened” to being asleep. Why is that?
Why is it, that the bible says, some people are “..ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3, verse 7) Why is that? The bible tells us why, in verse 8; “And even as Jan-nace’ and Jam-brace’ withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth.”
Jan-nace and Jam-brace’, were two sorcerers, in Pharaoh’s court, when Moses was sent to demand the release of the Israelites from Egypt. But it’s not so important, WHO they were, but what’s important, is that they withstood the will of God, and they withstood the word of God!
And so it is with those who are “ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” They never come to a knowledge of the truth, because they withstand, the word of God! You know what it means to “withstand” It means that you set yourself against God, and that you resist God, and that you oppose His will, and His word.
You read the bible, and you know what the bible says, but you resist, and oppose, and withstand, what it says. And that is a perfect example of NOT, being separated unto the gospel. If you are separated unto the gospel, as Paul was, and as any faithful Christian needs to be, then you don’t oppose what the bible says, but rather, you embrace what it says.
I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve quoted a passage of scripture to someone, and they’ve said in response; Well, I still think this, or that. Are you serious? The bible states the truth, but you still think something else! Really?
But people tell me exactly that! I know the bible SAYS that, but I still think this. And I can’t help but think of that verse that says; “ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”
When the bible says one thing, but you think something else is true instead, it’s time to bring those thoughts into captivity, and stop imagining things, and stop withstanding God’s word, and start obeying Christ.
Many times we sing songs about “How beautiful heaven will be”. And I’d love to be able to get up here every week, and preach nothing but the beauty of heaven, and how everything is just fine, and how we’ve all got it made, but I can’t do that with a good conscience. Because, what does it matter how beautiful heaven will be, if we don’t make it to heaven?
And if we’re too busy withstanding the word of God, we won’t make it there! I think that far too many people, think that far too many things, are NOT, salvation issues. Is it a salvation issue, to NOT believe what the bible says? Even if the subject isn’t directly related to the plan of salvation; Or even if the subject isn’t directly related to sinning; Can we really be saved, while opposing, and not believing, something that the bible says?
What about this mindset; The bible tells us to do this, but I imagine that it will be OK if I don’t. The bible tells us, THIS is how it’s going to be, but I imagine there might be a variety of different ways that it might be. That is the epitome of “withstanding” the word of God!
The bible tells us to give as we’ve been prospered, on the first day of the week. But I imagine it will be OK if I don’t give every week that I’m prospered.
The bible tells us to NOT forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some. But I imagine it will be OK, to sometimes, forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
The bible tells us to sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs. But I imagine it will be OK if we add some guitars and drums to our singing. And I imagine it will be OK, if I just think about the words, and not actually sing them.
The bible tells us that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. But I imagine that we don’t have to be “perfectly honest”, if it makes life that much easier.
The bible tells us to forgive others; The bible tells us to put others above ourselves; The bible tells us to encourage one another; The bible tells us to love one another. And I do that, most of the time. But I suppose it will be OK if I don’t do it all the time.
Can you think of some other things that the bible tells us to do, but you imagine it would be OK, if sometimes you don’t do them?
If we will separate ourselves, “unto the gospel”, unto God, then we will also separate ourselves from that kind of thinking.
If we’re “separated unto the gospel”, we’ll be doing away with the way man thinks, and we’ll be bringing our thoughts, and our attitudes, “into captivity, to the obedience of Christ.”
And we’ll hear the words of the gospel, and we’ll put our faith in those words. We’ll confess our faith, we’ll repent of our sins, and we’ll be buried in baptism, for the forgiveness of our sins, and we’ll remain faithful, even unto death.
The invitation is yours, to truly separate yourself unto the gospel of God.