If you would like to understand the Gospel, you must first understand the Story (i.e., the Big Picture narrative in the Bible); and it is also necessary to thoroughly understand these four ideas.
- The Bible is not about you; it is about Jesus. Jesus did not come preaching a way to live your life or a way to get into heaven on your own. Jesus said, “I am the way.” Jesus is saying that the only way into heaven is through Him. Your works, actions, and beliefs will not get you into heaven. That is self-righteous thinking. Adam and the generations that came after him up to the cross were created subject to vanity i.e., corruption (Romans chapter 8 v-20). Therefore, they were incapable of producing their own righteousness. Righteousness is a right standing with God. If you have sin in your life or are capable of sinning, you cannot have a right standing with God. You have to be righteous, holy, and perfect in order to commune with God and thus enter heaven. God cannot commune where there is sin. If you are a sinner, or capable of sinning, God is not coming into your heart to set up residence, no matter how many times you ask him or how relentlessly you plead, and you will not be allowed to enter heaven. You may think you can handle sin through confession of sin; but neither Jesus nor Paul spoke about confession of sin as a means for remission of sin. If you think confession of sin results in remission of sin, consider what it says in Hebrews chapter 9 verse 22. “And almost all things are by law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” The law was given to reveal sin. So, this quote is saying without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Remission of sin can only happen through a blood sacrifice. This happened 2000 years ago on the cross. If you are a sinner and want remission of your sins, you will have to crucify Jesus all over again. (Hebrews chapter 10 v-26 and v-29)
It is not your righteousness that gets you into heaven. You are incapable of attaining righteousness on your own. It is the righteousness of God and Jesus that gets you into heaven and you receive it through Grace. Righteousness is a spiritual concept just like faith. You don’t have any faith when it comes to the type of faith God and Jesus were talking about. Faith is a spiritual concept. It is power and it belongs to God and Jesus. Faith is the tool that God and Jesus used to create and carry out their plan. If we humans had just the tiniest bit of faith, we could cast a mountain or sycamore tree into the ocean. No human has that ability and, therefore, no human has that kind of faith. (Matthew chapter 17 v-20 and Matthew chapter 21 v-21)
You have to be righteous in order to get into heaven and this is where the dilemma lies. You do not have the ability to create your own righteousness. Only Jesus has that power or ability. By putting yourself in the Bible and thinking that Jesus is giving you a formula explaining what you need to do or not do to get into heaven, you become self-righteous which is the one human characteristic that Jesus detested the most. Your righteousness comes from Jesus Christ. It is a gift you received from Jesus through Grace as a result of his death, burial, and resurrection. Because of the work Jesus did on the Cross all mankind was born again and as a result mankind was created a new creature that was righteous, holy and perfect by Jesus during his death, burial and resurrection. This new creature is now capable of communing with God in heaven. The state of being righteous, holy and perfect was a gift imputed to you through the Grace of Jesus Christ and God as a result of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. And that is how mankind got into heaven. Jesus is the way and all of mankind was in Jesus when he ascended into heaven during his resurrection 2,000 years ago. This idea will be discussed in more detail a little later in the story.
- The scripture is inspired by God, but the entire Bible is not scripture. Jesus is the word of God and existed before scripture was ever written. (John chapter 1) According to Jesus, in Luke chapter 24 vs 44-45, the scriptures are the Law the Psalms, and the Prophets. The Law being the first 5 books of the Bible. Scripture is the only part of the Bible that is God breathed word. Jesus said the scriptures are all about him. If you want to learn about Jesus, read the scriptures i.e., the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets. Jesus also said, “I am the Truth”. If you want to find out what the truth is in this world, you will find it in the scriptures. If your doctrine or beliefs are not founded in the scripture, they are most likely not the truth and are just your opinion.
- There are two gospels in the New Testament. Paul’s gospel of Grace and Peace; and the gospels of Peter, James, and John which Paul calls “no gospel at all”. (Galatians chapter 1 vs -6-7) Paul was the only apostle who was taught the Gospel by Jesus Christ. Paul did not get his Gospel or what he preached from man or the other apostles. It was given to him in a revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians chapter 1 vs 11-12) Jesus did not teach Peter, James, and John the Gospel. They formed their gospel from the experiences they had with Jesus and from the teachings of Jesus. Much of Jesus’s teaching was in parable form and therefore, hard for his disciples to understand. This served as an obstacle in the disciples’ ability to understand what Jesus was really saying. But this was all part of God’s plan of predestination. God did not want the Jews to understand. God made it so that no one could believe or understand as stated by Isaiah, the prophet. (Isaiah chapter 6 vs 9-10 and chapter 53 v-1 and John chapter 12 vs 37-41) This was part of God’s plan. No one could understand and believe lest God would have to heal them (translate them into Heaven). He was not going to judge man on an individual basis, so he made it so that no one could believe and no one could produce their own righteousness. God made it so he could judge all of mankind at the same time. As Paul says in Romans chapter 11 v-32 “He hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all”. God’s plan was inclusive not exclusive, it included all of mankind.
- The Gospel means “good news” about something that already happened, not something that is going to happen in the future. It is not a set of instructions or rules about how you should live your life. The Gospel is the good news about what Jesus did for mankind 2000 years ago on the Cross and is a vital part of the story. The Gospel is both the power of God and a revelation of God’s righteousness. It is defined by Paul in Romans chapter 1 v-16 as “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith”. This last statement is out of Habakkuk chapter 2 v-4 and it is misquoted out of the scriptures. It should read: “The Just shall live by his faith”. (Not your faith.) So, the Gospel is the power of God, a revelation, and good news. If you read something in the Bible that instructs you about how to behave or act, it may be part of the story and good information when interacting with your fellow man, but it is not the Gospel.
The story begins with predestination. Predestination started before God said, “Let there be light”. It started when God and Jesus met in the eternal council before the foundation of the world. Predestination was a plan formulated by God and Jesus involving the creation of the world, the creation of man, and the redemption of man. The predestination period lasted up to and until the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There were no surprises for God or Jesus during this time period. God and Jesus planned the entire period up to the Cross. Every action and reaction that took place was known by God and Jesus before it happened. This includes what is referred to as “The Fall” when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree and partook of the knowledge of good and evil. It also includes Esau giving up his birthright and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. These individuals had no choice, their actions were orchestrated into the plan of predestination by God and Jesus.
Paul is the only one that taught on predestination. His teachings on predestination can be found in Romans chapter 8 vs-28-31, Ephesians chapter 1 vs 1-11, Ephesians chapter 3 v-11, and I Corinthians chapter 2 v-7.
The New Testament is just commentary on the scriptures! It also describes what happened during the ministry of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, and what happened for several years after the resurrection of Jesus but before 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
The old testament was about God, Jesus, and the Jews. The Jews were often a hard-headed, disrespectful, and disobedient people. Their disobedience stirred up God’s anger and he reigned down His wrath on the Jews over and over again to no avail. The answer to this dilemma was the Savior, Jesus Christ, which was prophesied in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets.
The old covenant culminated with Jesus at the Cross. Jesus came to earth to finish God’s work, and Jesus completed the work of God on the Cross. (John chapter 4 v-34, John chapter 9 v-4, John chapter 17 v-4) The incomplete work of God involved an imperfect Adam which was part of the plan and which was remedied by Jesus on the Cross in a twinkling of an eye. This involved the creation of a “new creature” by Jesus. This new creation was righteous holy and perfect and had eternal life and occurred when we were given the Spirit of Christ (i.e., the Spirit of Promise) by Jesus during his death, burial and resurrection. We will revisit this idea a little later in the story.
Mankind was never going to get into heaven by himself or herself for multiple reasons. For one, your righteousness had to exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees (Matthew chapter 5 v-20) Two, before the Cross mankind was created subject to vanity (i.e., corruption) (Romans chapter 8 v-20). Paul is saying man was created with a sin nature. So, man had sin in his life and he was capable of sinning. Man could not enter heaven in a corruptible state. Three, the only man that could enter into heaven was he who came down from heaven i.e., Jesus Christ. (John chapter 3 v-13) Four, there is none righteous, no not one. (Romans chapter 3 v-10 and Psalms chapter 14 vs 1-3) Five, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John chapter 3 v-3) Six, “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John chapter 3 v-5)
Getting into heaven required a Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way into heaven. Jesus is also called “The Seed” in allegorical terms. In order to be part of the fruit that the seed produces when it germinates, you have to be in the seed before the seed is planted and dies. So, in order to get into heaven, you had to be in Jesus Christ before He died. Mankind cannot get there without Jesus. This is exactly what happened at the Cross. This is when you were born again. Before He died, Jesus took everything in heaven and earth (all) into himself. (Ephesians chapter 1 v-10) He took everything into himself including sin and the devil. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” (II Corinthians chapter 5 v-21 and Isaiah chapter 53 v-6) He who knew no sin became sin for us.
Spiritually, everything in heaven and earth (all) was baptized into Jesus Christ on the Cross. This was the final baptism. Baptism means to take into or submerge. (Romans chapter 6 vs-3-4, Colossians chapter 2 v-12, and I Corinthians chapter 12 v-13.) Spiritually, all the human race from Adam to the Cross, and all the human race created after the Cross, were baptized into Jesus Christ on the Cross before He died. It wasn’t a choice for each individual. The choice was made by Jesus. It was His decision. Mankind was the beneficiary. This is when everyone was born again. It was made possible by the Grace and Faith of God.
Jesus became our Great High Priest after the suffering of death. (Hebrews chapter 2 vs 10, 17, Hebrews chapter 5 vs-6-10.) We have been made righteous, holy and perfect in God, not because of anything we did or believed. God’s perspective of us as righteous, holy and perfect, came from the fact that Jesus is righteous, holy and perfect, and we were in Jesus when he was resurrected. Since Jesus is our Great High Priest, God’s attention was focused on Jesus not us. We were baptized into Jesus at the Cross, died with Jesus at the Cross, were buried with Jesus and were resurrected with Jesus when he was resurrected. (Colossians chapter 2 vs 12-13 and Romans chapter 6 vs 3-4) This must be understood in spiritual terms. It is a spiritual concept. Spiritually, Jesus took everything in heaven and earth into Himself on the Cross. (Ephesians chapter 1 v-10) All of mankind was in Jesus when reconciliation between God and the human race took place. (II Corinthians chapter 5 vs 17-19) (Ephesians chapter 2 vs 15-16) (Colossians chapter 1 vs 20-22) Spiritually, when Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected we were hidden in the cleft of the Rock which was Jesus. The reconciliation between God and mankind took place because God was looking at and evaluating the blood, the sacrifice, the belief, the faith and the obedience of Jesus Christ not mankind. Mankind’s actions, deeds and beliefs were left out of the equation. If this had not occurred, none of us would have made it into heaven. “. . . there is none righteous no not one” (Romans chapter 3 v 10 and Psalms chapter 14 vs 1-3) and no one believed according to Isaiah. (Isaiah chapter 6 vs 9-10 and chapter 53 v-1 and John chapter 12 vs 37-41) Nevertheless, Jesus was righteous, holy and perfect and since he is our Great High Priest, that is now God’s view and opinion of mankind after The Cross. Jesus performed the deeds and mankind is the beneficiary. (Colossians chapter 1 vs 12-22, vs 27-28 and chapter 2 vs 6-15)
Both the priesthood and the Jewish age ended with Jesus Christ at the Cross.
There were many high priests in the Old Testament. These high priests were not perfect. They lacked two things. 1. They were sinners born with the sin of Adam. 2. They died and had to be continually replaced. Jesus was born of the Spirit and therefore was sinless: and he also had eternal life. He never dies. So, consequently, Jesus was the perfect high priest. The high priests in the Old Testament were a type and shadow of Jesus who is our final Great High Priest. The former high priests were not the real thing. They were merely shadows of things to come.
In the Old testament the high priest went into the Holy of Holies once every year. The ceremony he performed using the blood of bulls and goats was supposed to produce remission, or covering of sins for the entire Jewish nation for one year. This ceremony with the blood sacrifice of animals was a type and shadow of the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. During the ceremony, God didn’t look at the sins of each individual Jew. God was focused on the high priest. The high priest had to go through a ritual of ceremonial cleansing each year to signify he was pure and as sinless as humanly possible. If he was ceremonially clean of sin in God’s eyes, and the sacrifice was sufficient, then the Jews were good for one year as it pertained to their sin in God’s eyes. The high priest and the ceremony were a type and shadow of Jesus on the Cross. The difference was that on the cross, the blood was the blood of Jesus not the blood of a bull or goat and the sacrifice was perfect because it was Jesus and Jesus was born of the spirit and therefore, without sin. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus did not produce a way for mankind to deal with sin. Jesus completely destroyed sin, not only the sin of Adam but also the sins of the Jews under the first covenant. (Romans chapter 3 v-25)
Not only are we righteous, holy, and perfect in God, but we have eternal life and spiritually are one with God, Jesus and our fellow man. Before the Cross mankind was created in the “image” of God, but Adam was not created perfect by God. He was created subject to vanity (subject to corruption) according to Paul in Romans chapter 8 v-20. Before the cross, mankind was corruptible, capable of sinning, and therefore could not enter into heaven in a corruptible state. Because of the work Jesus did on the cross, we are no longer made in the “image” of God but are conformed to the image of God. We have become one with God spiritually. We are no longer corruptible since we are in God and are one with God. After the Cross mankind is a new creation which is not corruptible nor capable of sinning since we are in God made possible by the work of Jesus on the Cross. (II Corinthians chapter 5 v-17 and I Corinthians chapter 15 vs-42-57) After the Cross, we have been made one with God, Jesus and each other spiritually. This was made possible by the shedding of the blood of Jesus, his belief, his faith, his obedience, and his sacrifice for mankind on the Cross. God was satisfied with the work of Jesus. This was the manifestation of the unconditional love of God and a manifestation of the fulfillment of the will of God and the completed work of God.
On the Cross Jesus created a new man, or new creation that never existed before. (I Corinthians chapter 15 vs 42-57, II Corinthians chapter 5 v-17) This new creature is righteous, holy, perfect, incorruptible and not capable of sinning for we are in God. (Colossians chapter 1 vs-21-22) Jesus did all this for us in the twinkling of an eye on The Cross. This is what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus that in order to get into heaven he had to be born again. We had to be made into a new creature that was sinless and incorruptible before we could enter heaven. Jesus did it for us. We were born again in Jesus. He was responsible for our rebirth, not us. We are the new creation. Our will was not involved. This is the ultimate example of the unconditional love that Jesus had for mankind.
Sin and the devil were destroyed by Jesus on the Cross through death. They were cast into the lake of fire. In John chapter 12 v-31 Jesus says, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (that is the devil). Jesus is talking about The Cross when he took all judgement on himself and then died destroying both sin and the devil. Also, in Hebrews chapter 2 v-14 it says, “that through death He (Jesus) might destroy him that had the power of death (sin) that is, the devil.” Sin was the power of death because sin always leads to death. (Romans chapter 5 v-12, v-21, chapter 6 v-16, chapter 6 v-23, chapter 7 v-13, chapter 8 v-2, and I Corinthians chapter 15 v-56)
The law was fulfilled by Jesus on the Cross and done away with by Jesus on the Cross. (Colossians chapter 2 v-14, Ephesians chapter 2 v-15, II Corinthians chapter 3 vs 6-11) Without the Law, there can be no more transgressions. (Roman chapter 4 v-15) Therefore, there is no more sin, “for sin is a transgression of the Law”. (I John chapter 3 v-4) When Jesus went to the Cross and took everything in heaven and earth into himself, He became the man of sin (the old Adam). (II Corinthians chapter 5 v-21) He took the sin of the world into himself. Sin always results in death and through death it was destroyed by Jesus Christ. Therefore, when Jesus became The Man of Sin, and died on the Cross, he destroyed the sin of Adam that had been imputed to mankind up to the Cross. Jesus destroyed sin on the Cross by taking the sin of the world into himself and then by dying on the Cross He destroyed that sin. There are two types of sin, sin the noun and sin the verb. Sin the noun was the sin of Adam which was both unbelief and disobedience. The other type of sin is the verb and it involves an action, a transgression of the law. Jesus destroyed both.
Jesus also fulfilled and handled judgement while on the Cross. In John Chapter 12 vs 31 & 32, Jesus says “if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”. The word “men” is italicized which would indicate that it was inserted later and should have been left out of the sentence. The verse should read that, “I (Jesus) will draw all unto me.” The subject of the preceding verse is judgement. So, to remain in context, judgement is what Jesus refers to as drawing into and unto Himself. The sentence should read, “if I be lifted up from this world, I will draw all (judgement) unto me”. This fits into the Gospel of Peace like a glove. The Gospel of Peace says you are not going to get what you do deserve. The reason being that Jesus took all your judgement and punishment on himself. Here is that unconditional love of God and Jesus showing up again. The other side of the coin is the Gospel of Grace which says you are going to get something that you don’t deserve. This consists of a right standing with God. You get God’s righteousness imputed to you, plus you get eternal life, and are made one with God, Jesus and your fellow man. These three concepts are all spiritual concepts. You now have the Spirit of Christ, also known as the Spirit of Promise, the Spirit of Liberty and the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, in your heart because of what Jesus did for mankind on the Cross. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is the same law that Jeremiah spoke of in chapter 31 v-33 when God said he was going to put his law into the hearts of the people. The Spirit of Promise is why you now have eternal life. (I Corinthians chapter 2 v-12, chapter 3 v-16, chapter 6 v-19, chapter 12 v-13 and Ephesians chapter 2 v-18 and v-22)
The spirit given after the Cross was different than The Spirit given before the Cross. Those born from Adam to the Cross, were given the Spirit of Life. According to Ecclesiastes chapter 12 v-7, the Spirit of Life went back to God when they died. The body deteriorated and all that was left in the grave was the soul. The word for hell in the Greek in the old testament is sheol which is defined as the grave. So, in the old testament when you see the word hell it means grave. The Spirit of Promise that is now in the hearts of all mankind, is different. It is eternal. It cannot die or be taken away. It is a gift from God that all mankind possesses and does not depend on individual acceptance. It is an imputed gift, the same as righteousness after the Cross. These gifts have been charged to your account with or without your acceptance. The same is true for the sin of Adam before the Cross. It was imputed to the entire human race (charged to their account with no regard to their consent or wishes), whether or not they had done anything to deserve it. (Even if they had not committed a transgression or sin through their actions). So, before the cross sin was imputed to all of mankind because of one man’s transgression i.e., Adam’s transgression. After the Cross righteousness was imputed to all of mankind because of one man’s obedience i.e., the obedience of Jesus Christ.
As Paul says in Romans chapter 5 v-19, “For as by one man’s disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus) shall many be made righteous. In this verse, the term “many” means “all” because in the previous verse, v-12, Paul says, “by one man Adam, sin entered into the world, and all have sinned. So, you can substitute the word “all” for the word “many”, for all have been declared in sin. The key point is that before the Cross, because of one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience, sin was imputed to all of mankind up to The Cross. Mankind was not allowed any acceptance or refusal of this imputation. Everyone from Adam to The Cross was a sinner. Since God decided to impute sin to all of mankind there was no choice on the part of man.
Similarly, through one man’s (Jesus’) obedience, righteousness was imputed to all of mankind by God. There is no acceptance or refusal concerning this gift. The gift was made possible through the Grace of God. This gift was imputed to all of mankind after the Cross (even to those that were dead and in the grave before The Cross). Just as all of mankind before the Cross did not deserve to have sin imputed, (charged to their account whether or not they had done anything wrong or sinful), all of mankind from Adam until now, do not deserve the imputed gift of God’s righteousness but, we have it based on the unconditional love of God and Jesus and Grace.
Now, let’s consider the idea of belief or faith. In the New Testament, in the Gospel of John, the most common requirement or commandment was that you had to believe in order to get into heaven. It was stated, I think, 90 times in the book of John, that you needed to believe. But then, in John chapter 12 vs 37-40, Isiah is quoted as saying that no one believed because it was impossible. God intentionally blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, that “. . . they should not see with their eyes nor understand with their heart lest I should heal them” (translate them into heaven). That is scripture. That is God breathed word. This was all part of God’s plan of predestination. God made it so that no one could believe or understand as stated by Isaiah, the prophet. (Isaiah chapter 6 vs-9-10, and chapter 53 v-1 and repeated in John chapter 12 vs 37-41) God was not going to judge mankind on an individual basis. So, he made it so that no one could believe and no one could produce their own righteousness. Therefore, no one could get into heaven by their deeds or their belief. God’s plan was to judge mankind as a single entity and it was based on our unbelief not our belief. It was an ingenious plan. As Paul says in Romans chapter 11 v-32, “He hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” God’s plan was inclusive not exclusive, it included all of mankind.
In the book of Matthew chapter 26 v-56, when the chief priests and elders came and took Jesus, the moment He was betrayed by Judas, all the disciples forsook Him and fled. None of the disciples believed. They all abandoned Jesus. All this took place so that the scriptures and the prophets might be fulfilled. Not only that, but one of His most trusted apostles, Peter, denied him three times before the cock crowed. So, no one believed in the end; not even Jesus disciples.
It is actually the combined unbelief of mankind that allowed God and Jesus to complete their plan. As Paul states in Romans chapter 11 v-32, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all”. All of mankind was redeemed not because of their belief but because of their unbelief. If belief would have been the determining factor God would have had to judge everyone individually. That was not part of the predestination plan. That concept of individual judgement, and individual salvation i.e., redemption, came from human opinion.
All of mankind from Adam until now, are righteous, holy, perfect and blameless in God’s eyes, along with having eternal life and the condition of being one with God, Jesus and each other. Our actions, deeds, and beliefs have been left out of the story. The story is primarily about Jesus and God. We are the beneficiaries. The responsibility of our good fortune lies with the unconditional love of God. It is truly a beautiful story.
What more could you possibly ask from God? You are righteous, holy and perfect and have eternal life. You have been made one with your Father, Jesus, and your fellow man.
I would have to say that my understanding of the “story” had very little to do with me and everything to do with the Gospel Revolution and the Teachings of Mike Lilborn Williams and Beres Barlett. I have to say and I know Beres would agree that Mike Lilborn Williams is the best, most insightful, knowledgeable and honest Bible teacher in the world today. Mike and Beres are responsible for me being able to experience a type of peace through the Gospel that is priceless. My hope and wish is that all of mankind can experience this same inner peace.