The Lost Elements of the Gospel

Paul tells us here that the gospel (good news) which he preached was based upon a revelation he had of Jesus Christ. So here is my question. Is the gospel you have heard based upon a revelation of Jesus Christ? Or is it based upon the evangelical movements of the nineteenth century lead by such men as Dwight L. Moody, Charles Finney, and others?

 

“For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”    Gal. 1: 11, 12

 

Paul tells us here that the gospel (good news) which he preached was based upon a revelation he had of Jesus Christ.  So here is my question.  Is the gospel you have heard based upon a revelation of Jesus Christ?  Or is it based upon the evangelical movements of the nineteenth century led by such men as Dwight L. Moody, Charles Finney, and others?

 

This is what I call the gospel of the evangelicals and it is very lopsided.  It basically says that Jesus died on the cross for your sins so that you could be forgiven and go to heaven.  This is what most born-again evangelical Christians believe the gospel to be.  However, one cannot read the letters of Paul without seeing that there was much more to it than that.

 

In fact, I believe that we have altogether missed the very heart of the message.  We have missed the center and core of the New Testament proclamation!

 

My co-workers and I travel all over this country (and others) to speak to groups of believers who are searching for organic church life.  Most of them report to us that they have never heard this part of the message.  So I would like to outline the main points of the ‘gospel’ that Paul preached that are, for the most part, being ignored today.

 

I.                   Christ in you – an indwelling Lord

Paul said that he received his gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:12).  Then, he goes on to tell us that this revelation was of the Son in him and that this Son in him is who he preached (Gal 1: 15, 16).

 

In other words, Paul preached Christ. (I Cor. 1:23; I Cor. 2:2)  But he preached the Christ who lived within him.  This “Christ in you” revelation was obviously the core of his message (see Gal. 2:20; Gal. 4:6, 19; Eph. 1:22, 23; Eph 2:22; Eph. 3: 16-19; Col. 1:27; Col. 3:11; I Cor 3:16; I Cor. 6:19; I Cor. 12:27; I Cor. 4:7; Rom. 8: 9-11).

 

This part of the message is actually the essence of the New Covenant. (Jer. 31:33)  In the old covenant everything was external (i.e. – the tablets of stone, an external priesthood, tabernacle, law).  In the New Covenant, everything becomes internal – Christ in you, the law and lawgiver comes to live within you.  And now you learn to live by the life of Another.

 

Jesus Christ came to initiate and walk out the New Covenant right in front of his disciples.  He lived by the life of his indwelling Father!  This changes everything.  This means no longer living by an external code of behavior but by the life of another Person.  Do you see it?

 

This is the main element in our following the Lord.  This is true discipleship.  It’s all about learning to follow an indwelling Lord!  But how many books are written about this?  How many people are telling us how to live by an indwelling Christ?  How many people even tell us that we have an indwelling Christ?

 

II.                The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

This is one element that every believer and Christian worker would agree is essential.  We must be Christ-centered.  But what does that mean?  To most, it means that the life (earthly life) and teachings of Jesus must be taught and held in the highest regard.  In other words, being Christ-centered means that you adhere to the correct doctrines.  It’s mostly a matter of proper theology and teachings.

 

But Christ is not a teaching.  He is a Person.  He is both God and Man.  This divine Person is to be the preeminent one in all things (Col. 1:18).  It is a Person who is to be the Center, the Head, and the Life of all we are, and all we do.  Paul said that he preached Christ (I Cor. 1:23) crucified.  This means that he preached the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.  Have you ever noticed that in Paul’s writings he very rarely refers to the Lord’s earthly life?  That’s because Paul was proclaiming an eternal and glorified Christ.  He preached the all inclusive, full, ascended, and glorified Christ.  He preached a Christ who is the All in all!

 

III.             The Eternal Purpose of God

“. . . according to the kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”   Eph. 1: 9, 10

 

This element of the eternal gospel flows right into our last element of the centrality of Christ.

 

The gospel that is preached today is mostly man-centered and based upon our western culture which is based upon human need.  We live in a society of consumerism.  Everything revolves around our own needs.  This environment has bled into our “churches” and into our message.  The gospel we preached is founded upon the need of humankind.  Jesus came to save us, heal us, deliver us, teach us, etc.  Man has a need – God came to fill that need.  That, in a nutshell, is what most Christians believe is God’s eternal purpose.  But that is not what Paul tells us.

 

The letter to the Ephesians (especially chapters 1 and 3) tell us another story.  Paul tells us that God’s purpose is centered in His Son, not in human need.  You could even say that God himself has a need.  Oh I know, God is all sufficient within himself and has no need within his nature.  But God (in a sense) does have a need pertaining to his purpose.  Maybe we should call it a passionate desire.  He has a great passion, a will, a purpose, a goal.  And that goal has to do with his Son.  He wants to make his Son the Center of everything!  But he has chosen a unique way to do this.  He will make his Son the center or sum of all things by expanding or increasing the Son until he fills all things with himself.  He increases his Son by making him the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29) through his death and resurrection.  The Son increases through the growth of the Body, his Church (see John 3:30; Eph. 1:23).  And Christ becomes the All in all.

 

This is a most glorious purpose!  But how often have we heard this preached in any of its many forms and expressions?  In the last century there were three men who shared this message by spoken and written means.  They were: T. Austin-Sparks, Watchman Nee, and Devern Fromke.  But where are the men and women who will take the baton from these brothers and bring this message today?

 

The three missing elements of the gospel that I have shared in this article all require two things for understanding.  Revelation and the work of the cross.  These are absolutely necessary for understanding to come.  However, this is costly and therefore not very popular in our consumerism society.  The work of the cross in the life of the believer takes time.  But as consumers, we want things to be done instantly.  Revelation happens slowly as one yields and breaks before God.  But as consumers, we want to read a book and have the message.

 

Where are the brothers and sisters who are willing and passionate about allowing God to break their soul lives so that his life can flow out of them?  Where, oh where, are the brothers and sisters who are willing to get to know an indwelling Lord, the centrality of Christ, and God’s eternal purpose, and then preach the whole counsel of God? 

 

My prayer is that God will raise up some of these men and women in our generation and the generations to come so that he may have his house, his bride, and his body.  And that his Son may be increased and expanded to fill all things with himself.

Author: Milt Rodriguez

Milt is an author, speaker, and organic church planter.

18 thoughts on “The Lost Elements of the Gospel”

  1. Great article, Brother. It spoke me straightly to my heart. I am happy that I know God is raising such people today. I am happy He has allowed me to know some of them, eventhough it is through this virtual world. Thank you, Brother.

    Konti

  2. I just finished reading this article in your newsletter and forwarded it to a couple of friends. We’ll use it in our family church probably this evening. Thanks!

    I’ve read God’s Ultimate Intention by Fromke and it made a huge impression on me. What riches! But Fromke isn’t as accessible as you are, and you seem to have a gift for making the most profound spiritual points in a way that is accessible to the modern reader. Great work. I praise God for you.

    God bless,

    Cindy

  3. Thanks for this great article, Milt! We constantly need to be reminded of these areas in our Lord. I think there are many brothers and sisters who are responding to His call in these days, Milt. Please keep turning into Him. I have been so enriched by the revelation He has given to you that you have shared with us through your books!

    T.Austin Sparks in the little book, The School of Christ, says these three areas need to be recognized and accepted and that we will not get very far until it is so… he says we need to see, by the Holy Spirit’s illumination that it is “no longer I, but Christ”… Recognizing that Christ is ALL and in ALL is the essential foundation for spiritual growth, spiritual knowledge and spiritual education.

    Christ is now within us transcending what we are by nature.
    Frank Viola reviewed The School of Christ on his blog about a month ago… I highly recommend it to anyone who is on this Path. He gives a link to a location for this book.
    http://frankviola.wordpress.com/2008/11/17/book-review-%E2%80%9Cthe-school-of-christ%E2%80%9D-other-such-things/

  4. Thanks Ron for your comment to this post.

    I whole heartedly agree that we must return to these foundations of who He is and who the Church is before we can progress into his eternal purpose.

    Thanks for recommending the School of Christ book. That is a great one. Also by Sparks, “The Stewardship of the Mystery”. A tremendous book on the eternal purpose.

  5. How can the Christ be revealed in us?
    What can we do for that to happen?
    How might we encourage it?

    Let’s praise Jesus, and see what happens!

    What might happen if we were to guard our mouth
    and only allow worship of God to come out of it as
    we look unto Jesus in our mind’s eye?

    Surely we need the message of the cross to do that.

    Isn’t that the purpose of it?

  6. the wonder of the treasure within, the very presence of the HOLY SPIRIT of God/Jesus dwelling within these earthen vessels, the breath of the Creator, living, moving, having our being in HIM…Major Ian Thomas wrote SAVED BY HIS LIFE, a very liberating work of Christ in US;…. http://www.liberatedliving.com
    Brother John Sheasby has a very good handle on these truths and is a very good teacher to “child like” folks like me, taking a profound truth and revealing it simply so I can understand… thank you for your article, confirms truth the Lord has been teaching and revealing to me since He introduced me to John Sheasby in 2001….

  7. Milt,
    Thank you for sharing with us your message of truth.

    * “I am dead, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.”
    * “Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it
    abideth alone.”

    For me, I know the actual day that I received these truths by revelation of the Spirit. For me, that day was like the saying, “The first day of the rest of your life.” It was that monumental! As Austin Sparks say, “An open heaven” has occurred. I do not think I would have ever progressed spiritually without the enlightenment of these truths.

    Mitzi

  8. Lovely blog entry! =)

    As Nee seems to be the only one, out of the three guys from the last century that you mentioned, that has been translated into my mother tounge Swedish, I would love your opinion as to which one of Nee’s books that best expresses these 3 forgotten themes of the gospel?

    I would also greatly appreciate if you could outline in a few sentences the differences between your books “The butterfly in you” and “The temple within” on the one hand, and “The priesthood of all believers” and “The community life of God” on the other! =)

    Blessings!

  9. Hi David,

    I would say that out of Nee’s writings these would be the most important to read regarding these 3 elements: The Normal Christian Life, The Mystery of Christ, The Glorious Church, Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things, and The Body of Christ: A Reality.

    I would also recommend you read the books of T. Austin-Sparks. You can read them online at:
    http://www.austin-sparks.net/index.html

    I believe that there is a tab at the top of the site where you can translate any of the pages into Swedish.

    Regarding my books: The Butterfly in You is all about your true identity in Christ and your transformation in Christ individually and corporately. The Temple Within is about fellowship with an indwelling Christ. Christ lives within us, but how do we touch Him and experience Him and live by His life? The Priesthood of All Believers is about the functioning of the body of Christ and how that looks in our day. And the Community Life of God is all about the fellowship of the Godhead (Father, Son, Spirit) being the model for our community life in the church.

  10. Learning who Christ is in us, who we are in Christ, what an awesome price was paid for our total and complete redemption, has been a study of my life. I first heard this teaching from E. W. Kenyon, then others.

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