The True Message of the True Church vs. the False Message of the False Church
Throughout the history of Israel, God was revealing Himself to His people. Yahweh was showing them He was worthy of their trust. He intended for Israel to be His people and for Him to be their God (Lev 26:12; Jer 11:4).
In His revelation, Yahweh gave them His Word, His Law, and He demonstrated His power in their midst. All of His attributes were visible, and He commanded Israel to respond to Him in the right way. At times, Israel was willing to do what God required, and sometimes even appeared able to do some things that pleased Him. In total, however, Israel failed to comply with God’s standard.
Israel’s failure was designed by God to show Jews and Gentiles His perfection. In other words, Israel’s failure was planned by God, for the purpose of showing all people something very important. All people, even religious nations, fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). The Law of God could not help them. It even became a hindrance, a spur for sin (Rom 5:20). Religion held no salvation from the power of sin and our adversary, Satan.
Jesus Christ came into the world. He is called, “True Israel (Is 49:3).” Only one man in history was able to please God with perfect obedience. This was only because He was God-man. Being fully God and fully man, Jesus was impeccable (Heb 4:15). God is able. Jesus is God. Jesus is able. Jesus not only paid all our debt of sin (Col 2:14), but He did it all for His beloved bride, the church (Jn 10:11; Eph 5:25).
If Yahweh was displaying Himself to humanity through Creation and through the Law to Israel, it was a common display. Most people are not atheists because God has made Himself apparent through these things (Rom 1:20). Jesus was obviously not in the same class as the rest of sinful humanity, by His Words, and His miraculous works. Still, the majority of people missed their much-anticipated visitor from heaven. The Messiah had come, and even His own people, Israel, missed Him (Jn 1:5).
God enfleshed was recognized by a remnant of people during His short stay on the earth (Mt 11:25). Following the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son (Jn 14:26; 15:26).
The mission of the Holy Spirit was to do a new thing. He would take up permanent abode in the souls of God’s elect people, who are also called, “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).” The early church soon recognized this remnant of regenerated people was not just a remnant of Jews, but they also came from the Gentile nations (Acts 10, 15).
The Holy Spirit was now giving new life to new creatures in Christ (Rom 6:14; Col 2:13; 2 Cor 5:17). This was and still is a foreshadowing of the full number of the holy nation of God’s people. They were called, “Christians,” first, in the city of Antioch of Syria (Lebanon).
Christians are baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:38). This is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, who bears witness of Jesus Christ (Jn 15:26; Acts 1:8). Without the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11), a man cannot bear witness of Christ. He does not have the mind to do it (1 Cor 2:14). He has no knowledge to do it. He has no desire to do it. He has no inspiration to do it. He has no reason to do it.
Jesus prayed to God the Father, in His high priestly prayer (Jn 17). Jesus prayed for the Father to glorify the Son (Jn 17:1). God the Father is still accomplishing this glorification by the mission work of the Holy Spirit in the world, today. Jesus said, “And you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). Thus, it is the Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered church of Jesus Christ which brings the message from heaven to earth, today.
Our message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16). It is a God-glorifying message because it tells the world, “Salvation belongs to God” (Jon 2:9). The message is rather simple. God is not trying to trick or trip up anyone. He wants everyone in the world to know this message (Mk 16:15). What is the message?
God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1). He created man in His image, male and female He created them. Living in the Garden of God, the first people, Adam and Eve were engaged by the serpent (Gen 3). The adversary deceived them with his words, and they fell from grace, along with the rest of creation. Life was now painful toil. God had mercy. He began to reveal His plan of salvation to humanity. It became obvious in the second generation that God was only saving some, but not all people (Gen 4).
This observation was confirmed with later revelations, especially through the covenants He made with certain people (Gen 9; 12; 15; Ex 24; 2 Sam 7; Jer 31:31–34). These people were called, “My people.” God used a myriad of ways to set them apart. Noah and His family had the ark. Abraham had the land of promise. Jacob, who was called, “Israel,” had the blessing. Joseph had God’s favor is a foreign land. Moses had the ark, the tabernacle, and the Law. Joshua had the victory. Solomon had the Temple. The divided kingdoms had the prophets. God was with His people. He was for them.
The advent of Jesus Christ was the turning point in history for all nations. Jesus Christ is Himself, the Gospel. God’s revelation was not just for the Jewish people, but for all people (Lk 2:10). The plan of salvation did not change. People were saved in exactly the same way as the Jewish remnant had been saved for generations. What is the way of salvation?
It begins before Creation. In the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23), He purposely chose His people for salvation (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5). God is eternal. He knows the beginning from the end. His knowledge is not constrained by time. He is eternally present at every moment in time, and He is omniscient all the time.
If there will someday be a year A.D. 2334, and some guy named “Bob,” lives in Nome, Alaska, who was chosen by God to be saved. Bob will be saved. Bob will be a sinful son of Adam at his birth. At some point in his life, Bob will be irresistibly dragged to the Cross of Christ by the preaching of the eternal Gospel of God. His salvation will be made known to him because the Holy Spirit will have come upon him, just as the Spirit did the early church (Acts 2). God chose Bob. Jesus died for Bob. The Spirit will enter Bob at the precisely appointed time determined by God. This is salvation.
Salvation is simply stated, “Yahweh intended to save some people. He (Jesus) paid their debt of sin to satisfy His own justice under the Law. He adopted them out of the godless orphanage of this world. He gave them His Spirit, as a token of full redemption, coming at the resurrection of the dead, on the last day. God’s redeemed elect will live with Him, forever, in New Jerusalem, the holy and eternal city of God.”
God is glorified when the church proclaims this mystery revealed to His saints (Col 1:26). Yahweh is not ashamed of His plan of salvation, nor was Paul (Rom 1:16). God is not embarrassed by the fact He did not plan to save all people (Rom 9:22). In fact, God’s sovereignty is vividly displayed in salvation. God has made a sovereign choice to set apart His people for glory. This is the doctrine of sovereign election (Jn 1:13; Rom 8:30; 9:23; Eph 1:4–5). He wants the world to know this fact.
What happens when the church sends a different message to the world? First, we must inform the reader, in the same way Paul informed the church at Rome, “Not all Israel is Israel” (Rom 9:6). We might say, today, “Not all the church is the church.” Theologians help us to differentiate the visible church from the invisible church for this reason.
There are many in the visible church, Christians, in name only. It is the invisible occupation of a born again believer which makes up the invisible church. All true Christians have the Spirit abiding in them (Jn 14:17; 2 Tim 1:14), while others pose as Christians for various reasons. Posers are no more sons of God, than the Gibeonites were children of Israel, having their place in the land (Jos 9).
A pseudo-Christian cannot present the Gospel in truth. He does not have the Spirit of truth in Him, nor can he understand the Word of truth (Jn 14:17; 16:13). This spiritual void is the foul origin of every pseudo-Gospel the visible church has ever preached to the world (1 Jn 4:6).
The false gospel is no Gospel at all (2 Pet 2:1). It is an aberration and an abomination (Jer 14:14). It deceives many, but it saves no one (Jer 5:31). Its promulgation is spirited by demons (1 Tim 4:1), who serve the great deceiver, Satan (Jn 8:44). There are many deceivers who have gone out into the world (2 Jn 1:7).
The adversary of humanity has used the same ploy since the Garden of Eden: get man to occupy the position of God. Satan desires for men to think they control their own salvation, their own eternal destiny. The minute someone believes this falsehood, they unwittingly usurp the sovereignty of Almighty God. Obviously, this does not happen in reality, but it sure happens in the minds of many pseudo-Christians.
Satan is the master deceiver. His lie is so close to the truth, even the elect would be deceived, if it were possible (Mt 24:24). The Spirit of truth prevents the deception from taking hold in the child of God (Jn 16:13). The truth of God’s Word, sooner or later, sets the Christian free from error. It should be the prayer of those in Christ for God to give more light, more truth, and more power to overcome the wiles of the devil.
Indeed, God desires a relationship with His chosen people, but not all people (Is 65:1; Rom 9:25–26). When the church insinuates this desire in God, for all men to be saved, it finds itself in sin (note the wrong interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:4, 6). Twisting Scripture to promote the false gospel of universal salvation is deviant. Placing unelect, unregenerate, unbelievers in the position of Sovereign God, by soliciting their choice to be saved, is sending the wrong message to the world. The choice is not ours nor theirs.
God is not offering His salvation to anyone. God, by His indwelling Spirit, is proclaiming His salvation to all people (Gospel call). God is the Savior of His people, and He is heralding the good news of salvation to everyone in the world.
There is only one race of people who ever believes this message (Effectual call). They are called, “Christians” and “believers.” The reason they believe the truth is because God has imparted faith to them (Rom 12:3, 6; Gal 3:22; Phil 1:29; 2 Pet 1:1). God appointed some to believe (Acts 13:48), and then by His grace, He made them believe. Faith is not self-generated; it is a gift of God. The decision for a personal relationship is God’s decision, not ours.
Examine yourself, today. Have you received and believed the wrong message from the church to the world? Did you trust in your own sovereign choice to become a follower Jesus? Do you believe Almighty God is hoping and anxiously waiting for more people to use their free will to decide to trust Christ? If you do, you need to repent of your sin of believing the false message.
You need to believe in the Sovereign God of the Bible, and in His sovereign plan of salvation, executed exclusively by His sovereign grace, and readily revealed to a people of His own sovereign choice. This is the true Gospel message proclaimed by the true church, filled with the Spirit of truth, who is God, who is true. It’s all good, and it’s all God. To Him be the glory. Amen.
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 13, 2021