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After 20 years of studying church history and around 30 years of watching the fruit of various Christian Gospels and doctrines in America, here's the Gospel that I can confidently tell you will work. It will put you in fellowship with God Almighty and cause you to walk in the peace, righteousness, and joy that the Gospel promises (Rom. 14:17).
Since writing this several years ago, I have learned that what I have written here is not the Gospel, but a proper response to the Gospel. I met an author named Matthew Bryan, who has carefully traced the word "gospel" through the Scriptures. The only message in the Scripture that is called "gospel" is the proclamation of the kingdom of God.
Matthew's book, Forgotten Gospel, lays a careful foundation for the Gospel of the Kingdom in the Old Testament, explains how the Jews would have understood Jesus' teaching about the kingdom, and shows the centrality of the message that Jesus is King in the apostles' preaching and letters.
If you want to understand the Gospel, I recommend Forgotten Gospel first and foremost.
"One of the most important books I have read in the last 30 years."—Mike Smith, lead pastor of Victory Church in Memphis.
"I'm excited about the implications of the gospel of the kingdom, and I have challenged many pastors to wrestle with Bryan's claims."—Paul Dyar, Territorial Overseer for Church of God (Cleveland, TN).
Jesus Christ is worth everything. Come to him, forsake everything and everyone else, and abandon yourself to his will.
Then you can pretend to be a Christian, or you can just wonder why Christianity produces no power, no love, no unity, and no noticeable change in life.
Our books consistently maintain 4-star and better ratings despite the occasional 1- and 2-star ratings from people angry about my kicking over sacred cows.
But if we come to Paul with these questions in mind — the questions about how human beings come into a living and saving relationship with the living and saving God ... The message about Jesus and his cross and resurrection — 'the gospel', in terms of our previous chapters — is announced to them; through this means, God works by his Spirit upon their hearts; as a result, they come to believe the message; they join the Christian community through baptism, and begin to share in its common life and its common way of life. That is how people come into relationship with the living God. (N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said  p. 116-117)
In the first century, everyone understood that those who believed and were baptized were added to the church (Acts 2:47). They also knew that the church was that collection of people over there who didn't care about anything in this world at all, only that their lives would please their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
You, however, live in a terrible century. Finding a church like I just described is nigh on impossible.
May God grant you to create one or find one.
We (Rose Creek Village) are in the business of helping those who believe the Gospel I just gave above to join together and overcome the world.
There is nothing the devil fears worse than that there would be a church. If we don't understand that the gates of hell can't prevail against the church (Matt. 16:18) or that the church is the very household of God and the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the devil certainly knows.
Not seeing persecution?
Bring disciples together and you will.
What modern Christians don't seem to know, even the ones that know they must wholly devote themselves to Jesus Christ, is that they can't do it alone. The fact is that the Scriptures teach that if you are not exhorted daily, then you are in danger of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).
Look that verse up if you don't know it already.
It is not true that Jesus and your Bible are enough. According to that Bible, you need the church. You need the daily exhortation of your brothers and sisters.
And your brothers and sisters are those who don't care about anything over the will of Jesus Christ.
Everyone else just wishes they were Christians. They'll never make it to the end, they'll never be persecuted, and they'll never be any danger to the devil.
Sorry, but that's the teaching of Jesus Christ himself (Luke 14:26-33). If you don't forsake everything you cannot be his disciple.
I often get asked what I mean when I talk about forsaking everything for Christ. Most of the time, the person asking is simply offended at the very idea. They are not looking for an answer to their question; they are looking for a way out.
If the thought of forsaking everything for Christ offends you, then be offended. Go away angry or sad. Let people know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ irritates you.
This page is not written for you. This page is written for those that want to ask questions and wrestle with the words of Christ so that they might obey them, not ignore them.
Above I have written nothing but the words of Christ. If you object to them or my saying them, then you object to Christ. You have rejected him. Know that you have.
On the other hand, if you recognize those as the words of Christ, and you really have questions, then I am happy to answer them.
This is my answer ...
I'm not asking you to hold to my definition of what it means to forsake everything. If nothing matters to you but doing the will of Jesus Christ and his Father, then you can answer that question yourself.
You will be able to answer it even better when you're with others who love Jesus and obey him as you do. Even by yourself, though, you can expect the Holy Spirit to give you—a person who lives to do his will—guidance in how to live a life that is separate from the world without being isolated from it.
I'm sorry this will sound so judgmental. It is not my fault that modern Christianity has invented a new version of church, nothing like the one we find in the Book of Acts, and that they use that new church to include both disciples and those who are not interested in doing the will of our Father in heaven.
You may be in such a church. You may truly love God. You may be a disciple. God may show you mercy as you attend the "Christian club" of which you are a part.
I hope, however, that you will be rescued from your current situation so that you can experience true fellowship—the unity that can only be bestowed by God's Spirit—with other disciples.
For those of you that are already looking for how to be in fellowship with other disciples, but you're not finding it, I recommend contacting us.
What will we do?
We're not sure, but we will do everything possible to help you be in fellowship. Whether that means helping you talk to others and bring something together where you are or whether that means bringing you to Tennessee is not something we can know in advance. Those things are in the hand of God.
What will we tell you?
What we have told you above. Our doctrine is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and that he can be trusted. You can believe all sorts of inaccurate systematic theology along with your trust in Christ, and you'll still be fine.
Getting it right is about following Christ, not being a good theology student. (See our doctrine page.)
You can read what's above and decide for yourself. As for me ...
I believe I'm promoting Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the saints, a desperate, desperate need in America today.
I believe I'm promoting what the apostle John promoted ...
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you so that you may have fellowship with us, for truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 Jn. 1:3)
Everything I'm writing about is actually happening at Rose Creek Village in west Tennessee. It is thrilling, and we have entered a blessed and powerful fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Thus, what I write has to be about us because, like John, I am proclaiming to you what we have touched and what our hands have handled concerning the Word of Life.
As the Psalmist says:
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for disciples to live together in unity ... for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore. (Ps. 133:1,3)
It is good and pleasant; it does provide great grace (Acts 4:32); and, thus, I want to tell you about it!
This page was prompted by something that someone wrote to me today. She wrote:
So there are actually established gatherings of believers out there?
What a question!
She is from a foreign country. She added ...
It is amazing how bereft of any understanding of Christian faith most of America has become.
Notice she didn't say bereft of Christian doctrine. It's the Christian faith that most churches don't understand.
Believers have entered a new family. They are joined to one another. They will still love their natural parents and siblings, but know for certain that the true Christian has left their old family to join a new one, bonded together with other disciples as the household of God.
Listen, oh daughter. Consider, and incline your ear. Forget your own people and your father's house. So the King will greatly desire your beauty, for he is your Lord. Worship him. (Ps. 45:10-11)
Look around. If you can find a church like I'm describing in America, then praise the Lord! I will rejoice and shout for you. We would love to be in fellowship with you.
We have found several. Not many, because gatherings of disciples who gather around Christ and not around rules are VERY hard to find.
Admittedly, there will be rules if you follow Christ.
If you have devoted yourself to Jesus Christ, then you know that adultery and all other forms of sexual immorality must be repented of. You know that stealing is wrong, and as a church you won't allow your members to smoke pot or get drunk.
There are several popular authors who write theories and doctrinal ideas about the church and church life. Almost across the board, those theories fail when Christians try to put them into practice.
This is partly because they are working with wealthy Americans who do not want to be actual disciples. You cannot build the church with a mix of disciples and those who are merely interested onlookers.
Once you actually begin building with disciples, the whole landscape changes. All of a sudden, the resistance of the devil is something real and experienced. Pat, oft-repeated answers will not do. You need answers from God that deal with the problems that are suddenly coming at your from everywhere.
However, I have met groups that require suspenders rather than belts. I have met others that either require or force, by peer pressure, speaking in tongues.
What I'm talking about are people who accept everyone who is devoted to Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
If one keeps the Sabbath and another doesn't, then they must seek God together for how to be in daily fellowship. Must they simply accept one another? Or does the Holy Spirit have something to say on the matter?
God will provide answers for such questions.
Americans don't believe that. They believe that doctrines like Sabbath-keeping, speaking in tongues, and eternal security will inevitably either cause division or the church will simply become liberal, allowing anything.
It's not true!!!
1 John 2:27 is true instead!!!
The Holy Spirit—the anointing—will lead you (plural*) into all things, and it will be true and not a lie.
*Understand, the Holy Spirit will guide us into truth in a church setting. That verse is not about you, singular. It is about you, plural.
In English, you may not be able to tell the difference, but in Greek a singular and plural you are different.
To you, singular, there is a warning that if you try to be led by God by yourself, you are in danger of hardening by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).
Gather disciples who are speaking the truth in love to one another, and God will provide you with answers to every situation.
Look in the Scriptures. Look at 1 Jn. 2:27. It is the answer to 1 Jn. 2:26, "those who are trying to seduce you."
Look in Ephesians 4:11-16. What will protect you from deceiving, conniving teachers (v. 13)?
Speaking the truth to one another in love, growing together in Christ, and every member doing his or her share will protect you from those winds of doctrines.
The church really is the pillar and support of the truth, and trusting and seeking God together will lead to unity, not division and not problems.
Division is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), and it is unavoidable where you gather those who are not disciples because they will live in the flesh most of the time (Jam. 4:1-2).
Unity is the product of the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:3), and those who are overcoming the flesh together will live in that unity.
The danger the church faces is living according to the flesh, not hashing through spiritual or theological issues. God can be trusted to get the obedient church through the problems they face—because division is caused by the flesh, not by theological dissension.
Above I have given you a course of action to follow when you believe the Gospel.
That course of action works.
I could give you other courses of action. There are other paths that work ... sometimes.
Paul told the Philippians that he was confident that the one who began a good work in them would go on completing that work until the day of Christ Jesus (1:6). Do you know why he told them that? He told them that because he had preached them the Gospel that I preached to you above—that you have been bought with a price, and you are not your own (1 Cor. 6:19-20)—and he set them on the very same course that I have outlined for you on this page.
That course works. Every time.
It works because it follows the guidelines set by God and it wholly depends on God for its success.
The other course that Christianity offers works as well.
That course involves being in fellowship with lost people (those that don't know about or don't care about Jesus' requirements to be a disciple in Luke 14:26-33); attending weekly meetings with singing, lectures; and oh, let's not forget, an Old Testament collecting of tithes. They won't teach you to follow other Old Testament laws, but for some reason that one OT law, the tithe, is very important.
That path works for a few rare people who zealously follow Jesus all their lives, devoting themselves—usually unsuccessfully—to getting others to follow Jesus with them.
Those people follow a lonely, difficult, and dangerous road; one God has not called us to follow.
The church is important to God. It may not matter to us, but it's the very purpose of God from the foundation of the the earth.
I support Heaven's Family. I urge you to help reach the world and meet the needs of "the least of these" by supporting them as well.
I do not get a commission for this ad.
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