143 – ANOTHER GOSPEL 1
Let us look at the gospel that Jesus preached to the disciples:
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matt.6:19-20). And Paul explains what is this treasure that we can gather in heaven: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, TO BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, TO BE GENEROUS AND READY TO SHARE” (1 Tim.6:17-18). A man who was rich in material things, who wanted to be even richer, refused to share his riches with his neighbor, but built bigger cellars, and received the following sentence from Jesus: “YOU FOOL! THIS VERY NIGHT YOUR SOUL IS REQUIRED OF YOU, AND NOW WHO WILL OWN WHAT YOU HAVE PREPARED? SO IS THE MAN WHO LAYS UP TREASURE FOR HIMSELF, AND IS NOT RICH TOWARD GOD” (Luke 12:13-21).
- A very rich man who wanted to be saved, came to Jesus and said: “‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ and Jesus said to Him, ‘You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me’” (Matt.19:16-21).
- Jesus tells us another terrible story. A rich lord, dressed in linen and purple, spending his days in abundance, forgot the poor man who lived at his door, suffering from hunger. He had a drastic end: he died, and ended up in hell. In the middle of his torment he called upon God, but it was too late. His fate in eternity had been decided by his lack of charity in this life (Luke 16:19-25).
- Jesus clearly spoke to all who wished to follow Him: “So, therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
- To another, who asked him if there were just a few who were being saved, he answered: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:23-24). With this answer, Jesus was teaching that the wide door is the Christianity of material prosperity, of the comforts of silver and gold, the big cars, the skin bronzed by the sun of the beaches, not of the working fields. There are many poor children everywhere, but young women do not have dark rings around their eyes because of the strain of caring for them, but their eyes are painted and their bodies are perfumed in preparation for the sensual delights, in comfortable pillowed beds. Luxuriousness springs up in a field where love is not sowed (Matt.7:13-15).
- Jesus said to the disciples: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it” (Matt.16:24-25). Jesus said somewhere else: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt.10:38). Jesus taught that there is not Christianity without the cross. The true Christian is rejected, just like Jesus was, and in the end, he also is crucified. Paul said that Christians should not just believe in him, but also suffer for him (Phil.1:29; 1 Tim.2:11-12; Luke 6:22-26).
- Jesus said, looking around himself: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Someone may object by saying: If a poor man is wicked, or is a thief, will he be saved on account of his poverty? The poor that will inherit the kingdom of God and eternal life are the poor who made themselves poor for the sake of the poor, having renounced their riches. But the poor who wish to be rich, are not poor, but envious, and worse than the rich.
- Jesus was not loved by this world, and his disciples, because they are like Jesus, will not be loved either (John 15:18-19). Jesus said: “You are from below; I am from above; you are of this world; I am not f this world” (John 8:23). Not to belong in this world is not to enjoy the privileges of this world, his pleasures, his philosophies, his shows, and his fantasies.
- In the end times, the true Christians will be imprisoned and tormented and killed, and everybody will hate them (Matt.24:9).
- The Teacher also said: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
Finally, to be a Christian is to sail against the wind. The favorable winds of this world are of the devil, for even Jesus Christ was a target of his attempts to seduce him with riches, power and glory (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus compared the Christian life to the man who builds his house on the rock “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And every one who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall” (Matt.7:24-27).
To edify on the sand is to build houses of brick and mortar, with towers; it is to have jewels and gold in store; it is to have stability in this world, it is to have a place of honor in this world. There has been no renunciation of anything. We read in the epistle of James: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” (James 4:4).
We can close this issue with two conclusions:
- In the apostolic times people were converted to become poor, to be persecuted, and killed, banished from cities and rejected.
- In our times, after these two thousand years, people turn to God only if he gives them professional success, abundance, ease and wealth. The first conclusion produces children for God. The other one produces children for this world, who will disappear with the world (2 Pet.3:7) — it is the false gospel.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira