He says to you...
"Jim (or Susan, or Jane - whatever your name is), I have a message that will save you from the
pain of death, and bring you eternal life..." Supposing he had only ten minutes. What
would he tell you? What would he consider to be the most important gospel facts that he must communicate to you?...
In fact, we know what the apostles would say, because they were remarkably consistent in the bible record,
no matter what their audience. They would cover, from memory, "The Beginning of the Word of Christ"....
The Beginning of the Word of Christ
"The beginning of the Word of Christ" is a Literal Translation of Hebrews 6 verse 1.
Here it is in the King James:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on
unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works,
and of faith toward God,
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of
the dead, and of eternal judgment". (Hebrews 6:1-2)
In the Greek we have "ton arches tou Christou logou". In direct translation, this would be "the
beginning (because it is the most important) of the word of Christ". A list follows of what
this most important of "the word" is comprised of. It is summarised in the
left column of the table below, alongside
parallel words to be found in two famous presentations of the Gospel,
spoken before potential believers.
Table: the Important Gospel Message in our World Today
Beginning of the Word of Christ
Paul in Athens
Peter in Jerusalem
Repentance from acts that lead to death
…in the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people to repent.
Faith in God
[God]… has given proof by raising Him [Jesus] from the dead.
Jesus… accredited by miracles…this Jesus hath God raised up
Instruction about Baptisms
Implied by the fact that a small number of hearers "clave unto him [Paul]", and
therefore would have received baptism.
…Be baptised… for the remission of your sins.
Laying on of hands
For the receiving of the Holy Spirit, or some special spirit gift. (Not covered here*).
(Not covered here*).
The resurrection of the dead
"…and when they heard of the resurrection of the dead…
"…spake of the resurrection of Christ…"
"…He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness…".
Implied in "God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ"
*Notes about Laying on of Hands...
Thus we find that laying on of hands by an apostle, and/or the presence of an apostle
were necessary prerequisites to receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is no longer
available to us in the same way as it was to the early Christians (if it were available to us,
we would be emptying the hospitals!). We now have something better in terms of
coming to salvation. That something better is the completed work of Christ through the Holy Spirit, which is
The Bible. So that is why laying on of hands is no longer the first (or most important) part of the
Gospel in today's world. In other aspects however, the gospel is the same.
- The elders in the presence of Paul layed their hands upon Timothy, and (by prophecy),
he was given the gift of preaching and teaching.
"1Ti 4:14 Neglect not
the gift (of preaching and teaching - see prior verse,) that is in thee, which was
given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (note
that this was not the same as the full and visible receiving of the Holy Spirit -
which required the laying on of the hands of an Apostle - see quote that follows)".
Peter and John (who were apostles) were called to Samaria so that the converted
Samaritans could receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of their hands (Acts 8:17
and 8:18). Likewise Paul, who was an apostle layed hands upon 12 followers of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-6).
... and Wielding of Spirit Gifts
We no longer "wield" spirit gifts in the manner of Paul who could point at a person and
miraculously change them (see Acts 13:8-12, Acts 14:6-12, Acts 16:16-20), we do still have power through prayer.
See for example James 5:14-16. I acknowledge that some christian groups will claim spirit gifts
and miraculous healings, but such
groups seem often to be ruled by shallow and changeable emotions rather than by the scripturally grounded and hard
earned understanding that comes by diligent and prayerful study of the word (as it is written,
"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father
in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him". In a similar vein, it is the truth, (and
not emotions) that "makes you free" (John 8:32).
Notes about the Target Audiences.
Either way, the apostles would find that they could (with very few adaptations) preach the same gospel
in our world today as they did 2,000 years ago. People are still morally depraved
(every one of us in our own way). People are still diseased and
dieing. And Jesus Christ is still the same:
- When Paul preached to the Athenians (Acts 17:22-34), he was talking to a class of people who believed that
human reason could solve the problems of mankind (much the same as does the humanist of today's world).
- When Peter preached to the Jews in Jerusalem, (Acts 2:14-42), he was talking to a class of people who believed
in loyalty to their covenanted God (a message suitable for today's bible believers - there are still a few people
that believe that the bible is the inspired word of God).
"Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever".
I invite you to follow up on this, the "First of the Word of Christ", by finding out more about the original Gospel.
This is the same Gospel that the Apostles taught, and it is as important in our world
today as it was 2,000 years ago. Try these:-
- The online book, recommended at the top of this article
is one of my favourites for this purpose. It will do you no harm to have a look!
- Here also is a link to where my personal friends have posted articles and audio addresses:
Return to top...
© Bruce Thomson, EasyVigour Project
The Web Master recommends to you the following Book, which is
available to read online, absolutely free of charge:-
Christendom Astray: A Compilation of Lectures delivered by Robert Roberts in 1862
- Makes sense of the bible.