DID JESUS AND PAUL PREACH THE SAME GOSPEL? (PART ONE)

According to Paul’s gospel, salvation is the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Was Paul’s doctrine of faith in Jesus consistent with, or foreign to the gospel preached by Jesus and the original apostles whom Jesus commissioned with the gospel? Did Jesus, and the original apostles preach salvation through faith?

To begin, consider that Jesus emphasized faith before Paul ever did. Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom, telling people to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). And it was Jesus who commissioned his disciples to go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Jesus declared “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (v.16).

In his gospel, the apostle John highlights the importance of faith in Jesus in relation to salvation. John begins his gospel by declaring that Jesus was the Word of God made flesh, and says the following in his prelude:

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:10-13

Belief in Jesus, the Son of God, is the central message of John’s gospel who wrote the things he did that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. ~ John 20:31

John makes this statement in view of Thomas’s encounter with Jesus after his resurrection. Thomas, who was one of Jesus’s disciples did not believe the reports of Jesus’s resurrection by those who had claimed he was alive.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. ~ John 20:24-25

John tells us that eight days later Jesus appeared to the disciples and Thomas was there with them. When Thomas saw Jesus, Jesus said to him, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing (v. 27). 

Next we are told the following:

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:28-31

As I close this first post on this topic, I want you to notice that John says “by believing you might have life through his name.” Faith in Jesus is not merely a get out out hell free card, or a free pass into Heaven. Instead, it is life from the dead. Genuine faith in Jesus changes us, and that change begins because God’s Spirit fills our hearts through our faith in Jesus.

Blessings…

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