By Ron Schoolcraft
“That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee” (Proverbs 22:21).
We must first know the certainty of the Words of truth ourselves, before we can effectively “give an answer to every man that asketh …” (I Peter 3:15). I designed this Bible study to show the certainty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in three parts: 1. The Gospel Beginning; 2. The Gospel Commissioned; and 3. The Gospel Preached. Following each Scripture reference, a brief summary of the passage is presented, followed by my comments in parentheses. The student should turn to each of these passages and study the context with an open heart as well as an open Bible.
- The Gospel Beginning.
Luke 1:1-4 — Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us … It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee … That thou mightest know the certainty of those things … (Luke declared that he, having had perfect understanding of the things most surely believed, would write that we might know their certainty. Luke also wrote the Book of Acts, so we will hear more from him in Part 2 and Part 3.)
Mark 1:1-8 —The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. John baptized, preached repentance for remission of sins. I have baptized with water but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Here is a marvelous thing – God revealed to John the Baptist something about the Gospel: that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost! See also parallel passages in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16.)
John 3:1-7, 16, 21 — Except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish. He that doeth truth cometh to the light. (Many isolate John 3:16, saying all you have to do is believe, but believing must include a birth of water and spirit or we have a contradiction. Is believing alone sufficient? James 2:19 says the devils believe and tremble. Are they saved? In this next passage, just four chapters later, Jesus will show what it means to believe.)
John 7:37-39 — He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given… (Emphasis added. They that believe should receive the Spirit, here identified as the Holy Ghost. Believing is more than mere mental assent that Jesus existed.)
- The Gospel Commissioned
Mark 16:15-18 — Preach the gospel. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Not, he that believes and is saved should be baptized.) These signs shall follow; in my name they shall cast out devils, speak with new tongues, lay hands on sick, and they shall recover.
Luke 24:44-49 — Then opened he their understanding of the scriptures … that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name … tarry in Jerusalem until endued with power from on high. (We will have to go to Acts to see if the apostles and disciples obeyed these commissions.)
Matthew 28:19 —Teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (What is the name? Note that “name” is singular, not plural. When we go to Part 3, The Gospel Preached, we will see how the apostles and disciples obeyed this Scripture, and we will clearly know what the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is. Also, please see my articles elsewhere in this book, “A Fresh Look at Matthew 28:19,” and “The Baptism of Peter – From Heaven or of Men?”)
Acts 1:1-3 — Jesus, through the Holy Ghost, gave commandments to the apostles … He showed himself alive by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, speaking of things pertaining to kingdom of God. (“Infallible proofs” in the Greek means “many criteria of certainty” I would love to spend forty days with Jesus. I haven’t and you haven’t, but we have the verbatim words in the Book of Acts of them that did. Don’t you think they would know what He wanted them to preach?)
Acts 1:4-5, 8 — Wait for the promise … John baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence … ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses … (This was the last commission given just before Jesus ascended in verse 9. Jesus reminded them of John’s message, and told them they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost in a few days.)
Acts 1:9-15 — Jesus ascended to heaven … angels promised He will return. They returned to Jerusalem to an upper room to pray; about 120 disciples including Mary, mother of Jesus. (Some of the elements established in these commissions we just studied: believing, repentance, baptizing, signs, healing, speaking with new tongues, power to witness after baptized with the Holy Ghost.)
- The Gospel Preached.
Acts 2:1-4 — They were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (This was the baptism of the Holy Ghost that was promised by Jesus a few days earlier in Acts 1:5.)
Acts 2:5-11 — Noised abroad … how hear we every man in own tongue wherein we were born? (More than just the twelve apostles received the Holy Ghost because they were speaking in seventeen different languages. God made sure someone in the 120 was speaking in each language represented.)
Acts 2:12-17 — These men are drunk. But Peter, standing with the eleven, began to preach … This is that spoken by the prophet Joel … in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh … (Peter quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel. Note: God’s Spirit was to be poured out on “all flesh,” not just the twelve apostles!)
Acts 2:36-42 — What shall we do? (What will Peter, the man with the keys of the kingdom, preach? This is what we’ve been waiting to hear.) Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The promise is to everyone God shall call. Save yourselves … they that gladly received his word were baptized … they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. (Now compare this with John 3:5, “born of water and of the Spirit,” and Luke 24:47, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.” Peter got it exactly right. This was the verbatim preaching of the apostle Peter telling us what to do to be saved. Is this an isolated case, or is there more?)
Acts 4:10-12 — By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth doth this man stand before you whole … Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (How does the name of Jesus save us? See Acts 2:38.)
Acts 10:1-6 — Cornelius was a devout man … feared God … gave much alms, prayed to God always. (He was a Gentile but probably more devout than many modern day Christians.) He saw in a vision to send for Peter to tell him what he ought to do. (…to be saved, according to Acts 11:13-14. He was a good man but goodness alone will not save.)
Acts 10:43-48 — While Peter spoke, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word … the Jews were astonished that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost, for they heard them speak with tongues. Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized? (Wait, Peter, they have the Spirit, why worry about water baptism? Answer: John 3:5: “water and the Spirit.”) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Emphasis added.)
Acts 19:2-6 — Paul preached to disciples of John the Baptist … Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? John just preached repentance and that they should believe on him which should come after … on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus … the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues … (Paul re-baptized the disciples of John in the name of the Lord Jesus and they received the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues, just as in Act 2 and Acts 10. Are we picking up a pattern on the certainty of the gospel? In each case it was in obedience to John 3:5 and the commissions, by water baptism in the Name of Jesus and receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with tongues!)
Acts 8:5-13 — Philip preached Christ at Samaria … saw miracles, demons cast out, healings, signs and there was great joy … they believed and were baptized, even Simon the sorcerer. (Were they saved? Nothing said yet about the Holy Ghost. Some say it is automatic when you believe or are baptized, or have joy. We shall see.)
Acts 8:14-16 — The apostles sent Peter and John to pray for them to receive the Holy Ghost: For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (So they didn’t receive the Holy Ghost automatically when they were baptized, or when they had great joy. But how did they know they had not received the Holy Ghost yet? What evidence was lacking in their experience? They had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, so why worry about the Spirit anyway? Answer: John 3:5: “water and the Spirit.”)
Acts 8:17-21 — They laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. When Simon saw that, he offered them money for this power … (What did Simon see that would make him offer money? Remember, he was a sorcerer who had supernatural powers from Satan. He didn’t offer money for the power to work miracles and signs in verse 13, but in verse 17, when they received the Holy Ghost, he evidently saw an outstanding, miraculous experience that he had never seen before. In accordance with the pattern in Acts 2, 10, and 19, it was undoubtedly that they spoke with other tongues.)
It is a certainty that the gospel the apostles preached was: repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with tongues. The apostles obeyed Matthew 28:19 by baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ. They understood that the “name” (singular) is Jesus. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not names, but titles, offices, or manifestations of the one true God. (I am a father, son, and husband, but I have only one name and I’m not three persons.) Either the “name” in Matthew 28:19 is Jesus (Acts 4:12) or the scriptures contradict, the apostles were wrong and we would have no confidence in anything they wrote. For further study see John 14:7-11, John 14:16-18, 26; Colossians 2:9; and Isaiah 9:6. Also, please read “A Fresh Look at Matthew 28:19” and “The Baptism of Peter – From Heaven or of Men?”
- Baptism is Essential: John 3:5; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5; I Peter 3:20-21
- Holy Ghost is Essential: John 3:5; John 7:38-39; Acts 2:14, 38-39; Acts 8:17-18; Acts 10:45-46; Acts 19:6; Romans 8:9
- Faith to Receive: John 7:38-39; Luke 11:9-13; Hebrews 11:6; Mark 11:24; Acts 2:4, 16-17, 38-39; Romans 10:17
- The Word Will Prosper: Isaiah 55:9-12
A Lot of Love
- Lookin’ through the window of the nursery;
Tremblin’ with excitement, our whole family;
Waitin’ for our first glimpse of that baby — girl or boy?
A flurry of green, the nurse is rushin’ in;
On everybody’s face, Oh! A super grin;
As we look at her these words express our joy…
There’s a lot of love in this place, right now;
There’s a lot of love on each face, right now;
It’s the love of Jesus Christ our Lord;
We’re praisin’ God in one accord;
There’s a lot of love in this place, right now.
- Lookin’ through the window of the Father’s love;
Realizin’ Christ came from above
To a little manger filled with hay, that great day.
We see all the shepherds gathered ’round;
Whispers of love, peace and joy abound;
If we listen closely we can hear them say…
- Lookin’ through the window of the Upper Room;
The disciples kickin’ in the Spirit’s womb;
Waitin’ for the birthday of the church, from on high.
The Spirit came rushin’ like a mighty wind;
Cloven tongues of fire sat on each of them;
Then they spoke with other tongues and prophesied.
© 1991 Ron Schoolcraft
This article “The Certainty of the Gospel” was excerpted from: Gleanings by Ron Schoolcraft, 2012. It may be used for study & research purposes only.