A Man-centered gospel

mancenteredgospel

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself…In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…

What I’ve just done was quote the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It is familiar, I believe, to most of us because these are the benefits we have as a result of our faith in Christ  by believing in the gospel. Some who are more diligent students of the Word would have almost immediately noticed that this was not a complete quotation but in fact parts of it have been omitted. I have deliberately done so for a reason: to demonstrate that there is only a thin line between a Man-centered gospel and a God-centered gospel. What might sound like a God-centered gospel could actually be a Man-centered gospel – one that focuses on the benefits rather than the glory of God and His grace and wisdom.

Here is the full quote of Ephesians 1:3-14. The omitted portions are now in CAPS and BOLD.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM IN LOVE, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE WHICH HE MADE TO ABOUND TOWARD US IN ALL WISDOM AND PRUDENCE, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULLNESS OF TIMES HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THING IN CHRIST, BOTH IN HAVEN AND WHICH ARE ON EARTH. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, THAT WE WHO FIRST TRUSTED IN CHRIST SHOULD BE TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY. 

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY

We like the fact that we were chosen from before the foundation of the world. We love the fact that we have been blessed. We are comforted to know that God has redeemed us and forgiven us of all our sins. We rejoice that we are entitled to an inheritance, and are given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of that inheritance. These are all found in the Man-centered gospel. The only mention of God and Christ is how much God loves us and gave His Son for us. Not wanting us to spend eternity in hell, apart from Him, He saved us so that we can have be with Him eternally. This kind of gospel is a different gospel from the one Paul preached. He had warned us about it, and those who received it are deceived. This gospel will fill the church, but will hardly fill heaven.

The truth is: the gospel is about God more than it is about us Man. God chose us not just for salvation but also for holiness. He adopted us to the praise of His glory. He redeemed and forgave our sins to demonstrate the riches of His grace. He revealed the mystery of His will to display His wisdom and prudence. We were predestined so that He would be praised. Finally, He sealed us with the Holy Spirit to the praise of His glory.

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