Our title may lead one to think that we are about to embark on the theme of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, to use its full name. But this is not the case. However, we shall need to refer to the FGBMFI along the way. What is the FULL GOSPEL? And why has this expression arisen in the last 30 years or so? And does it suggest that beforehand people were NOT preaching a FULL gospel?
A little analysis will not be out of place, and may be accomplished in a brief compass. Along with many others the founder of the FGBMFI believed that the FULL gospel of Jesus Christ could not be expressed without the knowledge of the Baptism of the Spirit. This was the great “new truth” being canvassed throughout the Western World in the early Sixties. It was not “New” according to the Pentecostal Churches which had preached it from the Twenties, but with the rising Charismatic Tide, this truth was being preached everywhere, and had quite a devastating effect on many churches, splitting congregations down the middle. The splits were not of themselves proof that the enemy had got in, but many believed that to be so, and continue to hold that view to the present day.
As time passed it was gradually learned that the experience called “the Baptism of the Spirit” was in fact true for ALL God’s children the moment of their New Birth, and that the Special Gifts were additional. Also it was learned that Paul recommended us to be “filled with the spirit” on a daily basis, because the verb is in the present continuous tense. And most of us who have lived in this “New Experience” for some years will testify to the fact that some days we are ”flat” and almost lifeless, whilst at other times we KNOW and can FEEL the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon us. Few if any of us have been able to live up to the expectations expressed by Paul in Ephesians. But does this “Additional Experience” grant us the license to say that we now have THE FULL GOSPEL? What is the Gospel? What does the word mean?
The Greek word EUANGELION, from which we get our word Evangelise, means “The Good News”. Undoubtedly, to become aware that Christ’s death and resurrection brings us Forgiveness, Peace with God, and New Life in Christ is GOOD NEWS! And without doubt the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives after believing is also GOOD NEWS! A simple analogy is that of a Bank Account. Before we know Christ, we are like a man who has an overdraft that he cannot pay off. The overdraft represents his sin, that he is wholly unable to erase by his own power. But when he learns of the sacrifice at Calvary, he becomes aware that his overdraft has been paid off on his behalf. That is GOOD NEWS! But still his account has no spending power.
Then he learns that God provides him with the power for everyday living, by the filling of the spirit, equivalent to financial gifts being paid into his account on a recurrent basis. That again is GOOD NEWS! All is of God’s bounty. Some churches only preach the first of these Evangels, others preach both. Each believe they have the FULL GOSPEL. But is it not true that the New Testament contains a very rich fare of other items of GOOD NEWS? So often the word Gospel is only allowed to mean the act of salvation, being born again, being converted, whatever language is adopted for this important event in a person’s life. But remove the word Gospel, and replace it with Good News, and immediately it takes on a far wider spectrum of meaning. Whereas Television, Radio, and Newspapers provide mankind with a daily fare of Bad News, the New Testament contains a daily fare of Good News, with more and more to appreciate as the Spirit of God unveils “all the riches of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.”
So what is the FULL GOSPEL? And the answer is that none of us are yet able to envisage a proper answer to that question. Paul said to the Corinthians (lst,2:9) “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But even these great mysteries are not to remain secret for ever. Paul goes on to say, “But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” As time passes therefore, we as believers should find the Holy Spirit ministering to us these “unsearchable riches”, so that we may be built up and established in the ways and the heart of God. But a word of caution needs to be spoken here. If we are always looking for “Good News” that concerns only ourselves, we shall very soon dry up.
The really GOOD NEWS concerns the magnitude of God’s love. If we enjoy eternal life and praise God that we are saved, that is good, but only in so far as it goes. Are we able to see the extent of God’s love to His fallen creation? Are we boxed in by faulty theology, the teaching of numerous churches and denominations that preserve a sanctimonious and Pharisaic approach, believing that God is ONLY interested in the “saved”, and has an eternal horror prepared for everyone else? Is that Good News? Jesus said that when He is lifted up, He will draw all men to himself. God declared that He will “create all things new”.
Paul said that the love of God is so great that it is impossible for man to comprehend it. Are we then to suppose that when God has completed His Church, His character changes? The love dries up? Men can only look forward to a fiendish monster tormenting the rest of His creation for ever and ever? What kind of Good News is that? We are aware that most Christians accept the teaching of everlasting hell-fire, simply because their Bibles seem to declare it and tradition enforces it. But “acceptance” is not good enough. Our understanding must be such that we are able not just to ACCEPT something but rather that we should BELIEVE it. Belief requires proper understanding, not just a vague acceptance. Anyone who can maintain a belief in an everlasting hellfire based on popular theology surely cannot have had a vision of the magnitude of God’s love. The FULL GOSPEL means that Jesus died for EVERY LIVING CREATURE, ANGELS AND MEN, and that in due course God will lead them to Life.
Man may say that he would prefer to be destroyed than believe in God. But is God unable to counter such a boastful antagonism? Let us hear what George MacDonald had to say on this point. “If men say ‘We want no such deliverance,’ then the Maker of them must either destroy them as vile things for whose existence He is to Himself accountable, or compel them to change. If they say, ‘We choose to be destroyed,’ He, as their Maker, has a choice in the matter too. Is He not free to say, ‘You cannot even slay yourselves, and I choose that you shall know the death of living without me; you shall learn to choose to live indeed. I choose that you shall know what I KNOW to be good’? – – Is it a wrong to compel His creature to soar aloft into the aether of its origin, and find its deepest, its only true self?” (Quoted from “Paul Faber” 1890.. page 253)
Furthermore, Paul writing to the Corinthians (2nd.10:2-6) spoke of Christian warfare. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Some of us may have had experiences over the years that prove the point of Paul’s words, but whether we have or not, few would argue against the truth of what he said.
But think again! We accept Paul’s words as true! We truly believe that a Christian is ABLE to overcome the enemy in this manner! But at the same time we deny that God is able to Himself! In the end we espouse a limp and ineffectual “Gospel” that is only able to “save” about 10% of mankind. Beyond that we as men have been unable to bring life to the multitudes, and they have died, as do all. What happens then? “It is given unto man once to die, after that the judgment.” Of what does this “judgment” consist? Do we confuse “judgment” with “condemnation”? Do human judges always condemn those who appear in court? Judgment from God is always fair, kindly, positive, refining, and above all leading to repentance and life.Where man has failed in his evangelistic work, GOD WILL NOT FAIL.
Likewise, in the sermon on the mount, Jesus enjoined us to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.” And for why? “That you may be the children of your heavenly Father.” “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If we to a merely partial degree are able to overcome our natural tendencies and perform the Master’s pleasure in this respect, HOW MUCH MORE is God able to perform such strong love towards all those who hate Him. “I am God; I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal.3:6) “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever.”
We commend these things to our readers for thought and prayer. We contend that the FULL GOSPEL is the Gospel (or Good News) that on the cross Jesus ERADICATED THE WHOLE STAIN OF SIN FROM THE UNIVERSE. “We do not yet SEE all things under His feet” but we are sure that one day they will be. “He must reign UNTIL all things are under His feet.” And then it will be said that “every knee has bowed, and every tongue confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.” Anything less than this is detracting from the glory of God, and is an insult to the magnitude and magnificence of our wonderful Saviour’ s redeeming work at Calvary.
As a record of actual experience, we should like to refer to a particular incident, which happened to our (third) daughter Ruth, who was at a local Grammar School until fairly recently. She was studying Art as one of her subjects, and during the Art lessons, students would often discuss topics of interest as they worked. The teacher would listen and sometimes say a word as well. The subject of Christian faith arose, and remarks were directed towards Ruth who was known to them as a believer. She held her own for a while, but made little headway, there always being some argument against everything she said. But eventually she said, “One day ALL of you will believe in Jesus, for that is His will.” It produced complete silence. It was the most thought-provoking statement in the whole discussion, and made its impact. Only time will tell just how many seeds were sown at that instant.
As we began to pray together as a family last Sunday, it seemed as though the Lord was instructing us to preach the FULL GOSPEL of the glory of Jesus Christ wherever we go, and that the power of the Holy Spirit would attend us. Time will tell as to the results, but we felt constrained to share these things with our readers. Some of those who have read previous articles from us on the-subject of “Universal Reconciliation” have written back to say they cannot accept what we have said, but “wished they could.” In saying this they have shown a heart that is right, but a mind that is glued to traditional theology. But if the heart is right, there is one thing that is very clear! They believe their own sense of fairness is greater than God’s,otherwise they could never have uttered such a thing. The human heart SHOULD be revolted by the “popular “ conception of everlasting hellfire, because it isn’t TRUTH, but a terrible indictment on God’s righteousness and justice, and an insult to the Saviour’ s work at Calvary.
We can understand the ACCEPTANCE of hellfire by all those who haven’t as yet thought it through, and realised the degree of insult latent within it. But what causes us grief is the occasional believer who, having been instructed otherwise, and shown all the many and cogent reasons for believing in God’s greater work, STILL wants to continue believing in endless torture for all the unsaved. When in Old Testament times a certain religious rite demanded that people burned their little children as sacrifices to the god Moloch, God’s comment was “which things never entered my mind.” If that is how God spoke of the heathen rites of those days, how can Christian believers, with all the additional knowledge of God in Jesus Christ be party to the even more terrifying and heart-rending fiction of an endless fiery torment for all who have not accepted Christ in this life, even those who have never even HEARD of the name of Jesus?
There are some who appreciate this fact, and have invented an alternative theology, commonly known as “conditional immortality.” It at least shows their abhorrence of the “endless torment” theory. But it doesn’t go far enough. God is able to subdue all things to Himself, and will do so eventually, WITHOUT abrogating the precious gift of freewill that He has given to mankind and the angels. Human persuasion has resulted in many conversions over the centuries. Divine persuasion is of a far greater power, and will accomplish all that man has been unable to do by “the foolishness of preaching.” There will come a time when this truth will be accepted, as we enter the Kingdom of God, because that is what the Kingdom is for. God’s elect will not be sitting on cloud nine, enjoying heavenly bliss. They will be God’s anointed ministers to bring the great message of redemption to “the residue of men”. From now on we shall enter the mission field with the FULL GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. Anything less than this we now class as “an enfeebled gospel.” May Jesus our Lord receive the full glory due to Him for His great sacrifice on behalf of all at Calvary.