Gospel Tract #38
“Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn out her seven pillars.”
Solomon in Prov 9:1
The prophet Isaiah declared that the way of Christ would be so simple that even fools could understand it (Isa. 35:8). There is no reason, then, for anyone to be ignorant of the truth. The knowledge of God is freely given to all who diligently seek it. So many conflicting doctrines are proclaimed in the name of Jesus that some have thrown their hands up in pretended frustration, as though they have labored to find the truth of God, yet cannot. They make little or no sincere effort to seek God and then excuse themselves, pointing to the confusion among people who believe in Jesus.
But God has commanded no one to search for Him by digging through the doctrines of men. Every person who searches in sincerity for God and His truth finds Him - every one! If you desire to know the truth, you can. In Jesus, the way has been made for everyone who hungers to know God. If you do not know the truth, it can only be because you have not yet striven enough to find it. You have the Bible; you have time to pray; and you have an invitation from God. That is all you need. The many confusing, contradictory doctrines invented by men have nothing at all to do with your search for truth. Don’t look to them; look to Jesus.
There are seven foundations of the gospel, as listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6. We call them the “seven pillars” of the New Testament: one Body, one Spirit, one Baptism, one Hope, one Lord, one God, one Faith. These seven pillars are the essentials of the gospel of Christ. All of them are easily understood. All of them are precious.
The apostle Paul was honored to be the one who laid out this foundation for the saints to build upon. As he himself wrote, “According to the grace of God which has been given to me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, but another builds upon it. But let each one take care as to how he builds on it.” (1Cor. 3:10). Anyone interested in eternal life, then, will carefully consider these seven pillars, that he may build upon them rightly, beginning with the
To the congregation at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “There is one body”. Whether the members of this body are scattered among various religious sects, as taught by some, or all belong to one religious organization, as claimed by others, there is but one group that belongs to God. To determine who is in this group, we need only determine how one enters into it, or how one is “born again”, as Jesus said. Only if we know how one is born again can we ever know who is in the “one body”. The answer will be revealed as we continue.
From Genesis to Revelation the holy Spirit is given various descriptive titles, such as, the “Spirit of God ” (Gen. 1:2), “Spirit of the Lord ” (Isa. 11:2), “Spirit of grace” (Zech. 12:10), “holy Spirit” (Lk. 11:13), “Spirit of truth or Comforter” (Jn. 14:17; 15:26), “eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14), “Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15), “Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2), “holy Ghost” (Mt. 1:18), and others too numerous to mention here. All these titles refer to the same Spirit.
To show this another way, consider what in some Scriptures comes by “the holy Ghost” but in others, by “the Spirit”: Sanctification is by the holy Ghost (Rom. 15:16), or by the Spirit (2Thess. 2:13). Spiritual gifts are given by the holy Ghost (Heb. 2:4) or by the Spirit (1Cor. 12:4). Believers are taught by the holy Ghost (1Cor. 2:13) or by the Spirit (Jn. 16:13). Believers pray in the holy Ghost (Jude 20) or in the Spirit (1Cor. 14:15). The holy Ghost (1Cor.6:19) or the Spirit (Rom. 8:9) dwells within believers.
Using Joel’s voice, God promised that He would “pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (2:28). But when this prophecy was fulfilled, the promised Spirit is called the holy Ghost (Acts 2:4). To confirm this, Peter says in verse 16, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Other titles are used interchangeably as well. Samuel told Saul (1Sam. 10:6) that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him, but when it happened (v. 10), we read that “the Spirit of God came upon him.” For another example, we find in Acts 5:3 that Ananias and his wife “lied to the holy Ghost,” but in verse 9, we are told that it was the “Spirit of the Lord” against which they had sinned. Time and space forbid the presentation of more examples, but the point is amply made: There is only one holy Spirit, called by many different names.
No other baptism but that of Christ will save. This is an extremely important matter, because both Jesus and Peter taught that no one could be saved without being baptized (Mk. 16:16; 1Pet. 3:21). The absolute necessity of baptism is not questioned by anyone who knows the Scriptures. The only real issue is, which baptism is it that we must receive? Is it a form of baptism in water, or is it the baptism of the holy Spirit that Jesus purchased with his blood? Peter answered this question when he said that the baptism which saves is not the one that washes dirt from the body but the one that came “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 3:21). My friend, no one is clean in God’s sight who has not received this baptism, purchased at the fearful price of Jesus’ life. No one will ever be saved without the holy Spirit baptism. It is astonishing how many people claim to be already saved without it!
Understanding this pillar of the faith may be the key to understanding the faith as a whole, for we are told by Paul that it is by the one baptism of the one Spirit that we become members of the one body (1Cor. 12:13). Many have received the baptism of the holy Ghost, but they are scattered throughout the sects of Christianity which they have joined. Christianity itself cannot be the [one] body of Christ because a person may belong to Christianity without the baptism of Christ, which he gives to all who obey him (Acts 5:32). For a child of God to be a part of Christianity, then, is to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2Cor. 6:14). It saddens the Father for His children to be joined together with those who do not obey His Son. This is why the Spirit is calling those who belong to God to renounce the religion called Christianity and come out to be united in the one faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one hope of the body of Christ is “the hope of salvation” (1Thess. 5:8). Unbelievers are “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Other ways of stating this hope is the “hope of eternal life” (Tit. 1:2), or “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Eternal life is promised to God’s people, “unto which promise”, said Paul, “our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come” (Acts 26:7).
In the early 20th century, some Christians began to claim to receive salvation at the moment of conversion. They were persuaded to believe that they “got saved” when they came to Christ, and in spite of the fact that it has no biblical basis, this error became widely accepted. “Salvation” is not “conversion”. Salvation is the one hope of believers, a hope which the world does not have. Believers look for Jesus to return and to save them from the wrath of God. That is the sure hope of the saints. If Jesus does not save us, we who believe are hopelessly doomed along with everyone else. As Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1Cor. 15:19).
No, my believing friend, you are not saved yet, though we have the hope of it if Christ by his Spirit dwells in your heart, then you have the hope of eternal glory (Col. 1:27), a hope which the world does not have. And we should, as Peter exhorted us, “be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1Pet. 3:15). We humbly confess Christ everywhere we go, in both deed and word, for “confession is made unto salvation.” Pointing us to our hope, the Master said, “Many false prophets shall rise, and will deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold. But he who endures unto the end, the same will be saved” (Mt. 24:11-13).
Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son, is “both Lord and Christ.” He is the head of the body, the firstborn of the dead, and is exalted by his Father “above the heavens.” All power in heaven and in earth is given to him, and in everything he has the preeminence. Jesus is the “one Lord” (Acts 10:36).
The one God, “who is above all,” is the “Father” whom Jesus loved, feared, and obeyed (Heb. 5:7; Jn. 6:38; 15:10). He created His Son, and gave him power to create everything else. The Father is a person, and the Son is another person. The Spirit is not a person; it is the eternal life that God gave to His Son, along with power to give life to whomever he chooses (Jn. 5:26-27). In spirit, the Father and Son are one, but each has His own body. At the end of this age, Jesus will present to the Father those who have been faithful to him, and then he himself will kneel down at the Father’s feet (1Cor. 15:24-28).
Throughout the New Testament, we are commanded to “earnestly contend for the [one] faith which was once delivered to the saints.” Moreover, Paul tells us that Christ “gave some, apostles . . . and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the [one] body of Christ, until we all come into the unity of the [one] faith” (Eph. 4:11-13).
To be in the [one] faith means to understand and to live according to these seven pillars. It means to trust in one Lord, Jesus, and to acknowledge no other Lord but him. It means to enter into the one body of Christ and be content with that body. It means to be led by the one holy Spirit, in serving the one God the Father, to receive and endorse one baptism, the baptism of the holy Ghost that Jesus gives, and to place all hope in Jesus to come again to save us.
According to Peter, this one faith is “precious”, while James says that it is “most holy”. Both the world and the Devil are overcome by those who remain “steadfast in the faith” (1Pet. 5:9; 1Jn. 5:4). Paul, as an aged man, lamented that some to whom he had preached had “erred from the faith” and “turned aside to vain jangling”; nevertheless, he himself stood fast, writing to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2Tim. 4:7). This one faith is the gospel which will be preached throughout the world before the return of the Lord Jesus (Mt. 24:14). Christians have carried their many doctrines around the world, but the true gospel, quenched since the days of the apostles, has yet to be preached on a scale such as Jesus suggested.
What we believe about God will have eternal consequences, and so, sound doctrine is essential to our spiritual well-being. Paul exhorted us to examine ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith (2Cor. 13:5), and those who are wise constantly do so; they ask themselves the hard questions. “Why do I believe what I believe about God?” “How do I know that what I believe is the truth?”
May I ask you now to “examine yourselves, whether you be in the [one] faith”? If you have received the one baptism of the holy Ghost and understand that “by one Spirit we all are baptized into one body”, and if you confess that this gift was purchased by the blood of our [one] Lord Jesus Christ, whom the [one] God the Father sent to be the propitiation for our sins, then you possess the [one] hope of eternal life and are in the [one] faith. It is this one faith, holy and simple, that the saints who meet at Pastor John’s house labor to restore to the children of God everywhere. If this is your faith, let us know, and then join with us in this labor to publish the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.