Sunday, January 15, 2006

How to Teach the Gospel to Christians

Gemma Vigna wrote:

> My gosh, my mild mannered, kind, Christian technican at work was ready to take my head off when I expressed the atunement truth a few years ago.
> I had just finished my first read of UB [The Urantia Book] and was all dewey eyed about the whole thing. Well, still am but matured after being bashed several times when expressing this new concept.
> It all goes back to believing that God punishes us. I said to my co-worker, what father would have his son killed for someone's sins ? Greg and I to this day still discuss God a lot. Greg is a very kind, community giving person. So no matter, he knows Brotherhood of Man and Doing God's Will. He is a star to me none the less !


It is good to find common points in belief between you and Christians you want to enlighten, and to focus on those. Nevertheless, it is also right to spread the gospel, just as both the Bible and the UB say Jesus commanded his followers to do. Even though many Christians might not know it, they do already believe the real gospel Jesus taught. Unfortunately, they just don't believe that is also a plan of salvation.

If you want to maintain peaceful and happy relations with Christians, the real gospel is what to focus on, both in your speaking and your living. And when it comes to tenuous issues like the atonement doctrine, it's best merely to ask questions with a big smile on your face, questions that will make the other person question his own sanity in embracing the atonement doctrine. You can simply state a truth about Bible scripture (something from Jesus), then ask a question about it. Wherever possible, quote Jesus' teachings right from the Bible.

My daddy, who was a faith-healer before he died of cancer, always told me it's important to deny the lie and affirm the truth. When you make a frontal attack on the lies that others believe, they "ridge" up, dig in their heels, and become determined to win, even if they are wrong by doing so.

It's important to know precisely what the lie is, and what Christian motives are. Most Christians feel some obligation to help you save your soul by accepting Jesus as your lord and savior. They believe in the saving power of the atonement doctrine - the idea that he died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins so that you can demolish your separation from God that resulted from Adam and Eve's original sin, and have relationship with God, thereby allowing you entry into heaven. They feel somewhat secure and smug because since they've walked down the aisle and told the preacher that on faith they accept Jesus as Lord and his death as a sacrifice for their sins. Now that they are secure and not heading for hell when they die, they want to save you from hell fire.

Now, when you focus their attention on the truth, and do not directly attack the lies they have embraced as the word of God, the truth is so obvious, refreshing, and appealing to the spirit that they cannot help loving it. And they will begin to see their religion in light of the truth. Thereby, the atonement doctrine lie will merely fade away from their thinking and become a relic, just like many of the Jewish laws to which they still give some lip service. Yes, the law exists, but Christians ignore it for the most part (if they even know what it is). For example, they don't follow Jewish rules for kosher food, and they feel no guilt whatsoever for this. That's how they will someday feel about the atonement doctrine.

Here are some Q&A examples. Actually, they're A&Q because you give them the answer first, from scripture, then you ask the questions.


Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Doesn't this mean that if I do the Father's will, I will go to heaven, no matter what else I believe?

Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Mark 1:11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Luke 9:34-35 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Don't these scriptures mean Jesus is the single most important authority for truth on this world, and that we should heed his words over all others? Isn't it God's will, then, that we believe all of Jesus' direct and unequivocal teachings? Who could possibly teach the gospel better than Jesus did? Did the spirit of the Father ever make such pronouncements about any other person? What does it mean that God "gave" his only begotten Son? Doesn't it mean he sent Jesus to this world to teach the gospel?

Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Doesn't this mean that someone who teaches a so-called "gospel" other than the gospel Jesus taught, that person is a "false prophet" whose teachings should be avoided to the extent they conflict with or fail to support the gospel of Jesus? Didn't Jesus also suggest that a bad fate is in store for people to deny little children the opportunity to hear his gospel and be with him? Isn't a so-called gospel that misleads children from the true gospel Jesus taught the same thing as a false gospel from a false prophet that "offends" those little ones who believe in Jesus?

Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Doesn't this mean that God's spirit indwells my mind, and he does have a relationship with me, and I with him, no matter what else I believe? I'm not really separated from God, am I?

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Isn't forgiveness necessary for entering heaven? Isn't the whole idea of the plan of salvation to receive forgiveness for sins? If you're forgiven, don't you already have a good relationship with God, and if so, how can you be separate from God? If you receive forgiveness by forgiving others, how can there be another requirement for forgiveness? If there were one, wouldn't Jesus have said so?

Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Does this mean that no matter what I believe about salvation, the divinity of Jesus, or even his death being sacrificial, that if I don't forgive others, I won't be forgiven, and therefore I won't go to heaven when I die?

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Isn't the above "Great Commission" a direct order from Jesus to teach his gospel and his commandments to all people? What were those commandments?

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Luke 4:43 And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
Matthew 16:20-23 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Since the "gospel" was being taught by Jesus very early in his public ministry, and since Jesus did not even mention his torture, death, resurrection, or divinity till years later (note Peter's astonishment), how could his death or the significance of it have been part of the gospel? And wasn't the teaching of the gospel the specific reason the Father sent Jesus to this world? So, please tell me: What was the real gospel if it contained nothing about Jesus' death, resurrection, or divinity?

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Doesn't this mean we have to believe in God the Father in order to be saved?

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:35-40 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Luke 10:25-28 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Matthew 23:11-12 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Wouldn't you say the above scriptures pretty much sum up the gospel? Isn't it important to know that believing "in" Jesus means first to accept his authority to teach, and second to believe what he says? Isn't this the gospel Jesus taught throughout his public ministry:

1) We should accept the reality that Our Heavenly Father loves us;
2) We should believe the fact that we, being his children, are each others' brothers and sisters, and we should love each other unselfishly and lovingly;
3) We should have faith in the effectiveness of the supreme desire to do the will of God - to be like him?


I believe it also important to point out the difference between gospel and gospel. The two words look the same, but, depending on context, they don't mean the same. The first four books of the New Testament are referred to as "the gospels", and Paul referred to his preachments as "the gospel." But neither of these are the same thing as the gospel teachings of Jesus. Jesus' teachings actually were and are the real gospel. The teachings of Peter or Paul might have been the gospel, and then, they might not. The stories in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts include much more than the actual teachings of Jesus, and while the stories of Jesus' life or the other events of his time might be interesting, inspiring, or uplifting, they are not the gospel he taught.

We can see from this use of the word gospel that the whole New Testament is couched as "gospel," and that fact gives rise to much confusion as to who is the real authority on the gospel. First of all, the real gospel is not necessarily a plan of salvation (how to escape death), but rather it is a plan for living life. Salvation is merely a consequence of living the gospel. Most of what Jesus taught had to do with changing people's view of reality so that they would be happier and live a more spiritually productive life. Instead of focusing on that, Christianity has focused on the highly selfish concerns of salvation, actually something of an escape from life and the physical death that is its natural consequence. That is precisely the opposite from what Jesus showed in his living. He embraced the death that was the consequence of his living, and he did not change his manner of living in order to escape it.

Most Christians are quite confused about the word gospel. They actually believe (or want to believe) that Jesus, Peter, and Paul all espoused the same gospel. But if you study closely the teachings of Jesus, you find that every single element of his comments that seems to support the atonement doctrine is not a direct, unequivocal teaching, but rather an obliquereference, an aside, or something of an afterthought tacked on to the ends of his alleged statements. Christians like to focus on these as a way of proving the truth of Paul's ideas about salvation. It is important to note that the gospels were not written till 30 or more years after Jesus' death, during which period Paul wielded considerable influence over the thinking of Peter and other teachers. As a result, the later compilers and editors of the four gospels did exert editorial influence over those records of Jesus' life and teachings.


Here are some of the scriptures Christians use to "prove" Jesus taught the atonement doctrine (even though the above A&Q has thoroughly debunked that notion).

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The above scripture seems to express that Jesus gave his life (died) as a ransom (human sacrifice), but it does not come out and say he died. Give his life means "live on this world." Ransom for many means his life here is a substitute for some more horrible fate. Most Christians do not know that Abraham practice human sacrifice, and that that pagan ritual was customary in his day. They do not know that 1500 years before Jesus arrived, Moses essentially out lawed human sacrifice with the ransom payment system whereby fathers would pay a ransom fee to the priesthood in lieu of murdering their first-born sons or giving those sons over to be servants of the priests. The ransom payment is a substitute for sacrifice. Further evidence that Jesus abhorred sacrifice is in his actions of driving the moneychangers and sacrificial creatures out of the temple, of refusing sacrificial meat at his last passover feast, and his instituting the bread and wine sacrament as a substitute for the practice of sacrifice, so as to forever wean his followers from sacrificial rituals. He also agreed with the man who said love was greater than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mark 12:33-34). So, while Christians try to use the above scriptures as proof that Jesus' death was sacrificial in nature, it actually proves precisely the opposite. Note the obvious collusion of editors who put exactly the same text into two books of the bible. The likelihood that Matthew and Mark would both remember those exact words is slim. Note also the fact that the phrase to give his life as a ransom for many appears to be an out-of-context editorial appendage.

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

These scriptures that describe the sacrament seem to imply Jesus' death was sacrificial (the shedding of innocent blood). In reality, Jesus is providing his followers with a sacrament that will forever be a substitute for the practice of sacrifice of any kind. And, he does this before he dies, rather than afterward, so it does not really refer to his actual death, but only an idea of his death. The sacrament of bread and wine is a symbolic substitute for the ritual of sacrifice, and its purpose was to dislodge the idea in the minds of his Jewish followers that sacrifice of any kind is efficacious. The bread and wine were just that: bread and wine. They were not Jesus' body or blood, and they did not (and do not) become Jesus' body or blood just because a priest blesses them. Note in the scriptures the obvious collusion of editors who put identical text into three books of the Bible. As far as we know, Luke never even met Jesus, and neither Luke nor John Mark were in the upper soom at the time of the last supper. So they had no first-hand knowledge of the bread and wine sacrament. Such evidence of editorial collusion indicates an almost conspiratorial desire to impose the atonement doctrine on readers of the bible. And, as you can see, the comment shed for many for the remission of sins looks like an out-of-context editorial addition. Even if Jesus did utter those words, they are still in the context of a sacrament that is a substitute for sacrifice, and therefore they cannot refer to Jesus' actual death as a sacrificial death.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The words gave and believeth in cause a lot of confusion for Christians. First of all they think the word gave means Jesus' death was sacrificial, but it clearly does not either say or allude to that idea. The word gave simply means Jesus was sent to this world by the Father to live and teach his gospel truths. Second, they think believeth in has some kind of mystical connotation, such as believing Jesus is a divine being, and that such a belief is necessary to salvation. It means no such thing. The word in could easily be omitted without changing the context of the sentence. It simply means that one must believe Jesus had the authority to teach, and that Jesus' teachings should be believed. After all, Jesus said in Luke 4:23 that he was sent to teach the (gospel of the) kingdom of God, and in John 7:16 that the doctrine he taught was from God.

I won't go into the many scriptures Christians like to quote from the apostle Paul's letters and from the book of Hebrews that support the Atonement doctrine. It is enough to say that if the gospel Jesus taught is true, then the atonement doctrine cannot be true, and that means Paul and Peter both were false prophets to the extent they portrayed the gospel as anything different from what Jesus taught. Since Jesus did not teach the atonement doctrine, but instead taught the gospel of love, forgiveness, service, and devotion to God's will, the atonement doctrine is merely an invention by his misguided followers.

There are some scriptures that clearly indicate how misguided they were.

In Acts 2:14-41 Peter launches his fiery Pentecost-day sermon in which he pronounces Jesus is the risen Christ. While that is true, it very clearly is not the gospel that the resurrected Jesus had, earlier that very day, ordered him to teach to all nations. Jesus' death and resurrection were, as I have pointed out in scripture, not part of his gospel message.

1 Corinthians 9:20-24 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

In the above comment, Paul admits he is a prevaricator, and that he will say anything to convince others to go along with his teachings.

Romans 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

In the above comment, Paul admits he is a moral weakling who does things he knows he should not do.

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

In the above comment, Paul admits he is a usurper of the gospel, stealing authority from John Zebedee (a real apostle who was still alive and preaching at the time), and even from Jesus (who taught the real gospel of love, service, forgiveness, and devotion to God's will).

Galatians 1:15-20 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

It's just like a lawyer to lie and claim he's not lying. It is reasonable to conjecture that Paul went to Philadelphia, Arabia (now Amman, Jordan) and met the apostle Andrew, Peter's brother and the head of Jesus' apostles, as well as the head apostle of John the Baptist, and Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. This was the town that was friendly to Jesus' teachings, and the last place Jesus taught on his teaching missions. Paul admitted he was blinded and told to go to Damascus to get further orders. Then suddenly he's off to Arabia. But he refuses to say what he learned there. What would he learn there and whom would he meet? He met the one apostle most loyal to Jesus' gospel teachings, Andrew, and Andrew's other associates, all of whom were intimately familiar with Jesus' teachings, first-hand. Why didn't Paul explain in his letter to the Galatians what he learned there? Why did he essentially lie about the experience? Because he did not agree with what Andrew and the others told him. And, what they told him was the real gospel.

Revelation 3:7-12 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

In case anyone doubts whether the church Andrew and his associates founded at Philadelphia was actually doing well, one need only review the first part of the book of Revelation. In the above quote, Jesus is allegedly saying (in John Zebedee's vision) that he favored the church at Philadelphia because it was loyal to his teachings. In the other text at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus denounces the other 6 churches for one reason or another. All of those churches were founded by Paul or Paul's followers. So, in effect, Jesus is denouncing Paul.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If you ever get a Christian to admit that Jesus' gospel and Paul's gospel were different and opposed in some respects, the Christian will then toss around for some other way to prove to you that Paul should be believed, and the above scripture is one of the favorites I've heard offered as such proof. To begin with, Paul is not exactly the most credible witness, as I have shown. But more than that, this scripture seems to imply that some parts of scripture apply to some people, and other parts to other people. Fundamentalist Christians like to claim that the application of the above scripture is to the teachings of Jesus versus those of Paul. They say that Jesus taught to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles, and that Jesus' gospel does not apply to Gentiles. In this, they are deluded. The Great Commission (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20) prove that Jesus' gospel is for the entire world, not just the Jews. And his comments about false prophets in Matthew 17:15 and 24:24 are an appropriate warning against such sophistries as "rightly dividing the word of truth."

I don't recommend that you start denouncing Paul or Peter. That will only alienate Christians because they believe the whole New Testament is the holy word of God. However, you should know that the scriptures they love to quote to you come from men who were not loyal to Jesus' Great Commission.


Well, the above should give anyone a pretty good start in exposing the lie of the atonement doctrine without directly attacking it, and of revealing the gospel. Most Christians have an agenda - to proselytize lost sinners. By showing them scripture from the very Bible they believe is the inerrant, infallible holy word of God, then asking them questions to which the answers are obvious from scripture, you switch the agenda from theirs to yours, and you get them scrambling to answer the questions without looking like an utter fool. They cannot possibly adhere to the atonement doctrine if they embrace the above direct and unequivocal teachings of Jesus.

Bob Hurt