Chapter 4 Gospel: Life, death, and resurrection

Because the New Testament is God's word, there are no contradictions (nor any other errors) in it.

That being said, there are a significant number of seeming contradictions throughout the New Testament. For instance, it records how Christ died, yet goes on to proclaim He is alive and will never die again. To understand this dichotomy regarding the resurrection, which is one of the foundational elements of the Christian faith, we need the God's word resolution of this as well as other supposed contradictions. The scripture refers to Jesus as the firstborn from the dead, meaning he is the first person who will ever die that will never die a second time. Jesus established the pattern where he lived, died then lived again, never to die.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (Jn. 1:1-2)

This passage plainly refers to Jesus Christ, who St. John identified by the use of the word “logos,” (literally “word” in the English language) the deity of ancient Greek philosophers. Although I am not quite certain, I think this can also be applied to any part of God's word, including the Gospel. Thus I conclude that the Gospel should follow the same pattern as Christ himself: the Gospel lives, dies, and is resurrected.

This means that our first interpretation of a passage lives for a period of time, but then dies when we realize that our first understanding was wrong. Then, after a period of time, it should resurrect! When this occurs it means that our first understanding was correct, it just was not compatible with our overall philosophy.

I submit that the New Testament is inherently filled with things which look like contradictions when in reality, all it is doing is following this life-death-resurrection pattern, which is nothing more than seemingly improbable combinations of things. In human logic, life is not compatible with death, but the Gospel teaches about resurrection, that is, merging two seemingly incompatible things (life and death) together.

You should try to always follow this life-death-resurrection pattern when interpreting the Gospel, otherwise you too will easily fall into contradictions. However, I must confess that I have not always followed this pattern, because my knowledge of the Bible is not perfect.

One may reasonably ask the question: If a passage of the Gospel dies, and then resurrects, can it ever die again? No, it can't be: “knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him!” (Rom. 6:9) This means we don't need to overload our mind with repeated deaths and resurrections again in our understanding of the Gospel. So the pattern life-death-resurrection in our understanding of the Gospel is simple enough for us to understand.

Prosperity Gospel as an example

Some Christian denominations, primarily Charismatics and Pentecostals, believe in the Prosperity doctrine or Prosperity Gospel. Other denominations, both evangelical and liberal, such as Methodists or Baptists, reject this teaching and even say that it is a heresy.

For those who may be unaware of what this teaching is; the Prosperity Gospel is the belief that faith, when combined with following certain commandments, primarily those involving giving money to God’s work or those who need it, results in making the giver  prosperous, not only in heaven but also in this world. This prosperity takes the form or earthly wealth and influence.

Proponents of this doctrine point to Bible verses, such as the well-known “blessing of Abraham” (who was a rich man by the standards of his day). Likewise, opponents quote other Bible verses to support their case.

Provided our faith is correct, I do not doubt that with God's help we can obtain everything we request. “Or do you think that I couldn’t ask my Father, and he would even now send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt. 26:53);  “… how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Mt. 7:11); “All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Mt. 21:22); “Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.” (Mrk. 11:24); “Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (Jn. 14:13); “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.” (Jn. 15:7); “… that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (Jn. 15:16); “… Most assuredly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23)

During the first few years after my conversion to Christ I lived in extreme poverty. Things were so bad I was afraid I would die of hunger. Even later when I believed the Prosperity doctrine and was asking God to give me money, I wasn’t receiving the promised blessings. I was in conflict with everybody, because I was constantly quarreling about the Bible with anyone who would listen. The verses are plain in their promises, so if they were not evident in my life the problem is not the bible, rather my faith was wrong. (Or do you think having the right faith leads to a meaningless death by starvation?) I could be not a preacher, because if I preached in a church, all of my sermons would be “how to behave in such a way as to conflict with everyone and die of hunger.” I was living a life of following a self-contradictory doctrine. It was all about me: “For let that man not think that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:7-8)

Now I have no doubt that if a person’s faith is correct and they pray for money then God will answer.

The question is should we ask God to give us large sums of money? Should we practice the commandments of prosperity for the sake of prosperity?

It looks like that Gospel indicates that the answer is a resounding no!But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction.” (1Tim. 6:8-9)

This verse is the death of the Prosperity doctrine.

But remember, in the Gospel death is followed by a resurrection! “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jam. 1:2-4) In this passage, “various” includes the temptation of richness. So when God gives us richness we should accept it with great joy. We should lack in nothing (be rich) according to the above Bible quote. Also, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him.” (Jam. 1:12)

But let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his high position; and the rich, in that he is made humble, because like the flower in the grass, he will pass away” (Jam. 1:9-10). This is the reverse of what we thought.

Those who have riches should understand that they are tempted more than those who have little or nothing. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you.” (Jam. 5:1)

One may ask: Why does the author believe that we should come into temptations? The answer is found in James 1:2-4 quoted above. I will say more about going through temptations later in this book.

See chapter Chapter 9 for more on the Prosperity Gospel.