I watched a documentary with my husband last night that he had recorded a while ago. The documentary revolved around Thomas Jefferson’s book, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth[i]. The documentary was about the conservation of the book, the process of this conservation, and film of how it was repaired. That part of the documentary was very interesting and filled with information that held my interest.
Throughout the documentary, it described Jefferson’s philosophy for creating this book. He purchased two English versions, two Greek versions, and one French version of the Bible. He then began cutting out portions of Scripture where Jesus interacted with others and pasted them onto sheets of paper that would later be bound into a book.
Jefferson’s goal was to have a book filled with only the teachings of Jesus. The parts he chose to eliminate were miracles. All of them. There isn’t an angel appearing to Mary. No miraculous conception of Jesus. There are no healings. No calming of storms. There are no raisings from the dead. Including Jesus’ own resurrection.
This is where Jefferson lost me. I understand his desire was to only document Jesus’ teachings, but part of Jesus’ teachings on morals brought miracles into play. My faith in what God’s Word says drives me to be a moral person. And without the miracles and definitely the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Gospel doesn’t exist.
We must not dilute God’s plan. The Gospel is God’s plan for mankind’s salvation. So what can we find in God’s Bible about the Gospel?
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NIV), “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” The gospel must be preached. We are compelled to preach it…completely. A total package.
Paul also says, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:2 – NIV) We cannot be saved by anything other than the full gospel.
Then of course, we see that Satan is working hard to keep us from understanding the gospel as a whole and shares in the perversion of the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 4:2 and Galatians 1:7 we see how Satan works.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2 – NIV)
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:7 – NIV)
Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 1:17 (NIV) that the cross of Christ loses its power if the gospel is not preached. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
And finally, 1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV) tells us that we are entrusted with the gospel and that it is God who tests our hearts. “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.”
Perhaps I am being too hard on Jefferson. After all, he created this work for his own use. His desire was to learn exactly what Jesus said about being a moral person. He never intended it to be published, and it was not published during his lifetime. He read from it daily to learn Jesus’ words to live by. So why didn’t he just read from the Bible?
Someone once asked me about a book suggestion. They were looking for something to read through the summer and thought I might know of a new author to help them reflect upon God. My suggestion? Read the Bible. God’s Word says it best. No one can make His point better than God himself.
So if you’re looking for a great book to read for the summer, pick up God’s book. Read it…daily. I can guarantee it to be the best reading material and your life and outlook will never be the same.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,