North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

While on a military assignment in Mississippi two other officers and I stopped at a country store for breakfast. After finishing we stood up and we’re about to leave when an older man approached us. He had something in his hand and he said, “Fellas, I appreciate your service in the U.S. Army, but there’s another army that needs you too.” I could tell this man was a kindred spirit and I knew what army he was referring to. But I asked him anyway, “Which army is that sir?” Although he was old and leaning over somewhat, he stood a little taller, then said, “God’s army needs you!” I looked at the other two officers and said, “Well sir, I do believe I agree with you and I can assure you I’m in that army too. I’m an Army Chaplain.” He said, “Wonderful! But what gospel are you teaching them?” One of the other officers chimed in and said, “Isn’t there only one?” The old man said, “Oh no, there’s several. The gospel of the world, the gospel of self, the gospel of greed, the gospel of lies, the gospel of pride, the gospel of abuse, the gospel of jealousy.” He said a few more, but then he pointed to the cross on my uniform and said, “I’m talking about that one right there; the true gospel.” I said, “Yes sir, that’s the one I teach.” He gave us all a religious tract, said “God bless” and then went out the door ahead of us. I didn’t ask him if he was prior service, but had a strong feeling he was. Are we as Christians teaching and living the true gospel of Christ?
Politicians and the culture of today devote a lot of talk about social justice. Caring for others is good, but it shouldn’t water down the power and message of the cross. The gospel is the message from God that leads to salvation. This is what we all need and is the marching orders of those who join God’s army. The attraction of the gospel is that our sins, in all their ugliness can be forgiven, and we can become enlisted in God’s victorious army. By simply turning from sin, unbelief, and placing complete faith and trust in Jesus, we can have earthly privileges and a heavenly inheritance.
You can’t talk about the true gospel and subtract your sinfulness from it. Our culture has romanticized unconditional love. The world says you can do what you want, live whatever lifestyle you chose, and no matter what the Bible says, God will love you anyway. God does love you, but a continuous and willing life of sin takes away from the true gospel in your life. The way to avoid falling prey to false gospels is to make sure that you know the gospel through and through. We need to understand what it is and understand what it’s not.
All of us are tempted with distractions. And people try to substitute the truth with imitations. If you’re not hearing the gospel in people’s prayers, in the sermons you listen to, or the songs that you sing it could be you’re being influenced by an assumed gospel. Rather than managing our sin in our own strength, we can experience “true gospel living.” Life’s troubles and conflicts can be taken to the cross, given to Christ, and we can know forgiveness more than we could ever gain on our own. We become sinners saved by grace.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “Christ died for our sins as the Holy Writings said he would. Christ was buried. He was raised from the dead three days later as the Holy Writings said he would.” Jesus, as a ransom for all of us, died a cruel death on the cross, but was resurrected because of the power of God. Everyone and anyone who will repent of their sins and place their complete faith and trust in Christ will be forgiven and have eternal life. That’s the “true gospel.”
Social justice, love for others, faithfulness to your spouse, providing care for your kids are all traits of a Christian, and they imply characteristics that Christ taught, but they’re not the gospel itself. Sin must be dealt with. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 says, “O death, where is your power? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin. Sin has power over those under the law. But God is the One who gives us power over sin through Jesus Christ our Lord. We give thanks to Him for this. So then because of all this, be strong. Do not allow anyone to change your mind. Always do your work well for the Lord. You know that whatever you do for Him will not be wasted.”
Learn the message of the true gospel, think through your current situations in life, pray to God about them, and kill the doubt that Satan would have you live with. And finally tell the Gospel to others. I may never again see the old man I met in Mississippi that morning, most likely I won’t, but he reminded me that day of what the true gospel is and what power it holds for you and me.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and is a Captain (CPT) in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corp. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Jul 20 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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