The Spirit of the Gospel

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

Luke 9:51-56

In this scene, we see “The Sons of Thunder” are wanting to live out their title! But, as we will see, they had the wrong spirit and resulting desire. 

Our zeal for the Lord should always be in line with the clear direction of the Lord.

It seems that the Samaritans may have agreed to let Jesus stay with them for a time. They would certainly welcome Him to teach and do miracles among them as they had heard Him do throughout Galilee. However, when they saw He only wanted to stay for a night and then go to Jerusalem, they refused to let Him stay. 

The historic jealousy and contention between the Jews and the Samaritans reared its ugly head here. The Samaritans knew that the Feast of Tabernacles was coming up and that it must be observed in Jerusalem. When they saw that was Jesus’ goal, they knew that He had no respect for their temple in Samaria or their ways and festivals of worship.

When they refused to let Jesus stay, James and John’s love and zeal for the Lord kicked in, but in a perverse way. They immediately ask Jesus to let them destroy the people like Elijah did in 2nd Kings. They figured that Jesus had given them mighty powers in other ways so perhaps they had this power as well!

But they were completely wrong.

Jesus rebukes them for their desire to destroy those that disagreed with them. This may have been how the Lord worked in the Old Testament against His enemies but the New Testament, Gospel era does not seek to destroy but to save (John 3:17). 

The gifts the disciples had been given were inline with the message and spirit of the work of Jesus and the gospel. The gifts were to help, not to hurt. They were to deliver, not to condemn.

This means that any wars fought “in the name of Jesus” like the crusades were not ordained of God. Any laws that are passed by men to coerce an adherence to a church dogma are wrong. 

It also means that the gospel should not be used to scare people into compliance or threaten them with eternal damnation if they do not accept its message. For sure, the destruction of the wicked is certain. However, it is not the job of the preacher or anyone else to decide who will be condemned and who will be saved based on a limited view by another human!

The gospel is the message of peace and healing. The gospel tells what Jesus did for God’s elect. If that message rings true in the ears of the hearer, it is clear evidence of their election by God and their personal new birth. This is a a joy to celebrate!

Therefore, we can conclude that anytime “the gospel” is being proclaimed and people are taught to fear or feel threatened, the spirit of the “Sons of Thunder” is rearing its ugly head and that is not he spirit of Christ.

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