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There are very important and urgent questions that need to be answered in life. Some things that cannot wait for tomorrow. What these questions are vary from person to person depending on one’s outlook in life.
Many Filipinos think that the most important issue that must be faced today is related to Politics, or the economy. Questions like how can we protect our territory in the West Philippine Sea from from China’s aggression? How do we prevent the spread of the African Swine Flu? How can we improve the implementation of the K-12 program? How do we address the damages brought about by the recent quakes in Mindanao and prepare our nation for the Big One? How do we solve the EDSA Carmageddon? How do we reconcile Marjorie, Gretchen and Claudine? etc.
Well we cannot deny that some of those I mentioned are really important issues, but they are not as important and as urgent as the issue related to man’s eternal destiny.
The most urgent question that needs to be answered are not those issues but this: WHAT MUST A PERSON DO IN ORDER TO BE SAVED?
A person who is not saved means that all his sins are not yet forgiven. It means he does not have eternal life. It means that he is not yet rightly related to God. It means that he is still under God’s condemnation and that he is an enemy of God. It means he is on his way to hell.
And what many people don’t consider is the fact that life is so uncertain and any time, anything could happen to an individual that could take his life. It could be a strong earthquake, a car accident, a mosquito bite, or maybe eating too much longaniza. And when God takes the life of a person, there is no second chance anymore. So the most urgent question that needs to be answered is what must a person do in order to be saved.
Now an equally important and urgent question to answer is, ”WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?” Why is this question equal in importance and urgency as the question, ”What must a person do in order to be saved?”
There are at least three reasons why it is important and urgent to know what the gospel is:
1. First, because the gospel is the greatest need of the world.
It is clear from Scriptures that nobody can be saved apart from the gospel.
- Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
- 2Th 1:9-10 says that when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven and this is going to be in His second coming, He will inflict ”vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
2. Secondly, because it is the greatest need of the church.
Scriptures do not only show that the gospel is the greatest need of the world but it is also the greatest need of the church. You cannot have a healthy church without a proper understanding and application of the gospel.
In some churches, when people pray the sinner’s prayer led by an evangelist, they are automatically regarded as converted. With this presumption, many pastors are wondering why do these same converts go back to their past lifestyles in a very short time. Why do they easily backslide? What could be the problem? Several solutions are sought to arrest this so-called backsliding. Perhaps they need more follow-up or counseling or a bondage breaking program or deliverance. Maybe they need a breakthrough event or the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
May I suggest a different approach to the problem. Is it possible that the reason for these so-called “carnal Christians” or “backsliders” in our churches is because they have never been saved at all? And the reason they are not saved is because they have not really heard the one true gospel.
Now granting these church people are truly saved because they have heard the true gospel, we need to understand that their involvement with the gospel does not end when they are converted. Even after they were saved, they still need the gospel.
- For example, in Galatians 2:14, Paul showed that believers still had to align their conduct with the gospel. Paul said, “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
- In 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with a wide range of problems and questions facing the Corinthian church. Paul’s advice is based on principles rooted in the gospel. Whether Paul dealt with the problem of divisions in chs 1-4 or with issues of sexual immorality in 5:1-13 or problems pertaining to marriage (1Co 7:23-24) or of eating food offered to idols, his solution always had something to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Those are just a few examples to show that the gospel is the greatest need of the church.
3. Thirdly, we also need to know the gospel because a most terrifying threat is declared on those who bring a different gospel (Gal 1:8-9).
Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
I am quite certain that many in Christian churches don’t take Galatians 1:8-9 as a great threat. What I mean is this. Generally, church people think that the church is safe. Many Christians who read this passage are quick to assume that this warning is only referring to the cults outside of the church and not to those inside the evangelical communities. It must be referring to the cults because it is obvious they teach heresy.
But before we come to that conclusion, consider this fact. When we look at several NT epistles, we discover that the false teaching and false teachers were inside the church.
- 1 Timothy 1:3 ”As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.”
- This is a fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-30, ”I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
- In the church at Crete Paul writes to his letter to Titus these words in 1:10-11, “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”
Read Colossians and 1 John and you will see that the false teachers were inside the church. And this is also what we see in Galatians. Look at the context why Paul wrote this warning in Gal 1:8-9:
The church in Galatia is facing a crisis. The church came into being as a result of God’s Spirit as He preached the gospel (3:1–5; 4:13–15). But within the short period of time since Paul left (1:6), the church has been infiltrated by Judaizing false teachers who were undermining the central NT doctrine of justification by faith. Although Paul did not seem to know the false teachers by name, but he knew they have infiltrated the church. Look at these verses more closely:
- Gal 1:7 — there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
- Gal 1:9 — As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
- Gal 3:1 — O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?
- Gal 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
- Gal 5:10 … the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.
- Gal 5:12 — I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
These false teachers required the Galatians to be circumcised (5:3)and to observe days and months and seasons and years (4:10). Ultimately their goal was for them to rely on the law to be justified (5:4)
And Paul was astonished by the Galatians’ openness to that damning heresy. He calls them foolish (3:1), bewitched (3:1), under a curse (3:10), turning again to weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, and fallen from grace (5:4)
MacArthur Study Bible: Paul wrote this letter to defend justification by faith and warn these churches of the dire consequences of abandoning the gospel and particularly the essential doctrine of justification by faith.
This background of Galatians shows that it is possible for the gospel to be distorted inside the church. If one compared the gospel found in the New Testament and the gospel being presented today, the apostles would find much of what Christians proclaim or hold on to as being a different gospel. People may be using the same language, they still retain words like sin, salvation, but their definitions are different. And so often times, it become so difficult to detect the true gospel.
And so today, I do not want to assume that we are all clear about the gospel. If the church during that time when the apostles still lived departed from the gospel, then it is possible for any church that is thousands of years away from the apostolic period to depart from the gospel that Paul preached.
Today, I want us to look at the ONE TRUE GOSPEL.
But before identifying what the one true gospel is, it is helpful to know the DISTORTIONS OF THE GOSPEL. When a diamond is placed with a dark-colored backdrop that its beauty come out more distinctly and we have greater appreciation for the precious stone. This is true also of the gospel. When we put the gospel alongside false gospels, by the contrast, the gospel shines more brightly and we begin to have a better understanding of the gospel. So, let us first look at several distortions of the gospel or…
WHAT THE GOSPEL IS NOT
1. The “Prosperity” Gospel
This is the gospel of the so called faith-preachers such as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Jerry Savelle, and others. This false gospel teaches that Christians are guaranteed a happy, healthy, and financially prosperous life with no troubles. If you aren’t experiencing this great life today, according to prosperity preachers, it’s because you are in sin or because you lack faith. Often times, prosperity gospel preachers also teach positive confession. This is the belief that by naming what you want and confessing that it is yours again and again, and not say anything negative, you can have your desire granted.
2. The “Personal Testimony” Gospel
This false gospel makes the mistake of presenting a personal testimony of the wonderful changes accomplished by Jesus in one’s life as the gospel. In many of today’s so-called evangelistic gatherings or dinners, what you hear is a fantastic or exciting 45-minute sharing about the changes in the life of the speaker. There is nothing wrong with a testimony of what God has done in one’s life but to regard it as the gospel is wrong.
The gospel is about Jesus and His work not about me and what happened to my life since I received Christ. Paul said in 1Co 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 2Co 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord… In Romans 1:1,3 Paul says that the ”gospel of God” is regarding his Son…
3. The “decisionism” gospel
When I say “decisionism” what I mean is the practice of today’s evangelists to have their hearers simply to make a “decision” by some external movement or prayer. We often see this happening in the so-called “altar call.” This often consists of walking down the aisle, raising up of hands, and praying a sinner’s prayer. This has become a very important part of many evangelistic event. Many Christians have given this approach a prominent part in evangelism so that they say that if an evangelism doesn’t have an altar call it is not evangelism. Unfortunately, there are evangelists who have made the altar call the focus. They are not careful with the gospel message, and as long as they can bring their audience to follow the Sinner’s Prayer for them, they have evangelized already. Since that is their goal of the evangelist, he will to do everything to make that happen.
4. The “God loves you” gospel
The gospel is not a vague teaching about God’s love for man. The gospel, in fact, begins with the wrath of God for sinners according to Romans 1:18.
5. The morality gospel
There are many who have fallen into this error when church people involve themselves in the government’s Moral Recovery Program and simply instruct their audience in good morals and right conduct. Church workers see themselves as Values Instructors or Life Coaches and go to schools, companies, jails, military barracks, etc. to instruct their audiences regarding ethics and moral values. The gospel is not about ethical rules and moral values. The exhortation of the gospel is not, “Obey the 10 commandments, follow the Golden Rule and observe Christ’s teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and you will be saved.” but rather, “Repent from your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
6. The “Medical Mission” Gospel
The gospel is not the good works or help that you do to your neighbor. It is not your distributing of food to victims affected by a calamity, doing medical mission, helping rebuild houses and church buildings destroyed by typhoons and earthquakes. These good works adorn the gospel (see Tit 2:5,10) and do prepare people to hear the gospel, but they are not the gospel. The gospel is not good deeds. It is good news. It is a message.
7. The “Self-Esteem” Gospel
The number one promoter of this kind of erroneous gospel is Robert Schuller. Schuller believes that virtually every problem a person has, every ill that plagues society, all sin and evil in the world, is a result of people having low self-esteem. Schuller teaches that salvation is a rescue from lack of self-esteem and not God rescuing us from sin, death, and hell. In contrast to that heretical teaching, the Bible teaches that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Ro 3:10-12).
8. The “Hypergrace” Gospel
This false ‘gospel’ is a modern version of an ancient heresy called “antinomianism.” Antinomianism says, “You don’t have to pay any attention to the law of God. Now that you’re saved, all your sins are forgiven. Since Christ‘s perfect life has been imputed to you, it doesn’t matter any more what kind of life you live. God still sees you as perfect. So don’t worry about what you do. We’re free, we’re under grace. You don’t need to live under some kind of burden of duty and responsibility and obedience.” But this isn’t grace at all. Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that Grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
9. The Legalism Gospel
This false gospel holds that to be a true Christian, one must attend services regularly, pray a certain number of times daily, never do this, always do that, etc. It is a gospel of rules, rather than a gospel of grace.
10. The Judaizing Gospel
In Paul’s time, this heresy is what Paul addressed in his letter to Galatians. The modern version of this is when its promoters hold the view that the more Jewish the ministry looks, the purer and more spiritual it is. And so they refer to God and to Jesus in their Hebrew names. Their prayers and their singing are in Hebrew words. They introduce traditional Jewish dancing in their services and the wearing prayer shawls when they pray. Some of the promoters of this Jewish approach are into genealogies. They go to Israel in refer to the genealogical records to find if their names are in the list and when they do, make a big deal out of it.
11. The Psychology Gospel
This view often regards the gospel primarily as a self-help philosophy of dealing with emotional hurts like neglect and rejection instead of God graciously dealing with humanity’s sin problem through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for sinners. The psychology gospel views the sin of another against you as a greater problem than your own sin. The gospel is reduced to the healing of emotional needs and it tends to seek Christ as a therapist more than you seek him as your Savior.
WHAT THE GOSPEL IS
Now positively, what is the gospel? There are two ways to know what it is. First, we can study the Bible especially the Gospels, the evangelistic sermons in the book Book of Acts, and the teachings in the epistles. We can also study all of the direct and indirect references to the gospel. Secondly, we can study the history of the church focusing at periods of revivals and also the preachings of that period that were greatly honored by the God in the conversion of sinners.
What is the gospel according to the New Testament?
The gospel is a body of teaching or truth. You can understand it, you can learn it, you can pass it on. Colossians 1:5-6 describes the gospel as “the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.” It is something that people could understood.
The word “gospel” means a joyful announcement or good news. In the New Testament, it is the divinely inspired account of the only way in which guilty, depraved, and miserable men may be delivered from sin and its consequences, and how they can be reconciled to God, to live a new life that is in joyful subjection to the will of God and to live in eternity with the Lord in heaven.
If you study the Bible, the four Gospels, the Book of Acts and the Epistles, when you read what friends and enemies of Christianity have said about the gospel, you will find at least five essential components of the gospel:
- GOD, the offended Sovereign
- MAN, the guilty Sinner
- CHRIST, the only Savior
- REPENTANCE & FAITH, the divine Summons
- BLESSINGS AND THREAT, the promised Salvation or Suffering
1. The first component: GOD, THE OFFENDED SOVEREIGN
The gospel is a divinely inspired message about God. This ingredient is often overlooked or partly omitted. Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 1:8: “God will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” In writing or in preaching about his gospel, Paul often started his message with God. In the book of Romans, which is Paul’s systematic presentation of the gospel, he begins with the character of God and how people have offended Him.
In Acts 17:24-31 where Paul was given an opportunity to explain more carefully and more systematically his gospel, you will observe that he began his evangelistic message by talking about God.
- He began by speaking of God as the Creator,: He “made the world and all things in it” (Acts 17:24).
- He is the Sustainer of all life: “He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things” (v.25).
- He is Sovereign: “He is Lord of heaven and earth” (v.24); “He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation” (v.26).
- He is omnipresent: “He is not far from each one of us” (v.27).
- He is also the Mighty One who raised Jesus from the dead.
Why do we have to start with God in our evangelistic message? Because of who He is. He is the Lord Almighty, the Great, the Eternal One who has His being in Himself and not dependent upon anything or anyone else. His greatness alone demands our worship and our service. He is the Creator of all things who created the world out of nothing. It was He who has designed all being. It was He who formed you and I in our mother’s womb and made us to dwell on this earth. God is also the Sustainer of all things. He sustains all things by his powerful Word, thus all things hold together. He is the one who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. God is also the Lawmaker and Judge. God has given man laws to obey but man rebelled and disobeyed Him. We have all fallen short of God’s standard. We have not all thanked and worshipped the Lord as we should. We have not all loved Him as we should. Although we knew God, we neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but we exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised (Rom 1:21-23). And because of this, God is offended and we have become His enemies. This is why the gospel is not primarily about personal transformation, but reconciliation with God. (If there is a John 3:16, there is also a 1 Pet 3:18—For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.). And so the gospel begins with God.
2. The second component: MAN, THE GUILTY SINNER
(Most parts taken from “God’s Plan of Salvation” in the ESV Study Bible)
The Bible presents to us a bleak picture of mankind. While many so-called authorities claim man’s exalted position, the word of God portrays otherwise. When God created the first man and woman in the beginning, He created them in His own image (Gen. 1:27–28). This means that they were privileged to act as God’s representatives over His creation, subduing the creatures of the earth. But being in God’s image also means that like God, humans are spiritual and rational beings. Like God, we communicate and establish relationships with others and with God above all. Like God, our souls endure eternally.
Although the first people God created, Adam and Eve, had complete freedom to live in friendship and trust with him, they chose to rebel (Gen. 3:1–7).
Because God designed that Adam would represent the entire human race, his sin was catastrophic not only for him but for us: “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” (Rom. 5:18).
Our fellowship with God was broken. Instead of enjoying his holy pleasure, we instead face his righteous wrath.
Through this sin, we all died spiritually (see Rom. 3:1–20; Eph. 2:1–10) and the entire world was affected.
Because of that sin, we are born morally fallen. We are naturally turned away from God and toward sin in every area of life.
We are not as bad as we possibly could be, but we are at no point as good as we ought to be.
We are now all sinners, and we sin in all areas of life: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
We are corrupted and make the wrong choices. We are not holy, and are in fact inclined to evil; we do not love God, and therefore we are under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.
We are guilty of sinning against God and fallen from His favor. As a consequence, we are under God’s wrath now and are guaranteed to receive greater wrath in the future which will be of no end.
God also cursed the world because of man’s sin (see Gen. 3:17–19). “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it” (Rom. 8:20). This is the state from which we need to be saved.
3. The third component: JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SAVIOR
(Most parts taken from “God’s Plan of Salvation” in the ESV Study Bible)
God would have been perfectly just to leave matters there, with all human beings under his holy judgment, but he didn’t. God instead set in motion his plan to save his people from sin and judgment and set free the entire creation from its subjugation to sin and the curse. How? By sending his own divine Son, Jesus Christ, as a true man who would bear the penalty for our sin and die in our place.
And so, this is why Paul said the gospel is “concerning His Son” (Rom 1:3). Two aspects under this heading must be presented:
We must not present the saving work of Christ apart from His person or vice versa
The person of Christ:
- He is fully God. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who is equal to the Father and is the exact representation of His nature. He willingly left the glory of heaven and became man by being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, and was born as the human Jesus without losing his divinity. Though fully human, He was also fully God throughout the time of his life on earth. Jesus acted as God by forgiving sins (Mark 2:5), accepting worship (Jn 20:28; Rev 5), and making that great claim, “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30).
- He is fully man. As fully human, Jesus had a fully human body when he was born and He lived in submission to his earthly parents. He “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40). He learned the carpentry trade (Mark 6:3). He experienced hunger, felt thirst and tiredness, faced temptation, but without sinning.
The work of Christ:
Perfect life. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, walking in perfect obedience to the Law of God.
Teaching. Jesus’ words were also perfect. He said only what the Father commanded Jesus came to teach God’s truth, especially about himself (Mark 1:38; 10:45; Luke 20:42; 24:44). He taught the truth about God, about his relationship with God the Father (John 14), about our sin, about what he had come to do, and about what we must do in response. He explained that the Scriptures of the OT were about him (Luke 24:44).
Crucifixion. In the fullness of time, men rejected and crucified Jesus. Christ’s crucifixion was a horrible act of violence by the people who rejected, sentenced, mocked, tortured, and crucified him. And yet it was also a display of the self-giving love of God. On the cross, Jesus bore penalty of God’s wrath against us for our sin, so that His forgiveness and perfect righteousness might be available to us (Isa. 53:4-6; Rom. 3:21–26; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:28; 1Pe 3:24; 3:18).
The work of Christ is described as redemption. Christ’s death was the price paid for our freedom from the slavery of sin. The work of Christ is described as reconciliation. Through Christ’s death God has reconciled Himself to us His rebellious creatures because sin, the root cause of the hostility that exists between God and sinners is death with. The work of Christ is described as a propitiation—an appeasing of God’s just wrath against people for their sins. God’s wrath is appeased so that He can deal justly with sinners in terms of His love rather than in terms of His wrath.
Resurrection, ascension, return. On the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus was raised from the dead by God. This resurrection is the divine declaration that the Father has accepted His Son’s death as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus paid the penalty for man’s disobedience, satisfied the demands of justice, and appeased the wrath of God. Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven, sat down at the right hand of the Father, and was given glory, honor, and dominion over all. There in the presence of God, He represents His people and makes requests to God on their behalf. He will return one day to judge the living and the dead. Christ’s return will bring God’s plan of salvation to completion. All who acknowledge their sinful, helpless state and throw themselves upon Christ, God will fully pardon, declare righteous, and reconcile unto Himself.
D. The fourth component: REPENTANCE AND FAITH, THE DIVINE SUMMONS
Repentance and faith is usually put together in Scriptures.
- Ac 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
- Ac 14:15 We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.
- Ac.26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
Repentance is a gift of God. (Acts 5;31; 11:18; 3:26; 2 Tim 2:25; Zech 12:10). Repentance is a change of mind, but it includes change of actions too (Rev 9:20).
One author explains, “True and godly repentance includes a deep remorse for having offended God. The repentant person openly and fully confesses his sin with no attempt to excuse it or justify it. This acknowledgement of sin is coupled with a willingness to make restitution whenever possible and a resolve to turn away from sin.”
The other side of repentance is faith. You cannot repent without faith. You cannot have faith without repentance. It is like the movement of your body when you turn about face. You cannot turn to one side without also turning away from the other.
Just like repentance, faith is a gift from God (Phil 1:29; Acts 16:14). What does faith include?
- First, includes knowledge of right doctrine, at least in the essential truths of the gospel. If our doctrine is heretical in the essentials, we will not be saved.
- But it is not enough to have correct understanding of the essential truths of the gospel in order to be saved; we must also affirm or assent to its truth.
- But still, understanding right facts and affirming truth is still not enough. Demons know there is only one God (Jas 2:19), but they hate that truth. Saving faith includes trust, personal reliance, and dependence upon Christ as living Savior who forgives our sins. Faith also includes committing ourselves to Him, the living Lord, as His obedient disciples. Frequently this initial repentance and faith can be simply expressed to God Himself in prayer.
E. The fifth component: SALVATION AND THREAT, THE PROMISED SALVATION OR SORROW
The gospel promises eternal life (Jn 3:16) to those who respond in repentance and faith. Other blessings of salvation include forgiveness and justification (Rom 4:4-8), acceptance with God (Rom 10:11-13), adoption (John 1:12), a place in heaven with Jesus (Jn 14:1-3; Lk 23:43), etc. God’s plan is to save his people from their sins—and to bring his people fully and finally to himself (Matt. 1:21; 2 Tim. 2:10). Christians have been saved from the penalty of our sins; we are currently being saved from the power of sin; and one day, when God’s plan of salvation is completed and we are with Christ, we shall be like him, and we shall be saved even from the very presence of sin.
The promise of blessing however implies a threat to all who reject God’s gracious offer:
- John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
- John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Let me close with these words from Paul WASHER taken from his book, The Gospel’s Power and Message:
One of the greatest crimes committed by this present Christian generation is its neglect of the gospel, and it is from this neglect that all our other maladies spring forth. The lost world is not so much gospel-hardened as it is gospel-ignorant because many of those who proclaim the gospel are also ignorant of its most basic truths. The essential themes that make up the very core of the gospel—the justice of God, the radical depravity of man, the blood atonement, the nature of true conversion, and the biblical basis of assurance—are absent from too many pulpits. Churches reduce the gospel message to a few creedal statements, teach that conversion is a mere human decision, and pronounce assurance of salvation over anyone who prays the sinner’s prayer.
The result of this gospel reductionism has been far-reaching:
First, it further hardens the hearts of the unconverted. … Untold millions walk in our streets and sit in our pews, unchanged by the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet convinced of their salvation because one time in their life they raised a hand at an evangelistic campaign and repeated a prayer. This false sense of security creates a great barrier that often insulates such individuals from ever hearing the true gospel.
Secondly, such a gospel deforms the church from a spiritual body of regenerated believers into a gathering of carnal men who profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.
Thirdly, such a gospel reduces evangelism and missions to little more than a humanistic endeavor driven by clever marketing strategies based upon a careful study of the latest trends in culture.
Fourthly, such a gospel brings reproach to the name of God. Through the proclamation of a lesser gospel, the carnal and unconverted come into the fellowship of the church, and through the almost total neglect of biblical church discipline, they are allowed to stay without correction or reproof. This soils the purity and reputation of the church and blasphemes the name of God among the unbelieving. In the end, God is not glorified, the church is not edified, the unconverted church member is not saved, and the church has little or no witness to the unbelieving world.