Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What is the Gospel?

Do words mean things? Of course they do.  How important is it to have a proper biblical understanding of the biblical words we use?  Let me give an example by way of an experience I had while earning my masters degree in a conservative bible college.

In one of my classes we had an adjunct professor teaching a class on leadership philosophy. During the class the professor was going into great detail about the missional church that he was part of. He told of how his missional church worked to purchase a local cafe for the downtown artists in Seattle, Washington. He spoke of the tremendous effort that was put into “reaching” these postmodern artists. He spoke of the many facets of missional work and the commands in Scripture to show mercy and compassion towards the lost.

This went on for some time…until I raised my hand and asked, "when did you share the gospel with these postmodern artists?"  Which lead to a discussion, or an almost discussion on the gospel…which I thought was a pretty important topic to discuss. 

Let me take you a little further into our discussion…I noted to the professor that in sharing the gospel with my Roman Catholic father-in-law…that while we used the same words our understanding of those words were as far as the east is from the west. While we both talked about justification by faith, grace, sin, and divine judgment, it would seem that we were reading from two different bibles.

My point was that we can be using the same words but have two entirely different understandings of those terms and words. For my efforts to define the term gospel I was publicly rebuked by the professor and told to “get off my high horse.”

So, what is the gospel? This should be the question that fuels our passion and drives our Christian lives. We have to know what the bible teaches about the gospel so that we can proclaim it with accuracy and clarity. Our lives should be consumed with having our understanding informed by what the Scriptures teach concerning the gospel…our understanding of the gospel must grow out of Scripture and not out of some un-biblical system of theology. All that should ultimately matter to us is what does God’s word say?

I’ll say this, the gospel is both narrow and wide…let me give you the heart and soul of the gospel (the narrow)…it is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

The gospel is Christ. The gospel will always be Christ…his work…his sacrifice…his grace…his reaching the lost, depraved, and sin-stained sinner.

Listen to the words of our old friend Charles Spurgeon on this matter:

Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching - where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus."

The gospel call that we see in the N.T. was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, it was more than saying a prayer or a making a decision…it was a call to repent of sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul tells us that the gospel = power…the Greek word is dynamite, see Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Christian, do not be duped by “another gospel,” as Paul told the saints in Galatia not to be fooled by another gospel even if an angel came down from heaven and preached it (Galatians 1:8)…don’t listen, run, and run fast and far.

Let me close with wise word from R.C. Sproule:

“I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.”

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