By James Fire
The Gospel in the modern, materialistic world has been at best misunderstood, and at worst, perverted into a “happy” gospel that seems to have more to do with successful living than with the salvation of a life.
During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s we’ve watched televangelists declare that if “you have enough faith, you can acquire health and wealth, fat bank accounts, a big house, an expensive car and be blessed with all the amenities of a real “King’s kid.”
The poor, the sick, and the needy, these were the weak in faith that were despised by the so-called spiritually mature which looked down on them with disdainful disapproval.
In our current environment, Christianity has sunk even deeper into an apostate, carnal belief system as an increasing number of pastors, leaders, bible teachers, and lay people endorse an “emergent” philosophy that denies the Gospel by declaring it unnecessary (Note to reader: review the excellent article on TNT by A.M. Kisly regarding the Emergent Church Movement- “Invasion of the ‘Body’ Snatchers” and my own article on FROM the MIND of FIRE, “Triumphant But Tragic Trojan”)!
Yet because of all these deviations we’ve never had a time in which the pure, unadulterated Gospel was needed more than in this world succumbing to increasing darkness.
While strenuous endeavors to ‘un-gospelize’ the church by emergent influences continue (and thereby accommodating it to a universal religion comprised of an amalgam of the major belief systems represented in Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), those of us who are called by the Name of Jesus Christ our LORD must stand firmly in our convictions based solely on the very Word of God, the exclusive source of spiritual Truth, to combat these falsehoods.
No one needs to define the Gospel, nor is the Gospel open to interpretation by theologians, pastors and Bible teachers (particularly of the liberal sort). Further, there is only one Gospel of Salvation, and the apostle Paul expressly stated that Christians are to accept NO SUBSTITUTES (See 2 Corinthians 11:4)! The Bible itself states quite plainly and succinctly what the Gospel is, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3)For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
Dr. Schofield comments in his study Bible on 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
“In vs. 1-8 the apostle outlines the Gospel of God’s grace. (1) It concerns a Person – the Christ of the Scriptures and history. (2) It concerns His death – “for our sins according to the Scriptures.” His burial is asserted as the evidence of His death; and that He was seen alive is declared as the proof of His resurrection. This is the Gospel that Paul preached; that the early Church accepted; and by which men are saved (vs. 1-2)”
The very word “Gospel” means “glad tidings” or good news, and it’s intertwined irrevocably with the term “saved”.
In today’s preaching, even among evangelical churches, the issue and reality of hell is seldom mentioned; when an offer of receiving Christ Jesus and His salvation is made, it's associated with a better life, an improved marriage, the means to solve problems, lift burdens, break bondage, brighten gloomy, down-trodden souls and other benefits.
Certainly such things as listed above may result as a by-product of salvation, yet the primary purposes of the Gospel are the forgiveness of sin, without which the unrepentant sinner will perish and spend eternity in hell (in regards to that horrible, deplorable situation, I’ve often said, “There are no exit signs in hell”); as well as this, the redemption of a lost soul via the spiritual birth in Christ Jesus and the new life that this brings to the believer.
We must wonder, where are the on-fire preachers of days gone by, full of zealous love for God, and for sinners? Where are the holy heralders of the Truth, who refuse to compromise or soft-pedal God’s Word? Where are the thundering pulpits that boldly declare the desperately wicked condition of fallen, sinful man and proclaim warnings of an interminable torment in the flames of hell-fire?
How can a people acknowledge their need of salvation, if they don’t know what they’re being saved from?
Since the fall of Adam, our human father and the progenitor of our race, sin has been passed on to all of us and no amount of religious devotion, no substantial weight of prayer (ritualistic or otherwise); no sacrifice or religious duties fulfilled can ever erase the deadly reality of sin in our lives. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ and “believing faith” in such can redeem us from sin, and from its inevitable penalty, hell.
I’ve been given this opportunity and privilege to share the Gospel in this article, and I pray that the LORD is honored by it, and that all who read this are blessed, particularly those who do not yet know Jesus as their LORD and Savior.
In my next article, we shall examine the doctrine of salvation by biblical ‘exposition’ (that is, what does the Bible mean?) to determine what the Gospel actually is. We will ask, and prayerfully answer, why salvation is necessary, as well as why Christ alone sacrificed on our behalf is sufficient as payment for the sins of the world, including yours and mine.
Further, we shall delve even deeper into this study and examine the component ‘parts’ of salvation and see how they relate to the newly born and saved in Christ, and the maturing saint, as well as the saint who has passed from this life into the next.
You may prefer to read the scriptural references in your own version. I will be posting verses here in the King James Version, but please feel free to grab your own Bible and look them up.
Tomorrow, we will uncover together "A divine Diagnosis and The Salvation Solution" in Part 2 of this article. You are welcome to leave your comments or questions by clicking on comments and following the instructions to post.
Until then, I pray that the LORD Jesus bless you all . . . WAY TOO MUCH!