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The Essential Nature of the Gospel
What in the world is the Gospel? That surely is not a serious question….is it? It’s almost an insult to ask such a question. That’s like asking if we know how to count from 1 to 10 or if we know our ABC’s. I mean, we believers know all about the gospel……don’t we? Well actually……My contention is that, no we don’t! You may be surprised to discover that many believers think the Gospel is something entirely different than what the Bible actually says it is! So what is the Gospel and how does it work itself out in our lives?
I believe that while many churches are busy preaching, it is not every church which preaches the Gospel….and I’m talking about Bible Believing and Evangelical Churches. In fact, my wife and I once spent months vainly looking for a Gospel centered Church in a certain major American city. The pulpits were filled with good men but nowhere did we hear the Gospel. And no, we weren’t looking for an evangelistic rally….we were simply looking for a Church which expounded the Gospel to believers. The great need for Christians today is to return to a Gospel center in their thinking. But how can that be done if we don’t understand what the Bible says the Gospel is?
So what does the Bible say the Gospel is? How exactly does the Scripture define the Gospel? We ought to be concerned that we know this. After all, the Gospel comes straight from the heart of God. It is His Gospel (Rom 1:1, Rom 15:16). God Himself is the very source of the Gospel so we daren’t re-define it. And because it is God’s gospel we daren’t invent another one. We must keep His Gospel pure and undefiled. We can not add a little bit of law into it or put a little religion or the traditions of men into the mix. Since it is God’s gospel we can not and dare not tamper with, reinterpret or alter it in any way. And since we have been sent to preach the Gospel then it is vital that we know what it is we have actually be sent to preach. If we are unclear on the identity and meaning of the gospel, we will have to call into question all that we are doing. What we are doing may be earning the applause of men but what is that compared to the applause which comes from Heaven?
So what exactly is the Gospel?
The best and simplest definitions of the Gospel come to us in 1 COR 15:1-4 and in Rom 1:1-3. 1 COR 15 says,
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; (2) By which you are saved if you keep in memory what I preached unto you unless you 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:
Rom 1:1-3 says, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (2) (Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) (3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Did you notice how simple this is? The gospel is about Jesus Christ, His death burial and resurrection. But surely there is more to it than that? It just can’t be that uncomplicated! Surely the Gospel is about how we live and all the peace and joy the Lord can give us in this life. Isn’t the Gospel about how when I am in trouble, Jesus is there and comes to help me? Isn’t the Gospel about the new live he gives me? Well actually, no!
To define the Gospel and come to grips with it we must first discover its essential nature. By essential nature I mean the things that make the gospel the gospel and not something else. For example, if I ask what is a man? And I get the reply a man is a person with two legs two arms and a head; that’s not a satisfactory answer for a woman has two arm two legs and a head but that does not make her a man. For that matter there are many men who have lost limbs but that does not mean they are not men. So to define what a man is we must discover what essentially makes him a man and not something else. Likewise with the Gospel! To discover what The Gospel really is we must discover its essential nature. Some of the essential elements of the Gospel are discovered in the scriptures we just read.
So let’s look at them in closer detail to see what we can learn.
The first thing we need to notice is,
© Miles McKee