4th Essential Element of the Gospel
The Gospel of Christ is God’s Power to get us saved!
(by Miles McKee)
Let’s introduce another scripture about the Gospel, Rom 1:16. It says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe.”
We must be clear what the Bible is saying here. It is not saying that the Gospel leads to power. The Gospel itself, it tells us, is the Power of God unto salvation. This is essential to grasp if we are ever to know the mind of God for our churches and ministries.
Usually, today, the Gospel is treated as an initial entry doctrine. In other words, the Gospel is good only for those who are not saved. The Gospel is merely to get lost sinners saved: but now that we are saved we need to move on into the deep things of God. The Gospel, in the minds of many, is merely an initiation doctrine. But Paul says in the previous verse, Rom 1:15, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also”. To which ‘you’ is he going to preach the Gospel? He talking about those in Rome who are “The beloved of God, called to be saints” Rom 1:7. In other words, Paul is writing to Christians in the church. They are people who are already saved and he fully intends to preach the Gospel to them so that they can become more saved.
God saves the sinner when he believes and also saves the believer when he believes. The epistles are packed full of the Gospel but they are not written to get the lost sinners saved. The epistles are written to get the saved sinners saved. As our first scripture said, believers are saved as they continue to keep the Gospel in mind! (1 COR 15:2)
But what do we mean by ‘saved’? Anyone who has salvation is saved. But, salvation is much bigger than Justification. Salvation has three tenses, past, present and future. Believers have already been saved from the penalty of sin, we are presently being saved from the power and pleasure of sin and will, in the future, be saved from the very presence and possibility of sin. Salvation includes, among other things, sanctification, victory over sin, consecration, health, freedom from guilt, freedom from bitterness, freedom from fear and rejection, victory over Satan, reconciliation, redemption, adoption and Glorification. It is a full package. And how do we experience and become partakers of this salvation? It is only through the Gospel for the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation.
For too long the Gospel has been relegated, by many churches, to the area of catching the lost. And of course we do catch the lost with the ‘gospel net’ but the Bible way to clean those we catch is with the gospel sword.
Yes indeed, for many churches, while the Gospel is only a mere doorway into the world of God, there are yet others who although saying they believe the Gospel to be the power of God unto Salvation, act as thought this is in fact not the case. To get sinners saved, they argue, we must provide a comfortable environment, have special music and a band to be more up to date and contemporary. A spotlight would be just the thing on the preacher and above all our services must be upbeat, enjoyable and entertaining. The right kind of Church service has now replaced the Gospel as the power of God for Salvation. May God rescue us!
Just one note from Spurgeon on this subject before moving to the next thought. He says,
“The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses!
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel'.
No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they confronted them? Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? "You are the salt of the world", not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out, not swallow.
Had Jesus introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His teaching, He would have been more popular. When "many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him," I do not hear Him say, 'Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow; something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it! Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!'
No! Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them! (Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats)
Just as the Gospel is the only way to save sinners it is also the only way to save saints. If we, as believers, are ever to enjoy the full extent of Sonship we must be bathed in the Gospel. We are saved in the beginning, middle end of our Christian life by the Gospel. Christ Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of Salvation. As He is the beginning, He is also the end and everything else in between. And as we run this race, this Christian life, we are to look unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:1-2)
Yes, but surely how we live is the important thing we need to teach in our Churches? Yes indeed how we live is of vital importance but unless the Gospel of Christ is central in the Church. then real godliness will not come! Why not? Because, the power for real godliness comes through the Gospel: The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. The word used here for power is the Greek word DUNAMIS and that’s the word from which we get our English word DYNAMITE. In other words, the Gospel of Christ is explosive! Full salvation will come no other way than by the Gospel. When a pastor is not Gospel centered, and the saving, completed and perfect acts of God in Christ are not expounded and applied, his people are not growing in salvation ------- And how indeed can they for there is no power for salvation in his message?
Since it is the Gospel which saves both saints and sinners, then it means, contrary to popular belief, that a holy lifestyle is not the power of God unto salvation. The myth that says sinners will get saved when they see how holy we are needs to be expunged from our thinking. Your life, no matter how holy and good, is no match for the perfect flawless impeccable life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only as people are pointed to the pastness of the Gospel event in the person of Christ and His doing and dying that they can be saved. If you think that your life and example will save sinners you’ve bought into a package far inferior to the Gospel. Certainly people will know how good you are and, in and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that; but they’d be far better off knowing how good and great Jesus was in his doing and dying and knowing that your life is merely a flawed attempt to mirror that of the Saviour without whom all men will perish.
So to recap: We’ve seen four words which will help you remember what has been said so far: Person, Past, Perfect and Power. This is the foundation of our understanding of the Gospel.
Now that we’ve seen the Essential Elements of the Gospel, let’s move on to
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