There can be no Gospel message or preaching without the story of the sacrifice of Christ as the Redeemer of mankind. But something has happened to the integrity of the Gospel of Christ over time, it has become diluted, twisted, contaminated, etc.
We will find the true gospel in the Scriptures. The following verse is called the ‘Gospel in a nutshell’:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The Gospel of our salvation –
The word gospel means “Good News”, The Gospel is God’s good news for sinners, it is eternal salvation available to everyone, that’s really good news to be believed. The biblical plan of salvation is how by the grace of God (not by works or performance, Eph.2:8-9) a person that repents & puts his trust in God, finds forgiveness of his sins, by believing in the perfect & substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the son of God made flesh). Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. That person after has believed, is then sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) & becomes born again and a new creation in Christ. Salvation is not found in a religion, but in a Person—The Lord Jesus Christ.
In the above bible verse 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 the apostle Paul is recounting to the Corinthians the gospel message as Paul first preached it to them when they were not saved yet. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was including them when Paul said ‘our sins’. It was prophesied in the Scriptures (Isaiah 53; Luke 24:26), but also in the Scriptures we find more details about the gospel. How Christ died? Who is Jesus Christ (Many cults claim to believe in Jesus, but is not the same Jesus of the bible, 2 Cor. 11:4 ). How can I be saved? Did Christ died for the sins of all or only for a few? etc.
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have [G2309= desires, loves] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6)
‘Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life’ Rom. 5:18
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 1 Tim. 4:10
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man“ (Hebrews 2:9).
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Rom.1:16-17
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
“Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. Eph. 1:13
That the gospel (good news) of salvation was offered to all men, was a fact that was never doubted in the early Church, (old writings). But for some, the gospel has stopped to be an offer from God to the world and became a command that only few elect could obey. I urge you please to compare any teaching with the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Always believe God instead of men (Rom.3:4).
In the Bible, we have more accounts of Paul & others preaching the Gospel. Paul’s defense before Agrippa (The Jews wanted to sentence Paul to dead), the apostle persuaded not only the king but the entire audience to convert to Christ (Why would Paul offer salvation to all ? & according to some, also to those God intended to exclude, giving them a false hope? If that was the case & Paul was honest he would have to say something like this ‘If you are one of God’s elect then Christ died for you, & you can be saved as I am‘) Paul & others would have had to change their gospel message. This passage also proves that salvation is not for a selected people, but available to everyone who believes. Acts 26 :15-29.
And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” vs 15-23
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains. vs. 28-29
Christ’s redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but redemption becomes effective only for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Salvation is received by faith! God has entrusted us with His message to the world, and we as Christians need to preach the same gospel (there’s only one). In doing that it will also bring unity to the Body since we’ll share a common salvation:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3
The apostle Paul had very strong words when referring to someone preaching a different gospel. The apostle Paul was astonished that the Galatians were being seduced by false doctrines/teachers so soon:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after (# G2596 = down from, according to) man. Galatians 1:6-11
These believers did not deny that one needed to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, but the ‘Judaizers’ were adding to the gospel, saying that they must add circumcision to be saved (Acts 15:1) . Many today would say the Judaizers were ok because they had right the core doctrines, but were wrong only in the non-essentials, but it didn’t seem that way to the apostle Paul, at least not regarding the gospel message.
Paul taught the true Gospel is not of human, but of Divine origin. (Gal.1:11). The gospel of salvation is a message from God, & we should not add to the work of the cross nor subtract anything from it. To add to the gospel – whether works, circumcision or anything else – is to detract from the gospel. Same way applies when someone tries to take away from the gospel, or the work that Christ accomplished. Any gospel that deviates from the one that the apostles preached can threaten men’s eternal destiny, since the gospel is intimately tied to our salvation . 1 Cor 15:1-4.
That is why Paul used such harsh words, even placing a curse on those who preached a different gospel. The message of the gospel is not negotiable, it is God’s message about His plan of salvation for a dying world & cannot be change or perverted.
Today, many people advocate the idea that differences in the doctrines of salvation are acceptable. Truth has become a matter of personal preference. But the gospel of Christ is not relative. If it were, then the apostles would not have condemned or place a curse on whoever preaches another gospel. I have heard some teachers say “It is possible to embrace 2 opposite truths” referring to doctrines of salvation. This is called dualism (a gnostic teaching or men’s philosophy) but they don’t seem to understand, that we may do that with men’s ideas because our opinions are relative, I wouldn’t call them truths though, but God’s Truth is absolute, there aren’t errors or contradictions in His Word.
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mark 1:15
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 cor.11:3-4
in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 cor.4:4
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 1 Thess. 1:5
but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel Phil 1;17
if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Col.1:23
Can Christians have doctrinal differences? –
All doctrines from the bible are important, all are essential or have a reason to be, God doesn’t waist words or time, but Christians may disagree without causing division, only in doctrinal issues that:
1- Don’t distort or change the gospel of salvation,- There is only one gospel,
2–Don’t distort or change the Character & Divinity of God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit),
3–Don’t promote bondage to the Old Testament law, to idolatry or sin.
For example, issues about the timing of the tribulation, timing of the rapture, if the gifts are for today or not, Eternal Security versus Conditional Security. (Though this last two are very important issues, it is still not an issue to divide over, unless Eternal Security is used as a license to sin or as an excuse to be proudful, to lie, to hurt others, etc. and be unrepentant about it). Methods of the Lord’s supper, (Unless is said that Jesus is crucified again and His blood and flesh is actually brought to life.-transubstantiation by Catholics). The millennial kingdom (But be careful if they introduce Dominionism/Reconstructionism), etc. One can be wrong about the time of the rapture and still go to heaven, but one cannot deny salvation by grace, twist the gospel or deny the deity of Christ (John 8:24) without terrible consequences.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, He desires all people to get saved, even is obvious not all will believe & accept the gospel. Why would God inspired the words some way but to really mean something different? God is not the author of confusion. We should be able to understand the gospel of salvation by plainly reading it from our Bibles, the Bible declares that a “young man” can cleanse his way by taking heed of the Word of God (Psalm 119:9), that means he is able to understand it. “But Jesus called them [unto him], and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17)
If someone needs to indoctrinate you using information from a different material other than the Scriptures to show you a conclusion, then something is wrong with that gospel. Our source & standard for our Christian living and doctrine, should be the Word of God alone and not doctrines (philosophy) of men. Let the Bible speak for itself. . .in context ! For example a Jehovah’s Witness will never become a Jehovah’s Witness if he’s not indoctrinated by been taught twisted Scriptures to arrive to the doctrinal interpretations of their founder. I know of some Jehovah’s Witnesses who read only their bible, on their own, understood their errors and eventually left the sect.
If Christ died only for the elect, then we would have a gospel only for the elect. And that’s not what the Bible teaches. People are not lost because the water of life is not available to them. The springs of living water abound! People are lost because they refuse to drink.
Believing in the gospel of salvation is just the beginning of our walk with God. As babies need milk, also the new born in Christ will need the milk of the Word of God daily, for spiritual nourishment & spiritual growth. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7
– When the gospel is modified then it looses it’s meaning, is no more good news. Changing one small thing in the gospel will create a snow ball effect of doctrinal errors. We will mention some of them in the following posts, in this series about ‘Importance of Doctrine’.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom. 1:16
The Saviour of All Men – 1 Timothy 4:10