ART 1 - WHAT IS THE SIMPLE GOSPEL
by BILL PARKER
Many people today talk about the word gospel, but few ever define specifically what they mean by the gospel. For example, most will agree that all who are saved believe the gospel, but most do not agree on what the gospel is. It is easy to say that the gospel is simply "Christ," or "Christ, crucified." It is easy to say that the gospel is merely the "death, burial, and resurrection of Christ." A preacher in a letter to me once defined the gospel as "the word of God's promise in Jesus who is the Christ." This was, as he stated, the gospel in its simplest form. The problem with all this is that it really does not tell anyone specifically what the gospel is and what it is not. Many who disagree on such vital issues as who God is, who Christ is, the sinfulness of man, and the ground of salvation, can and do agree with the statements above. Also, when we consider the words of God in Galatians 1:8 -- "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," does this not prove to us that we need a more specific definition? Of course it does.
Thank God that He has not left us to our own thoughts and imaginations on this vital issue. He has given us His definition of the Gospel. It is stated throughout the Bible in many ways and in many forms, but God gives us the most concise definition by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:1-17 and Romans 3:21-26. The Gospel is THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD'S ETERNAL SALVATION AND FINAL GLORY IN HEAVEN CONDITIONED ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, BASED ON HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ALONE. The Gospel, in light of the sinfulness of man (Rom. 1:18--3:21), and the utter impossibility of any sinner being saved based on that sinner's best efforts at obedience, reveals how a holy and just God can save sinners in mercy, love, and grace, and still remain holy and just. The Gospel reveals that all this is possible based on the merits of a God-sent Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would become incarnate, obey the law perfectly, and satisfy justice by His death on the cross in order to establish a righteousness whereby God could be both a just God and a Savior (Isa. 45:21-22).
The Gospel excludes all the works of man and any work done by or in man as to the ground of this great salvation. It calls on sinners to believe in and trust Christ for all righteousness and life. It calls on sinners to repent of ever thinking that salvation or any part of it could have been conditioned on the sinner. It leaves sinners with no hope of salvation but that which is found in the Person and accomplished work of Christ. Therefore, in order to preach the Gospel, we must preach the sinfulness of man in light of the holiness and justice of God, the Person of Christ as Godman/Mediator, and the righteousness of Christ freely imputed and revealed by God-given faith for salvation. This is the heart of the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21). Every other subject in the Bible must be preached in this light if it is to be distinguished from the dead works and idolatry of man-made religion.
This Gospel identifies and distinguishes the true and living God from all idols. This Gospel identifies and distinguishes the true Christ from all counterfeits. This Gospel identifies and distinguishes the Holy Spirit from evil spirits. This Gospel identifies and distinguishes the only ground of salvation from all false refuges.