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Preaching the Promise of the Gospel

God's preachers are sent to preach the Gospel. They are not sent to preach vain, worthless issues. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16). Every message should define and distinguish the good news, that single message which is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Most everyone who claims to preach the Gospel will recognize the existence and growth of false gospels. The New Testament speaks of this (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6). Much is said concerning people worshipping false gods and following after counterfeit messiahs. This being the case, is it not binding upon true preachers to preach the Gospel in such a way so as to distinguish it from all false gospels, to distinguish the true and living God of the Bible from all false gods, and to distinguish the true Christ from all counterfeits? Should not our Gospel distinguish the real difference between the true ground of salvation as opposed to all false refuges, and the true difference between grace and works?

The Gospel, when preached aright, reveals the true and exposes the false. The Gospel can be defined and distinguished. It is not an arbitrary message left to the subjective whims of men. It is not a different message for each man. It is the same message for all men. The Gospel itself does not emphasize one point of doctrine one time and another point of doctrine another time. There are many implications which are derived from this simple message, but the basic kernel, the very heart, of the Gospel is a specific revelation from God. The Gospel is the product of an eternal covenant of grace, which is a covenant of promise (Gal. 3:14-29). So to preach the Gospel is to preach the terms of that covenant of promise.  God’s Gospel of grace is GOD'S  ETERNAL SALVATION AND FINAL GLORY CONDITIONED ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALONE. It proclaims to helpless, depraved sinners that God will save sinners for Christ's sake alone.

The preaching of the Gospel involves a description of man's condition by nature, as a totally depraved sinner, alienated from God, and in need of a righteousness he cannot produce. The Gospel not only exposes our guilt in Adam, but also the wickedness of our best efforts aimed at removing God's wrath and gaining God's favor (John 3:18-19). The Gospel message sets forth the glorious Person, offices, and redemptive accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ, who perfectly satisfied God's law and justice on behalf of a multitude of guilty, otherwise hell-deserving sinners which no man can number. The Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation…for therein is the righteousness of God revealed” (Rom. 1:16-17). The merit of Christ’s obedience unto death, His righteousness, imputed or charged to the sinner’s account is the only ground of salvation.  Any man who claims to be sent of God to preach the Gospel should ask himself, "Am I truly preaching and emphasizing the good news that all of the conditions or requirements for a sinner’s salvation have been fully met by Christ alone, based on His righteousness alone?"

The message of the Gospel reveals and distinguishes the true God as a JUST GOD AND A SAVIOR, one who justifies the ungodly based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. It reveals and distinguishes the true Christ as the one sent by the Father to fulfill all the conditions of the salvation of His sheep. It reveals how He, by His obedience and death as the Representative and Substitute of His sheep, established an everlasting righteousness of infinite value whereby God the Father could be just and justify sinners. It commands, as well as gives every reason for, sinners to believe God's promise of salvation by Christ and to repent of former idolatry and dead works (all works and efforts before faith aimed at the ground of salvation).

The Gospel, as set forth and distinguished by the truths mentioned above, is the message embraced by true GOD-GIVEN FAITH and REPENTANCE. God has determined that the Gospel of God’s grace must be preached as a means for these goals to be realized in the power of the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul described his ministry to the Ephesian elders in this way - "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21)

So the very first evidence of salvation, exhibited in response to the preaching of the Gospel, is "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Faith and repentance are inseparable.

2 Peter 3:9- The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - {8} For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The Gospel and God-given Faith

Faith is the foundation grace, and true repentance is the first evidence of genuine faith. Both are inseparable gifts of God, given by the operation of the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of God’s Gospel.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 - {13} But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: {14} Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

By God-given faith sinners believe the good news of eternal salvation and final glory in heaven conditioned on Christ alone, based on His righteousness freely imputed, all according to God's promise. Repentance, which always accompanies genuine faith, begins with a change of mind concerning who God is and what it takes to appease Him. By faith we see that nothing but Christ's righteousness imputed could satisfy God's just wrath against sin and gain God's favor. We see that God can only justify sinners based on Christ's righteousness. In true repentance we see that all our former efforts at religion, morality, penance, reformation, were nothing more than self-righteous attempts at trying to establish a righteousness of our own. We see that they were wicked attempts aimed at avoiding God's wrath and gaining God's favor. We see that they were dead works, fruit unto death and evil deeds, because they were all done in unbelief, all in denial of the only ground of salvation per the terms of God’s Gospel. We even see that the god who accepted such works is an idol, and, therefore, we were idolaters. Both faith and repentance, then, are directly related to the preaching and believing of the one true Gospel of God’s grace.

To illustrate the nature and necessity of faith and repentance, as they are related to the promise of the Gospel, the Scriptures identify Abraham more than any other justified sinner as the example. Abraham is the archetype of believing sinners. After having defined God's way of salvation, based on the merits of the righteousness of Christ freely imputed and revealed by faith, according to God's promise, the Apostle Paul illustrates this salvation in Romans 4 by using Abraham.

Romans 4:20-22 - {20} He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; {21} And being fully persuaded what He (God) had promised, He (God) was able also to perform. {22} And therefore it was imputed to him (Abraham) for righteousness.

What did God promise Abraham? Read Romans 4:18-19.

Romans 4:18-19 - {18} Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. {19} And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

We see here that it was specifically related to the promise that Abraham and Sarah, his wife, who were way past the child-bearing years, would have a child, given of God. This child was to be Isaac, the child of promise. Abraham believed that the sovereign God of the universe would be faithful and that He was able to fulfill what He had promised. This glorified God. Abraham attributed unto God all the qualities of character that belonged to God, especially God's faithfulness. But if we look at the context of Romans 4, we must see that the promise involved much more than the birth of Isaac. The promise ultimately involved God's way of saving guilty sinners. This is proven by several verses beginning with Romans 4:1-5.

Romans 4:1-5 - {1} What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? {2} For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath to glory; but not before God. {3} For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. {4} Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. {5} But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

The Apostle Paul was dealing with the question of Abraham's eternal justification before God, and how Abraham was declared righteous before God. Was it by works, conditioned on Abraham, or was it by grace, conditioned on Abraham's Substitute? Paul proves that it was most certainly by grace. He had already shown in Romans 1-3 the impossibility of any sinner being justified by deeds of law (Rom. 3:19-20).

God's promises to Abraham, recorded in Genesis 12 and 15, were both temporal and eternal. From the very beginning God made a distinction between Abraham's natural seed and Abraham's spiritual seed. There was to be a temporal accomplishment of those promises to Abraham's natural seed here on earth. More importantly, there was, and is, to be an eternal realization of the promises for Abraham's spiritual seed, all the "heirs of promise" (Gal. 3:29). The "heirs of promise" are made up of Jew and Gentile, a multitude of guilty sinners, chosen by God before the foundation of the world. They are redeemed by Christ, and called to faith and repentance by the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the Gospel, God's promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ alone for each and everyone for whom He lived and died.

We begin to see the vital connection of all this when we realize that it was through Isaac, the child of promise, that the Messiah (Christ, the woman's seed) was to come according to the flesh. Everything God did in fulfilling His promises to Abraham's natural seed, the children of Israel, was ultimately to prove His faithfulness to fulfill His promises to Abraham's spiritual seed, the whole election of grace, all who would (or will) in time believe God's Gospel, His promise of salvation through Christ.

We see the promises, both temporal and eternal, were, and are, limited. The temporal promises were limited to the natural seed of Abraham, the children of Israel. It was to them, through Abraham, that all the temporal promises were made. In the same way, the eternal promises are limited to the spiritual seed of Abraham. God has never promised to save all without exception. God did not send Christ into the world to redeem all without exception. The doctrines of universal redemption and indefinite atonement are not Scriptural, and they are opposed to the Gospel and its promise of salvation by grace. These doctrines reduce God's love and Christ's obedience and death to nothing, having no real value, in and of themselves, to save any sinner. They exalt man's will and man's efforts, making salvation conditioned on the sinner's faith, repentance, and/or perseverance, which is salvation by works. God does promise to save any sinner who comes to Him by faith in Christ, believing the promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone, based on His righteousness alone. But faith is neither the cause nor the ground of their salvation. Faith receives Christ and His righteousness imputed as the only ground of salvation. This is revealed in the promise of the Gospel, and all who refuse to believe this promise shall perish. Read Galatians 3:16.

Galatians 3:16 - Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

The promises were made to ONE, a representative. Abraham represented the natural seed, the children of Israel. But it goes beyond the temporal realm and into the eternal. “And to thy seed, which is CHRIST.” Christ represents the spiritual seed, all the heirs of promise. The important truths of representation and imputation are very much in force as we see them brought out in the Gospel. The eternal promises were placed in the hands of a Mediator and Surety (Christ). All the conditions of the promises were placed upon Him. He is the one who represents many, the Head representing the body which is His church. All the merit of His whole work of redemption was imputed to Abraham as the only ground of Abraham's salvation.

This gives us some insight as to what Paul wrote in Romans 4:22. Considering the nature of the promise given to Abraham, the pronoun "it" refers not to Abraham's faith, but to the entire merit of Christ's whole work of redemption. Faith is a God-given grace applied by the Holy Spirit. It is subjective and cannot be imputed. Only the merit or demerit of a work can be imputed. Just as the demerit of Adam's sin was imputed to all whom he represented, the merit of Christ's obedience and death is imputed to all whom He represented (Rom. 5:18-19). Therefore, "it" refers to the righteousness of Christ freely imputed to Abraham, and which Abraham received by the revelation of faith. The nature of God's covenant with Abraham was grace – an absolute and unconditional promise. God conditioned all of Abraham's salvation on the promised Messiah, Christ, Abraham's Substitute! Christ's righteousness, the merit of His perfect satisfaction to God's law and justice, was imputed to Abraham.

When the Scripture states that Abraham believed God, it is referring to these promises mainly in Abraham's eternal salvation conditioned on Christ alone. All the other promises, including the promise of Isaac, were subordinate to this. Did Abraham see and understand all this? There were many things that Abraham did not know and understand concerning the specific details of the coming Messiah. Many things had not yet been revealed. But Abraham knew and understood that he was a sinner in need of a righteousness he himself could not produce. He knew and understood that God was holy and just and could not justify any man based on character and conduct. He knew and understood that God had made a promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on a coming Messiah who would be both God and man, who would, by His obedience and death, establish an everlasting righteousness whereby God could be just to justify the ungodly. Therefore, Abraham believed "on him that justifieth the ungodly" (Rom. 4:5). Abraham knew the ground of salvation, the righteousness of Christ freely imputed as it was revealed to him by faith.

In John 8:56 our Lord stated, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." Abraham fully expected God to fulfill His promise of eternal salvation based on the righteousness to be established by the coming Messiah. Abraham believed all the other promises, including the temporal ones that were connected with this main promise. So, again, when Romans 4:5 states that "his faith is counted for righteousness," it is not saying that faith itself was imputed to Abraham as righteousness. Faith is imparted, not imputed.  It was the object of Abraham’s faith that was imputed or accounted unto him.  By faith, Abraham looked to the merit of that which would be accomplished by the promised Messiah on the cross – the righteousness of Christ. And it, Christ’s righteousness, was made to be Abraham’s righteousness by imputation.

Faith itself is not the ground of salvation, nor does faith make up any part of the ground of salvation. Faith does not appease God's wrath against sin or gain God's favor. This is the fatal error of multitudes of professing Christians who in reality believe a cleverly disguised system of works which they call grace. Righteousness, the merit of Christ’s obedience unto death, alone pays the sin debt so as to declare the justified sinner not guilty and acceptable before a holy God.  Righteousness is perfect satisfaction to God's law and justice. Righteousness is what we must have in order to be justified. Faith is the means through which His righteousness is revealed and embraced by a justified sinner. It has already been made clear in Romans 1:17 that righteousness and faith are two distinct things, brought in for two different purposes.  All who are justified before God have His righteousness imputed to them and shall come to Christ in time by God-given faith.

Romans 4:23-25 - {23} Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; {24} But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; {25} Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

In Romans 4:23-25, the apostle tells us that God has imputed this same righteousness to the account of all who believe the same promise as Abraham. Again, this refers to the promise of eternal salvation conditioned on Christ alone. God must act in strict righteousness and truth. He must remain holy and just in all His dealings. He cannot give any sinner the inheritance of eternal life at the expense of His holiness, law, and justice. So the eternal blessedness of all the heirs of promise, Abraham's spiritual seed, depends upon Christ satisfying the conditions of the Covenant of Grace, which is a covenant of promise. All of the conditions for a sinner’s salvation must be fully met by Christ alone in order for God to remain consistent with His just and holy character and still justify the ungodly. Anyone who has the same kind of faith that Abraham had, anyone who does the works of Abraham (John 8:39), will plead Christ's righteousness as the only ground of salvation and repent of former idolatry and dead works. For every justified sinner to whom righteousness is imputed, the revelation of God-given faith will always be given in time.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). This word is the Gospel, the way of salvation by Christ alone, according to God's promise.

These verses prove that God has promised to save a particular number of sinners (the election of grace) and that He is faithful and able to do so. Christ came to save His people from their sins by making an effectual payment for their sins, fully satisfying the justice of God. His obedience and death as their Representative and Substitute demands their justification, sanctification, and their final glory. Do these truths of election and particular redemption exclude from the kingdom of heaven any sinner who hears the promise of the Gospel and who truly desires to be saved by grace? Will any be barred from heaven who truly desire to know and please God in belief of the Gospel – the message that sets forth the way of salvation that glorifies every attribute of God's holy character, exalts Christ in His mediatorial accomplishment, and excludes all grounds of boasting in sinners? NO! There will be no sinners in Hell who will be able to say that they sought after God, according to God's Gospel, and could not find Him because God shut them out. On the other hand, there will be no saved sinners in Heaven who will be able to say that they are there by virtue of certain conditions they met. It is not their seeking or believing that entitles them to the whole inheritance of grace.  No, salvation is all of Christ, based on His imputed righteousness alone.

All sinners who hear this promise of the Gospel are commanded, directed, and responsible to receive freely God's grace, to rest in God's way of salvation, and to reject every false way. If any sinner is shut out of Heaven, it is due to his own self-righteousness, self-love, and religious pride in insisting that salvation be conditioned on the sinner (works) in opposition to the promise of grace.

Mark 16:15-16 - {15} And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. {16} He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Christ commissions His disciples to preach the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news of God's eternal salvation conditioned on Christ alone. It is to be preached to all without exception. God assures, according to his faithfulness, that all who believe this specific promise shall be saved. Baptism is the outward sign and confession that a convinced sinner has already been regenerated and converted, believing, receiving, and submitting to God's way of salvation in Christ. All who believe shall be saved. This salvation is the product of an absolute and unconditional covenant of promise. The Gospel then is the preaching of that promise. If this promise is preached aright, sinners who believe it ought to come unto the Father, not timidly nor in doubt, but fully expecting God, who is faithful, to fulfill His promise. Too many present salvation as if it is an arbitrary whim of God as to whether or not He will save sinners. Too many think that they are exalting God's sovereignty when they tell their hearers, "Come to Christ. I don't know if God will save you or not." This is opposed to the promise of God, and it is opposed to God's sovereignty and faithfulness engaged to save sinners based on the righteousness of Christ.

Isaiah 46:9-13 - {9} Remember the former things of old: for I God, and none else; God, and none like me, {10} Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times that are not done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: {11} Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken , I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed , I will also do it. {12} Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that far from righteousness: {13} I bring near my righteousness: it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.

God reveals that He has engaged every attribute of His sovereign, holy character to save sinners based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. God is faithful to save any sinner who comes to Him expecting salvation based upon this one ground. We cannot tell all men without exception that God loves them and Christ died for them. That would be the same as telling all men without exception that their eternal salvation is sure and certain no matter what. We can and we should tell all men without exception that they are "far from righteousness," and in need of a righteousness that answers the demands of God's law and justice, a righteousness they are unable to produce.

We can and we should tell all men without exception that God brings near His righteousness by sending Christ into the world as the Substitute for sinners to establish the only righteousness by which God will save us. And this righteousness is brought near in the preaching of God’s Gospel.  We can and we should tell all men without exception that God's "salvation shall not tarry," that now is the day of salvation and that choosing to rely or wait upon their meeting certain conditions or qualifications for salvation is deadly. We can and we should tell sinners that God "will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory" (Isa. 46:13), that God has engaged Himself to save all the objects of His love — all for whom Christ lived and died. We can and we should tell all men without exception that God will save sinners, any sinner who seeks salvation according to the terms of His Gospel, for Christ's sake alone. We know that for any sinner who seeks this salvation, God has sought him first.

The Gospel Promise and True Repentance

We have seen how the first evidence of salvation is faith or belief of the Gospel. The faith of justified sinners is the gift of God, and it comes by the power of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. Accompanying this evidence of salvation is the inseparable grace of repentance. All true believers know from God's testimony that by nature we are in a state of idolatry as Abraham was before God saved him. This state is described in the Bible in various ways: "ungodly," "enemies of God," "alienated from God," "in the flesh," "under the power of darkness," "under the law," "servants of sin," etc. All of these terms describe all men and women without exception in a state of nature, born in Adam, before salvation. These phrases describe the religious, moral person, as well as the irreligious and immoral person. The Bible teaches in the law and the Gospel that before salvation we are enemies of God, “by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3), and all of our efforts at religion and morality are evil deeds, wicked works, and dead works (John 3:18-19).These efforts at religion and morality are not wicked due to immorality or even lack of sincerity. Many before salvation are very sincere in their religious efforts. These efforts are wicked because they are performed by a person who is in a lost state of darkness, a state of idolatry, and one who is ignorant of the true holiness of God. This person is ignorant of the only ground of salvation; therefore, all his efforts at religion and morality are aimed at appeasing God's wrath and/or gaining God's favor, at least to some degree. This is opposed to the glory of God in salvation. It is opposed to the preeminence of Christ in salvation. It is opposed to God's promise of salvation by grace.

As indicated, among those who are in this state of idolatry, there are many different personalities, races and cultures. It includes both men and women, moral and immoral, religious and irreligious. There are many differences amongst these, but there is one thing common to all. They are all void of a Spirit-given knowledge of the true and living God and Jesus Christ whom God has sent.  They have not submitted to the one perfect righteousness that answers the demands of God's holiness. They all seek after salvation and God's favor in ways that are dishonoring to God, shameful to Christ, and ways which leave the sinner room to boast (Rom. 3:10-12). To say that any one individual in this state is not an open idolater, no matter what his/her claim, is to deny God's explicit testimony. God says, "He that hath the Son hath life," and none of us, by nature or by practice, have the Son. By nature we have neither the Father nor the Son. By nature we are ignorant of (or will not submit to) the righteousness God requires.   And as sinners, we are unable to produce such a righteousness. By nature we are ignorant of God, and, therefore, in a state of idolatry, just like Abraham when he was in Ur of the Chaldees.

These are the issues of true repentance. This is the substance about which God commands every sinner who hears the Gospel to change his mind. To believe the Gospel, to follow Christ, and to turn to God, is to break the bonds of the old life, to admit of our idolatry and wicked efforts before hearing and believing the promise of salvation based on the righteousness of Christ alone. This is not only the most difficult thing for sinners to do – it is impossible apart from the Spirit of God giving us spiritual life in the new birth. But any who believe the Gospel, who truly fear God and love Christ, and who desire to see sinners saved, should recognize the importance of preaching the Gospel in clear, unmistakable terms so as to distinguish the message from the various false ways that seem right to us by nature (Prov. 16:5). God draws all the conclusions for us, because we by nature will draw the wrong conclusions. Sinners must be told the Gospel fundamentals concerning true repentance, and they must see that unless they repent, they will perish.

It is the preaching of the promise of the Gospel that brings forth these issues. By nature we know nothing of a righteousness imputed. All we know by nature is "do and live; disobey and die." In our natural state we know that sin is the cause of our dilemma with God, and we naturally believe that something we can do will set the situation aright. It may be our attempts at goodness and morality, our religious sincerity, our exercise of faith, etc.  It is these very thoughts of which we must repent. We must, by faith in Christ, have our minds changed concerning who God is and the only ground upon which He will save us, keep us, and bring us to heaven. We must have our minds changed concerning who we are and see the utter impossibility of God saving any of us based on our best efforts at religion and morality. We must have our minds changed concerning who Christ is and see that He is the successful Savior who fulfilled all the requirements of our salvation and secured our final glory by His righteousness alone.

By preaching the clear promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone, we can insist on the sinner's responsibility to believe the Gospel, to repent of idolatry and wicked works, and to persevere in the faith. It has been charged by some that to insist that sinners know these things, and to insist that sinners must believe and repent is legalistic. What these people cannot or will not understand is that the promise itself, the Gospel message itself, removes all notions of legalism.  The Gospel message itself excludes any notion of salvation being conditioned on anything that proceeds from the sinner. Faith is necessary for salvation, not as a condition to earn or merit salvation, but as a means of receiving the salvation accomplished by Christ. Faith believes God's Gospel and its promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone! Knowledge is necessary because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). The knowledge which is necessary is revealed in the Gospel in time to each justified, born again believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is necessary in the same way in that it involves a change of mind concerning salvation. We are to repent of ever thinking that salvation was conditioned on ourselves. Perseverance is necessary in the same way. We are to persevere or continue, believing that our final glory is certain; not because of any conditions we meet, but based solely upon the imputed everlasting righteousness of Christ.

This initial repentance from former idolatry and dead works in conversion is where all continual repentance begins. All repentance which came before this is legal, natural-conscience conviction (2 Cor. 7:9-10). As we grow in grace and knowledge of God, we do not continually change our minds concerning who God is, concerning who Christ is, and concerning the only ground of salvation. We are continually struggling with sin, with legal fear and doubts, and we do continue to repent of these things as we see more of our own sinfulness and more of God's holiness and love. This is a continual aspect of repentance which can be defined as Godly sorrow over sin. It is ashamedness over sin without fear of punishment knowing that the guilt of our sins has been forever removed by the redeeming blood of Christ. We have some great examples of this in the lives of Job and King David (cf. Job 42:5-6; 2 Sam. 12:1-16; Ps. 51; Ps. 130:3-4).

This is evidence that a sinner truly fears God. This is that reverence and respect for the honor of God's character revealed in His Gospel promise to save sinners by Christ alone. This is what brings about true love to God and true love for the brethren in any degree. We who believe know that our love falls way short of what it ought to be. But we recognize that we now have a love that we did not have before. It is love that springs from true, God-given faith and repentance. We now love our brethren in Christ, not perfectly as we ought, nor as we desire, nor in any way which would make us proud of our love. But we have a principle of love within. It is the product of the Spirit of God, and it causes us to desire to be loyal to the honor of God's character, to the preeminence of Christ, and to our brethren in opposition to the world and its religion. This is what causes us to take sides with our brethren against any system of doctrine that dishonors God, devalues the Person and work of Christ, and leaves sinners room to boast. This is what causes us to refuse to speak peace to sinners who do not believe the Gospel.



How amazing it is that we see the glory and wisdom of God in such a simple message! Through the message of the Gospel, God removes all legal and mercenary notions and establishes the nature and the place of everything He requires for salvation in the hearts and minds of those He saves. One of the most deadly errors of our day is that faith itself, not Christ alone, makes the difference between heaven and hell. Most who claim to believe the Gospel have never effectually even heard the promise of the Gospel of grace, or they would not even imagine that faith forms any part of the ground of salvation. They would see that it is impossible for God to be glorified if salvation is conditioned on the sinner in any way or to any degree.  This includes the widely held notions of faith, repentance, and / or perseverance as conditions to be met in order to be saved. They would see that the only ground of salvation, of peace with God, is the imputed righteousness of Christ. Sinners are commanded to believe that Christ made all the difference by establishing this righteousness according to God's promise. This is the lesson of Ephesians 2:8-9 - "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." Christ is to have all the preeminence in salvation.

The preaching of the Gospel promise also establishes the blessed fact that all exhortations given to believers to persevere, to obey, to live soberly and righteously in this present world, are motivated by grace and gratitude.  Believers are to obey God, not to earn or merit God's favors and blessings, not even to insure their final glory, but in response to God's love and grace in Christ. In true obedience, believers are to rest in Christ, realizing that they are sure for heaven's glory based on the righteousness of Christ, according to God's promise. This is the essence of the "spirit of adoption."

We see, then, that the preaching of the Gospel of God’s grace is to be the central issue and emphasis of our messages. It should be the basis of all teaching, of all growth in grace, and of all motivations to obedience. This promise of the Gospel of grace is not all that we are commanded to preach, but we are commanded to preach all things in the light of this glorious message. We are to move on into other areas, not leaving the Gospel behind, but building upon its central message for the salvation of sinners and the edification of God's people. This is what it is to preach Christ crucified! 


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