Conserving the Gospel – 1

 Conservative Christians conserve the gospel. This is because the gospel is the boundary of Christianity and true Christian fellowship.

How does one become a Christian? By being baptised into the Roman Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant wings of Christendom? By growing up in an ostensibly Christian country? By feeling closer to the Christian religion than to say that of Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism?

The fact is, people become Christians, in the biblical sense, when they believe the gospel. The Bible makes it plain that the gospel is the message by which people are saved (I Cor 15:2, Rom 1:16). If there is no gospel, there can be no salvation (Romans 10:14).

Therefore, conserving the gospel is foundational to conservative Christianity. If we lose the gospel, we will become like Roman Catholicism – preserving various forms (some beautiful and pious), but without the power and life of the gospel itself. Once again, the reason for this conservation is because the gospel is continually under threat. The gospel comes under threat in numerous ways.

First, when its intention is misrepresented or misunderstood. People have often tried to take the message of our Lord or of the apostles and use it for their own ends – political revolution, social renovation, psychological theory, or any one of countless theories which have been advanced as the true ‘purpose’ of the gospel.

Second, when its meaning is warped. Since the gospel rests on actual historical events, the meaning of those events needs to be interpreted and explained. That is just what the Bible does. However, if the wrong interpretation is given to those events, the result is a corrupted gospel (Gal 1:6-8).

Third, when its centrality is undermined. When professing Christian leaders act as if there is fellowship with someone who denies the gospel, they undermine the gospel itself. They act as if there is a place in Christianity for those who deny the gospel itself.

Fourth, when its proclamation is neglected. When the church fails to preach the gospel, it will certainly not be conserved, but will die with those who presently believe it. (And if they truly believe it, why would they not declare it?)

As we take time to consider each of these threats, we will see the struggle that exists in our time to conserve the Gospel.

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