Conserving the Gospel – 2

 The gospel is threatened when its intention is misrepresented or misunderstood. Paul is quite clear what the gospel deals with in I Corinthians 15:1-4:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

According to Paul, the gospel deals with our sins. This is what the gospel centres around. Therefore, by implication is gospel is about reconciliation with God, which suggests enmity with God is the default situation. This means the gospel is about a holy God’s gracious work of reconciling individual sinners to Himself.

It is not about social renovation. The gospel is not primarily food to the hungry, money to the poor, employment to the unemployed, social advance for the oppressed. It might result in such benefits, but such things do not constitute the intention or purpose of the Gospel.

It is not about social revolution. The gospel is not a paradigm for the revolt against forms of political tyranny or oppression as Liberation Theology in own country suggested.

It is not about a psychological innovation. The gospel does not provide some kind of internal therapy to affirm ‘the self’ or to liberate you from ‘misplaced shame’.

It is not about moral influence. The gospel is not simply a revelation of God’s love teaching people to sacrificially love one another.

It is not about a potential supply of grace, which by human merit and cooperation (and about a thousand years in purgatory), we access and experience.

It is not about realising your own godhood, coming to worship the divine within.

It is not a ransom paid to Satan to release his clam on man.

It is not some kind of mixed political, social and even ecological effect which brings in ‘the Kingdom’ (whatever the speaker in question decides that to be).

The gospel is about individual salvation from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin, so as to enjoy restored fellowship with the Triune God. This is achieved through the substitutionary atonement of the God-man Jesus Christ, and the application of it to those who place repentant faith in Him.

To capitulate to these false theories of the gospel is to lose the gospel. To lose the gospel is to lose the Christian faith itself. Therefore, conservative Christians will ‘earnestly contend’ (Jude 1:3) for the meaning and purpose of the gospel : Christ came to save sinners (I Tim 1:15).

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