What is the gospel?



SOUND  DOCTRINE


The BIBLE says--

"The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts they will heap to themselves teachers, ... and they will turn away their ears from the truth, and will be turned unto fables."  (2 Tim. 4:3-4)


The Bible is the only trustworthy source of sound doctrine, without which one will be susceptible to all manner of ungodly beliefs and practices.  All followers of Christ have a responsibility to:

"Take heed to yourself, and unto the doctrine, continue in them; for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."  (1 Timothy 4:16)


"Continue in ... the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, the one in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."  (2 Timothy 3:14-16)


These verses stress the importance of Biblical doctrine, particularly in salvation.  The Bible warns that many will be victims of false teachings:

"The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of devils."  (1 Timothy 4:1)


"There will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies ... and MANY shall follow their destructive ways; because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed."  (2 Peter 2:1-2)


"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."  (Hosea 4:6a)


"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation."  (Hebrews 2:3a)


MANY people will be shocked on Judgment Day to find out that they were following teachings not from the Bible.  JESUS warned His followers:

"MANY will say to Me in that day:  Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out many devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess to them: I never knew you, depart from Me ye that work iniquity!"  (Matthew 7:22-23)


"For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat."  (Matthew 7:13b)


SALVATION NOT OF WORKS

MANY have been led to believe that salvation from their sins is the result of their ...

►  good works
►  water baptism
►  obedience to the 10 commandments or the golden rule
►  free-will decision to accept Christ
►  praying the "sinners prayer"
►  speaking in tongues
►  second work of grace
►  dreams and visions
►  repentance
►  faith
►  confession
►  taking communion


The idea that our works can assist in initiating, maintaining or completing salvation is altogether against the Biblical doctrines of grace.  Any teaching that requires "man's work" in addition to Christ's work at the cross is an abomination.  Teachings that suppose Christ's work to be insufficient, or that move the focus of salvation from Christ to man, are destructive to men's souls and a hindrance to the salvation of God's people.

SALVATION  BY  GRACE

The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is completely by God's grace and work, independent of man:

"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."  (Eph. 2:8-9)


"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."   (Rom. 11:6)


"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)


To understand the Biblical teaching concerning salvation by grace, we must understand what the Bible teaches about man, God and election:

1. Man's total sinful depravity and inability to do any good work
2. God's sovereign election of those to be saved
3. God's irresistible drawing of His elect to Christ
4. The new birth & the preaching of the Gospel
5. Christ's specific and effective atonement at the Cross to eternally redeem God's elect

MAN'S TOTAL DEPRAVITY

The Bible teaches that man is born spiritually corrupt, dead in trespasses and sins, and is incapable of his own righteousness, or of doing ANY spiritual good relating to God or salvation:

"You, ... who were dead in trespasses and sins ... walked according to ... the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience, ... fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."  (Ephesians 2:1-3)


"Both Jews and Gentiles ... are all under sin:  There is none righteous, ... none that understands, ... none that seeks after God, ... none that does good; no, not one!  There is no fear of God before their eyes."  (Romans 3:9b-12,18)


"We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.  Their is none that calls upon Thy name, that stirs up himself to take hold of Thee."  (Isaiah 64:6a,7a)


"No man can come to Me, except the Father ... draw him."  (John 6:44a)


"The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead."   (Eccel. 9:3b)


"The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."   (Jeremiah 17:9a)


"The wicked are estranged from the womb.  They go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies!"  (Psalm 58:3)


"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great ... and that every imagination ... of his heart was only evil continually."  (Genesis 6:5)


UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

Because man is spiritually corrupt and enslaved to sin, he is incapable of doing any meritorious good works or of exercising a free-will to choose for God.  Therefore, in order for anyone to become saved it was necessary that God do all the work of salvation.  To that end, it was necessary that God choose and predestine a people to save from their sins.  The Bible teaches that before the world began, God sovereignty and unconditionally elected specific people out of every nation and race to save, NOT according to any response that God foresaw they might make to the Gospel (remember, man is spiritually DEAD in trespasses and sins - Ephesians 2:1-3), BUT based solely on God's own will, purpose and good pleasure.

"God ... has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world ... having predestinated us unto ... Himself according to the good pleasure of His will ... according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will."  (Eph. 1:3b-11)


"God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."  (2 Thess. 2:13b)


God "has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."  (2 Timothy 1:9)


"Father ... glorify Thy Son ... that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him."  (John 17:1-2)


In the Old Testament, God chose the nation of Israel to be His people.  God did not choose the other nations, but chose Israel.  If God so desired, He could have continued with only Israel as His people.  But God, in great mercy, in the New Testament, revealed His plan to save a people from every nation and race!  (Ref: Ephesians 3:1-9, Revelation 5:9)

GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY

Some view God's exercise of sovereign election as unfair, however, we must realize that since man is dead in sins and unwilling to seek God (Romans 3:11) and incapable of choosing God prior to regeneration (John 6:65), that if God did not choose anyone to be saved, then no one would be saved!  Further, the Bible teaches that God is sovereign over His creation and all things that come to pass.  Hence, God's will, not man's will, is in charge of salvation:

"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then, it is not of him who willeth, nor of him who runneth, but of God who sheweth mercy."  (Romans 9:15)


"Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, in earth, in the seas, and all deep places."  (Psalm 135:6)


"Salvation belongs to the Lord.  Your blessing is upon your people."  (Psalm 3:8)


Jesus told His followers:

     "You did not choose Me, but I chose you."  (John 15:16a)


The book of Acts states why some of the Gentiles of Antioch believed the Gospel saying:

     "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed."  (Acts 13:48b)


The apostle John credits the new birth to God's work not mans:

     "Which were born, not ... of the will of man, but of God."  (John 1:13)


"God ... works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure."  (Phil 2:13)


In the Old Testament, God records in Daniel 4:35 how the arrogant and proud Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar was forced to bow to the sovereignty of the Almighty, saying:

     "He (Jehovah) does according to His will ... none can stay His hand."


Moreover, submission to God's sovereignty is inherent in the Lord's prayer, which teaches:

     "Father ... Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done ..."  (Mt 6:10)


To those that trust God, His sovereignty is not a distress but a comfort.  Yet like king Nebuchadnezzar, all men are very arrogant and proud by nature, and we don't want to trust God with salvation, instead we want to be in charge of this matter.  This is the nature of unsaved man, wanting to deny the authority and rights of the Creator (Romans 9:14-22).

IRRESISTIBLE DRAWING

Because no one, not even the elect, willingly seek God, God must begin the work of salvation by drawing His elect to faith in Christ.  This work, carried out by the sovereign and all powerful Holy Spirit of God, cannot be finally or permanently resisted.

Jesus said "ALL who the Father gives Me shall come to Me."  (John 6:37a)


"No man can come to Me, except the Father ... draw him."  (John 6:44a)


"My sheep hear My voice ... and they follow Me."  (John 10:27)


"Blessed is the man Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee."  (Psalm 65:4a)


"I will cause him to draw near and he shall approach unto Me."  (Jeremiah 30:21b, 31:3)


"Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power."  (Psalm 110:3a and 33:12)


"A ... woman named Lydia ... whose heart the Lord opened."  (Acts 16:14a)


THE NEW BIRTH & THE GOSPEL

Because all men, including God's elect, are born spiritually corrupt and dead in trespasses and sins, it is necessary that God, as He draws His elect to Christ, give them new spiritual life: this is called the new birth or regeneration.

"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  (John 3:3)


"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."  (Titus 3:5)


"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: ... ye shall be My people, and I will be your God."  (Ezek 36:26-28)


God uses the preaching of the true Gospel to regenerate His elect, giving them faith in Christ, and imputing the merits of Christ's work to their account:

"The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."  (1 Cor. 1:18)


"Being born again ... by the Word of God."  (1 Peter 1:23)


"Of His own will He begat us with the Word of truth."  (James 1:18a)


"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  (Romans 10:17)


"Ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you."  (John 15:3)


REDEMPTION & PERSEVERANCE

Christ was slain as the substitute for the sins of God's elect and raised again for their justification, providing them eternal redemption.  Since it is God who justifies His elect people, they can never be condemned again, thus assuring the salvation of God's elect is sure and certain so that not one of His sheep shall be lost.  This is a great joy to all those whose trust is solely in the work and salvation of Jesus Christ.

"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last times" (1 Peter 1:5)


"Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins."  (Matthew 1:28)


"The Son of man came ... to give His life a ransom for many."  (Matthew 20:28)


"He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification."   (Romans 4:25)


"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.  By His own blood he ... obtained eternal redemption for us."  (Hebrews 9:12, 9:28a)


"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.  For the transgression of My people was He stricken."  (Isa. 53:8b, 1Pet 2:24a)


"I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee."  (Isa. 44:22)


"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"  (Romans 8:33a).


"I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish."  (John 10:28a)


This is truly the gospel message, that Christ came, not to make salvation possible, but to make salvation certain for His people.  Matthew 1:28 speaks with authority, for Jesus "SHALL save His people from their sins".  

TRULY AMAZING GRACE

Seeing that all the sons of Adam are of a fallen and depraved nature such that man is a rebellious, obstinate, profane and God-hating sinner (Romans 1:30), they are therefore deserving of God's wrath.  But God, in His incomprehensible mercy and love, developed and carried out a plan of salvation such that the entire human race would not be perish (Ref: John 11:49-52, the inspired words of Caiaphas the high priest in this regard).  The Father choose a people, the Son redeemed them, and the Holy Spirit regenerates and preserves them.  These doctrines of God's saving grace are a great joy to all who are "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)"  Because God does all the work in salvation, He deserves all the glory!  For this reason the Psalmist sings aloud:


"Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake."  (Psalm 115:1)


The prophet Jonah summarizes this work of God saying:

"SALVATION  IS  OF  THE  LORD"  (Jonah 2:9)


SOUND DOCTRINE

When Jesus was teaching in Capernaum the people said, "What is this new doctrine?" (Mark 1:27).  Sadly, Jesus doctrine was not new.  The problem was that the church of Jesus' day, while maintaining a holy and moral outward appearance, had long ago forsaken "sound doctrine" (Ref: Hosea 4:6).  Today, the same situation exists in churches.  If these doctrines of God's saving grace are unfamiliar to you, it may be that your church has forsaken them in favor of more man-centered doctrines.  If this is so, then it is important that you "take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:16).  In God's providence He has maintained a record in the Bible of exactly what Jesus and His apostles believed and taught.  Please review the Scriptures quoted herein for yourself.  Do not trust your church or this paper without personally checking the Bible.  Consider the importance of this matter, for the welfare of your soul lies in the balance.  May the Almighty and Sovereign God grant that you may not be one of the horrified MANY that the apostle Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 "who know not God and who obey not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ".  

"Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said `They do always err in heart, and they have not known My ways.  So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest!"  (Hebrews 3:7-11)


"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."  (Revelation 4:11)


“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  (Proverbs 1:5-7)

 

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.”  (2 Peter 3:18)