The Purpose of The Gospel
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Romans 1:15-17: So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Fore therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
The subject title of this thought is one of great importance and requires a full understanding of the purpose of the gospel in regards to what our Lord intended for it. The term “gospel” is often used incorrectly by reference to the bible as a whole and to many times is cast by the way, when in fact the gospel is meant to comfort Gods children while walking in this life. My prayer is that we could gain some knowledge and great comfort by studying the true application of the gospel.
The Gospel is not a means of eternal salvation:
Eternal Salvation is an unconditional covenant that was made with the Godhead. It was about man and effected man but in know way required obedience on mans part. This eternal covenant is similar to the covenant that God made with Noah. Isaiah 54:7-10 states in part: “In a little I hid by face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me…but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.”
The popular belief of the gospel in today’s Christian religion allows man the total control over his destiny. It gives man the free will to make the decision to accept Christ when he is ready. Today’s popular Christian religion implies that man has the natural ability within himself to “accept Jesus as his personal savior”. According to this belief, man is not born again until he accepts Jesus into his heart. But yet he professes that he has the power and will to serve God and come to Jesus in order to be born again. In Eph.2: 1 we read “and you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins”. The dead here is not reference to a natural death but of one who is spiritually dead. A great type of this death is shown in John chapter 11. Lazarus, who was naturally dead, had no way of accepting Jesus’ command to arise. But “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.” There was never at any time in Lazarus’ mind a consent to Gods will because he was DEAD. So the likeness of spiritual death is compared. Man, who is dead spiritually has no desire to seek after God. 1Cor.2: 14 states: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. We could continue in further depth of the total depravity of man starting in Isaiah 64 where it reads “all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”. Then continue with the 3rd chapter of Romans starting at verse 9 to 18 where it states man’s nature and condition without the righteousness of God revealed in him. To contend with the notion that man has a conscious decision to accept Jesus, and then be born again, just doesn’t hold up with the bible’s references to the state and condition that man is in before he is made a new creature. Not only are we born in sin (through our inherent nature in Adam), but in order to have a relationship with God we must be drawn to him, “No man can come to me except my Father which hath sent me draw him.”
The idea of gospel salvation (eternally) implies a weak God who has a strong desire to save everyone but is dependent upon man to make the work complete. All Christian beliefs would have to agree that God has more power than Satan does. We would also have to make the stand that God is wiser than Satan is. Yet popular belief says that unless we preach the gospel to those who have not heard it, they (Gods children) will be cast into the lake of burning fire for eternity. This implies that Satan is already with this lost man and did not require any help. He (Satan) was able to reach that man without any help from man, therefore we would have to say that in this situation, Satan has power over God, because God cannot go to this man without the aid of someone else.
Of course this view will not hold itself up, but rather falls in on itself. To often the simpler texts in the bible get looked over by many people. When the Angel came to Joseph in a dream he spoke of three very sure things (Matt. Ch.1). The first was that Mary SHALL have a son, the second was that: Thou SHALT call his name Jesus, and the third and most overlooked one he said was, For he SHALL save HIS people from their sins. Christ did not come down to make a way for lost sinners to accept him. He came down to do the Fathers will, and that will is “all that the Father hath given me I should lose NONE, but raise them back up again at the last day.”
Many Christians miss the purpose of the gospel. As soon as they feel they have accepted Christ (which in fact is an evidence that they are already a child of God) they discard the gospel with the idea that it has done what it was purposed to do. Now having accepted Jesus Christ through the gospel they feel they no longer have any need of it.
Only a born again child of God can receive the Gospel:
Paul, in the Roman letter states: “Fore therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” The “therein” is in direct reference to the gospel (or the channel) that proclaims the righteousness of God. This channel that the righteousness of God flows through begins at faith and is landed at faith. That is to say, from the body of truth to the fruit of the spirit. The body of truth broadcasts the righteousness of God through the gospel and is received by the fruit of the spirit. Therefore it would only seem correct to assume, even from our weak minds, that one who has a fruit of the spirit must also have the spirit abiding in him. To have an orange you must first have an orange tree. In Galatians chapter 5 we read where faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
For someone to receive the gospel by faith his heart must first be made fleshly through the process of regeneration. A clear distinction of a heart prepared by God through regeneration and one that isn’t can be shown in the book of Acts. Here we read of a people who were “pricked in the heart” (2:37) on the day of Pentecost and also those who “when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” (7:54).
A careful study of other characters in the bible will further validate this point. In Acts 16:14 we read where Lydia’s heart was opened by the Lord before she attended to the things that Paul had spoken. In John 1:48- the Lord told Nathanel, “before Phillip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.” One more example that we could use can be found in the 10th Chapter of Acts. Here we read where God came to Cornelius before Peter preached the gospel to him. These three people received the Holy Spirit from God first before they could hear the gospel. The same could be said for Abraham and others found in the bible.
Again, the point must be stressed that the gospel is not an instrument or tool to be used whereby one’s salvation in eternal glory can be secured. To view this point only serves to esteem man higher than his creator. The gospel rather serves as a “medium” or “channel” through which the righteousness of God is proclaimed. An acceptable analogy of this concept would perhaps make this clearer. When you turn on a radio and tune the dial to a clear channel you are picking up a transmission from someone else who is talking into a microphone from somewhere else other than where you are at that time. In this analogy the speaker on the microphone is the one sending the gospel message. The sound wave that is carrying the voice (or message) through the air to the radio is the gospel (or medium). The radio that is receiving the message, loud and clear, is that child of God whose heart has been prepared to hear it. It stands to reason by this analogy that a child of God can have a receiver that is on but tuned to the wrong channel, thereby receiving something other than the gospel message. Or that a receiver is in place but is not on at all. These are all conditions that can be found with God’s children.
What the Gospel is:
In the masthead of this paper, the gospel is exactly what Paul says it is in his letter to the Romans. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation.” The gospel is simply the message through which the righteousness of God is revealed. Without the power of God, the preaching of the gospel would simply not exist. This fact is further demonstrated through Paul’s knowledge of the gospel in 1st Thessalonians. In chapter 1:4-5 we read, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance..” It was great evidence to Paul that he was talking to Gods elect because the gospel was transmitted and received in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. In 1Cor 1:18 Paul says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The preaching of the cross is what the writer here is referring to as the gospel. Isn’t it wonderful to know that when the gospel is declared and received it is the actual power of God working in us! What a great strength of encouragement and evidence that should be to every child of God who has been blessed to hear the gospel!
Who the Gospel is for:
As was stated earlier only a child of God can receive the gospel. While this fact remains true, I wish to further define a specific group of God’s children that can and do benefit from the gospel. Not only because of who they are (being Gods elect) but because of their condition while here on earth. In Matthew 11: 25-26 we hear our Lord and Savior say, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” We see here that the gospel is intended for those that he reveals them to, babes in Christ. In Luke ch. 5:31 we read where our Savior states: “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
In this sense the gospel is positively discriminating to those in most need of Gods mercy and comfort. The gospel is for the poor in spirit, the broken hearted, it is deliverance to the captive, and it recovers sight to the blind. It is for those weary pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land. It brings hope where hope is not found. Paul states in the Roman letter, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of death?” Paul has been made to see who he is without Christ. He no longer dwells in the path of the self-righteous, but is wholly dependent upon God. He concludes his thoughts by saying, “I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord.”
“As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country”. The gospel is meant as a timely salvation to those that need it most. There is a salvation here on earth for God’s people. Paul states in 1Cor.15: 1-2, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain”. The salvation that Paul reminds them here of is a timely salvation. One that will comfort and shield God’s troubled children.
Isn’t it a shame that so many “Christians” just cast this precious doctrine in the wind? So many believe that the purpose of the gospel is to save them eternally and once they feel that this has been done they no longer have a need of it. What a blessing they are missing out on!
This short essay on the doctrine of the gospel is in no way complete. There are many other scriptures and thoughts that one can use to further validate this blessed doctrine. It is my desire that the thoughts presented to you would encourage further digging into the scriptures, that in doing so you might obtain the comfort and rest and that great knowledge of the righteousness of God, your Savior. I trust and pray that this would be of benefit to God’s children, and that we would never consider such blessings from God as “old hat”. If this, dear reader, is old hat then I thank my God for allowing me to wear it! May God bless your endeavors to serve him!