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Question #74

What is the Gospel?

I was surfing the net when I came across your link "thywordistruth" and that thrilled me knowing that it was taken from John 17:17 (one of my favorite passages). As I began to check out your very informative website, the first thing I looked at is what you consider the "gospel of Jesus Christ". One of the things that troubled me is the statement under step 5 "Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!" You are misinterpreting that passage. In the original Greek language it's actually saying Repent (which means "change your mind" in regards to "belief" in Christ; in other words "exercise Faith in Christ") and after that change has occurred than you are to be baptized. We know this to be true because it is in harmony with the whole canon of Scripture. We are saved by "Faith through Grace". Right?

Based upon the Authority of scripture; in regards to the Gospel, the beautiful thing is that the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul already told us what the true Gospel is and that is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-6. I'll type it in for you:

"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 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that (1.) Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that (2.) he was buried, and that (3.) he rose again the third day according to the scriptures And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep ." 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 [kjv]

According to the Bible This is the Gospel. Nothing more nothing less.

Christ Died, was buried and Rose again. That is it. And now our job or responsibility is to exercise our Faith in Christ by calling on His name for Salvation knowing that He hears us because He is living (Romans 10:9 "Believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead" and thou shalt be saved).

I hope this helps you in regards to proclaiming Truth. For "His Word truly is Truth"

The Answer:

First, you are correct that Paul delineates the gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the basis of the gospel. However, neither here nor elsewhere does Paul proclaim that those facts alone save. If that were in fact the case salvation would be universal since Christ died for all men. Since the Bible clearly teaches that not all men will be saved (Matthew 7:21-27 among many other scriptures), the necessary conclusion is that more than those basic facts is required to receive the salvation based upon those facts. The inquirer accepts that fact because even he requires faith (“belief”) and repentance. Thus, the difference between us (or at least one of the differences) is not whether something beyond the facts of 1 Corinthians 15 is required. Rather, the difference is just what is required beyond or, perhaps better said, in response to these basic facts.

The inquirer apparently and correctly places baptism after repentance. Mistakenly repentance is defined as a change of mind “in regards to ‘belief’ in Christ.” It is faith that leads one to a change of mind about Christ; that belief leads one to repent of sin that led the Son of God to Calvary. All (except those who sprinkle infants who can neither believe nor repent (and, being innocent have no need to repent)) believe that baptism follows faith and repentance. Unfortunately, the inquirer illogically and incorrectly concludes from that fact that the purpose of baptism is not “for the remission of sins” as stated in Acts 2:38. That portion of the verse is not addressed. There is an old argument that some have made for years that Peter was really saying “repent for the remission of sins” and then be baptized because your sins are already forgiven. That argument comports with neither Greek nor English. “Repent” and “be baptized” are joined by the coordinate conjunction “and.” Thus, they both bear the same relationship to the prepositional phrase “for the remission of sins.” The same phrase is used by Christ in Matthew 26:28: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Christ’s blood was not shed because sins had already been forgiven, but in order that they might be forgiven. This comports with every statement in the scripture that states a purpose of baptism. It washes away sin. Acts 22:16. It saves. 1 Peter 3:21. It precedes walking in newness of life. Rom. 6:3-6. It is “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” Colossians 2:11-12. Acts 8 leads to the conclusion that one cannot preach Jesus without preaching baptism. Phillip preached Jesus unto the Ethiopian nobleman. Yet when they came to a body of water the Ethiopian asked what hindered him from being baptized. How did he learn about baptism unless Phillip preached baptism as a part of preaching Jesus? He certainly did not learn it as a part of the Jewish worship he had attended in Jerusalem.

Does this mean that we are not saved by faith through grace? Not at all. Baptism is not a work of man. Like faith, it is a command or work of God. John 6:29. It is man’s response to the grace of God without which all of the faith, all of the repentance, and all of the baptisms would come to naught. God’s part is grace; man’s part is obedience. If salvation is by grace alone, as some suppose, then, as Paul told the Corinthians who did not believe in the resurrection, let us “eat and drink for to morrow we die,” 1 Corinthians 15:32, and we are going to saved anyway since God’s grace is for all men.

Salvation is not by any one thing alone. The original or moving cause is the grace of god the Father; the meritorious cause is the sacrificial blood of Christ; knowledge and faith are the instrumental cause; conviction of sin and repentance is the disposing cause; baptism is the concurrent or effectual cause. Which of these causes are you willing to stand without in the judgment? Faith changes our mind; repentance changes our conduct; baptism changes our state – it brings us into Christ. Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27. The latter passage clearly establishes the relationship between faith and baptism. We are truly the children of God by faith, but when does that faith save. “For as many of you (this many and no more) as have been baptized into Christ did put on Christ. Faith saves when, based upon that faith and repentance we put on Christ by being baptized into him. If I said “as many of you as send me an email saying “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” would receive a Rolex watch, would I owe it to all who sent me an email? Clearly not. The Rolex would go only to those who obeyed the requirement and no more. As the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way.”

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)