by Wayne S. Walker
The Bible teaches that a number of items are necessary for salvation, that we are not saved by any one thing alone. One of them is the gospel of Jesus Christ. "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13).
What is the gospel? Our English word "gospel" comes from an Anglo-Saxon term which literally means "good news." The word in the New Testament translated "gospel" means "good message" or "glad tiding" (Romans 10:15). "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10). The gospel in essence is the good news of salvation in Christ by divine grace through man’s obedient faith (Ephesians 2:8). "…Preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who doe snot believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).
What is the content of the gospel? "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you….For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The gospel contains these facts which one must believe to be saved. However, the gospel must also be obeyed (Romans 10:16). Facts themselves cannot be obeyed; commands can be obeyed. Thus, the gospel also contains commands. This is why Jesus said that preaching the gospel includes commands to believe and be baptized (Mark 16:16). Furthermore, the gospel has preciuos promises, as the hope laid up in heaven (Colossians 1:5).
What is God’s part in the gospel? First of all, the gospel is the good news of salvation in Christ alone, and God has made all the provisions to grant us salvation by His grace. Paul preached "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). Additionally, God has revealed all these provisions in the gospel–both what He has done to make salvation available, and those conditions upon which we can receive it. Paul says "that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel" (Ephesians 3:3-6).
What is man’s part in the gospel? To be saved from sin people must believe the gospel (Mark 1:14). Before people can believe the gospel, they must hear it (Acts 15:7). Then they must obey the gospel, because those who do not obey the gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction for their sin (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Both those who hear and those who preach the gospel must not accept a perverted gospel (Galatians 1:6-11).
Gospel and Doctrine
What is the relationship between the gospel and doctrine? Some affirm a distinction between the gospel, to be preached only to the lost, and doctrine, to be taught only to the church. This distinction has been the basis for several false ideas, including unscriptural "unity in diversity." Such a distinction is not scriptural. Paul was coming to the saints (church) at Rome to preach the gospel to them (Romans 1:7-15). At the same time, these Romans were Christians because when they were lost they"obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine" by which they were freed from sin (Romans 6:17-18). Sound doctrine andthe gospel are co-extensive in the saving and sanctifying of man (1 Timothy 1:10-11).
Jesus has given us marching orders: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). We sing, "Of one the Lord has made the race, Through one has come the fall; Where sin has gone must go His grace: The gospel is for all" (J. M. McCaleb). The gospel is for all, because all have sinned (Romans 3:23). The fact that people must hear and believe the gospel means that those who are saved have an obligation to preach the gospel to a lost world (1 Corinthians 1:17). Let us confidently say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). Let us believe it, obey it, preach it, and defend it with all our might. (—taken from Christianity Magazine; Sept./Oct., 1999; Vol. 16, No. 9-10; p. 21)