WHAT THE GOSPEL IS….NOT!
This is the second of two articles on the Gospel. Please read this article after you read the first.
Today, as in the past, it is quite common to attempt to ‘improve upon’ the true gospel of Jesus Christ. This can take several forms, but generally it becomes the gospel plus some other activity or requirement. Perhaps adding a ‘works’ requirement in order to complete the gospel. Somehow the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s death is not sufficient. Adding something to the gospel is not only incorrect, it is quite dangerous. (Galatians 1:8-9)
“Since the very beginning of time, people have been trying to save themselves in ways that make sense to them, rather than listening and submitting to God. They have tried to figure out how to get salvation to work-how to get the gospel to work apart from the cross of Jesus Christ.”
Is a bigger and better gospel possible? Of course not but that does not stop people from adding to the work of Christ on the cross. These attempts to relegate the cross to a secondary position can be found in countless books as well as in many local churches.
What follows are three attempts to find a bigger, and wrong, gospel.
The first one has taken many forms over the last 2,000 years, and today seems again to be growing in popularity. This is the lie that the cross plus something else, is the gospel. The “something else” can be, for example, following legalistic requirements of behavior, working to transform the culture, attempting to increase social justice, etc. Again, adding any other focus or activity to Christ’s finished work on the cross is not the gospel. It seems that all the efforts to accomplish these other activities replace the true gospel as the center of our joy and salvation.
A common substitute for the gospel is a simple proclamation that ‘Jesus is Lord’. While it is certainly true that confession of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9) is essential to the gospel, it is not the whole gospel message. The full meaning of Jesus’ lordship is that this Lord has been crucified, buried, and resurrected, and it also means that His death and resurrection, above all, has accomplished the “forgiveness of sins” for those who would repent and believe in him.”
It is also common to hear Christians explain the gospel as a brief recap of the Bible. This takes the form of a ‘Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation’. As stated, this is the Bible’s over-arching storyline, but it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. This summation places the emphasis on God’s promise to renew the world, but it does not explain how a person is redeemed and gets to be included in this renewal.
Perhaps you have heard it repeated, “The gospel plus nothing equals everything.” This means that we can do absolutely nothing to save ourselves. It is not possible to add anything to the gospel and not diminish what Christ has done for us. With what He has done we are safe and secure forever!
Thank you Lord Jesus!
Gospel YouTube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1Ex2FpwqvIWhat is the Gospel, by Greg Gilbert
A concise, 7-page, tract found in your Lending Library (100 copies)
Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. This excellent book is in your Lending Library (10 copies)
 Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 102.
 Ibid., 104-105.