The Gospel is Distinct from Our Response to It

“The main message of the Bible about Jesus Christ can easily become mixed with all sorts of things that are related to it.  We see this in the way people define the gospel or preach it.  But it is important to keep the gospel itself clearly distinct from our response to it or from the results of it in our lives and in the world.  If our proper response to the gospel message is faith, then we should not make faith part of the gospel itself.  It would be absurd to call people to have faith in faith!  While the new birth bears a close relationship to faith in Christ, it is a mistake to speak of the new birth as if it were itself the gospel.  Faith in the new birth as such will not save us…

Related to the gospel event are other important aspects of God’s work which are not themselves the gospel.  If we believe the gospel we will probably also believe these, but they are not the focus of our trust the way that the saving work of Jesus is.  We do not preach them as the heart of our message to unbelievers….

We note that what you or I do in response to the gospel is not itself the gospel.  You cannot say that repentance and faith are the gospel.  They are what the Holy Spirit enables us to do about the gospel.  If you tell unbelievers that they should trust Christ, believe the good news, or confess their sin, these things are undoubtedly true, but they are not the gospel.  We must tell them what it is about Christ that they should trust, what the good news is so that they can believe it and why sins should be confessed.”

Graeme Goldsworthy – According to Plan (p. 81-83)

(HT: Dan Orr)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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