Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Note on Gospel Summaries in the New Testament

Both anti-intellectualism and hyper-intellectualism threaten to undermine the proper simplicity of gospel proclamation in Christian communities.

The anti-intellectual, without careful thought about Scripture, summarizes the gospel wrongly: What is the gospel? 'That God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, and that you need to repeat this prayer after me and believe it with all your heart and then never doubt that you are saved.'

-When one begins to study the Bible and thereby comes to realize that the above method of evangelism- and the specific prayer that is prayed- is nowhere to be found, then one comes to be confused as to the very definition of the gospel.

The hyper-intellectual, through much studying without proper focus on the gospel, loses the ability to summarize the gospel at all: What is the gospel? 'It's this vast body of doctrine' or 'it's an entire life lived out before God, including a wide array of social issues,' or 'it depends on whom you are addressing.'

-Answers like those above seek to be helpful, but they actually help no one; non-Christians will never be converted to Christ by such vague or laborious gospel definitions.

The Apostles, in striving to make Jesus known and in addressing gospel truths to a whole host of issues, are yet able to give summaries of the gospel and the proper response to the gospel.

To give two examples:

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NIV)
the word of faith that we preach: 9 That if you shall confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and shall believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation. 11 For Scripture says, “Everyone believing in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:8b-11, my translation)

Brothers and sisters: If we find that we have been summarizing the gospel in an unbiblical way, or if we find ourselves unable to summarize it at all, we must repent and follow the examples of the New Testament.

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