What Is The Gospel?
In these six verses of Scripture the Holy Spirit has given us five distinct, identifying characteristics of the gospel. Mark them carefully. Learn what they mean. Any gospel which fails to measure up to this standard is a false gospel and those who preach it are false prophets.
The Gospel we believe and preach, the gospel of Holy Scripture, the only true Gospel is here described as “THE GOSPEL OF GOD”. There are not many gospels, but one, and that one gospel is “the gospel” which is “of God”. It came from God. It reveals God. It is made known by God. It brings sinners to God. And it glorifies and exalts God.
That gospel which is of God is that “Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.” The gospel revealed in the New Testament is the gospel promised, portrayed, and typified in the Old Testament. As stated above, there is only one gospel, not two. God did not save sinners by works in the Old Testament. He saved them by grace, just like he does today.
That Gospel which is of God and according to the Scriptures, promised in the prophets of the Old Testament, is “CONCERNING GOD’S SON, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” The gospel is good news about a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a set of doctrines, a proposition, or an offer. It is the blessed good news of the Person, work, and accomplishments of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is here called the Son of God, God the Son, the second Person of the Holy Trinity (1 John 5:7). He is Jesus, our Savior, Deliverer, and Redeemer (Matt. 1:21). He is the Christ, Jehovah’s Servant, his Elect, the Messiah, that One of whom it is written, “He shall not fail!” He who is God our Savior is our Lord, the sovereign Monarch of the universe (John 17:2; Rom. 14:9). He of whom the gospel speaks is God the eternal Son who was “made of the seed of David, according to the flesh”. He was “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” Being made a man, he was made a man according to the direct, royal line of King David to sit upon his throne forever. Then, after he had satisfied the law and justice of God for the sins of his people, which were imputed to him, by his death upon the cursed tree, our great Substitute was manifestly and indisputably “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” It is this great God and Savior revealed in the gospel by whom we have received grace, faith, and obedience (v.5).
This gospel, everything about this gospel is “for his name”, for the glory, honor, praise, exaltation, and worship of his holy name! Here is a litmus test by which we must judge all religion, all doctrine, and all preaching. If it exalts the Lord Jesus Christ and the free grace of God in him, it is according to the gospel of God. If it exalts man, his will, his works, or his religious deeds, it is of the devil, the father of lies, the flatterer and deceiver of men’s souls.
And it is by this gospel, the glorious gospel of the all glorious Christ, that we who believe are “the called of Jesus Christ.” Yes, God saves his elect through the instrumentality of gospel preaching (2 Thess. 2:13-14).