Christianity - What The Gospel Is - And What It Isn’t
Getting the Gospel right is terribly important. If we get it wrong, we have, by definition, a false Gospel. Scripture warns us that false Gospels are damning. The apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:8-9: But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a Gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a Gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Those are some strong words from the apostle Paul. False Gospels are accursed. Thus, getting the Gospel right is of utmost importance.
What the Gospel is not
There are a lot of goofy ideas that have crept into Christianity regarding what the Gospel is. Not everyone who claims Christ has the Gospel correct, and the sad truth about this lamentable situation is that tons of people that lay claim to Jesus Christ may be trusting in a false Gospel.
False Gospel #1: Love God and Love Others
Although this is a true statement, this isn’t the Gospel. This is probably the single biggest error made today, that the Gospel is simply to love God and love others. Jesus Himself tells us in response to the Pharisees asking the question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36) Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Notice what question Jesus is answering here - it was about the LAW, not the Gospel. Loving God and loving other is commanded of us, but it isn’t the Gospel. We know from elsewhere in Scripture that no one can possibly be justified by doing the Law. First, James tells us that “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (James 2:10) Paul states: “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11) Are we to love God and love others? Of course we are. No Christian would answer any differently. But it’s not what justifies us and not what saves us.
False Gospel #2: God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life
Again, we have a statement that isn’t totally wrong. God does love us and God’s plan is always the best plan. But this is not the Gospel either.
False Gospel #3: Jesus Died So You Can Have Your Best Life Now
Oh really? I wonder what the apostles would have said to this? History tells us they were all martyred. Not only that, but doesn’t Jesus call us to give up self serving? We are told to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him. Likewise, Paul tells us: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:16-17) Contrary to the false Gospel preached by Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and all the other Word-Faith nonsense pushers, Paul states something totally contrary to what they swear is Christianity. Paul says: we’re going to suffer for Christ. Word-Faith says: through God, we will become healthy and wealthy. What a bunch of trash.
Another slogan or saying worth mentioning here is: “Live the Gospel.” Although this in itself is not a false Gospel, per se, we also must recognize that this statement, although very popular, is false on the face of it. The reason is that we do not “live the Gospel.” The Gospel is not about us, and we are not the Gospel. The essence of the Gospel is that it is good NEWS. It’s not good living, it’s not good advice. It’s news - it happened. It is the pronouncement and proclamation of an objective historical event. Namely, the work of Christ.
The Gospel is, as alluded to above, a proclamation of the finished work of Christ. Paul reminds us: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) The Gospel is about what Christ DID, not what we do. In other words, it’s just not about us. We may live in light of the Gospel, but we do not live the Gospel itself. And Christianity, at its heart, is a Gospel. In opposition to all other false religions of man, Christianity is about what God has done for us in Christ, as opposed to what we do to gain God. It’s divine accomplishment versus human striving to reach God. It’s about what was done on our behalf by Jesus Christ. Therefore, repent and believe the Gospel.