What is the Gospel?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by npetreley, May 25, 2004.

  1. npetreley

    npetreley
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    Does anyone here want to take a stab at the simplest possible form of the Gospel? I'm not looking for a doctrinal statement, I mean something more along the lines of 25 words or less.

    Just to give you an idea (this is not necessarily my idea of the ultimate definition - just a sample):

    "Jesus died for our sins, rose again for our justification, and is now interceding for us. If you put your faith in Him, you will have eternal life."

    I'm hoping to boil the Gospel down to its simplest components we can all agree upon, and -- yes -- believe it or not, this question is meant to address a free will/election issue. But first I think we have to come to some agreement on what the Gospel really means.
     
  2. ballfan

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    Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


    Twenty Five words.
     
  3. Johnv

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    "The Gospel" is what we accuse the preacher down the street of not preaching when we preaches in a manner different from what we're used to. [​IMG]
     
  4. ballfan

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    I've had people tell me that John 3:16 was not part of the gospel of grace. Said it applied only to the Jews.
     
  5. Johnv

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    Surely, thou dost jest with me!!! The phrase "so loved the world" is rather self explanatory, methinks!!!
     
  6. ballfan

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    I jest not.
     
  7. npetreley

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    Cool, thanks. Is (most) everyone in agreement that this sums up the Gospel?
     
  8. John Gilmore

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    Gospel = the grace of God + the merit of Christ + faith received from the Holy Spirit.

    God so loved the world = the grace of God
    he gave his only begotten Son = the merit of Christ
    whosoever believeth in him should have everlasting life = faith received from the Holy Spirit
     
  9. npetreley

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    Okay, now the free will/election connections:

    1. Is the presentation of the issue of free will/election necessary in order to communicate the bare-bones good news itself? I think the answer is clearly, "no".

    As "John Gilmore" demonstrated, one can interpret John 3:16 from an election perspective, given that faith is a gift from God and not of ourselves. But that is nowhere stated explicitly in the Gospel.

    Other free will advocates may insist that the word "whosoever" in John 3:16 necessitates free will. It does not necessitate free will. One could just as easily say that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever is six feet tall or taller should not perish but have everlasting life." The word "whosoever" fits perfectly in this case, yet it clearly has nothing to do with free will. Therefore it is an unsupportable claim that the presence of the word " whosoever" in John 3:16 necessitates either free will or election. All it says is that whosoever believes (for whatever reason - free will or predestination) shall not perish but have everlasting life.

    So neither free will nor election are "proven" in the Gospel alone.

    2. To whom will the Gospel be good news? To anyone who believes, regardless of whether they believe of their own free will or they believe because it is given to them by God to do so. Again, the issue of free will/election is external to the messages of the Gospel itself and is (or should be, IMO) irrelevant to the one who presents the Gospel.

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    Therefore if anyone presents the Gospel in the context of free will or election, they are ADDING something to the Gospel in their message. Whether they are adding something true or false, it is still an addition.

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    3. This raises the question: "Which is more harmful to the Gospel - the addition of free will or election?"

    I'd like to see answers to that question, but I hope you will think about this follow-up question as you answer the above: "Do your concerns lie more with 'selling' the Gospel effectively, or are you concerned more with what is the truth and most honors God?"
     
  10. ballfan

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    Neither because they're both true.

    You wouldn't want to present the gospel as a freewill-election issue to potential new believers. That is for those more rounded in the faith. Freewill-election is more meat and potato's. They're not baby food.
     
  11. Johnv

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    Good pont, ballfan. I'll have to remember that.
     
  12. Eric B

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    You should see the preterism and Millennium debates over in Other Religions. Preterism shows where various scriptures "world" and "earth", and even "Heaven and earth" means only Israel or just the known land of the Roman empire, and not only that, but much of the scriptures on resurrection, salvation and judgment are referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, so as I have been warning over there, one could interpret even a scripture like this as having only some local significance.
     
  13. npetreley

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    Perhaps that's a good attitude to take, but the fact is that people routinely drag the issue into the Gospel. In particular, I repeatedly hear the Gospel tied inextricably to free will. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "It is a free gift, but you cannot receive it unless you make the decision of your own free will to reach out and take it."

    Why does this matter? Because it states that man can merit salvation. If one must "make the decision of one's own free will to reach out and take the free gift of salvation", then one can rightly say that, "I am saved because I was [smart enough, humble enough, whatever enough] to make the right decision. You are unsaved because you are [too stubborn, too stupid, too whatever] to make the right decision."

    While one still cannot be saved without grace, this presentation of the Gospel places the crucial difference between the saved and unsaved on the qualities that one person has that would cause him/her to make the "right" choice vs. the drawbacks of the other that cause him/her to make the "wrong" choice.

    On the other hand, I find it hard to criticize the Gospel wrapped in election because I've never heard it presented that way. I'm not saying it isn't done, but I've personally never heard it. I've either heard it wrapped in free will, or nothing at all. Even if an evangelist said only the elect are saved, that does not presume anyone in the audience is elect or non-elect, so I'm not sure how that would be a problem. I suppose if an evangelist said, "You three people in the front row are not elect, so you may as well leave now," that would be harmful, but has anyone actually heard an evangelist say that?
     
  14. npetreley

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    Preterism contains not only some of the most bizarre reasoning I've ever read, the self-justification I read on preterist sites is even more bizarre. It amounts to "Since people are doubting the validity of Biblical prophecy because they haven't seen it come to pass in 2,000 years, it will be easier to convince them the Bible is accurate if we say all that prophecy has already been fulfilled." In other words, "Let's disregard the verse '"...in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."' ...and instead solve the problem by re-interpreting the Bible to mean it's all happened.

    Sorry, I don't want to derail my own thread into a preterism discussion, but I couldn't resist....
     
  15. John Gilmore

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    It is stated explicitly in John 3:16. If God so loved the world = the grace of God, then faith must be the sole work of God or grace is not grace. If He gave His only begotten Son = the merit of Christ, then faith must be of the merit of Christ not the merit of men.
     
  16. ballfan

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    Perhaps that's a good attitude to take, but the fact is that people routinely drag the issue into the Gospel. In particular, I repeatedly hear the Gospel tied inextricably to free will. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "It is a free gift, but you cannot receive it unless you make the decision of your own free will to reach out and take it."

    Why does this matter? Because it states that man can merit salvation. If one must "make the decision of one's own free will to reach out and take the free gift of salvation", then one can rightly say that, "I am saved because I was [smart enough, humble enough, whatever enough] to make the right decision. You are unsaved because you are [too stubborn, too stupid, too whatever] to make the right decision."

    While one still cannot be saved without grace, this presentation of the Gospel places the crucial difference between the saved and unsaved on the qualities that one person has that would cause him/her to make the "right" choice vs. the drawbacks of the other that cause him/her to make the "wrong" choice.

    On the other hand, I find it hard to criticize the Gospel wrapped in election because I've never heard it presented that way. I'm not saying it isn't done, but I've personally never heard it. I've either heard it wrapped in free will, or nothing at all. Even if an evangelist said only the elect are saved, that does not presume anyone in the audience is elect or non-elect, so I'm not sure how that would be a problem. I suppose if an evangelist said, "You three people in the front row are not elect, so you may as well leave now," that would be harmful, but has anyone actually heard an evangelist say that?
    </font>[/QUOTE]It has to be presented in a way that people can understand. To people it is a freewill issue. Its easier to understand that way. I would say that election is more from God's point of view. Election is harder for us to understand because our thoughts are not equal to God's thoughts.

    We are required to acknowledge what God has done for us. There is no question about that.
     
  17. npetreley

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    John Gilmore, I happen to agree with you, and I think you case is stated most clearly in Ephesians. But free will advocates may still argue that grace is still grace even if we choose to receive it of our own free will. So they will not see John 3:16 the same way you or I will.

    I had hoped to illustrate that adding free will to the Gospel invalidates grace, because it places the differentiation between the saved and unsaved on some quality a person has that causes them to make the "right" decision.
     
  18. npetreley

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    But if it's not a free will issue, then presenting it as one is adding a lie to the Gospel. I won't speak for others, but you'll have a hard time convincing me this is acceptable, let alone a good thing.

    One may argue that by adding free will to the Gospel, we make the Gospel easier to accept to the unsaved. But isn't it possible to present the Gospel as the Gospel, and let God do the work of drawing and saving? Or are we so much wiser than God that we should add a lie to the Gospel because we know the lie will sell it better?

    I'm not arguing that we should hammer election into the presentation of the Gospel, but I fail to see a valid reason for shoving free will into it, either.
     
  19. Primitive Baptist

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    The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is "good news." When you read the newspaper on September 12, 2001, did it read, "Terrorists will fly an airplane into the Twin Towers in New York if you...?" No, it was NEWS; something that had already taken place; something that was accomplished.
     
  20. John Gilmore

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