November 20, 2018

The Gospel of Christ

By Earl Robertson

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul states the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ. And upon the triumphant resurrection of Christ, Paul bases his arguments for the resurrection of Christians. The Christians in Corinth, to whom Paul addressed this letter, had clasped in heart the gospel as the truth of God, and would be saved eternally if they continued to believe it. Their relationship with God was based upon this gospel. Without any difficulty one can see the essentiality of the gospel in the first letter of the Corinthians. "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9: 16). "... it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). This gospel that Paul preached is the gospel that Christ authorized the apostles to preach (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15, 16).

Paul could see a "woe" pronounced upon him if he should fail to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. What think you, my brother, when we fail to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? In observing our few accomplishments we, sometimes, stop to pride ourselves of the lofty heights to which we have scaled, and in so doing we become wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Our Lord charges us to "anoint shine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Rev. 3: 18, 19). The fields are white unto harvest, but who will reap?

There is but one gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), but there are many perversions of it (Gal. 1:7). Elders have been warned of men perverting this gospel (Acts 20: 29, 30.) Evangelists have also been warned of such (1 Tim. 4:2, 6; 2 Tim. 4:1-5). Women have likewise been warned (2 Tim. 3:1-8). Thus, we must stand guard at all times against every perversion of the gospel of Christ. The social gospel is no gospel at all. The theory of saving sinners by preaching the man and not the plan is not gospel either. And the theories of the denominations are not the gospel in any sense of the term (Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7).

What Is the Gospel?

The Gospel is not sensationalism, but it is good tidings (Rom. 10:15; Gal. 3:8). The very fact that salvation from sin and an expectation of heaven is predicated upon the gospel and obedience thereto, constitutes good news or glad tidings. A case in point is the conversion of the eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). In this example the Lord Jesus Christ (around whom every feature of the gospel is fastened, and from whom every command is issued) was preached unto the eunuch. He embraced this truth and was baptized into Christ for the remission of his sins. The salvation that he obtained is only in Christ (Acts 4:11, 12; 2 Tim. 2:10). After completing this primary obedience, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. Glad tidings had been preached to and embraced by this man, and it caused his rejoicing.

Source of the Gospel

This gospel is of God (Rom. 1: 1). It originated with God; he designed it (John 8: 28; 12: 49, 50; Heb. 1:2). Yet, it is also called the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1: 16). Christ helped make all things and the gospel is a work of divinity (John 1: 1-3). The gospel was first spoken by Christ (Heb. 1:2; 2:3.) Yet, still, the gospel was given by the apostles (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4: 15; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:12; 1 Thess. 1:5). The gospel, preached by the apostles, was given unto them by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13; John 17:8; Acts 2:4; Heb. 2:3,4). God designed the gospel; Christ received it from God and spoke it; the Holy Spirit received it from Christ and gave it to the apostles, and they preached it unto us (John 16:13, 14; Heb. 2:3; Jas. 1:21).

The apostles being guided by the Holy Spirit were made ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5: 20; Eph. 6: 20). Having this gospel, the question comes: "What shall they do with it?" Christ had commanded the apostles to "go" and "teach." The obligation was to teach, (1) All nations (Matt. 28: 18-20); (2) Every creature (Mark 16: 15, 16); and (3) Saints (Jude 3). They were taught to "Observe....whatsoever I commanded you." The question then is answered. They must preach this gospel. These apostles felt very keenly this duty and discharged it (1 Cor. 9:16; Acts 13:46,47).

"How" Shall This Command Be Obeyed??

It appears that each generation is faced with this question of "how" the gospel may be preached. The "them" whom the apostles taught to observe all things were baptized believers (Matt. 28:19), thus, the church! The church, as well as the individual, has an obligation to impart the truth of Christ. Paul took wages of churches to preach Christ to others (2 Cor. 11: I-9). The Philippian church had fellowship with Paul in preaching the gospel (Phil. 1:3-5; 2:25-30; 4:14-19). The church at Antioch sent men to preach the Christ (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26 28). The church in Thessalonica so lived and worked before God and man that from them had "sounded forth the word of the Lord' not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that' we need not to speak anything" (1 Thess. 1: 8) . Macedonia and Achaia were the two provinces that made up Greece at that time. These brethren had saturated Greece with the gospel, and their "faith to God-ward" had gone every place.

When the persecution in Jerusalem had come and the disciples had been dispersed, "they went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:1-5). These are some "ways" the gospel was preached in the first century. Each brother or sister did what he could do to spread the gospel. Each congregation did what it could to preach the truth, and that without creating anything larger or smaller than the local church. They had no pooling of resources from many churches into the treasury of one church. Each church did what it could to teach the gospel; all had the same charge.

However, in the course of time, brethren began to argue that the church, in its universal sense, has a duty to preach the gospel. But, upon seeing that God has not given any organization to the church in its aggregate form, they then looked to a single congregation and said, "it is impossible for a church to preach the gospel." Lard's Quarierly, Vol. 5, p. 195, The Search for The Ancient Order, Vol. 1, p. 169.

With this attitude toward God's arrangements, things must soon change. And they did! Brethren soon were stating: "But there is a growing interest in the subject manifested, and there is a growing need felt for a more scriptural and efficient organization and co-operation (than the church, E. R.)." "There are some duties of the church which a single congregation cannot, by her unaided strength, discharge.... A primary object being to devise some scheme for a more effectual proclamation of the gospel in destitute places, both at home and abroad, the Convention took under consideration the organization of a Missionary Society." The Search for The Ancient Order, Vol. 1, pp. 161, 173.

We have observed where the church, a single congregation, preached the gospel, these folk to the contrary, notwithstanding. These folk were bold, but yet subtle, in getting the Society in on the churches. They argued: "In like manner the gospel must be preached. This none denies. But how shall it be done, -- by those only who are sent out by some church?" Lard's Quarterly, Vol. 4, p. 152. Thus, in their big ideas they concluded that God had failed in preparations and organization and said, "the church is left free to devise its own plan, according to its own wisdom, with only the law of expediency applying." The Search for The Ancient Order, Vol. 1, p. 169.

No Harm, Just a Method

At the 1849 Cincinnati convention at which the Missionary Society was formed, "John T. Johnson offered a resolution to the effect that a missionary society, as a means to concentrate and dispense the wealth and benevolence of the brethren of this reformation, in order to convert the world, is both scriptural and expedient." Missionary Addresses, by McLean, p. 226.

The advocates of the society reasoned: "That Missionary Societies are not in themselves wrong. That Missionary Societies are unknown in the New Testament, and therefore unprovided for by it, is what no one acquainted with its teachings will deny. If then, right, it is because they are so in themselves, and not because they are made so Holy Writ. Beyond all question, they are purely optional in their origin; that is, they originate in the will of men; and we may or may not have them, just as we see fit. They can plead no authority for their existence, above the joint assent of those who create them; and this assent is as human as the fingers, which write their by-laws. Still, for all this, they are not wrong." Lard's Quarterly, Vol. 2, p. 134.

So, there is no New Testament authority for them; they split churches; they split families; they are the cause for discord; but, "still, for all this, they are not wrong," according to digressives. The very fact that there is no New Testament authority for them, makes them sinful!

The Church Is Sufficient

With the gospel of Christ, which came from the all-wise God, being a sufficient gospel, the church of our Lord can, by this gospel, accomplish God's designs for her without any such human organizations as the Missionary Societies, Benevolent Societies, and Educational Societies. The church is God's agency to make known the gospel (Matt. 20:1-16; 1 Tim. 3:15). The church is the sending agency (Acts 13:1-3). The church is to sow the seed of the kingdom (Lk. 8: 11; Matt. 13: 3-9)

Conclusion

Have you obeyed the pure word of truth? Are your sins forgiven? Are you free in Christ? If not, this same gospel that saved the Corinthians will also save you. Luke tells us plainly that "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8). Why not do the same thing while you have time?

Truth Magazine VII: 3, pp. 6-7, 24
December 1962

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