“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Rom. 1:14-15).
What is the Gospel? The English word comes from the Anglo-Saxon “godspel” which meant glad tidings through godspel or god-story. In the New Testament it is the Christ-centered message—the good message—the message which produces joy in the heart. In Romans 1:16-17 Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
It is “the” Gospel. There is not another (Gal. 1:6-9). Anything other than the Gospel preached by Paul and the other apostles is a perverted message. The religious world is full of perverted gospels but only “the” Gospel will save. It is the method which God chose to save the world (I Cor. 1:21). The Gospel is also called “the faith” (Jude 3), “one faith” (Eph. 4:4), “this doctrine” (II John 9), “the truth” (John 8:32), “the word” (II Tim. 4:2), and “the doctrine” (I Tim. 4:16). It is the message of which Paul was not ashamed; and neither should we be. In fact, we must not—we dare not—be ashamed of the Gospel. W. H. Bradfield used to say, “We should be ashamed to be afraid and afraid to be ashamed to preach the Gospel.”
It is the Gospel of Christ, not Mohammed, not Buddha, not Joseph Smith, not the pope of Rome, nor the Catholic church. It is “power”—divine power—power of God. No one can be saved without it (Rom. 10:13-17; Mark 16:15-16; John 14:6; John 6:45). It is for everyone—Jew and Gentile. The invitation is for all (Matt. 11:28; Rev. 3:20; 22:17).
The salvation which it brings is conditional—to everyone that “believes.” Faith that avails is obedient faith; it is faith which compels one to do what God has said, just because God says “do it.” Paul made it clear in his letter to the Romans that when he spoke of “faith” it was “obedient faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).
Gospel preaching requires reproving, rebuking, and exhorting (II Tim. 4:2; I Tim. 5:20; Titus 1:13; Rev. 3:19). Gospel preaching makes enemies (Gal. 4:16; Matt. 10:34-37). Some are offended by Gospel preaching (Matt. 13:12). Where did we get the idea that we can preach the Gospel and never upset anyone? Gospel preaching causes a stir (Acts 16:20).
The Gospel includes facts to be believed (I Cor. 15:1-4), commands to be obeyed (Matt. 7:21; Rev. 22:14), and promises to be received (Eph. 1:3; Rev. 2:10; Matt. 25:34ff; II Tim. 4:6-8; John 14:1-3). The Gospel must be preached to a lost world (Mark 16:15; II Tim. 4:1-4; I Cor. 9:16). Preacher, are you listening? Elders, don’t bridle your preacher.
Paul M. Wilmoth