Monday, September 17, 2012

The Gospel is a Message

The Gospel of the Christ is a message. It is not merely a list of facts. It is a message that is conveyed by a particular list of facts which can be neither added to nor taken from. These facts, as important and non-negotiable as they are, are not themselves the message they convey. The Gospel is the only message that conveys how the only salvation available was provided for, and this message alone is the power of God unto that salvation.

We say that Christ died for our sins, and by that we mean the Gospel though not all the facts of the Gospel are spoken. If that statement is made in the proper context it does in fact convey the Gospel of the Christ even though it does not include all of the facts.

So why does Paul state the facts of the Gospel so clearly in 1Cor 15:1-11 in correction of the false doctrine that there is no resurrection that the Corinthians were starting to embrace? Because the facts of the Gospel preserve the message of the Gospel. Some detractors claim that the list of facts given in 1st Corinthians 15 is like a "laundry list" and that a person having to understand each of these facts is not practically plausible. They ask questions like: How well must a person understand? How well do we who are saved actually understand? Still other people try to add concepts to the message of the Gospel such as other requirements for salvation or other promises in addition to that salvation. The facts of the Gospel do not convey these concepts however. There is no submission, works, self-sacrifice or anything else conveyed by the facts of the Gospel as a requirement for salvation to occur. Likewise, no good life, no pleasure, no riches, no power or fame is promised to the Believer by any fact of the Gospel.

The Gospel is a particular message conveyed by particular facts. It is a irreducible message. It is an unchanging message. It is a message of salvation provided for by the Christ. One can accurately convey the Gospel even if particular facts are not explicitly stated. For example, some argue that unless one explicitly mentions the burial of the Christ that one has not actually spoken the Gospel. Or, if one does not mention the various resurrection appearances that the Gospel has not been spoken. Much work in the grammar is done to explain why these facts are in deed part of the Gospel.

The Gospel is comprised of every, and only, all the facts listed in 1Cor 15:1-11. It is the message Paul preached, all the other Apostles preached, and that all the Believers believed.  The "good news" of the Gospel is however that salvation is provided for faithfully, justly, and fully and further that this completely real salvation is received by receiving this very message.

The Gospel is not the facts. The facts convey the Gospel.

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