THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD
Throughout the centuries there has been a multitude of differing versions as to what exactly the Gospel is. There has been a seemingly unceasing array of opinions as to which doctrines actually make up the Gospel of God and which doctrines do not. Some have included not only doctrines but also a standard of obedience that must be adhered to so that one can get saved and/or stay saved. Others have been much more accommodating to man’s sinful nature by making the Gospel, that which must be believed for anyone to be saved, a simple matter of knowing some general truths about the existence of God and what happened to His Son, or only one or two specific doctrines. Many say that the entire Bible is the Gospel, while others at the opposite end of the scale claim that no one knows what the Gospel actually is. Others claim belief in the historical facts that Christ, the Son of God, has died, was buried and is resurrected, is all one needs to know and believe in order to evidence a saved state. One opinion pertaining to what the Gospel is that has recently been brought to my attention is that which says the Gospel only contains one doctrine. Only one doctrine that a person must believe in order to be justified before God. Only one doctrine that a person needs to be aware of and have right knowledge of in order to safely say that one is in a justified state before God. And that doctrine is: the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to this butchered version of the Gospel, the only doctrine one needs to know and therefore be accurate about at the outset of one’s Christian life is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, because it is this which makes a man righteous before God. The ground of salvation has therefore become the whole Gospel, according to some. The other doctrines, such as election, the quickening work of the Spirit of God etc., which Scripture teaches are all part of the Gospel for they all deal with grace in salvation, have been relegated to a subgroup of doctrines. A group of doctrines that are said must also be believed or a true salvation has not taken place, but strangely are not included in the Gospel of God. These doctrines, which are said to be essential to salvation but not essentials of the Gospel, have been reduced to being the mere fruit of being justified, or the fruit of believing the righteousness of Christ. Belief in them is seen as the natural consequence of rightly believing the Gospel, which is exclusively about the righteousness of Christ, rather than them actually being part of the Gospel Message. The premise is that as Christ’s Righteousness is the ground of salvation, no other doctrine is necessary to be believed at the outset of one’s Christian life, but also that none are Christian who fail to believe the other doctrines which they say are essential to salvation but not part of the Gospel! So, is this right? Is the Gospel, that which must be believed for a person to be saved, made up of only one doctrine and are all those others which deal with issues to do with grace and salvation the mere fruit of salvation and not the very seed of it? This book will not only investigate these claims, but more importantly, will provide the reader with clear Bible teaching on what exactly must be believed, and why, in order for a man to be saved, and what the qualification is for a teaching to be part of the Gospel of the Grace of God.
Many have wondered why God did not simply list the doctrines which form His Gospel, the Good News of salvation by grace, in the Bible so that all the ‘confusion’ and conjecture of what exactly the Gospel is made up of would have been avoided. For many, the Gospel is not something definite, a set group of doctrines which cannot be mistaken by God’s people as that which God requires belief in for a person to rightly be said to be converted, but an almost indefinable thing that varies depending upon whom one talks to. But the confusion lies only in the minds of the unregenerate. Because of this perceived confusion, many who are under the impression that they are Christians have taken it upon themselves to judge a person’s lifestyle as the ultimate determining factor that shows whether one is a Christian or not. Belief in a set of doctrines, or a doctrinal system, is important to many but not the standard by which people like to judge saved and lost. The fact that those who believe the Gospel shall be saved and that those who do not believe it shall be damned is too cold and restrictive for most people and very few are able, or willing, to accept the fact that God would damn a person because they were ignorant of, or did not believe in, all but one or two teachings. That the matter of certainty, of what the truth is and of what the Gospel is made up of, is to many a debatable one is evidenced by the many and varied versions of what the Gospel is and how a person ‘reaches’ a saved state. The question that arises out of all this is: ‘How can one know for certain that a doctrine is part of the Gospel, that which must be believed for a person to be saved?’ The glorious truth concerning all this is the fact that saving knowledge of the Gospel is not something a man has to determine for himself, but is something which is brought, or revealed, to him by God. Man must study and dig for truth but this truth is discovered at the time appointed by God and comes only by revelation from God, and not through any intellectual achievement on the part of man. God reveals Himself in and through His Gospel to His people and the regenerated person sees, knows and believes all that Gospel, which talks of Who God is and how God saves. But for many the confusion remains because there are so many people who look and act like Christians, but their beliefs are poles apart. People are judged saved according to lifestyle despite their widely differing views on what God is like and how God saves and what His Gospel is all about. This is a prime reason why many consider the matter of doctrine to be some second class and often irrelevant issue. Never should one place the cart before the horse and never should one place how a person acts above what they believe. All God’s people, for whom the whole salvation plan has been laid out and performed and who actually believe in that plan alone in its entirety, are all of one mind when it comes to what the Gospel is. But in practical terms, there must surely be some guideline which God has set that confirms to His people what exactly His Gospel is, how they can know what the doctrines are that are in it, and why, where it starts and where it ends, and by which they can teach others and pronounce aright the teachings of the Gospel of the grace of God? Well, to begin with we can be certain that God would never have left the matter of what the Gospel is to the opinions and theological extrapolations of men. He would never have placed His people in a position of having to take a person’s word for it that what they say the Gospel is, is in fact what the Gospel is. The religious world is confused about what the Gospel is, but the people of God have not been left in such confusion for their eyes have been opened and they have been delivered from doctrinal darkness into the Light of the glorious Gospel itself. The Gospel is not hid from them for they are not among the lost. (see 2 Cor. 4:3,4).
It is God’s Word that the Lord draws our attention to and it is God’s Word that His people place their trust in: "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel" (Col. 1:5 cf. Psa. 119:42). The words of men are just that, the words of men, and unless those words agree with the Word of God they are simply the worthless opinions of men. One is just as good as another and just as weak as another. The crucial element of any equation is the answer. Just as a teacher would not abandon his students in the middle of a class leaving them to work out the answer to a mathematical equation but never returning to tell them the correct answer, God has not, and would never, leave His people to work out for themselves what the Gospel is, but reveals the Gospel He gave His apostles to all His people the moment they are regenerated, and has confirmed what that Gospel is by His perfect Word. God only has one Gospel, so the Gospel which must be believed is the exact same Gospel God gave Paul the apostle. Anything which differs to this is rightly branded another gospel and those who hold to it as accursed (see 2 Cor. 11:4 & Gal. 1:8,9). The very fact that one must believe the Gospel, and that God’s people are also commanded to preach the Gospel, shows that the Gospel is a very definite and knowable thing that has not been left to the conjecture and speculation of men, even God’s people, but is something real and tangible that is revealed and taught by God. There is nothing ambiguous about it. As with its Author, there is no shadow of turning in the Gospel for it is the very Light of God (see Jas. 1:17; 2 Cor. 4:4). The Gospel was never meant to be something that means one thing to some people and another thing to others. It does not come in various forms and guises, for just as with God, it is the same yesterday, today and forever. God does not have several versions of His Gospel in order to suit the various intellectual capabilities of mankind, but only one version, the one and only true version: His version! If the Gospel were not a specific set group of doctrines, or teachings, that which must be believed would be open to opinions of men rather than being that which has been determined by God and which comes forth from the mouth of God. One would hear a different version of the Gospel in one’s travels from ‘church’ to ‘church’ and one would have to accept each version as true. Moreover, contrary to what God has said in His Word—that any who bring a gospel which differs in any way from His is a false gospel and those who preach and believe it accursed—belief of any gospel regardless of how it differs, or by how much it differs, from God’s original Message, would be enough to save people. To know the Gospel is to believe the Gospel is to preach the Gospel, and every facet of the Gospel is clearly spelt out in the glorious Word of God. One can be certain that if God has commanded that His Gospel be believed to the exclusion of all others—those which carry even the most minute error—He has defined His Gospel clearly in His Holy Word for all His people to see. Again, there exists no confusion in the Scriptures as to what the Gospel is, but only in the minds of the lost.
When one’s eyes are opened to the Word of God, one realises that God in fact did not need to list the various doctrines which form the Gospel. The very fact that salvation is by the grace of God, something which God has made very clear throughout His Word, is all the ‘clue’ that is needed to learn, know, prove and be absolutely certain as to what the Gospel of salvation is all about. To know what the doctrines are that a person is to trust in and have faith towards in order to be saved is a life and death issue, and all that has to do with salvation is revealed in the Gospel that teaches the glorious grace of God in the salvation of His people. Most, if not all, the groups that claim to be Christian agree that salvation is by grace. Now what exactly each group means by ‘grace’ is entirely another matter. Grace is a very misinterpreted and misunderstood word in the religious world. Some include works when they speak of grace, which are necessary, they say, not in getting a man saved but in keeping a man saved. One must attain to a certain level of obedience and then maintain that degree of compliance with the laws of God in order to be sure of being saved. Others believe grace is given so that a man can perform the works they say are necessary in acquiring salvation or which keep a man in a saved state. It is quite surprising that those who believe such nonsense fail to see how they have conditioned salvation on what a man does and not solely on what God has done. They are guilty of the same sin of the Pharisee in Luke 18. (see the author’s article ‘The Pharisee and the Publican’). They claim to believe in grace—what God has done—and yet make salvation at least partly dependant on one’s own personal obedience to God. Notwithstanding this, it is generally accepted by all that salvation is by the grace of God, and that whatever people’s interpretation of ‘grace’ might be, it is agreed that one cannot be saved without it. The principal verse bearing this out is found in Ephesians 2:8, which says in part: "...by grace are ye saved..."
As the Gospel is the Good News of salvation and salvation is, and can only be, by the grace of God, it stands to biblical reason that the Gospel of God is made up of the doctrines, or teachings, which define what God has done through that grace by which He saves. God has promised to save His people from their sins, and the Gospel of the grace of God explains how He does it. To believe anything different, to believe in anything that falls short of the whole Gospel of the whole grace of God, is to believe in that which is NOT the Gospel of God. Some might say, ‘But what does it matter whether one believes doctrines are in the Gospel or not? Isn’t it enough that those doctrines are believed?' Well, quite frankly, it isn’t enough, for God has called those doctrines that deal with salvation ‘the Gospel’. They are the doctrines that He has decreed must be believed if one is to be saved, for they are the Good News of salvation. If one does not have those same doctrines in one’s gospel then one has another gospel different to, and therefore opposing, the Gospel. You cannot say, ‘This is the Gospel’ when God has said, ‘That is the Gospel’. A person is saved believing what God says His Gospel is, not what they believe it to be. Christ said that those who believe the Gospel shall be saved. Anyone, therefore, calling themselves saved before believing the doctrines of the Gospel as the Gospel, disagree with what Christ said and so remain lost. We must go by God’s Standard, we must believe His Gospel—what He says the doctrines of salvation are—and not make up one of our own. The apostle Paul says in Acts 20:24, "...so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God". "A study of Paul’s ministry and his proclamations will show that he was a great expounder on the grace of God. The first eleven chapters of his epistle to the Romans are given to an exposition of justification by grace. The first three chapters of Ephesians set forth the doctrines of grace." The above verse could easily, and just as accurately, have referred to the Gospel as the Gospel of salvation according to the doctrines of the grace of God. To believe the Gospel of grace is to believe everything that grace has to say about how God saves. Any gospel that has gagged grace, muffled its voice so as to render part of it inaudible, prevents it from saying its piece, and is one that can never truly reflect all that it took to save the people of God. To believe the Gospel is to trust in everything God has done to save His people from their sins. To truly and savingly trust in God for salvation, one must believe ALL that His Gospel of His grace has to say about how He saves. This cannot be emphasized enough, for a gospel that comes short of the whole message of grace is one that leaves room for man to think there is something he must do, something he must contribute, to either getting himself saved or keeping himself saved. Such a gospel does not lead a person to wholly trust in God alone for salvation, but ‘God and...’ Salvation is about trusting totally in God, and believing the Gospel of God which reveals all of the grace of God is the only way one can absolutely and completely trust in God for salvation leaving no room for a man’s works. Failure to believe all His grace is failure to believe Him.
The Gospel is the Good News of grace! So, as salvation is all of grace, one must place all one’s trust in all that grace says about salvation. Failure to do this is a sure sign that one is believing in a false gospel which allows room for a man to boast in his works. Therefore, a gospel which falls short of revealing the whole of the grace of God can never be called the Gospel of the grace of God. For it to be the Gospel of grace, it must be the Gospel of the whole grace of God, with no part of it missing for whatever reason. NO ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE GOSPEL CAN SAVE ANYONE! Let me make it quite clear that THERE IS NO BIBLICAL REASON OR PURPOSE FOR THE EXCLUSION FROM THE GOSPEL, WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO REVEAL THE SAVING GRACE OF GOD IN THE SALVATION PLAN OF GOD, OF EVEN ONE DOCTRINE WHICH DEALS WITH GRACE IN SALVATION. Salvation must have been all of grace, all of God, for there to not be any room or reason for a man to think to himself that something he must do or has done contributes in any way to getting or keeping him saved. Therefore the Gospel of salvation MUST contain everything that fully teaches salvation by grace. Salvation short of any part of grace would be no salvation at all, and a gospel short of telling the whole of what has been done through grace to save would be no gospel at all but a very, very poor copy. Everything grace has to say about salvation is contained in the Gospel of God and not one word of it gives any reason for anyone to believe that man has any cause to boast of what he has done or what God has empowered him to do. To the thinking person, this clearly gives testament to the fact that any gospel which does not reveal all of the grace of God, for whatever reason, which is necessary to the salvation of His people, is a FALSE gospel which cannot save.
The Gospel is called many things in the Word of God, but verses such as Ephesians 2:8 and Acts 20:24 describe for us the foundational truth of what the Gospel is all about: the grace of God, by this it is understood that Scripture speaks about the whole of the grace of God and not merely a portion of it or even most of it. If a man is saved by the grace of God, and there is nothing in the scriptures that would suggest that this grace is in any way qualified or restricted, then it must be that a man’s salvation is all by grace. Therefore, no part of the grace required in the salvation of a man, could, or should, ever be missing from the preaching of God’s eternal Gospel. To call that which must be believed, in order for one to be saved, The Gospel of the grace of God is to make reference to all of the grace that was necessary in the salvation of God’s people from its inception to its completion. Those who claim that only the doctrine of the righteousness of Christ is in the Gospel, by their own admission, say that there can be no salvation without belief in the other doctrines which deal with salvation but which their gospel does not contain. But how can one have doctrines that are essential to salvation not in the Gospel of salvation? How can one say they are essential to salvation knowledge but not essential to the Gospel, which is God’s chosen vehicle that reveals that knowledge? Surely, if a doctrine is essential to saving faith it must be essential to salvation and therefore essential to the Gospel of salvation! The word grace could never be a reference to one or two aspects of grace, but by every law of reason must be referring to grace as a whole and not as anything less than that. What kind of gospel would we have if salvation had to be all of grace but the Gospel of that grace, the Good News of that grace, was not a full and complete rendering of what was done by grace to secure and ensure the salvation of God’s people? To those who claim that the Gospel of grace is only about Christ and who arm themselves with scriptures which talk of grace being from the Son (see Gal. 1:6; Rom. 5:15) fail to realise that grace is also said to be from the Father (2 Cor. 1:12), and that it is the Father Who has "...called you into the grace of Christ..." (Gal. 1:6). "The fact that ‘grace’ is received both from the Father and from Christ is a testimony to the Deity of Christ." It should never be taken to mean that saving grace is only about the Savior and His Work, or that saving grace comes only from the Savior, primarily because there would not be a Savior for mankind were it not for the grace of God. It is by the grace of God that any are in Christ: "...OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus..." (1 Cor. 1:30), and none would be in fellowship with Christ were it not for the Father: "God is faithful, BY WHOM ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9). Yes the Gospel is referred to several times in the Bible as "...the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mk. 1:1), "...the Gospel of His Son..." (Rom. 1:9); "...the Gospel of Christ..." (Rom. 1:16; 15:19); "...Christ’s Gospel..." (2 Cor. 2:12), "...the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (2 Thess. 1:8), but in order to show the full extent of what the Gospel is and to show His people that the Gospel of the Good News of salvation is not exclusively about the Person and Work of the Savior but includes within it the Father and the Holy Spirit—Who They are and what They have done—the Gospel is also called "...the Gospel of the Kingdom..." (Matt. 4:23; 9:35), "...the Gospel of the Kingdom of God" (Mk. 1:14), "...the Gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1; 15:16), "...the Gospel of peace..." (Rom. 10:15; Eph. 6:15), "...the Gospel of the circumcision..." (Gal. 2:7), "...the Gospel of your salvation..." (Eph. 1:13), "...the glorious Gospel of the blessed God..." (1 Tim. 1:14) and "...the everlasting Gospel..." (Rev. 14:6). But the underlying theme of the whole Gospel, that which the work of the whole Godhead comes under and has been made possible, is GRACE. This is why the Gospel is called "...the Gospel of the Grace of God" (Acts 20:24). The Gospel is about the Lord Jesus Christ but not at the expense of all the other grace doctrines which have made such a thing as the salvation of sinful people possible. You cannot dissociate Christ from the Godhead, you cannot segregate the doctrine of Christ from the other doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God. Christ is most assuredly in the Gospel, in fact the doctrine of the Person and Work of Christ is the centrepiece of God’s salvation plan, it is the central tenet of the Gospel, no one can be saved without Christ, but the Gospel is not something which deals only with what was done by grace through Christ but what was done by grace through the Person and Work of the Father and the Holy Spirit also. The Person and Work of Christ justifies, the Father has elected those people Christ justifies and the Holy Spirit awakens or quickens those people the Father has elected and the Son justifies. The plan is complete. It is not to be restricted to One Member of the Trinity because it can only be the complete plan of salvation by grace, and therefore the Gospel of salvation by grace, when the whole Work of the whole Trinity is preached and believed. The word of God says that He "...hath saved us, and called us...not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace..." (2 Tim. 1:9). Election was due to God’s purpose and grace, and, so too, is every other part of salvation. Christ’s work, His atonement and imputation of righteousness, was all due to the purpose and grace of God, as was the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. No part of salvation could have occurred without the grace of God, therefore James tells us that salvation is wholly of the will of God "OF HIS OWN WILL begat He us with the word of truth..." (Jas. 1:18 cf. Rom. 9:11,16). So, whatever part of salvation is due to God’s will, purpose and grace, we know must be in the Gospel and therefore must be believed if any are to be saved. All of salvation = all of grace = all in the Gospel = must be believed.
The very reason for the existence of the Gospel, that which has made the Gospel what it is, indeed at all possible, is the grace of Almighty God. And therein lies the key to understanding and determining what the doctrines, or teachings, of the Gospel are. Therein lies the key to understanding what must be believed, as well as why all of the doctrines, which deal with the grace of God in salvation are in the Gospel, and why they must all be believed. Grace not only distinguishes which doctrines are in the Gospel, but it also tells us WHY they are in the Gospel. The exposition that follows will not only do away with the false gospel mentioned in the introduction, but with every false gospel ever devised by the mind of man, or Satan. You see, the Gospel is a foolproof system of doctrines that teach the whole of the grace of God by which God saves, and, what is vitally important to a proper understanding of how God saves, and what it means to wholly and truly trust in Him for all of salvation. It leaves no room for man to boast in what he is or has done or to even think that he must do something to either get saved or stay saved. This is all the Gospel of grace could have been, for if every jot and tittle of salvation were not covered by grace, there would be room for a work of man’s to be woven into the fabric of that salvation plan. Yes, the Gospel of the grace of God does not allow room for a man to even think that salvation is in some way conditioned on what he does, for the Gospel of the grace of God fully and rightly taught shows that the whole of salvation, from election to glorification, is covered by the whole of the grace of God. If formulating the plan of salvation necessitated the dispersion of grace to every corner of that plan in order to make it a grace plan, how could the teaching of the Gospel of salvation be without even one particle of saving grace? And if this is so, how could the Gospel not tell of every part of that grace plan? The Gospel conveys the message of salvation by grace. The Gospel of the grace of God must, for it to truly and fully manifest the total grace of God, include within it every doctrine that deals with grace in salvation. If even one of these grace teachings that highlights the indispensable work of the Triune God in salvation is missing, if it is in anyway said to be essential to salvation but not actually part of the Gospel for whatever reason, then one has a gospel that allows room for man to think that he must do something to either get or stay saved. This is because salvation is by grace and therefore the Gospel which reveals how a man is saved is the Good News which reveals the whole of the grace of God, all of what it took for God to be able to justly save a man. Man had to be elected by the Father solely according to grace, man had to have a Savior obey the law for him and atone for his sins, establishing and imputing unto him a perfect righteousness, and man had to have the Holy Spirit regenerate him. No salvation could have taken place without these three elements and therefore no true Gospel could have been formed, preached, and believed unto salvation, were it not for these three elements. Those who say that there are essentials to salvation which are not actually part of the Gospel are saying that they are not to be preached as the Good News (Gospel) of salvation! One would have a hard time convincing anyone that something was essential to salvation but not essential to the Good News of that salvation.
The Gospel is such a perfect system of doctrines making manifest the totality of the grace of God in salvation that only the God of the universe could have ever produced such Good News. Therefore, to recognize a false gospel is not a difficult thing at all. A false gospel is that which, despite its being called a gospel of grace, includes within it something man must do to either get saved, be saved or remain saved, or one which fails to teach every aspect of grace, which is everything God has done to save His people from their sins, which would naturally imply that salvation is at least partly conditioned upon a work of man’s. Has someone presented you with a gospel that, whilst not overtly denying a grace doctrine, does not include it in their gospel? Then you have been taught a false gospel. Whether or not such a person denies that their gospel teaches that any part of salvation is conditioned on man, a gospel that does not include all of the grace it took to save a man is a gospel that has left itself open to being biblically labelled a gospel of works. A gospel that does not include every grace doctrine which deals with salvation, is one that naturally lends itself to doctrines which condition some of salvation on man. More on this later. Paul the apostle says that if election unto salvation is all by grace then it cannot be by any works of man, therefore if election unto salvation left room for any work of man’s, it could not be by grace at all (see Rom. 11:6). Has someone presented you with a gospel that in any way, to any degree, conditions salvation on what you do, even if they attribute your doing it to the grace of God? Then you have been taught a false gospel. FLEE from such people and FLEE from such gospels!! Those who believe and teach such lies are neither competent nor qualified to teach the Gospel, for they are bearers of a false gospel and are therefore not saved, they are not ministers of His grace, they are not God’s people.
Throughout the pages of the Bible we are constantly reminded of the great contrast between grace and works, and the great gulf that exists between the Gospel of grace and gospels which allow room for a man to boast. We see that the work of God is always contradistinguished with the works of man. In no verse of Scripture will you find the work of man coupled with the grace of God as that which either gets a man saved or which keeps a man saved. Far from being co-conspirators in the salvation of man, the Word of God teaches that grace and works immediately cancel out one another any time one attempts to bring them together in partnership. The words ‘grace’ and ‘works’ are used as mutually exclusive terms in the Bible. Anything outside of that which God has done in the salvation of man is said to be that which nullifies or frustrates the grace of God. One cannot have anything other than grace in the Gospel of salvation, so it stands to biblical reason that it must be the whole of grace in salvation that is in the Gospel. It must completely shut out anything a man is or anything a man does as that which has motivated or demanded his salvation. Paul the apostle says, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21). Paul is saying here that he in no way neutralizes or violates the principal of grace by looking to anything he is or was or that which he has done as gaining or maintaining his salvation. Paul kept his eyes on all of what the Savior has done through the grace of God. Indeed, a gospel which does not include within it the whole of the grace of God necessary to save a man is a gospel which does not teach grace, but frustrates grace. It neutralizes and violates the grace principal, or law of grace, because it fails to reveal the whole of grace it took to save, which the whole of the Gospel of God is all about. It takes only one sin for a man to come short of the glory of God, and it takes the exclusion of only one grace doctrine to make a gospel fall short of, and thereby revealing itself as anything but, the Gospel of the grace of God. A gospel is not fit to be called the Gospel of grace except that Gospel which reveals the entirety of the grace that it took to save God’s chosen. A gospel calling itself the Gospel of the grace of God, but which falls short of teaching all of what grace has done to save, is like someone calling any number that falls short of the right answer to an equation the correct answer. It would be like saying the right answer to 3 + 3 is 1 as long as you add another 5 to it! This is synonymous with saying ‘This is the Gospel, but you also have to believe these other doctrines to be saved'.
In Romans 11 the apostle Paul makes it clear that the works of a man, that is, his attempts at obedience to God in an effort to recommend himself to God, is that which cancels out any possibility that he is properly, biblically pinning his hopes of salvation solely on the grace of God. A man who believes that any part of salvation is conditioned upon his own personal obedience to the laws of God, or that he is one of the elect because God foresaw that he would believe, or that it is he who comes to God, is a man who has not heard or does not believe that ALL of salvation is ALL by grace. In other words he is a person who has either not heard the full Gospel of the grace of God, of how He saves only by what He has done from election to final glory, or has heard it but flatly refuses to believe all of its blessed doctrines. No man has the right to expect the grace of God to save him who believes his own works play any part in his salvation (see Gal. 5:2-5). And no man who believes that anything short of believing all the doctrines that present the whole message of grace, which God’s Gospel of salvation is about, can expect the grace of God to save him, seeing that he does not believe that all the doctrines of all the grace of God in the salvation of His people are contained within the perimeters of the Gospel. A man is judged saved by what he believes the Gospel to be, and not by the extras he claims must be believed in addition to it. To deny any grace doctrine, which deals with salvation, its rightful place in the Gospel is to deny its necessity in God’s plan of salvation.
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" (Rom. 11:6). From these Holy Spirit-inspired words of the apostle Paul we see and learn that no work of man’s, no effort at obedience on the part of man, can possibly be added to that which contributes to the salvation of man. It stands to reason, then, that if no work of man’s is in the Gospel, then the Gospel must be filled with the grace of God in salvation. No man was ever either elected or saved based on anything he has done. Therefore, any gospel that fails to include within it the fact that the saved were all elected by God according to His grace and not their works (see Eph. 1:4-7 cf. 2 Tim. 1:9), a gospel which fails to state that it is purely by the obedience of ONE that a man is made righteous (see Rom. 5:19 cf. Rom. 4:6), a gospel which fails to state that it is only by God that a man is made alive, or born again (see Col. 2:13; Jas. 1:18), is a false gospel for it does not condition, and specifically attribute, all of salvation exclusively upon grace. The moment one has a gospel whose ‘grace’ fails to cover every aspect of salvation, one has a gospel that leaves room for a man to think that salvation is in some way dependant on what he must do or refrain from doing. The above verse is one of the clearest and most corroborative statements in all of Scripture to the fact that the entire Gospel of salvation is about the whole of the grace of God necessary for His people to be saved from their sins. If no work of man’s is said to be that which is necessary to his own salvation, then we must conclude that the whole of salvation is by the whole of grace. And, therefore, the whole of the Gospel Message must be that which includes every work of grace in the salvation of a man, leaving no room for a work of man’s to gain a foothold. If salvation can be by nothing that falls short of the whole of the grace of God, then equally, the Gospel cannot fall short of, and therefore is about nothing but, the whole of the grace of God in salvation. The Gospel is the Good News of salvation. ALL of salvation is ALL by the grace of God. Therefore, what else could the Gospel of salvation be about, what else was it meant to teach, but all of that very grace by which God saves.
If all this is so, and it is easily and biblically verifiable, what justification could any man have for not including every doctrine that teaches grace in salvation in the Gospel? An example of such nonsensical thinking follows: If a hammer is something used to drive a nail into wood, why would anyone, in describing what a hammer looks like, proceed to describe a hammer only by what its head looks like? ‘A hammer is a metal head.’ Who would be so stupid as to describe a hammer in such a way? Why not include the handle of the hammer in one’s depiction? What could justify its absence from the description? Imagine a person asked to paint a picture of a hammer only drawing the head! Would this be a proper portrayal of what a hammer looks like and is? Of course not. Even if one was in possession of a head of a hammer, one could not rightly describe it as a hammer, but only as the head of a hammer. The handle of a hammer, on its own, could also never rightly be described as a hammer, but only as the handle of a hammer. Only when the two parts of the hammer are joined together can it be rightly called a hammer. Even though the head of the hammer is the only part of the hammer that actually makes contact with the nail, driving it into the wood, the handle is an essential part of the hammer and something that the head needs in order to properly do its job. No sane reason could be offered to justify not including the handle of the hammer in a full and proper description of what a hammer is, and therefore looks like. So too, any gospel which fails to include every doctrine that teaches grace in salvation, cannot but leave a man under the false impression that God requires him to do something before God will save him. To describe the righteousness of Christ as the Gospel, or any of the other grace doctrines alone as the Gospel, is entirely wrong. Only when ALL the doctrines which teach salvation by grace are present does one have what God calls the Gospel.
Any claim that the Gospel contains only one doctrine, such as the righteousness of Christ, and that the other grace doctrines which are not included in the Gospel but are said to be essentials to saving faith, is self-destructive for to say that a doctrine is essential to saving faith one is saying that what that doctrine teaches HAD to occur for salvation to be made possible. Therefore if it is essential to salvation, it is essential to faith, and must by its very nature be essential to the Gospel. To say ‘the Gospel’ is to say ‘that which must be believed to be saved’ (see Christ’s words in Mark 16:15,16). So to say ‘Gospel’ and then add that other doctrines outside the Gospel must also be believed for one to be saved, is a nonsense! If one believes there are doctrines that lie outside of the Gospel which must be believed to be saved, one could never say with Christ, ‘Believe the Gospel and you shall be saved’. It is a concept so absurd, so utterly bereft of any logic, as to not be worthy of presentation to even the most ignoble of persons. It is most convenient, I must say, for those who believe that the Gospel is only made up of one doctrine, the righteousness of Christ, to say that the other essentials will automatically be believed as well. And to claim that a person who fails to believe those ‘non-Gospel’ doctrines reveals that they did not rightly believe in the righteousness of Christ in the first place, is just a cop out. The grace doctrines ALWAYS travel together. You will never find one without the others. To fully, properly and biblically believe in salvation by grace, one must know all the grace doctrines, for as all these doctrines are essentials to saving faith, each doctrine is necessary to a proper, biblical understanding of the others so that one may see how, and therefore fully believe why, all of salvation is all by grace, and as a consequence, why they are all essentials to the Gospel message.
Salvation is all of grace, for by grace are ye saved. One must believe that salvation is all by grace from election to glorification. The doctrines of the Gospel of grace are what must be believed. Therefore the Gospel is that which must teach all of the grace that was necessary in the salvation of God’s people. IF IT IS NOT ESSENTIAL TO SALVATION THEN IT IS NOT ESSENTIAL TO THE GOSPEL. To leave any part of grace out of the picture of salvation is to paint a picture without a background, or a landscape without a sky. The Gospel of God has not been taught if any of the doctrines of salvation by grace are bypassed or neglected. Regardless of whether or not they are said to be essentials to salvation, it is no Gospel of God’s if it does not include within it the whole grace story. Doctrines which talk about salvation are not footnotes to the Gospel, but are all inherently, and therefore essentially, part of the Gospel. As we have seen, the qualifications for a doctrine to be in the Gospel are that it must teach grace, or point to grace, and it must have to do with salvation. The moment one leaves out a grace doctrine from the Gospel, or tries to add a work of man’s to the grace of God, grace just disappears and all one is left with is a gospel that leaves room for the sickly, sin-riddled works of man. Paul the apostle writes of the Jews that they did not attain to the law of righteousness "...because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law..." (Rom. 9:32). He bore record to the fact that the Jews had a zeal of God but that their zeal was not according to the right knowledge of God—Who He is and how He saves—as it is revealed in the Gospel of grace. Consequently, the Jews who did not believe in the Gospel of the grace of God because they held to a gospel, a salvation message, which allowed room for them to think that their works were a necessary factor in their salvation, failed to submit themselves unto the righteousness of God, for they stumbled around in a spiritual darkness attempting to establish a righteousness of their own by their own works (see Rom. 10:1-4). The law of grace declares that not only is there nothing man should try to do in order to get, or keep, himself saved, but that also there is nothing man can do that could get, or keep, him saved. A man truly saved by grace, who has had preached to him, and believes in, the whole Gospel of grace, will never look to who he is or what he has done as that which inspired God to choose him, or as necessary to the attaining or maintaining of his own salvation, or to himself as in any way a co-savior with Christ, or believe that he made a free-will decision to come to God, because the Gospel he believes has revealed to him that ALL of salvation is by all of the grace of God. The Gospel that such a man believes does not have any room in it, or leave any room, for any man to think that there is even one thing he must do to secure his salvation. So whether one believes in only some of the doctrines of grace, or if a person claims to believe in them all but does not include them all in the gospel they believe, is a person who has fallen for another gospel that has not been authored by God and countersigned by grace. Such a message that fails to speak of all the grace it took to save is a grace-less gospel, it is a God-less gospel. The only rightful, biblical place for a doctrine that deals with grace in salvation is in the Gospel. It does not fit anywhere else, it does not belong anywhere else. Each piece of a jigsaw puzzle has on it a portion of a picture and belongs nowhere else other than in that particular puzzle which portrays that particular picture. Any time you leave out even one piece of a puzzle you are left with an incomplete picture. Each grace doctrine, each ‘piece of the puzzle’ if you will, of salvation only fits the ‘puzzle’ that portrays the full picture of God’s Gospel of salvation. Each piece is connected to the big picture, and therefore must be joined with the other pieces to produce that big picture for if any are left out, or if anyone tries to form two separate pictures with them, all they will have is two distorted pictures, two failed attempts at creating one perfect picture. No piece of the salvation ‘puzzle’ will fit, or find a place, in any other ‘puzzle’ than the one whose big picture reveals God’s picture of His great salvation plan. Such doctrines do not reside anywhere else but in the Gospel for they deal with exactly what the Gospel of God is all about: GRACE!!! Grace is that which all the Gospel doctrines have in common, so why shouldn’t they all be included in that one Gospel which is about the grace of God in the salvation of man! ONLY THE WHOLE GOSPEL OF THE WHOLE GRACE OF GOD SHUTS OUT ANY POSSIBILITY THAT ANY PART OF SALVATION IS CONDITIONED ON THE WORKS OF A MAN. Only THAT Gospel can be rightly and biblically referred to as the Gospel of the grace of God. Therefore, the Gospel, or Good News of salvation, teaches all of the grace of God in the salvation of man. If it failed to teach even one doctrine that speaks of salvation, it would reveal itself to be a counterfeit gospel for it would fall short of preaching the whole message of the grace of God and would, consequently, leave room for man to boast. Just as there would be no salvation without everything necessary to salvation, no gospel that fails to articulate all the elements of what it took for salvation to become operational, could be the Gospel of that salvation. This is the very essence of what the apostle Paul spoke about in his warning to the Galatians. If anyone, be it an angel from heaven or even if Paul and the others with him were to return to them at a later date bringing with them a gospel which differed in any way, shape or form from the one he had already given to them, they were to count such gospels as false and those who preached them as accursed people (see Gal. 1:8,9). The only thing that can spoil the Gospel of God, and therefore leave one with a false gospel, is that which either adds a work of man’s to it, or one which leaves out any of its doctrines that reveal every part of that glorious plan of salvation which is according to grace and which shuts out any possibility that any person could ever think that any part of salvation is conditioned on what a man does. Either adding to, or taking away from, the doctrines of the grace of God’s Gospel will always leave a man to presume that some part of salvation is conditioned on him. No person can rightly and biblically claim to be a believer if they have not been born out of the Gospel of the glorious grace of the blessed God. And no true believer would ever turn his back on any doctrine of grace as being an essential, and therefore permanent, fixture of the Gospel of God which teaches that salvation is all by grace and that all of grace is necessary to salvation. And it is this very element of necessity, of essentialness (which no one is disputing) that is the surefire evidence that, along with grace, entitles a doctrine to its rightful place in God’s Gospel of salvation. If it is essential to salvation, it is essential to the Gospel of salvation.