WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
Responses From Several Reformed Pastors To This Most Vital Of Questions,
Examined In Light Of God’s Word
All who name the name of Christ would readily say that they are firm believers in the Gospel of Christ. Belief in the Gospel is something which is taken for granted by every professing christian. Most would be shocked if they were confronted with the claim that what they believe is not actually THE Gospel of the One and Only Christ. Yet, it is a sad and tragic fact that most who name the name of Christ have not been taught and do not know His glorious Gospel but actually deny it whilst believing in a counterfeit gospel, which offers nothing but a false hope and a deluded notion of Who Christ is and what salvation is all about. The title of this booklet is the question which was posed to a number of pastors who come under the banner ‘Reformed’. The reason for this question being asked was to discover and then examine what exactly men of high renown who lead people every Sunday to worship and who are trusted by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, actually say the Gospel is. What do they say must be believed in order for one to be saved, and what do they say it is that if one does not believe it, one evidences a lost state regardless or how religiously zealous and morally upright one may be? Are they true Gospel preachers leading their flocks on the narrow way, or are they in fact blind leaders who are themselves deluded by, and promote, a false gospel which does not save but rather draws its listeners and believers onto the broad way that leads to destruction? Their answers to the question ‘What is the Gospel?’ will prove revealing. Their answers will demonstrate what is in the heart of men who have set themselves up as preachers of the Word of God and yet do not know the God, nor the Gospel of that God, they profess to love and promote.
The design of this book is to send out a message. A message which we pray will be heard loud and clear by everyone who reads it. That message is, that men of renown, men who are in trusted positions and greatly admired by the ‘church’ at large, and in some cases the community in general, are not to be trusted simply because they occupy positions of authority, or because they have attended Bible College and have many degrees in theological matters, or who are very learned men who have read all the religious ‘greats’ from the past and can quote passages, even whole chapters, of Scripture. A man is not to be judged to be of God simply because of his appearance or reputation or by how large the number of people who follow him and read his books or listen to his tapes or by how many present themselves regularly at his meetings. It matters not who the man is or what the man looks like or how many laud and applaud him. What matters is WHAT DOES THE MAN PREACH? What does he say the Gospel, which must be believed in if any are to be saved, is? Who does he claim Christ is and what does he say Christ has done for sinners? These are among the most important questions man has ever faced, particularly in our day. In a religious climate replete with false preachers and false gospels, it is incumbent upon every person who names the name of Christ to know Who Christ is and what Christ has done, the truth of which can only be found in the only Gospel which comes from God and the only one which saves.
This author posed the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’, to 17 pastors in America. This was done via the Internet through the convenience of Email. Only 8 of these men bothered to reply. The other 9, for whatever reason, saw fit not to respond to my question, which in full reads like this:
I would like to know what the Gospel is. Could you define the Gospel for me in light of what Christ said in Mark 16:16 that if one believes the Gospel one is saved but if one does not believe it one will perish. What is it that must be believed in order for a person to be saved and assured of Heaven. And what is it that if a person does not believe it, regardless of how moral their life may be, they show that they are lost.
I look forward to your response.
Moreno Dal Bello.
The names of those who responded to my question have been withheld. The purpose of this book is not to start a war with these men but to deal with what they teach and do not teach. However, the names of these men will be supplied upon request.
The responses received from those who had these questions set before them will be included, in full, and will be followed by my replies. I will then make further comment in order to clarify what I have said and to show forth the errors etc., of what these men teach, and which is largely accepted in christendom today.
The first gentleman’s response to the above question is that made by person A, from the state of Tennessee, U.S.A. who is the only one among those I wrote to who is not actually a pastor, but is the editor of a large 'Christian' publication.
Here is his reply:
Paul summarizes the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
That’s it! That is his entire reply to the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’ I would have thought such a question would require a more detailed response than that which person A supplied. My response to person A’s brief ‘answer’ is as follows and in full:
Yes, I know that Paul summarizes the Gospel in the passage of Scripture you mentioned but what is the Gospel is my question. Even the Roman Catholic Church points to the passage in 1 Corinthians when the question of what is the Gospel is raised but their version is not God’s Testimony. So, again, I ask the question, not from a debate-driven or argumentative spirit but from a heart that seeks to know what various ones say the Gospel is to see if the Gospel I hold to is wrong or right. Christ said that the Gospel is a life and death issue in Mark 16:16. I only seek to know what that Gospel is.
Sadly, I did not receive a reply from person A. For reasons known only to person A, he saw fit not to continue our correspondence. Coincidentally, several weeks after my first email to person A I received an email from him asking if I would be interested in receiving tapes from his ministry, as a mutual friend had mentioned to him that I am interested in sound Gospel teaching. Person A’s email follows and it will in turn be followed by my response:
_____ suggested that you might be interested in having copies of our tapes for your lending program. If you are not familiar with our tapes, I can send you a sample. Please let me know. Person A.
And now my reply:
Dear person A,
I do thank you for emailing me about your collection of tapes. I am always interested in obtaining more tapes to add to my collection of sound Gospel preachers and to make available to others through my ministry here. I actually emailed you just over a month ago posing the question 'what is the Gospel?' You responded to my question by saying that Paul summarizes the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. I replied that I was aware of this but also that Roman Catholics would also point me to that passage and that they would have no problem with it. To this I received no further correspondence from you.
I believe I know and hold dear the Gospel of Christ wherein Christ's Righteousness is revealed and without which no man can be saved. I believe firmly that those who do not believe the Gospel which includes arminians who change the work of Christ from effectual atonement to one of simply making salvation possible, are all lost and that those who claim such ones who deny the substitutionary death of Christ for His people, are saved nonetheless are also lost for they place no value on the death of Christ.
Your comments to this would be appreciated.
Upon discovering that I was the emailer with the Gospel question, person A turned tail again and has not been heard from since. What a sad testimony this is of a supposed ‘minister of God’. Returning now to person A reply to my first email. To refer a person to the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 as a response to the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’ is to give an answer which is very broad to say the least and one which does not provide the enquirer with an actual definition of the Gospel so as to distinguish it from all counterfeits. As I mentioned in my response to person A, the Roman Catholic Church gladly and readily sends any who enquire from her the answer to what the Gospel is, to the passage which person A pointed out. Many other false christian groups do the same, such as the Charismatic movement, the Faith movement, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and for that matter just about every group which claims to be Christian. They all say they believe in ‘the death, burial and resurrection’ of Jesus Christ. But knowing Christ is not merely being aware of and accepting some historical facts about what happened to Him, but knowing and believing in that which Christ has done for His people.
So, what is so wrong about leading a person to the passage in question as an answer to what the Gospel is without explanation? The problem lies in the fact that though the passage mentions the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, without proper teaching the reader is left to interpret it according to what he has been taught about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. There is no explanation or description in this passage of what is meant by His death, burial and resurrection, however it does add four very significant words: "according to the Scriptures!" Twice in this passage from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is this phrase added which points to what Christ’s death was all about and what He actually accomplished by His death. Paul the apostle preached of Christ and what He would do according to the Scriptures, that is, according to what was typified in the Old Testament sacrifices etc., concerning Israel and according to what was prophesied the Messiah would do and who He would do it for. That is what person a failed to point out and it is what countless ‘christian’ organizations fail to teach their many followers. If a Roman Catholic were to have received such an answer from person A, they would have replied with a ‘thank you very much for confirming what I believe’ and walked off with an even stronger sense of being a saved true believer in the Gospel of Christ, yet they would have remained blind to what the Scriptures teach about Christ and His death.
All who claim to be Christians today, and throughout the past centuries, say they believe that Christ died, was buried and was raised again, but what do they mean when they say such things? What have they been taught Christ would do by His death? What was it all about? Is it essential to know such things or is it enough to know and believe that these things happened to Him? Is it enough to know that Christ died for sinners without actually knowing what He did on the cross for sinners? If so, how can anyone rightly and biblically say that they trust in Christ for their salvation when they really do not know what Christ did on the cross? To trust in Him is to trust in His Work. Christ the Person and what Christ has done cannot be separated. Even the unbelieving world knows what happened to Christ but does this qualify them for heaven? Of course not! To know Christ is eternal life (Jn. 17:2,3) and to trust Him is to know what He has done on behalf of the sinner. The fact of the matter is that most believe in a messiah who died for every individual ever born, that he has made salvation possible for all and all that remains for that ‘salvation’ to be made effectual is for man to make his decision for Christ. ‘Christ has done His part; He has done as much as He can to save men and now it is up to man to do his part.’ This is the lie which most who name the name of Christ have embraced as God’s Truth today, and for the past several hundred years. "...love and grace must indeed be greater which infallibly secures the salvation of some, even though a minority, than that which only provides a mere contingency for all. To us it seems to indicate coldness and indifference for God to leave it a second time to the mutable will of man to secure his salvation, when man's will AT ITS BEST ESTATE ruined Adam and all his posterity." As will be made clear in more detail later, Christ died according to the Scriptures, which teach that His death was a Substitutionary Death for the people whom God chose from before the foundation of the world and gave to Jesus (see Jn. 6:37-40; Eph. 1:4; 5:25,26). Christ did not merely make salvation possible, He actually accomplished the redemption of all for whom He died (Heb.9:12). This is the heart of the Gospel Message and those who overtly deny it, reject it, replace it, are naive concerning it, are ignorant of it, have never been taught it, or who say that one can be saved believing in anything which takes away or adds to this most vital of doctrines, is at that point in time lost.
The next gentleman’s response to the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’, is pastor B, a pastor of Presbyterian Reformed Church in Illinois, U.S.A. Again, the exact same questions were put to pastor B as were asked of person A.
‘Pastor’ B’s reply is as follows:
A man must believe the Bible to be saved. Central to the teaching of the Bible is the truth that all men are lost sinners, totally depraved and dead in sin. Romans 3:11 The only possibility of salvation is that God work in us and regenerate us, making us born again. John 3:1-3 God commands all men everywhere to turn from sin in true repentance to God. Acts 17:30 God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the full burden of God’s punishment that His people deserved. Matthew 1:21 Salvation is not for all men. God does not love all men. God’s love is for His people or His sheep whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4,5, John 10. Our salvation is totally apart from anything that we have done, and is totally by the grace of God alone. There are no conditions we must fulfill, as we are dead spiritually and unable to do anything good in God’s eyes. God unconditionally saves us by His free, undeserved favor alone. By faith we embrace this wonder- even our faith being a gift from God. Ephesians 2:10.
Hope this helps.In Christ, Rev. B
What pastor B says is absolutely true except for his comment that a man must believe the Bible to be saved. Man must believe the Gospel to be saved or he will perish. A statement such as ‘a man must believe the Bible to be saved’ can mean anything from believing it to be the Word of God to knowing and believing every word of every book of the Bible perfectly, a lofty standard for anyone to reach and which is nowhere commanded in Scripture. Every true believer believes that the Bible is the Word of God. Also, the doctrine of the depravity or inability of man to come to God in and of himself is not the central teaching of the Bible. Christ Jesus and Him crucified and risen is the central teaching of the Bible. My response to pastor B’s email is as follows:
I do thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my email. I appreciate this very much. I agree with what you have said that man is depraved and cannot come to God in and of his own will. And, that God does not love everyman but His love is reserved for His people alone for whom Christ paid the price of their sins. What I am seeking to know is what exactly is it that a saved man believes about Who the Son is and what He has done. Also, I would like to know what exactly is meant by the preaching of the cross, which, like the Gospel is called the power of God, and what is it that those who perish find foolish about the preaching of the cross. I know that lost people such as Roman Catholics find nothing foolish about Christ’s death for sinners atop the cross so what exactly is this ‘foolishness’ that the Scripture speaks of? I find this of extreme importance for this ‘foolishness’ must be the essential to rightly and biblically saying that one believes in and knows the Son.
I look forward to your comments very much and again thank you for your time.
Sadly, I did not hear from pastor B again. Suffice it to say that for whatever reason pastor B saw fit not to answer my more specific questions concerning Christ’s death, nor add to our correspondence by showing the slightest courtesy in writing to say that he wished not to continue our correspondence. All this seems rather strange to this author seeing that pastor B believes many things which are true about God and His Christ. So why the apparent reluctance to further elaborate on what he said in his email and to answer my second set of questions, especially in light of the fact that I made it clear to him that I agreed with what he said, and that my emails to him were very gentle and not at all arrogant or argumentative? The answer is known only to pastor B.
The Bible teaches that man is dead in sin and is without God and therefore without hope in this world (Rom. 3:10,11; Eph. 2:1-5,12). He cannot and wills not to come to God in the way God has specified in His Gospel Message (Jn.6:44,65). Christ was sent to the earth to be the Savior of His people, and to save those people from their sins (Matt.1:21; Isa. 53:8). Therefore all for whom He died have been made free of the punishment due unto their sins and from obeying the Law in an effort to become qualified for salvation, for Christ has obeyed the Law perfectly in order to establish a Righteousness by which all for whom He died would be saved (Rom. 5:19). It is important to note that many readily teach some wonderful truths about the Gospel of grace, yet they deny the true God and the very heart of the Gospel when they insist that many who do not believe that Christ died for His people exclusively, but for all individuals, are nevertheless saved. I do not accuse pastor B of this but he has left me with a great deal of concern due to his non-response to my last email. Calling a person saved who believes that Christ died for every individual is something that is very prevalent among many so-called Reformed ministers. Pastor B’s apparent reluctance to answer my second set of questions suggests an unbiblical shying away from such an important matter as the death of Christ and what He accomplished by His death and who were the beneficiaries. Why would any true believer be reluctant, or at best bypass the opportunity, of teaching someone about Christ and what He has done?
The third gentleman to whom I asked the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’, is pastor C, pastor of a Christ the King Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. His reply in full is as follows:
From your web site I perceive that you are a brother in Christ; a fellow believer in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus, the sinless Son of God. I recently received the attached message from you at my MIT address. I was a bit curius how you got that address and also curious why you were asking for a definition of the Gospel. It seems you already know and believe.
In Christ, pastor C
Pastor C chose not to define the Gospel for me, as he visited my friend’s website on which my writings appear, and after reading some of what I have written pastor C concluded that I am a brother in Christ. We must all be wary of those who do not actually state what they believe but merely give a silent nod of approval to what we believe. For some reason pastors are often very reluctant to go into the detail of what they believe and what the Bible teaches when confronted with enquiring minds. And, more often than not, they are reluctant to tell a person that their doctrine is wrong and take the time to correct them.
My reply to pastor C’s email is as follows:
Dear pastor C.
Many thanks for taking the time to respond to my email. I appreciate this very much. I am so glad to hear that in taking the initiative to see if you could locate anything of me on the net you discovered my friend’s web site where my writings are included and that you believe the Gospel I believe. The reason I wrote to you and to several others is so I could hear from the horse’s mouth as it were what various ones say the Gospel is. I did this in part to challenge what I believed, to see if there was something I was blind to when it came to what the Gospel of God actually is. I have found so few who believe His Gospel but many who ‘hold’ to parts of it but deny others. In my discussions with others I have found that there is not so much a disagreement with the doctrine of Christ but with who is saved and who is not. The Bible, as you know, clearly states that one who believes the Gospel is saved and the one that believes it not is lost. Not merely ignorant and saved but lost for the Lord has not revealed Himself to that one. Also, I have heard many who say that they believe the so-called ‘five ponts’ yet insist that Arminians who deny the effectual atonement of Christ for His people exclusively and say that Christ died for everyone are nonetheless saved. I was shocked when I learnt that someone like Charles Spurgeon who labelled Wesley’s gospel as ‘another gospel’ fully expected to see Wesley in heaven! I have yet to be given any Scriptural evidence by any to show that those who call saved whom the Holy Spirit calls lost, are saved people.
Again, thank you for your time in replying to me. I look forward to hearing from you again. Do you have a web site I can go to? Looking forward to hearing from you again.
Sadly, I did not hear from pastor C again. Suffice it to say that for whatever reason pastor C saw fit not to reply to my comments. Nor did he see fit to add another word to our correspondence nor show me the slightest courtesy by writing to say that he wished not to continue our correspondence. All this seems rather strange to this author seeing that Mr. Smith readily labelled me ‘a brother in Christ’ and ‘a fellow believer in the atoning death of Jesus’. Like pastor B, pastor C apparently believes many things which are true about God and His Christ. So why the apparent reluctance to continue our discussion? One thing I feel safe in concluding is that pastor C, like many, baulked when he read my comments regarding Charles Spurgeon. Though what I wrote in my reply to his email suggested my acceptance of what he said, I wrote in a way which allowed me to bring into our conversation what I believe he and I would readily agree on. I ‘took for granted’ that he would agree with me whilst introducing issues to which I was seeking his comment in order to verify him as a true fellow believer. He chose not to comment and in fact chose not to write to me again. Many ‘pastors’ of Reformed churches, as well as those who follow them, say that Christ died for the elect but simultaneously maintain that Arminians, who say such a teaching is heretical and who state that Christ died for every individual and say they would never follow such an unjust and unloving God Who would not make salvation possible for all, are just as saved as the reformed person. Such people trample on the blood of Christ and rip the very heart of what Christ has done out of the Gospel Message and replace it with the limp and invalid doctrine that He died for all, making salvation only possible for all and not certain for any. They make Christ the potential savior of all and the certain Savior of none. To deny Christ’s certain work for the sinner is to certainly deny Christ. Every lost sinner denies the vital importance, the essentiality of the core ingredient to God’s Gospel of salvation: Who Christ is, what Christ has done and for whom He has done it. To say a person is saved knowing that that person does not rightly believe what Christ went to the cross to do is to provide the person with a false notion that he is saved and also promotes anti-Christ doctrine which is directly opposed to God’s Testimony of what His Son came to this earth to do.
Another gentleman who was asked the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’, is person D of Georgia, U.S.A.. His reply to my question is as follows:
Dear Moreno Dal Bello,
Thanks for the questions. I’m not sure how you got my address, but I’ll be glad to correspond. I wish I knew some of your background, and whether you were sincere in asking these questions, or whether they are trick questions as some people send me. The Gospel is the ‘good news.’ The Gospel is Christ and Christ is the Gospel. The entire Bible was written about Christ -- The Old testament with types and shadows and ceremonies showed the person and work of Christ in providing for our salvation. It gave the perfect Law which only Christ could fulfill. The New Testament attested that Jesus Christ was the very person who was prophesied to come. Christ is the Living Word of God, the Priest, King, prophet, sacrifice, lamb, Altar, Creator, perfect man and Son of God. He is all in all. He is the good news -- that by faith in Him, in His shed blood spilt for us His children, we can be saved from sin, death, destruction and hell. God has a people who are scattered in all times and places, and they shall hear the good news and be saved. God the Father chose us in eternity; God the Son died for us in history, and God the Spirit effectually calls us out of the world unto salvation in time. In order to be saved, one must be born again by the Spirit of God. The Spirit opens our hearts and convicts us of our sins against God, and grants us repentance and faith to believe in Christ. We show our faith by our lives, our works -- The Just shall live by faith. We live our lives from day to day doing all to the glory of God, whether we eat or drink. I’m not sure what you were looking for, so please write back if you have more questions. If you were wondering whether baptism saves, the end of the verse says that he that believeth not shall be damned, it does not say he that believeth not and is not baptised shall be damned. While we practice water baptism as a symbol of the baptism of the Holy Spirit filling, washing and regenerating us at conversion -- we do not believe that the outward practice of getting wet saves anyone.
I hope I haven’t been too confusing, as it is late. Let me know if so.
Thanks, person D
Person D has shared several Gospel truths in his email but he has not actually told me what the Gospel is. He has used many terms and phrases which are very familiar to professing christians but has not defined those terms, which is an essential to the biblical preaching and teaching of the Gospel. He has also stated that ‘we show our faith by our lives, our works’ but fails to add that the principle way in which a believer demonstrates his faith is by his belief of the Gospel. It matters not how much works a man has, if he does not abide in the doctrine of Christ he simply does not have God. Only if the man abides in the doctrine of Christ does he show proper and biblical evidence that he has both the Father and the Son and is therefore saved (2 Jn.9). His comment ‘I’m not sure what you were looking for’ leaves this author quite perplexed for I believe my questions made it abundantly clear that what I was looking for is the Bible’s definition of what the Gospel which must be believed in is.
My response to person D’s email is as follows:
Dear person D,
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my email. I appreciate this very much.
I am a born again Gospel believing Christian. The reason I have asked you and several others the questions I posed is I wanted to challenge the Gospel I believe to see if there was anything I was not aware of concerning what the Gospel is and what it isn’t. I agree with what you have said in your email to me. I would add that the principle element in showing one’s faith, that it is the faith that comes from God, is one’s belief in the Gospel of God and that none who do not have this Gospel are saved. This would include the fact that none who call saved those who do not believe the Gospel but lead morally upright lives and name the name of Christ but do not have the doctrine of Christ, are saved either. I have yet to be given Scriptural evidence by any who call saved that which the Holy Spirit calls lost. I have heard from many who say that though arminians for instance deny the atonement of Christ was for His elect, they are nonetheless saved. That is one of the reasons I am asking people to please tell me what the Gospel is. It cannot be a combination of the truth that Christ died for the elect and the lie that He died for all. He either did one or the other. One of these teachings is the Gospel and the other is a lie wherein is no salvation. The Gospel and the preaching of the cross are alone referred to as the power of God so I fail to see how anyone can be in a saved justified state when believing a lie about what Christ did on the cross. I also fail to see how any can be saved whilst knowingly calling someone who denies the preaching of the cross, calls foolishness, as a saved person.
Your comments are eagerly looked forward to.
Once again, and just as sadly, I did not hear from person D again. There seems to be a pattern developing. As soon as these men are faced with more specific questions regarding the Gospel, they all flee! Why are all these men, refusing to continue their correspondence with me after I make some points and ask more detailed questions? Suffice it to say that for whatever reason person D saw fit not to comment on my reply. Nor did he see fit to add another word to our correspondence or even show the slightest courtesy by writing to say that he wished not to continue our correspondence. There are many statements made by person D which use the correct terminology but there is a failure on his part to define those terms. I know what they mean, but is it what person D means when he uses them? Therein lies one of the reasons for the massive amount of confusion which exists among the religious population. People simply do not define the terms they use hence many believe wrongly that this group is saved or that group is saved simply ‘because they use the same words we do'. This is one of the greatest flaws in many a man’s teachings: failure to define terms in accord with Scripture. Proper teaching cannot do without it, in fact, to teach without definition is like trying to run a train without tracks. All of christendom is familiar with phrases such as ‘born again’, ‘believe in the Gospel’, ‘believe in Christ’, ‘Christ is my all in all’, ‘Christ has done it all’ etc., but very few know, or have been taught, the biblical meaning of the words and phrases which cascade from their mouths. Man has attributed his own interpretation to the many terms and phrases of Scripture and countless others have warmly embraced these interpretations, not as the doctrines of men, but as the very doctrine of God! Christ said that by his tradition man nullifies the Word of God (Matt.15:6; Mk.7:9,13). One must believe what God says His Word teaches. To attempt to enter heaven with man’s teaching of what the Word of God says is like trying to board an airplane with a home-made ticket. It may look like the real thing but if it wasn’t produced by the airline its not going to get you on board. Likewise, no one has ever entered heaven with a man-made version of the Truth. The Truth is what God says it is, not what man believes it to be, however sincerely. It is not man’s sincerity in what he believes in but the Truth of Christ which makes a man free. It is God’s Testimony of what His Word says that one must believe in. Therefore it is absolutely essential that we believe God’s Way, for any other way is man’s way. Every other way to salvation than the one which God has declared, is a false way that leads all its adherents to a fiery Hell. In His preaching Christ always added to what qualified a man to be saved, the inescapable fact that if a man did not believe His Gospel, or, in His name, that man would perish (Mk.1:15; 16:15,16; Jn. 1:12; 3:18). The preaching of the cross is the power of God unto salvation to them that are saved, but to those who perish who do not believe in the preaching of the cross, it is foolishness. They say it is not part of God’s Word on salvation (1Cor.1:17,18). I must point out that, in addition to stating that the Gospel and the preaching of the cross are the power of God, the Scriptures also state that Christ is the power of God (1Cor.1:24). Person D chose to remain silent regarding all my statements that any and all who believe that Christ died for every individual, thus changing the very heart of the Gospel message, are lost. Such issues are referred to by many ministers as ‘too divisive’ and ‘not edifying to the body’. My friend, the issue of the Gospel, what it is and what it is not, is the very heart of the Salvation Message. Without a clear definition of what God’s Gospel is, which distinguishes it and the Christ it speaks of from all counterfeits, there can be no true believing in THE Gospel. Ignorance of the Truth provides no passage to heaven but is rather a sure way of remaining on the broad way to Hell.
Pastor E of a Grace Baptist Church in U.S.A. was also asked the question, ‘What is the Gospel?’, and his reply is as follows:
John 3:36 ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ John 17:3 ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’ These verses make it clearer. Salvation is in a Person, not in a system of religion. And that person is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.
Hope this helps.
Your soul’s servant, pastor E
The Scriptures pastor E quoted are, of course, perfect. They are very clear to one who rightly and savingly believes the Gospel by the grace of God but how clear are they to one who has never been taught what these verses are saying? What is it to believe in the Son? And what is it to rightly know Him? Is pastor E aware that a Roman Catholic or even a Mormon would happily quote such Scriptures? Mr. also mentions that ‘salvation is in a Person not in a religious system’. This, too, is correct for a mere head knowledge of doctrine has not and never will save anybody. But it must be asked how can one know of the Person, Christ Jesus the Lord, if one is not taught and subsequently believes in the doctrine of Christ? After all, Scripture says that "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God..." (2 Jn. 9). It is surely not enough to say ‘I believe in Christ’ in order to be saved. Nor is it enough to merely encourage a person to simply ‘believe in Christ’ for there are many false christs in this world who provide false hopes. ‘Believe in which christ’, it may well be asked. ‘The christ of the Mormons or of the Roman Catholics or another?’ One must know the True Christ to rightly be saved and the only way one can know Christ savingly is to hear, understand and believe the Gospel which reveals Who Christ is and what Christ has done. A true God-given understanding of, and life-changing belief from the heart in, His true Gospel is the sure sign that one is saved. Belief in a Person? YES! But there can be no saving belief unless one has heard the Gospel doctrine and understood and believed it with the mind and fully embraced it with the heart. The reality of the matter is that many call the god they worship ‘jesus’ when they are really worshipping an idol of their own or another’s imagination. "True Worship is attributing unto God all the qualities of character that belong to Him AS HE REVEALS HIMSELF, not as we think or imagine Him to be."
My reply to ’s email is as follows:
Dear pastor E,
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my email. I appreciate this very much. In light of your answer I would ask ‘what is it to believe in the Son?’, and, ‘what is it to know the Son?’ I know that even the Roman Catholic Church would have no trouble using the Scriptures you referred to. What must a person believe about the Son of God to show that he is saved. And what is it that a person must know to rightly and biblically state that he knows the Son?
I hope you will be patient with me as I seek the specifics to these questions.
It was encouraging to receive a second email from pastor E, as the others I had written to thus far failed to continue our discussion after one email.
Pastor E’s response to my comments is as follows:
Are you seeking personal salvation?
That is all that was contained in pastor E’s second email to me. Don’t you get the feeling that I am bothering these men? They seem to have much more important matters to deal with than explain the Gospel to me. Nothing I had stated was commented on by pastor E. Only this question was asked of me to which I promptly responded with the following:
Dear pastor E,
No, I am not seeking personal salvation for I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have been saved by the grace of God. I am just asking questions to you and others to see if you do have answers to my questions. This is not being done for the sake of debate but to see if there is anything you have to say which I have not heard of before or considered.
May I reiterate the questions in my last letter to you. I look forward to your answers.
Pastor E’s response to the above email is as follows:
John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on His name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Acts 8:36-37 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Rom 10:9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 1 John 2:28-29 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. 1 John 3:9-10 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
That is pastor E’s full response to my email to him. No direct comment. No teaching. No explanation of what the Word of God is saying. Just Scripture which I fully agree with because by God’s grace I can understand what it is saying. But again, no teaching by as to what it is to receive Him, believe on His name, believe with all one’s heart, to confess with the mouth, to be born of God, and no direct response in his own words to my comments. Let us continue this correspondence now with my reply to pastor E’s quoting of Scripture:
Dear pastor E,
Thank you for taking the time to send me these Scriptures but I must reiterate my previous questions to you: what is it to believe the Son and what is it to know the Son. What must I believe about Him to show I believe rightly and in accord with the Gospel of God. And, what is it that if I do not believe it I show that I stand in disagreement with the Gospel account of Who He is and what He has done and am therefore lost? These are the questions I seek answers to and I look forward to your response.
Gratefully, this time I did receive a reply from pastor E in his own words. It is here quoted in full:
If it’s new, it isn’t true! And if it’s true, it cannot be new! What more could I say than, just read these verses. Read them in meditation and ask the Author of them to reveal Himself to you. Why would we hear man’s opinion of the Scriptures when we have the Holy Spirit to interpret what which He wrote?
Your soul’s servant,
There is so much that can be said about this reply from pastor E. Let me begin with his opening statement: ‘If it’s new, it isn’t true! And if it’s true, it cannot be new!’ This quaint little phrase is designed, one would imagine, to teach us that if a teaching is new (whatever that may entail) then it cannot be true, ie. Scriptural. But I have not presented any new teaching in my emails to pastor E. All I have done is to ask questions seeking the specific details of what it is to rightly and biblically and savingly believe the Gospel, and what it is to not savingly believe the Gospel. My questions are based on the solemn warning given in Scripture, that if one does not repent and believe the Gospel such a person will perish in eternal fire (Mk.1:15; 2Thess.1:7-9). I believe that when a person hears for the first time the Gospel of God, it is indeed something new to the hearer whilst not being something new to what God’s Word has taught for thousands of years. This author believed in lies for the first 30-odd years of my life whilst believing I was a Christian and when I first heard the Gospel fully preached, which revealed the Righteous merits of Christ upon which all of salvation is conditioned, it was indeed new to me. Does this automatically qualify it as false teaching? Hardly. I would still be in a lost state had I adopted pastor E’s philosophy! What about the Mormon who has been fed with nothing but Mormon doctrine who has never heard God’s True Gospel, who one day hears it on a tape or from a true believer? No doubt the doctrine he hears is new to him. What a horror it would be to hear of such a one’s rejection of this ‘new’ doctrine based on ’s ideology: ‘If you haven’t heard it before then it must be wrong!’ What a ludicrous saying. It was no different in Jesus’ day. In answer to those who were amazed at Jesus and His teachings, the Pharisees exclaimed "Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?" (Jn. 7:47,48). In other words they were saying, ‘How can this Jesus be truly from God if none of the Pharisees have believed on Him?’ In today’s world it would be said this way: ‘How can that Gospel be the one from God if no pastor I know believes it or has even heard of it?’ What pastor E is really saying is, ‘How can you be right, Moreno, when none of the greats in the past believed what you believe?’ It is an insupportable argument that really has nothing to do with what the Truth is. The Truth does not stand or fall by how many believe it. IT STANDS WHETHER ANY BELIEVE IT OR NOT! I would replace pastor E’s philosophy with the following biblical statement: If it is not Gospel, if it adds to or takes away from God’s Gospel, it is not of God and therefore cannot save!
To tell one to read the above verses in meditation and ask the Author of them to reveal Himself sounds very biblical. But how can one believe the Gospel, the Word of God, lest it be preached and heard? (Rom.10:13-15). This is what the Scriptures teach. God’s Gospel must be preached and heard before it can be understood and believed. I do believe that God can and does reveal Himself to some of His children who only have a Bible and no one to teach them for the Bible certainly contains within its pages the preaching of the Gospel by Paul the apostle and others. But even the Ethiopian eunuch as he read the Scriptures readily admitted, after being asked by Philip if he understood what he was reading ‘how can I, (understand) except some man should guide me?’ (Acts 8:31). I fear that pastor E’s email comes from a man who simply has no answers to my questions about what it is to believe and know the Son. All he has shown me are Scriptures which tell what must be done, but one remains clueless as to the specifics and particulars of what must be believed in order for a man to know he is saved. When he asks ‘why would we hear man’s opinion of the Scriptures’, an apparent attempt to excuse himself from offering me any teaching on what the Scriptures quoted are saying, are we to understand that pastor E does nothing from his pulpit but quote Scripture? If not, why then was he so reluctant to preach to me and teach me what it is to believe and know the Son? My reply to his evasive email is as follows:
Dear pastor E,
I have not a man’s opinion but God’s Record of what His Gospel is. Please do not wipe me off with some convenient summaries which to your mind excuse you from answering my questions directly and specifically. The verses you shared with me are fine but what I am asking is what do they mean. One must believe in Christ but what is it to believe in Him. If a Roman Catholic came up to you and said he believes in Christ would you say he was saved? I hope not. That man's moral life might be an excellent one but it is what he believes about Christ which defines who the christ he believes in is: whether it is God's Christ or one of his own imagination. My friend, the Lord has revealed Himself to me. He has done it through His glorious Gospel which I believe and preach and can distinguish from all counterfeits, something, I am beginning to see, you are either unable or very reluctant to do. If you have no answers then there is no need for you to write again. I leave the door open for you to walk through and leave anytime. But if you have answers for me I look forward to reading them. I am not trying to be a smart alec or anything of the kind. All I am asking of you is to tell me what the Gospel is and specifically what it is to believe on Christ and what it is to know Him. How can one distinguish Him and His Gospel from the counterfeits.
Thank you for your time.
Sadly, perhaps tragically, no further correspondence was received from pastor E. Yes, a trusted pastor of a Baptist church whose church services are attended religiously by many, failed to give an answer to what the Gospel is and what it is to believe and know the Son of God. This should be a lesson for everyone who is attending a church headed by a man they deeply respect and trust is giving them the True way to salvation. I wonder how your pastor would respond were you to ask him the questions I raised with these gentlemen? I challenge the reader to do so! Show your pastor this book or any of the others I have written and ask for his comment. I would be very interested to hear of your pastor’s reply or even to hear directly from him. A man’s message reveals who he is and who he is serving FOR what he teaches about Christ will identify which christ he promotes: whether it is God's Christ or one of his own imagination. Is he a man of God preaching God’s one and only Gospel or is he one who preaches a false gospel promoting a counterfeit christ who cannot save, thus revealing himself as a minister of Satan? Does your pastor teach that it matters not who you believe Jesus died for but all is well as long as you believe He died for you? Those who preach the true Gospel serve and glorify the true God and those who teach otherwise are serving the Devil and his purpose, which is to deceive and confuse the masses by false gospels leading them on the broad religious road that leads to destruction (2 Cor.11:14,15). Why precisely failed to answer my questions shall perhaps remain a mystery. But the very fact that he refused on several occasions to specifically deal with the questions I raised shows a reluctance to face the life and death issue of the Gospel which so many care nothing about. What is it to really believe the Gospel? What is it that Christ actually did on the cross and in His life on earth, what has Christ achieved and who are the beneficiaries? Sadly pastor E, a man who goes by the title of ‘pastor’, will not give you the answer because for some reason he either does not want you to know or he simply does not know himself!