For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 1 Corinthians 1:17
If I were to ask you what the gospel was, what would you say? Over the years I’ve seen a lot of what passes as the gospel, and much of it is less than a poor substitute. Well meaning and in many cases misguided Christians seeking to fulfill the Lord’s command found in Matthew 28:19 have rather given the world a weak. diluted version of this most basic and essential component of Christianity. What the world sees and accepts as the gospel, is actually another gospel. We need only go to Galatians 1:6-7 to see the seriousness of this matter. It says: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Did you catch that? The apostle Paul emphatically states that this ‘other’ gospel is not really the gospel at all. It is a perversion of it. That’s serious.
So, what is the gospel? In order to answer this question, let’s first begin by stating what the gospel is not. The gospel is not social change. The real gospel can affect social change, but it is not social change. The gospel is not about political empowerment, or the seeking out of justice, or the righting of wrongs. It is not even the correcting of society’s ills primarily. All of these things are noble at best, and altogether necessary on some level, but they are not the engine the drives the gospel.
We must not lose sight of the bigger picture. What did Christ come to do? Did He come to empower the Jews to stand up for their rights, or get the Romans to change their policies toward those they had conquered? I think not. On the contrary, Jesus first priority was the heart of man . Take a look at Jesus own words in Luke 4:18 where He says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…Christians who tout the banner of a social, political or justice laced gospel may refer to Jesus’ feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000 respectively as proof of Jesus concern for those in need. Speaking of the homeless someone once said to me, ‘They won’t even hear you concerning Jesus until you feed them.’ While this unfortunate fact may be true in some cases, we ought not minimize the power of the gospel. However, Jesus’ obvious love and concern for the needy is not in question. It can never be wrong to feed the hungry or clothe the naked, but Jesus wants to impart His life into the hearts and souls of people. To show this, we note an interesting passage from Mark chapter 2. Four men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus and when they are unable to reach Him through the door, they decide to go up to the roof, and in essence remove the tiling and lower him down to Jesus. We can read what happens next in verse 5: When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. What just happened there? This man was paralyzed and Jesus for the moment overlooks it; He knew that what this man needed even more than physical healing was spiritual healing. He needed salvation. The paralyzed man first and foremost needed his sins forgiven, and when Jesus saw faith that’s what He did. He did eventually heal his body, but it was secondary. You can go to heaven with a broken body, but not with an empty soul.
As referenced in the scripture at the outset from Romans 1:16, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It is by and through the gospel that individuals are brought into right relationship with God. The real gospel is all about the souls of men and women. This gospel is made possible through Jesus death on the cross. In fact, the gospel is the cross. A careful reading of 1 Corinthians 1:17 bears this out; For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. Did you notice the connection? This tells us in no uncertain terms that the cross of Christ should always be the emphasis of our message. The cross is the power of God because it was there that the total sin debt was paid.
The gospel we present to a lost and dying world is of utmost importance. It is salvation that people need more than anything, even if they don’t know it. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18). Preach the cross. It is the real gospel.
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.