What Is “Gospel”? Part 4

emptytomb2Phil 1

(Phil 1:27-28)  Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved — and that by God.

The gospel compels us —

  • To have “one spirit”
  • To contend “for the faith of the gospel”
  • To not be frightened of persecution

Col 1

(Col 1:3-6)  We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints — 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

The gospel —

  • Is the word of truth
  • Produces hope, which —
  • Produces faith in Christ Jesus and
  • Produces love for all the saints
  • Bears fruit
  • Brings grace

(Col 1:22-23)  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

The gospel —

  • Reconciles us to God through the death of Christ
  • Makes us holy and without blemish (suitable for sacrifice to God!)
  • Requires us to continue in faith and hope
  • Should be proclaimed to every creature under heaven

2 Thes

(2 Th 1:8-10)  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

  • Failure to obey the gospel damns
  • Those who believe are not damned but will be saved

Some have argued that “obey the gospel” means obey all commands of Jesus and the apostles, including 5 acts of worship etc. But the contrast is between belief and unbelief. The Thessalonians will not be punished because they “believed.” He says it twice.

(2 Th 2:13-15)  But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

This gospel —

  • Is given to those whom God chooses
  • Saves
  • Produces sanctification (being made holy) by the Spirit and by faith in the “truth”
  • Results in sharing Jesus’ glory (being in God’s presence)
  • Urges us to stand firm in apostolic teaching

I should never be understood as questioning the importance of obedience to apostolic instruction. Of course, we must heed what the apostles teach! But contrary to the teaching of some, this passage does not say that the teachings (literally, “traditions” in the Greek) are the gospel. Rather, our submission to Jesus as Lord and Messiah requires our obedience, not as a condition of being saved but as a result of being saved. After all, the gospel tells us that Jesus is Lord.

1 Tim 1

(1 Tim 1:8-11)  We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers — and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

The law is made for the unrighteous. Unrighteousness is also opposed by the gospel, but the law is for the unrighteous. The righteous have no need for it.

2 Tim 1

(2 Tim 1:8-14)  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

This gospel —

  • Saves us
  • Calls us to a holy life
  • Does not depend on “anything we have done” but rather depends on God’s purpose and grace
  • Destroys death in Jesus
  • Brings life and immortality
  • Guards our hope until Judgment
  • Leads us to honor Paul’s teaching as sound (healthy) and in “faith and love in Christ Jesus”

The “with” in v. 13 is a mistranslation, the original word being en, that is, in. Donald Guthrie in the Tyndale Commentary notes that the force of the construction is that Timothy cannot be sound or true to the pattern unless he is himself abiding in faith and love in Christ Jesus. In other words, only someone who is focused on faith and love can truly understand and teach the pattern.

Paul goes on to explain this gospel in more depth —

(2 Tim 2:8-14)  Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

The gospel is —

  • The Resurrection
  • That Jesus is descended from David (and hence king)
  • Brings salvation in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory
  • Requires us to die with him so we will also live with him (eternally)
  • Allows us to endure this life and so we can reign (rule) with Jesus
  • Jesus will disown those who disown him
  • Opposed to quarreling

Paul does indeed speak of a “pattern” of “sound words” — “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, [in] faith and love in Christ Jesus.” To learn that pattern, we need only read 2 Timothy.

There is, in Paul’s own sense, a “pattern.” But Paul says nothing of a pattern of worship or church organization. Rather, “pattern” refers to what Paul had just been discussing — the gospel. “What you heard from me [the gospel], keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” In other words, build on the gospel and don’t get away from it.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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4 Responses to What Is “Gospel”? Part 4

  1. Vicki says:

    Nice one, Jay. Thanks.

    So often that the word "pattern" is mistranslated to mean "opening song – opening prayer – song – reading – song – supper – song……" 😮

  2. I especially like your use of "these are not conditions of the gospel…these are results of the gospel…"

    From Galatians 5

    …love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control …These are results of the Gospel in us.

    …sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies…These are what we wallow in without the Gospel

    If only I could present these as a clear choice to people. Which would you rather have each day of your life and through eternity?

    Oh, look, I don't see wearing a tie or a dress on Sunday as a fruit of the spirit. 🙂

  3. Rich says:

    Jay said, "To learn that pattern, we need only read 2 Timothy."

    Although I disagree to limit the scope to 2 Timothy, let's see what we can find. There are at least three characteristics that describe true Christians.

    They are (from 2 Tim. 2:1-7):

    1. Be loyal (to Christ) like a soldier
    2. Follow rules like an athlete, and
    3. Work hard like a farmer.

    Whether we like it or not, following rules is part of being a Christian. These should be Christ's rules rather than human made. Nevertheless, we are free from the consequences of sin but not free from rules.

  4. Jay Guin says:

    I've never suggested otherwise. Yes, there are rules. But we don't read the scriptures presuming that are rules for this or that. We let the scriptures speak for themselves.

    Hence, we don't go looking for the day on which to take communion or whether to use instruments. If the rules are there, they're there. But we don't presume that they're there and insist they have to be there.

    We tend to rebel at the thought that there may be no rule for what day to take communion because we assume God is all about rules for taking communion. We then "find" the "rule" in passages that are not rule-giving passages and that don't even clearly state such a rule. We then call our inference (built on our beginning assumption that surely there must be a rule for this) a "command" and damn those who don't find the same command.

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