Lesson 4: The Gospel

Advanced Bible Study

"And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15, 16).

In Lesson 2, the Patriarchal Dispensation was defined as the system of religion in which God made His will known to families by the fathers—a family system. The Mosaic Dispensation was defined as the system of religion in which God made His will known to the nation of Israel through the Law of Moses and the prophets—a national system. The Christian Dispensation is that system of religion in which God makes His will known to all the world by the Gospel. It is an international system. This is why Paul wrote:

"...For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

The Gospel is described as a "system" deliberately. It is not just a random collection of wise sayings and good advice. Neither is it an expression of an abstract philosophical concept. It is a system of facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be received. Paul,the apostle, summed up the facts of the Gospel to the Corinthians, saying:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Notice that Paul said Christ died for our sins. It is impossible for man to appreciate the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ until he realizes that he is lost in sin without the Gospel. The Bible plainly teaches that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The God we serve is true and holy and just and cannot ignore sin. He is also loving and gracious and merciful and does not desire that men should suffer death. The mystery of the gospel is: how could a righteous God save a sinful man. The answer is: "...God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son..." (John 3:16). "Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).

While Jesus dwelt among men He was "…in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, when He was slain, He died not for His own sins, but for the sins of the world, that the world through Him might be saved. So the requirements of justice were satisfied, and the grace of God was extended to man. While Jesus died for all the world, all will not be saved, because all will not obey the Gospel. The apostle Paul wrote: "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The Gospel includes commands to be obeyed. Salvation is a free gift of the grace of God, but this gift is given only to those who meet the given conditions. Jesus proclaimed, " ...All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). Jesus said:

"...if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24); "...unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3); "…whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before

My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33); and, "... unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

While faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are necessary for salvation, they do not merit or earn our salvation. Rather, "...when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, We are unprofitable servants…" (Luke 17:10). Paul explained the commands of the Gospel to the Romans this way:

"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:16-18).

Notice, they were servants of sin before they obeyed, they were servants of righteousness after they obeyed, and they were freed from sin when they obeyed. That which they obeyed was "that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." As has been shown from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the doctrine which Paul delivered was "...that Christ died for our sins according…and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day...." Paul had just explained the "form of doctrine" which they had obeyed, saying:

"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).

The Gospel also includes promises to be received. Isaiah, the prophet, had spoken of them before, saying, "...Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Peter preached, "...whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). Paul wrote, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). And John the apostle testified, saying, "...this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life" (1 John 2:25).

The sum of these promises is salvation. That is why the Gospel is called "the gospel of your salvation" (Ephesians 1:13). In fact, that is why the Gospel is called the Gospel, for the word "gospel" literally means "good news"!

Therefore, what you must do to be saved is:

BELIEVE: John 8:24; Mark 16:16; Hebrews 11:6.
REPENT: Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30.
CONFESS: Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:10; 1 John 4:15.
BE BAPTIZED: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21.
Then, the promises of the Gospel shall be yours.

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  1. The "Christian Dispensation" is that of religion in which God makes His will known to all the world by the .
  2. The Gospel is a "system" of to be believed, to be obeyed, and to be received.
  3. The apostle Paul wrote, "that Christ died for our according to the , and that He was , and that He again the third day according to the " (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).
  4. All will not be saved because all will not the .
  5. The "form of doctrine" which the Romans obeyed from the heart is found in Romans, chapter verses through .
  6. Since we are "buried with him in baptism," baptism is a(n) ?
  7. To be saved, one must , , and be .
  8. True     False   Since Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved ..." (Mark 16:16), a person can be saved before he is baptized.
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