What Distinguishes the True Gospel?
The doctrines we preach and love are not the mere teachings of some particular method or plan, but the doctrines of Christ who is our gospel--Christ, Who is sovereign over all flesh, Whose grace is both sovereign and free. To preach another gospel is to preach another Christ. To hear another gospel is to hear another Christ. It is just that simple. Mark it down: you cannot separate Christ from the gospel nor the gospel from Christ; for they are one and the same. The message of life for poor, guilty sinners is the message of Christ who is our life.
Pastor Maurice Montgomery
I have tried diligently to preach God as He really is, to sinners as they really are, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Mediator between the holy God and sinful men, the all-glorious Redeemer who accomplished, by Himself, the reconciliation of His people (II Cor. 5:18-21). I have tried, and shall continue to do so, to preach to you:
Pastor Maurice Montgomery
God be thanked for the simplicity of the gospel. The longer I live, the more I bless God that we have not received a classical gospel, nor a mathematical gospel, nor a metaphysical gospel; it is not a gospel confined to scholars and men of genius, but a poor man's gospel, a ploughman's gospel; for that is the kind of gospel which we can live upon and die upon. It is to us not the luxury of refinement, but the staple food of life. We want no fine words when the heart is heavy, neither do we need deep problems when we are lying upon the verge of eternity, weak in body and tempted in mind. At such times, we magnify the blessed simplicity of the gospel. Jesus in the flesh made manifest becomes our soul's bread. Jesus bleeding on the cross, a substitute for sinners, is our soul's drink. This is the gospel for babes, and strong men want no more.
Charles H. Spurgeon
Most people see no difference in sermons by religious ministers or theologians versus preachers of the gospel of grace, particularly when the text of the scriptures is the same. Is there a difference? Yes, and there are three primary reasons.
First, the commission, which is performed by the anointment of the Holy Spirit on those preordained by God to deliver His Word, that is, preachers of the gospel of grace. The commission to religious ministers and theologians is conferred through self-development by the acquisition of human knowledge and is recognized by the titles of Reverend, Father, Rabbi, etc., accompanied by prescribed acts of behavior (ethics) and worship (liturgy) deemed appropriate by the religion of choice.
Second, the subject of the sermon. For the grace preacher this will always be exclusively Christ crucified, no matter what scripture is selected. But for the religious minister the subject is likely to be the works or acts necessary for man to perform in order to receive salvation.
Third, the response expected of the audience. The grace preacher knows that only those who have been preconditioned by a spiritual life can hear and truly understand the gospel. Christ said, "My sheep hear my voice," the voice of the anointed preacher delivering God's revealed word from the Scriptures. Being able to hear, they believe through faith and will in due time seek baptism as a public affirmation of faith. The religious minister expects that all may respond with equal chance for salvation, based on individual self-will, commitment, and adherence to the particular religion's code of conduct.
The most obvious difference, then, is in the subject matter, Christ crucified. Spurgeon issued a warning about preachers when he advised, "When a preacher becomes heretical, it is always about Christ. If he is not clear about Christ crucified and you hear one sermon from him, that is your misfortune. But if you go and hear him again and hear another sermon like the first, it will be your fault. If you go a third a third time, it will be your crime.
The difference between a God-called and anointed preacher and one who is not is very plain for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. The man who is sent from God preaches Christ. If a man preaches anything else he has not proven his calling. In preaching Christ and the resurrection he shows that he is in the apostolic succession. Christ crucified is the delight of his heart and soul. It is the sum and substance of his ministry. He loves to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. His message is this:
Can you see what distinguishes true preachers from the pretenders of our day?
Pastor Donnie Bell
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31).
Pastor Don Fortner
True religion arises out of a true knowledge of God as He is revealed in the scriptures. True religion arises out of a true knowledge of man as he is described in the scriptures. True religion arises out of a sense and understanding of the great things God has done for sinners in the Lord Jesus Christ. True religion produces a well grounded hope in the soul, based upon the word of God. True religion produces a principle of love and surrender of one's self to Jesus Christ as Lord. True religion will make the goodness and grace of God to me to be the principle and model of my conduct to others. True religion presses upon men three goals not attainable in this life, but the seed of which is planted here and begins to grow: (l) total commitment to Jesus Christ, (2) total communion with Jesus Christ, and (3) total conformity to Jesus Christ.
TRUE RELIGION -- WHAT IT IS NOT AND WHAT IT IS
1. It is not outward religious behavior. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." For most people their religion is no more than an outward conformity to social standards of righteousness. Of this much you can be sure: true religion – whatever it is – it is not something that a lost, unregenerate man can produce.
Pastor Jim Byrd
The preachers and priests of religion today are just like those of the past. They seek to make themselves necessary to us if we are to know God. They take to themselves titles such as “reverend” and distinguish themselves with their special clothing and symbols as well as exalting themselves with their degrees from religious institutions. They say or insinuate that one can only understand the Bible if they know the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, making these “learned ones” indispensable. What utter foolishness this is! The Bible was given by God through human instruments. Think about who they were: fishermen, farmers, and men from various other ordinary circumstances. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians who sought to distinguish even between God-sent messengers? “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” I Corinthians 1:26-29
Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the Apostle, had all the things these religious hucksters seek after and glory in. Yet, when Christ revealed Himself to and in him, he called it all garbage, confessed that as such he had been a blasphemer, and had to be taken to the backside of the desert to be “taught of God.” This is what’s necessary for anyone to know God. They must all be taught of God. (John 6) The knowledge of God is through the Holy Scriptures preached by those “sent” by God not a man-made religion and revealed by the Spirit of God. Again Paul says to the Corinthians, it is not by the “wisdom of this world” but through God the Spirit revealing these things through the plain preaching of the Gospel of God wherein the righteousness of God is revealed. No one speaks for God except those He sends. No one speaks for God except they speak according to this Word. No one speaks for God who draws attention to himself rather than God. No one speaks for God who does not preach Christ and Him crucified as the one way of justification for sinners. If we look at the prophets and apostles, we shall clearly see that God uses ordinary men to be the messengers of His gospel “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” Furthermore, look at the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who is the “Truth” and “that Prophet.” What did they say of Him? “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” Hear Christ’s response: “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” (John 7:15-18) God saves ignorant sinners; but He does not save them with ignorance but truth and knowledge. He uses means but not the means that fallen man would think. That which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to Him. I thank God as Christ did: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matt. 11:25-27)
Pastor Gary Shepard
HOW MAY WE KNOW IT'S THE GOSPEL?
Someone may ask,
"How may we know that the message preached is the true gospel of
God?" I would reply:
Pastor Henry Mahan
If you wish to know if the gospel you are hearing preached is the gospel of God, ask yourself this question, "Who gets the glory?" If you wish to know whether your religious experience is of the flesh or of the Lord, ask yourself the same thing, "Who gets the glory?" Also, examine all your gifts, works, and missionary efforts by the same rule, "Who gets the glory?" God will not share His glory! That which is of God, from God, and for God's glory will be blessed with His presence and power "that no flesh should glory in His presence that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:29, 31)
The gospel of God's grace in Christ Jesus is not a thing to be proved, but a truth to be believed. It is not submitted to our reasoning powers as a subject for critical examination; but the gospel is a message from God, addressed to our conscience, feelings, and affections. For this reason, men fond of argument and proving everything by strictly logical deduction generally make very poor preachers. In the scriptures, God does not argue; He proclaims!
J. C. Phipot
The Gospel is not merely the doctrine of salvation as it lies in the holy Scripture, but that public and authoritative dispensation of this doctrine, which the Lord Jesus Christ has committed to his true ministers; who having been themselves, by the power of his grace, brought out of darkness into marvelous light, are by his Holy Spirit qualified and sent forth to declare to their fellow-sinners what they have seen, and felt, and tasted, of the word of life. Their commission is, to exalt the Lord alone, to stain the pride of all human glory. They are to set forth the evil and demerit of sin, the strictness, spirituality, and sanction of the law of God, the total apostasy of mankind; and from these premises to demonstrate the utter impossibility of a sinner's escaping condemnation by any works or endeavours of his own; and then to proclaim a full and free salvation from sin wrath, by faith in the name, blood, obedience, and mediation of God manifest in the flesh; together with a denunciation of eternal misery to all who shall finally reject the testimony which God has given of his Son. Though these several branches of the will of God respecting sinners, and other truths in connection with them, are plainly revealed and repeatedly inculcated (driven in) in the Bible; and though the Bible is to be found in almost every house, yet we see, in fact, it is a sealed book, little read, little understood, and therefore but little regarded, except in those places which the Lord is pleased to favour with ministers who can confirm them from their own experience, and who, by a sense of his constraining love, and the worth of souls, are animated to make the faithful discharge of their ministry the one great business of their lives: who aim not to possess the wealth, but to promote the welfare of their hearers; are equally regardless of the frowns or smiles of the world; and count not their lives dear, so that they may be wise and successful in winning souls to Christ.
GOD'S GLORIOUS GOSPEL
The gospel of the glory of God in the salvation of sinners is the most wonderful, the most amazing, the most marvelous, and the most glorious "Good News" which ever fell upon human ear. It is in every way characteristic of its Author (God-like!) and suitable to the desperate need of spiritually dead sinners (John 5:21-27; Eph. 2:1; Rom. 5:12). It manifests the holiness and righteousness of God in justifying the unrighteous, the infinite love of God in saving the altogether unloveable, and the infinite power of God in creating life in those who are "dead in trespasses and in sins."
THE KIND OF PREACHING THAT WILL BRING REVIVAL
In general it may be said that every revival to date has been marked by the preaching of God's Sovereign Grace in Christ! Paul preached after this fashion and planted churches everywhere. Augustine came near to saving the Roman Church for the truth by such preaching. Calvin drove a wide wedge in Europe and the world with such preaching, and Spurgeon stood England on its head for two generations with the preaching of the Sovereign Grace of God.
The Character of God. What kind of God is the God whom men shall meet at the judgment and with whom they have to do now? This generation does not know. For the most part it has not heard preaching on the character of God! God is holy! Men do not believe this today. Do we who preach believe God is holy?
God is Sovereign. He reigns in grace. He blesses those in Christ and damns all outside of Christ. He raises up vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. He shows mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth (Rom. 9:18). He loves Jacob and hates Esau (Rom. 9:13). He saved Israel and hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Exo. 7:13). He gives salvation to whom He will (John 5:21). He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1: 11).
This generation of church goers has yet to hear for the most part the truths that are basic in God's way of grace. Depravity, election, predestination, salvation as a free-gift (not a timid offer), and the effectual sacrifice of Christ has not been preached. As a result, sinners have a mighty poor conception of God and a mighty high opinion of themselves. To the average person God is a person or a principle who is trying to catch them and is failing. To them God is one to whom they propose someday to give some attention. How the truth of God's absolute sovereignty would strike fear in their hearts if preached today!
The True Condition of Men. This generation does not know the truth about itself. Consider the condition of man morally and spiritually. He is not as God made him! He is a fallen creature, morally depraved. He is dead spiritually and hates the Living, Holy, and just God. Original sin is explained away, if dealt with at all; yet it is basic! The fact of man's enmity of God is not flattering to so-called enlightened men, so we soft-pedal its preaching. Man's helpless condition as spiritually dead is denied by many, debated by some, and preached by few. A man can improve his moral condition somewhat, but a dead sinner cannot give himself life! Christ did not die that men might not die, but that dead men might live! We must shut men up to God's intervention and mercy. We must strip sinners of their high estimation of themselves and of all hope in themselves if we would see revival.
The Destiny of Men. We must preach Christ Jesus as the only Redeemer just and justifier! To be in Christ is to be eternally saved. To be out of Christ is to be as certain for Hell as God is true. Not a hell of reformation, but of retribution and punishment. God will punish sin! Preachers who dare to shut men up to the mercy of God in Christ and who dare to leave the rest to bear their sins in Hell are the need of the hour!
The Gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit, uncovers unto a sinner the way of salvation contrived in the covenant of grace, and manifests to him what the ever blessed Trinity had therein purposed, and what in the fullness of time was accomplished. That all the perfections of the Godhead might be infinitely and everlastingly glorified, the Father covenanted to gain honour and dignity, to His law and justice, to His faithfulness and holiness, by insisting upon man's appearing at His bar in the perfect righteousness of the law. But man having no such righteousness of his own, all having sinned, and there being none righteous, no, not one; how can he be saved? The Lord Christ, a Person in the Godhead co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, undertook to be his Saviour. He covenanted to stand up as the Head and Surety of His people in their nature and in their stead, to obey for them, that by His everlastingly meritorious stripes they might be healed. Accordingly, in the fullness of time He came into the world, and was made flesh, and God and man being as truly united in one Person lived, and suffered, and died, as the representative of His people. The righteousness of His life was to be their right and title to life, and the righteousness of His sufferings and death was to save them from all the sufferings due to their sins. And thus the law and justice of the Father would be glorified in pardoning them, and his faithfulness and holiness made honourable in saving them. He might be strictly just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.
THE MESSAGE OF OLD
Many religious organizations proudly advertise their services as "contemporary". Their true message is, "we deal with topics that are relevant for today's world." These religious organizations unashamedly proclaim, "Tell us what you want, and that's what you'll get. We will meet your needs". This tactic is nothing more than an attempt to be all things to all men in order that the masses might be drawn in. These congregations major on issues that are actually nothing more than current events. They sing songs that are designed to glorify the flesh with words that exalt man. Preaching the Gospel has been replaced with "share time" to fill the need for so-called "spiritual growth." After all the necessary programs have been strategically laid out to meet the criteria of their supposed spiritual needs, these organizations then provide every sort of entertainment and bodily exercise humanly possible. With million dollar budgets, these religious "works-shops" do whatever is necessary to meet the bottom line. That Christ's honor and truth are being disregarded; that men's souls are being merchandised means nothing to them! Obviously, men have been left to their own fleshly desires and the blindness of their unregenerate heart.
In the church of the Lord Jesus, oh how different is the case. The issue is not some current event. The believer must hear the truth of Him who changes not. He is not satisfied unless he hears the message of the sovereign, ruling, reigning God who has everlastingly loved a particular people in Christ. The saint of God thrives on the message, the "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" exalting their heavenly Father, the very God who has chosen a people in Christ "before the foundation of the world," that they should be holy and without blame before Him in love. The believer subsists on the declaration of the beloved Son who, as the Surety of the sheep, has lived in righteousness before God's law on behalf of all that the Father has given Him. Herald again the glorious message, which is without controversy -- the message of God, manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. The regenerate sinner needs to be told again and again how Christ put away his guilt by divinely being made to be sin for him. To the one who has been made to know something of his true need, the message of how the Lord Jesus Christ died under the wrath and judgment of God's holy law for His sheep, that they might be made the righteousness of God in Him, never grows old. Rehearse again in the saint's ears these eternal truths, truths that when received are rejoiced in as if they had never been heard before. Justification by Christ's imputed righteousness, propitiation by His blood, and freedom from condemnation for those blessed ones found in Christ, that is the message that changes not, the message that is the life-sustenance of the renewed man.
What's the Difference?