What is the True gospel?
The Gospel is a declared message; it is not an offer or an invitation. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for sin-sick souls; it is the good news and glad tidings of God, His kingdom, and His glorious plan of salvation (the complete salvation of elect sinners conditioned upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, without any contribution from the sinner as it pertains to their becoming saved, staying saved, or improving upon their salvation). It is a message that is full of vital truths; and the Holy Spirit gives His people faith to belief and to understand those vital truths when He quickens them.
My goal is to show that when the True Gospel is declared, the questions listed in the first section are answered and the Kingdom, Grace, and Righteousness of God are clearly revealed (Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-9; and Matthew 24:14). My goal is to show that when these things are not revealed in supposed "gospel preaching," it isn't because the speaker is refraining from adding extraneous material from their message; instead, it is because they are preaching a diminished gospel, a watered-down gospel, an inaccurate gospel, or better put, a false gospel. There is only one Gospel, either it is preached faithfully, or it is despised and replaced with counterfeits.
At this point, let us consider I Corinthians 15 again (considering it prayerfully, systematically, and Lord willing, harmoniously with the Scripture). Let us also verify again whether the charges of Neo-Gnosticism are at all accurate.
I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ....
Who is Christ?
You cannot properly understand this verse without first understanding who and what Christ is. When we search the Scriptures, comparing all relevant passages, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son, co-equal with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Triune Godhead. We see that He is the God-Man mediator who kept the law perfectly on behalf of His people, atoned for them, and who alone makes their salvation possible (having reconciled them to God).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made....
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form (external appearance) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. Psalm 45:6 -- But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. Hebrews 1:8
We know from numerous other passages that these precepts are true, and that they perfectly accord with the Scriptures. So, any gospel that denies the full humanity, and the full and co-equality of deity of Christ, is a false gospel. Such a "gospel" reveals a false Christ; one that is utterly unable to save. Such a false Christ is preached in many a pulpit today.
I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died... according to the scriptures.
Why did He die, how did He die?
You cannot properly understand this verse without first understanding how and why the Lord Jesus Christ had to die. When we search the Scripture we see that Christ was made a curse for His people (cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree - Galatians 3:13), so that they would be free from the curse of the law and free to enjoy eternal communion with God in Heaven. The Bible declares that He "was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).
Again, by searching the Bible, we know that these precepts are true. So, any gospel that denies the death of Christ, the Atonement, the doctrine of imputation, or any other related vital doctrine is a false gospel. Such a "gospel" reveals a false Christ, one that can save no one. Again, such a false Christ is preached in many a pulpit today.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God....
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
For our sins!
I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
For whom did Christ die?
You cannot properly understand this passage without first understanding *who* is in view when the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to declare "for our sins." Who are the "our," is it only those in the Church of Corinth? Surely not, or else this would have no application to believers in our day.
Is it the entire world?
Many teach this; however, despite its popularity, it is a repugnantly inaccurate doctrine as we shall see below.
Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand. I and [my] Father are one.
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.....I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(II Thessalonians 2:13)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
(I Peter 1:1-2)
There are many more passages that refer to the fact that the "our sins" refers to the sins of God's elect, and only His elect. It does not refer to the sins of every person that has ever lived, or ever will live. God's atonement is effectual for all those for whom He died. Simply put, Christ died to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) by paying the penalty they deserved. In so doing, He did all that was necessary to establish a righteousness for them that guarantees all aspects of their salvation. Christ came to save His sheep, and all of them will hear His voice and believe the Gospel unto salvation (by the grace, mercy, and effectual working of God).
So we see that any gospel that denies that "our sins" refers to God's elect, all of His elect, and only His elect, is a false gospel. Such a false gospel reveals a false Christ that cannot save. Such a false gospel often takes the form of Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism/Sacramentalism and declares the abominable lie that Jesus' blood was shed commonly for all and that He died to atone for all (even though He knew the majority of them would end up in Hell); what utter, and blasphemous, foolishness. The Lord Jesus Christ is no fool, no failure, and He is by no means guilty of double jeopardy; He is both a Just God and a Saviour, both Just and Justifier.
By Curt Wildy