What is the Gospel? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 109 pages. 2020.
In this new book in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series (all of which are free in the Kindle edition), he looks at the important issue of the gospel. We often talk about the gospel, but if asked, would we be able to tell someone just what the gospel is? The gospel isn’t our personal testimony, for example.
Sproul indicates that there is perhaps no more important question for us to answer than what the gospel is, because the answer we give will help to determine our eternal destiny. The gospel tells us how we can be saved from our sin. It is therefore crucial that we search the Scriptures carefully in order to clearly articulate what God tells us about how we may be saved.
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Sproul writes of two meetings of evangelical leaders in the late 1990’s. As a result of the meetings, a unified statement of faith was drafted in order to restore unity among evangelicals, particularly in the understanding of justification. The document is called “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration,” and it is divided into two parts. The first part is a summation of the key points that were affirmed. It explains the gospel in the language of the laity, avoiding technical theological statements. The second part provides a statement in more precise theological language, following the format of affirmations and denials. This book explores the affirmations and denials in order to provide a clear articulation of the message of the gospel.
Among the topics addressed in this book are justification, sanctification, the deity of Jesus, the person and work of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, imputation, evangelism, doctrine and repentance.
Sproul had the gift of being able to communicate theological subjects in a way in which the layperson could easily understand. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss with a new believer about what the gospel is, and isn’t.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- The gospel’s authority rests on God and God alone.
- If we understand that God is just and we are not just, then the question of how an unjust person can be justified in the sight of a holy and just God becomes the most important question we will ever deal with.
- We affirm that Christ is the only way of salvation because He alone in His person has the credentials necessary to do the work of mediation that must be done to bring about reconciliation.
- There’s only one God, and God has only one Son, and there’s only one Mediator between God and mankind.
- The Bible offers no hope that sincere worshipers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ.
- Evangelism is never optional for the church.
- The content of the gospel as we find it in the New Testament focuses on the person and the work of Jesus Christ. And though we distinguish between the person of Christ and His work, we dare not separate them.
- A confession of the full deity of Jesus Christ is foundational and essential to gospel faith.
- The gospel, therefore, is not just a message about the death of Christ; it’s also a message about the life of Christ. Both the life of Christ and the death of Christ are necessary for our salvation.
- To believe the gospel is to despair of ever living righteously enough to satisfy the demands of God’s justice and instead to trust in and rely on what Christ did for us in His life as well as in His death.
- If you deny the real bodily, historical resurrection of Christ, you have denied the very essence of the gospel.
- If we don’t understand justification, we don’t really understand the gospel.
- In our justification, there is a double imputation. On the one hand, our guilt is imputed or transferred to Christ, and on the other, His righteousness is imputed to us.
- Without this doctrine of imputation, you don’t have the gospel, for the gospel stands or falls on this idea of the transfer of Jesus’ righteousness to our account.
- Sanctification is a lifelong process that is not completed until we die and enter into what the Bible calls glorification. Glorification is the conclusion to the lengthy process of sanctification.
- The Christian life is a penitent life, because as long as there remains sin in our lives, the need for confession and turning from that sin remains.
- To be saved, someone has to actually agree in his mind that the statements about Jesus and about His work are true.
- We are justified by faith, by the possession of authentic faith, and not by its mere profession.
- Doctrine doesn’t save us, but it is vital for spiritual health and well-being.
- To reject the gospel after hearing it is to embrace spiritual ruin and to stand exposed to God’s judgment.
- Voddie Baucham and the Dangers of Critical Race Theory. Peter Jones reviews Voddie Baucham’s new book Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe. He writes “Though Baucham’s book does not analyze CRT in a systematic way and is thus not a complete answer to the problem, it nevertheless carries a crucial emphasis on God’s forgiveness as the ultimate answer.”
- Brave by Faith. Tim Challies reviews Alistair Begg’s new book Brave by Faith. He writes “Though Brave by Faith is only a short book, it packs a punch. It calls Christians to live in a distinctly Christian way in a distinctly unChristian culture. It gives us the wisdom we need and the confidence we may lack to face the challenge of a society that is turning not only away from us, but is even turning against us. For, as we learn, others have faced this challenge in the past and honored God through it.”
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 8: The Law, the Wilderness, and the Conquest of Canaan. Below are a few takeaways from the chapter:
- God saw to it that his ultimate goal in providence was embedded at the center of Israel’s written constitution. That goal is that his worth and beauty be magnified above all things in his people’s heartfelt worship of his excellence.
- God’s intention is for the other commandments to be obeyed on the basis of the first and last.
- God’s self-exaltation was the ground of Israel’s undeserved exultation. If they had eyes to see, they would be rejoicing in the glory of God’s grace that moved him to spare them.
- The purpose of God’s providence in the conquest of Canaan was to put his power and his name on display in justice and mercy so that his people would be stunned at the freedom and glory of his grace.
- God’s ultimate goal in the law was that the supremacy of his worth and beauty be reflected in the supreme satisfaction of his people in him.
- God’s wonders in the wilderness were performed again and again for a people who rebelled against him. Therefore, the glory that God exalted among the nations was the glory of his mighty grace.