"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Good News

The word gospel in English comes from two words "good" and "spell" that have been abbreviated into one word. "Spell" is an ancient word from the Latin that is carried over into our English. It means to form letters of the alphabet into words to tell a story or to proclaim news. So good spell means "good news" and those two words abbreviated form the word 'gospel' which means "good news."

I am amazed at the number of Christians who forget that the gospel is something you tell, not something you do. Let me illustrate via a quick test: Think of 'the gospel' as you know it --- now find a lost person and relay the gospel without asking him or her to "do" anything. Can you? To believe the gospel is to simply trust the veracity of the news one hears, so if you ask a sinner if he believes what you have proclaimed, you are not asking him to do anything. You are are calling upon him to examine his soul. For instance, a sinner can't rest in Christ until the Spirit has first made him burdened. A sinner can't believe in redemption until he first feels his bondage. A sinner can't experience freedom from the guilt of his sin until he first feels the guilt of his sin - and that is the Spirit's job. That is why to attempt to be an evangelist without prayer is the same as attempting to be a reporter without an audience. The Spirit provides for the evangelist the open hearts to believe the good news.

IF the gospel is proclaimed biblically, the proclamation of Christ as Savior and Lord will be used by the Spirit to draw people into fellowship with Christ. "If I be lifted up," Jesus said, "I will draw all men unto me." But it seems to me that the good news, proclaimed by many modern evangelicals, has been tainted. Many evangelists today try to produce the good news by calling upon hearers to do something moral, to do something religious, or to do something in terms of commitment. The job of the evangelist is to report the good news, not produce it.

So, just exactly what is the good news? The gospel is the ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. The English word "atonement" is used to translate Hebrew word kaphar many times in the Old Testament but used only once to translate the Greek word katallege in the New Testament: in Romans 5:11. It is a theological word with a rather unusual etymology. Most of the terms or words used to describe scriptural doctrines in the English language are words which have been derived either from the Greek or from the Latin. But that is not true for the word "atonement." It was invented by English or Anglo-Saxon Bible translators (primarily Wycliffe) to translate the Greek (katallege) and Hebrew (kaphar) words that seemed to have no English equivalent.

In English "atonement" is a noun formed by three small words: "at" and "one" and "moment." The word "atonement" suggests, therefore, 'a moment when there is the making of one out of that which had been divided', or 'a dwelling together of two people once at odds.' The word "atonement" as a theological term treats the relationship which exists between God and man. The word suggests that there is a unity or oneness between God and sinners - where there used to be division - because of the "at-one-ment" work of Christ. This atonement moment occurred at the cross.

To believe the gospel is to trust that Christ has erased the divide and that God is interested in a relationship with you - on His terms. He is Lord. He is your Creator. He is your Father. He is your Lover. He is your Pursuer. His grace brings you to yield to Him in love and acceptance. Implied in the word "atonement" is the eventual conscious awareness within the sinner for whom Christ atoned that the evil which formerly divided has now been removed and we can come to God as 'Abba' Father.

So the good news becomes very personal. Christ died in my place and He came to draw me into a personal, eternal, powerful, and transformational relationship with God. Worship, Bible study, discipleship, etc . . . is all designed to enter into the presence of God and call upon Him for the power to live a God-united life in a God-less world. When churches and people get interested in the gospel, the demons of hell are unleashed becaue they know there is a butterfly effect people get serious about God's grace to sinners through Christ. The transformation of one sinner who finds his salvation in Christ can change the destiny of a family, a town, a country, and even the world.

My prayer is that all evangelical Christians, including Southern Baptists, will not fall into the trap of emphasizing man-made rituals or religious traditions. I pray that we will not settle for moralistic messages or serendipitous sermons on success. Rather, I pray we will stay focused on our job of reporting the good news.

In His Grace,


Wade

45 comments:

NativeVermonter said...

(Paraphrase) Every soul winner must precede their sharing Christ with fervent, intentional prayer, and every prayer warrior must conclude their prayer with a fervent and intentional witness…prayer and evangelism are really one.

John, reporting in St. Louis

Debbie Kaufman said...

And to me this is not just good news, but glorious news.

Bob Cleveland said...

I recently heard a preacher include a customary "tear-jerker" story at the end of a sermon. It was of a revival preacher who noticed a women, in tears, sitting in the 2nd row with her husband, crying every evening. The church pastor said that she had wanted to go forward and "get saved" every evening, but her husband wouldn't let her. He was deacon chairman, and said that be embarrassing.

We seem to link salvation to some prescribed ritual. Me, I believe that lady was as saved as she could be, even if she never prayed the "sinner's prayer". I am unable to find, in scripture, where the Apostle Paul ever did that.

I think he was a Christian, wasn't he?

Jack Maddox said...

Perhaps one of your best posts ever Wade concerning the purity of the gospel message. As Spurgeon said "It is ALL OF GRACE"! Hallelujah! I for one struggled fro years with the seemingly conflicting message that was being sent to folks in our pews or on visitation night. We would say and rightly so "There is absolutely nothing you can do meritoriously to be saved, Jesus has done it all"...then we would turn around and say.” Now just do this" I for one have attempted to be very careful in my gospel invitation, whether individually or corporately, to insure the hearer understands that the good news is that Jesus is the "Propitiation" for OUR sin.

JESUS PAID IT ALL, all to HIM I owe. Sin had cast its Crimson stain, HE WASHED IT WHITE AS Snow!

jrm

Jack Maddox said...

Bob C said
"We seem to link salvation to some prescribed ritual. Me, I believe that lady was as saved as she could be, even if she never prayed the "sinner's prayer". I am unable to find, in scripture, where the Apostle Paul ever did that.

I think he was a Christian, wasn't he?"

Bob or others...have you seen much of the conflicting theology concerning this sunject with many of the gospel tracts today. SOme of them are absolutely abismal!

jrm

Bryan Riley said...

Great post. God loves you. Amazing. That is good news.

Once we know that love, if things that appear to be religious are a part of the relationship, great! But, the good news itself is simply the grace of God through Jesus! Amen and amen!

Anonymous said...

After Wednesday commit, a breath of fresh air
The best part is you do not have to sine the 2000 BF&M, to be saved.
By the way does your Church required someone who is seeking membership,and had ask Jesus to come into there heart to sine, to say they agree with the 2000 BF&M?
Old Gray Fox

Jack Maddox said...

Hey Old Grey Fox dude

I wondered how many comments it would take before someone threw a rock! Why bring up the BFM2000. This was a great post on which we all can agree. REJOICE IN IT BROTHER! Your comment is inappropriate and divisive...by the way, Can you tell where anyone has EVER said you have to sign the BFM2000 to be saved? I did not think so!

Still saved by grace!

jrm

Anonymous said...

To Still saved by grace!

Jack

I just wonted to see if anyone was paying attention after Wednesday?
I have been researching about us Baptist to see how many different
General, or Particular position we have? There are a lot and this
is just some of them; Primitive, Hard-shell, Free Will,
Seventh Day, Sabbatarian, Missionary.
Do you have any to add?

FOX

Darby Livingston said...

"'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent'" (John 6:28-29). Good post, Wade.

Bob Cleveland said...

JRM,

Conflicting theology about anything can't hold a candle to the Man Jesus, in Person. That's why I harp on my belief that the Bible is not a book of instructions, which can be confusing, but rather our ticket to get to know God in all His Persons, up close and Personal.

I think that's why it's so important to read the OT (and the whole Bible from cover to cover .. I mean the cover DOES say it's the HOLY Bible and it's just that) Christologically.

greg.w.h said...

"For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person--though for a good person PERHAPS someone might even dare to die.

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!"

But Paul is just getting started at that point...

"Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!

And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received katallege/atonement/reconciliation."

Romans 5:6-11

Greg Harvey

P.S. The upper-case PERHAPS and italics are mine. The exclamation points are the HCSB committee's. God put the passage on my heart. So I wasn't surprised to see that when I finished writing it, the Holy Spirit then prompted me to check the etymology of "reconciliation."

Jack Maddox said...

Fox

You are correct that Baptist come in many differant flavors, but PRAISE GOD Christians only come in ONE!

Your BFM2000 statement was uninformed and out of context. But thanks for your explanation anyway.

jrm

PJ said...

In our typical Southern Baptist SS class, the lesson focus is generally two-fold: 1. "what should we do" and "why don't we," focussing on our sinful shortfalls with God as a disappointed bystander and 2. more informally, measuring spirituality in terms of church program/church service participation. One woman even suggested God should send lightening bolts to strike some people, reminiscent of the disciples wanting to call down fire on the Samaritan village that rejected Jesus.
This is in part why we are discipling our boys at home, using Scripture and the meatier literature of Lewis, MacDonald, Chesterton, Nouwen, Yancey, Buechner, McNeal, etc. Children (and adults) really can grasp more than they are given opportunity at church. Sadly some of the adults in our SS class have expressed a suspicion of reading/education itself, and simply delegate their theological thinking to the teacher. Whatever he says, they bobblehead along.

Jack Maddox said...

pj

You are dead on my friend! The lack of a clear exegesis and exposition in the typical Sunday School class is frightening! I fear that if the Lord ever gives us the opportunity to grasp the lack of spiritual maturity that exists or existed in our church's we would be astounded. whether it is a easy believism or legalism, or a distorted view of the very basic tenant on our freedom and liberty in Christ, or even the subject at hand which is a lack of clarity on the very basic nature of the gospel...sadly most folks really could care less. Lord, WE NEED REVIVAL! Or perhaps not revival, but resurrection!

jrm

Alan Paul said...

I think Fox's statement is dead on. The SBC's unhealthy obsession with trying to control everyone by forcing those that want to work with them in serving the Kingdom to sign their silly document is not only un-Baptist (Baptists are free from creeds), but anti-Jesus. I can't find anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus required anyone to do anything to hang out with Him.

marie said...

Oh glorious day when He bought us for His Kingdom purposes. For Your Name's Sake do as You will with those who are washed in Your blood. Reign and rule in the hearts of those who have yielded their fleshly lives over to You - The Life Giver.
Oh Glorious Day!

marie said...

Oh glorious day when He bought us for His Kingdom purposes. For Your Name's Sake do as You will with those who are washed in Your blood. Reign and rule in the hearts of those who have yielded their fleshly lives over to You - The Life Giver.
Oh Glorious Day!

Jack Maddox said...

alan

You are entitled to your opinion, even if I disagree, and I certainly do. But what in the name of our Lord does it have to do with this post? Why is it that we cannot come together on the issue of the gospel? This is what Wade says he is all about and I believe him when he says it. I guess my question is this, is there ANY ISSUE in which some will not take advantage of to attack the SBC? BY the way, my son's football teams got beat last night on a last second score by the other team. Is that the SBC's fault also? : )

Fox's comment was not dead on, in fact it was tragically wrong. No where and at no time has the SBC EVER claimed that salvation was dependent upon one signing the BFM2000. That was simply a silly and absurd statement, even if it was simple hyperbole.

jrm

Bryan Riley said...

Speaking of off subject, How'd it get off into talking about SS teaching and exegesis? If we taught people about the Holy Spirit and really believed He works, then you wouldn't have to worry about that. :)

PJ said...

Bryan Riley

My point is that, in my experience, the very real ordinary Christians in ordinary churches (I am Southern Baptist, all my 41 years, in several churches around the country, so I am not critiquing as an outsider) in their regular groupings focus almost exclusively on things that run in direct contrast to what the Gospel, and Wade's post, is truly about: "it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." This is something, I believe, needs to come to light. I need to be an agent of grace to my neighbors, but there is a striking absence of grace and Gospel at the level of church where I really live my life. It's why, to disciple my children, to really ground them in the Gospel and faith in Christ, we cannot, in all conscience, delegate them to the church and its programs. Those who have just "can't understand" what went wrong in their now-grown children, because they had them "in church every time the door was open" all their lives. But something has come up very short. I'll stop there.

You said, "If we taught about the Holy Spirit and really believed He works, then you wouldn't have to worry about that." Friend, church realities, and people in general, are seldom as easily fixed as idealists like to believe.

Blessings,
PJ

Bryan Riley said...

I agree with your point, PJ, that we need to ground our children in the grace of God and His gift in Jesus and that much is taught that does more to turn people from the truth.

I am not, however, ashamed to believe in God and His ability to transform people and teach through people through His Holy Spirit. I don't believe that is idealism. I believe that is realism, of the first order. That was my point.

I apologize if I seemed to take away from your point. I was really addressing my comment more to the followup comment about exegesis, etc., which is often brought up by those who want more "theology" and less relationship with a very real and personal God, our Dad.

BTW, I find it somewhat hard to carry on conversations with an anonymous commenter.

Jack Maddox said...

Bryan

I take it your problem was with me and my comment concerning a lack of exegesis and exposition. Wow? Let me see if I understand your problem. You take exception with my comment because it is reflective of people who like to "which is often brought up by those who want more "theology" and less relationship with a very real and personal God, our Dad." Am I to assume your point is that I am one who is more concerned about MORE THEOLOGY and less about RELATIONSHIP...uh, ok. I guess to you are referring to an anonymous post as to me. If so, you need to know that I have never posted anonymously. As far as your other comment...gee brother, I don’t even think you know me to make such a allegation. However, you, like Fox, have made my point. Why is it so many folks just want to attack? This post by Wade has no room for controversy. All I have done is agree with it, and sincerely so, yet so far I have heard that SBC's liken a signature to the BFM2000 with salvation and because I believe that the average Sunday School class in the SBC is woefully lacking in theology and proper biblical exposition, now I am less concerned with relationships and more concerned with theology and I would presume conformity.

amazing...simply amazing…

Bryan...you don’t even know me. We are brothers in Christ, I am sorry you have already weighed me in the balance and found me wanting.

Have a blessed Lords Day!

jrm

Bryan Riley said...

No, no, no! Jack, I had no problem with anyone. Please do not take any comment of mine ever as a personal attack. I don't know if you've read my writing before, but the last thing on my heart is to attack a brother. I was simply commenting a concern I have about a discussion moving toward factual knowledge, particularly when we are talking grace and relationship. If my memory serves me correctly about your typical comments, that wouldn't describe you; I simply was commenting about that line of thought - not about you.

Please forgive me for sounding as though I were. And please ask others if I'm known for attacking if you don't know. But, regardless, I am sorry that the words could even be interpreted as against any person.

Jack Maddox said...

Bryan

It is I who owe you the apology!!! Forgive me for jumping to a conclusion without knowing you...the very thing that I thought you were doing I was doing myself! It's that plank in my eye thing brother...I suffer I am afraid from its malady! Thank God for HIS grace. I apologize to you and thank God for you. I have read your stuff and it has both challenged me and blessed me.
Thank you for clarifying and again, I am sorry! Be blessed

jrm

Bryan Riley said...

Jack, I am sorry, as well. And I hate that we had to clutter up Wade's comments. I should be more careful with my words. I just have a very personal ... ministry, one could say, concerning the issue of religion versus relationship. I also feel called (as are we all via 2 Corinthians 5) to a ministry of reconciliation. So, it hurts when I see my words create strife. May God bless all here through Wade's ministry and our interaction, and may we all seek to know our Daddy better, more intimately and more clearly every moment.

Thanks for responding.

OC Hands said...

Wade,
Again, an excellent presentation of the gospel. It is amazing how simple it is, but how complicated we can make it. I do appreciate the comments from those who are concerned about what kind of teaching the folks (including our children and grandchildren) are getting in Sunday School.
This is in no way a criticism of those who faithfully prepare their lessons from Sunday to Sunday and lead their class to examine the scriptures. However, after many of these classes, I often reflect on what we have learned and if it will have any impact on my life during the days ahead.
I suppose this concern comes from our experiences working in other countries with new believers, as each Bible study was designed to lead them deeper into an understanding of their faith in Christ, while impacting their daily life as a believer.
While salvation is not by works, and we are saved by grace, our actiions, attitudes and thoughts are indeed impacted by the gospel, and the change that comes as a new believer in Christ will result in a change that more often than not will be noticed by those around them.
It was my understanding that in the past the SS literature was based on a four year study of the Bible--an attempt to design lessons over the four year period that would roughly cover all the Bible.
For new believers and for children especially, I think there needs to be literature that covers the basics of what new Christians need to know in order to grow in their faith, to know what they believe, to be able to talk about it knowledgably with others, and to know how to relate to those who may disagree, or who may ridicule them. This is what I find lacking in many of our churches' Bible study programs, whether for Adults, Young people, or children.
It seems to me that much of the material focuses on us and is not designed to motivate us to learn more about what we believe and to be able to communicate that to those who need to know.

greg.w.h said...

Actually, gentlemen, thank you for demonstrating in public how to reconcile. What a great illustration of Wade's post!

Greg Harvey

Chris said...

Jack Maddox and anyone else that might care to input

Would you please define "easy believism" including how that differs from "the simplicity of the gospel?" Thanks.

Bob Cleveland said...

Chris: For me, easy believism is Salvation without Lordship, the sinner's prayer without further obligations. That comes, IMO, when we reverse the repentance and salvation thing in favor of offering them eternal life, and sure, just say this to get it.

If folks never ever face the awful price that WAS paid, they may never think there's any price they must offer in response. James dealt well with that.

Jack Maddox said...

Chris

TO me easy believism would be a simple intellectual assent to the gospel versus a understanding of the gospel in its simplicity. When one believes in Jesus in the same sense that many children believe in Santa or the tooth fairy, that is a easy believism. It s represented in the simple "pray the prayer" approach evangelism.

I suppose what I am saying is that there is a difference from biblical belief and intellectual belief. It is proclamation without the expectation of transformation.

jrm

Chad Kaminski said...

Chris,

Affirming the two previous posts,
I've always understood the gospel as simple, but not easy.

RKSOKC66 said...

Whatever differentiates "true repentance and salvation" from "easy believism" must be something that happens within the person receiving the message.

It evidently is not a function of the message, or the messenger, or the "atmospherics" going on.

There are cases when two people go forward at the end of the same service, after singing the same invitation hymn, and after hearing the same sermon and one had a radical life changing experience and became a Christian while the other person didn't really change and there was no differentce in his life two days later.

Could it be that the Holy Spirit is the main player in the transaction of salvation?

I'm not necessarily a Calvinist, but maybe there is such a thing as "irrestable grace" at least to a person God knows is "ready" to receive the message.

A proposed division of labor when salvation happens:
(a) preacher 1%
(b) person saved 2%
(c) God -- all three persons of trinity 97%

In second thought maybe it should be: (a) = 0%, (b) = 0%, (c) = 100%

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

A.K. said...

How important would you rate discipling in telling the good news. Would you be content in just telling someone about Christs good news and leaving it at that. Or do you think that spending time with that person and teaching them about how great the news actually is. In the comission it says to go out through the world and teach the gospel. In its proper context, "as you go through out life teach the gospel"

Pators, are you discipling your staffs? Do any of you have a new staff member new to the ministry? how have you grown them. How mush time have you spent with them?

Might i remind you that the good news isnt just for the lost and i doubt any of you could fill me in on the complete unabridged version of the gospel in full detail in a couple of minutes.

Anyone?
A.K.

Bob Cleveland said...

When I was first trying to learn to witness with some knowledge and some confidence in the gospel, myself, we were cautioned not to "pick green apples". I understood that to mean we weren't to simply try to get people to say the words, unless there was repentance (which we were told could only come at the hands of the Holy Spirit).

In other words, this wasn't just me & the other guy; the Holy Ghost had to be involved in it.

Now, I've heard it said that the Bible says if I know someone is lost, and I don't tell them the facts about Jesus and salvation, I will have their blood on my hands (if they die lost). I don't know if the Bible says that or not, but I do know Ezekiel 33 says "When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood."(33:8,NIV)

The only way I can know God has said that to someone is if that is told to me, and I see that as normally seeing conviction in someone. I think problems come from our plowing full speed ahead with someone, when there's no evidence of conviction and repentance.

That can lead to what Doug Snyder called "picking green apples".

Or not. I'm just a guy in a pew.

ps. ak: Discipling is absolutely necessary, by someone. How else can we fulfill Jesus' command to go and make disciples unless we assure ourselves that's actually being done by someone.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Wade! A great post and some really insightful comments too.
I have a question though, there is quite a bit about the 'good news' in the four 'Gospels.' What exactly is the 'gospel' that Jesus preached before He went to the cross? What 'gospel' was Jesus telling us to believe in Mark 1:15?
--Jerald

Bryan Riley said...

Jerald, Matthew tells us time and time again that Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom. In the verse you ask about, Jesus' words are about the Kingdom being at hand and that people need to repent (or turn away). It seems that we must turn away from the kingdom Satan presents - the world and its ways- and serve the Kingdom of God and His ways. We need to be living according to the principles of the Kingdom of God, not man's principles.

A.K. said...

How often do we actually turn away from the world though. Who here watches absolutely no tv? Who here eats absolutely no bad food? Who here doesnt ever sit around doing absolutely nothing in their homes instead of soul winning. Who here has a pride issue?

Point is that we are not perfect. Nor can we be. Mark 3 says all sins will be forgiven man. All except blasphemy of the H.S. Blasphemy being war against God.
You say live by the principles of God's kingdom. Man couldnt do that before Jesus nor can he do it now. Paul said he did what he didnt want to do and didnt do what he knew was right.
The comment on repentance is a good question. Remember what the Israelites were living by back when John the Baptist was preaching that. Turn away from the old ways or the law. The law was about to be fulfilled and John was teling the people that they were about to be freed from what they used to be......

Comments?

Debbie Kaufman said...

I would say it's time to reread Wade's post again and maybe again.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

A.K.,

Blasphemy being war against God.

huh? Could you expound on this?

A.K. said...

A more proper translation of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is sinning with a fist raised high. In other words, its not saying a curse word with God's name in it, or doubting His intent, but saying he is evil instead of good. This is verified it you finish the verse where it mentions the fact that the pharisees were accusing him of being of the devil. It is basically saying sinning with intent of being contrary to what God has said is good. Telling Him he isnt who He says He is and sinning with purpose to waige war on Him.

A.K.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

A.K.,
Thanks for the further info. I think I'm starting to get what you are saying. Can yuo give me a source for this part?

A more proper translation of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is sinning with a fist raised high.

I've understood blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to be attributing to Satan the works of God based on the context of the passage. So I'm curious about this definition.

Would you say a Christian can blaspheme the Holy Spirit or not?

Thanks!

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Oops-should have said attributing the works of God to Satan. Though I suppose it might be appropriate the other way as well.

A.K. said...

If a christian is actually a christian, then arent they filled with the Holy Spirit? Doesnt He dwell within their spirit? If this was the case, then the Spirit would be a part of the Blasphemy. Again this is the answer most give is that if a person blasphemes, are they actually a christian in the first place.

The words used in scripture in the greek are some of those words like
"love". The meanings are so much more important than a literal translation of the words into english. The reference point is the text. If you go back to the greek and understand the meaning behind the words this definition is more proper than just saying blashpemy of the Holy Spirit. Infact, the war against God thing i said earlier can be drawn out of the text as well. The pharisees hated Jesus and what He was doing. They were trying to twist the good thing He did around on purpose to make it seem it was evil. In essence, declaring war against that good thing......

A.K.

fredbird67 said...

To Bob Cleveland:

While there's not a doubt in my mind that she got saved, that deacon chairman needed to let his wife go forward. One of our former pastors was working in a previous job as a youth minister when he fully understood his need for Jesus.

He was a bit nervous about going forward too, since, after all, he was the youth pastor, but he did anyway, even though he was worried they would fire him, to which he said "oh well, if they do, I'll just find another job". But they didn't, and in fact, they hugged him and said that they were glad he understood his need for Jesus.

That deacon chairman would do well to talk to our former pastor about that.