The Compelling Nature of the Gospel
By Given O. Blakely
The “truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:5) is basically compelling. It is fundamentally “good news,” or “glad tidings.” It is the message of blessing, provision, and divine consideration. Though addressed to a race of alienated personalities, it announces that provision has been made for their reconciliation. How glorious the message! “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (II Cor. 5:19). Indeed, it is not possible to conceive of a more wonderful message!
The Gospel is primarily the message of divine accomplishment, and thus is called a “report” (Isa. 53:1; Jn. 12:38; Rom. 10:16; I Pet. 1:12). The preaching of the Gospel is the proclamation, report, or recounting of something that has occurred on the behalf of “every man.” It is not a list of rules, the propagation of a new law, or a recitation of stipulations required for entrance into heaven. To be sure, there are rules, regulations, and stipulations in Christ. His kingdom is not a lawless kingdom, nor is there an absence of regulatory principles. In Christ “keeping the commandments” occupies a significant role (I Cor. 7:19). But the enumeration of these requirements is not the Gospel. These are all things yet to be done, and toward which the regenerate must focus their expressive energies. The gospel is a report of what has already been accomplished. It provides the substance that faith requires: an established reality to which nothing can be added.
The achievement proclaimed in the Gospel is not a mere novelty. It is requisite to man’s acceptance by the One Whose image he bears (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; I Cor. 11:7). The Gospel proclaims an achievement without which men cannot be saved. In His matchless grace, God devised a means “whereby His banished” would not be “expelled” from His presence (II Sam. 14:14). O glorious message! The divine provision is so thorough, so effectual, that it occurred but “once, in the end of time” (Heb. 9:26). The Gospel is the announcement of the glorious effects of Christ’s one time sacrifice, and of their availability to “whosoever will” (Rev. 22:17).
The Gospel is more than an announcement; it is an appeal to the will of people. Correctly seen, it will break the corrupted and hardened heart of sinners, shedding light upon the horrible effects of sin. Wherever the Gospel is preached, individuals are constrained to use their wills, either to their advantage or disadvantage. It is not possible to remain neutral when hearing the Good News. This is why Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). The very nature of the Gospel requires that this be true. The insightful preaching of it will dissipate indifference. Hearers will experience the activation of their will, and a decision of eternal consequences will be made. This is why Jesus could say, “He that is not for Me is against Me” (Mt. 12:30). If the Gospel, like Himself, was not basically compelling, this could not be so.
The Gospel reveals the nature of God, in addition to the need of man. It proclaims that He is both merciful and just. He has maintained all His integrity and Deity in the accomplishment of our redemption. There has been no compromise, no concession, no abandonment of His glorious traits. The Gospel proclaims a salvation that is just; one in which God has maintained His nature and integrity. God has not saved men at the expense of His character, for that would be no salvation at all. The proclamation is that He is both “just and the Justifier of Him that believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Throughout eternity there will not arise a single protest against the salvation of men. It is right that God saves those that come to Him through Christ (Rom. 3:26). It is right that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13). It is right that men’s sin be remitted upon their repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). It is right that they be received as sons (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:14; I Jn. 3:1-2), “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6), and “justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Salvation is not an accommodation to man, but a demonstration of the nature of the living God.
Our God has further displayed His marvelous wisdom in providing for the full restoration of a fallen race. Angels and seraphs find this a new and intriguing aspect of their God. No member of their exceedingly large number has ever recovered from anything. No member of their society has ever been redeemed, reconciled, or purchased. Throughout their history there has not been a single recalcitrant personality that has received a syllable of “good news.” In the Gospel, however, they have seen an aspect of God’s nature formerly hidden to them: His wisdom. In fact, it is “through the church” that God is presently unfolding His “manifold wisdom” to “principalities and powers” (Eph. 3:10). The society of the saved provides an environment in which the holy angels have their understanding expanded. Glorious thought! Wherever men profess Christ, they must exercise themselves not to disappoint the angelic inquirers that bend low to observe them. Paul appeals to this situation when correcting some of the disorders at Corinth. He reminded the women that they should “have power on their heads, because of the angels” (I Cor. 11:10); i.e., they should be careful to function within the appointed hierarchy (I Cor. 11:3) due to the presence of observing angels.
The Gospel is multi-faceted, and glorious in all its aspects. It is the announcement of a mediatorial reign, and is therefore “the gospel of the kingdom” (Mt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14). It is the proclamation of a Person, and is, consequently, “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1). It is the report of divine expression, and is thus “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). There is also divine purpose or objective, and therefore it is “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1; 15:16). Because Christ did not act independently, but in concert with the Father’s good pleasure, it is “the gospel of His Son” (Rom. 1:9). Because man’s acceptance of it results in reconciliation to God, it is “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). This is a message of preeminent blessing and benefit, and thus the Spirit refers to “the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:29). The Gospel is revelatory, making Christ known; illuminating His Person and accomplishments. Therefore it is “the glorious gospel of Christ” (II Cor. 4:4). Because it is intensely personal, it is appropriately called “the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13). Because it produces expectation of good things, we read of “the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23). For the first time in the history of our fallen race, God has been “satisfied” in Christ (Isa. 53:11). We therefore read of “the glorious gospel of the blessed [joyful and happy] God” (I Tim. 1:11).
If men are to be drawn to the living God, a message of good things must be proclaimed. A word primarily consisting of obligations will not compel men to draw near to God. If that were possible, the awful utterance of the Law from Sinai would have would have caused recalcitrant Israel to cluster expectantly at the foot of the mount! The announcement of a law system actually repels men, causing them to draw back from God. This was demonstrated when the Law was “given by Moses” (John 1:17). Then an alienated people trembled in the presence of the Lord, drew back, and requested that He no longer speak directly to them (Exod. 20:19). But this is not so with those that hear the Gospel. Believing ones are intrigued by the message, and come closer to hear more. The invitation inherent in the Gospel is “Come!” (Rev. 22:17). One cannot hear it and deduce that he has been excluded. There is not a syllable of the Good News that will cause trembling sinners to lose hope. Those who are seeking, will never be repulsed by it. Those that are asking will never hear a note of denial in the Gospel. The door will always be opened to the knocking ones that hear the truth of the Gospel!
Let men labor to comprehend the glorious message, and then let them lift up their voice and proclaim it. Jesus has pledged His support of its proclamation. God has promised eternal benefit to those who believe it. Angels desire to look into it! Righteous men and prophets have desired to plumb its depths and know its blessings (Mt. 13:17). It is like honey in sweetness, and meat in nourishment. It brings benefits that will enlighten and sustain the soul. Neglected, it obtains no power for the individual, but received, it becomes the vehicle of recovery, joy, and consolation. Do not neglect the Gospel!