I have heard people try to minimize what is the Gospel – a “core Gospel” if you will – to distinguish it from the response to the Gospel. I gather that the purpose of this effort to narrowly define the Gospel is to then be able to say that a wider or broader segment of religious organizations, namely denominations, are preaching the Gospel. This premise, which I believe is false, leads to the false conclusion that these denominations are doing the Lord’s work of spreading the Gospel. Let me challenge that.

Let me illustrate my point of what I think is the goal of narrowly defining the Gospel. Let’s say that the Gospel is defined as the love of God. If that’s the Gospel, and if preaching the Gospel is preaching about the God of love, then a very wide and broad segment of religious society could be said to be faithfully proclaiming the Gospel. The defining of the Gospel in the narrowest of terms, or too narrow of terms, must be challenged so that we aren’t unfaithful.

Though Paul gives a synopsis of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 as centering around the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, these are not all there is to the Gospel. These are not the complete Gospel and I’ll tell you why.

The complete Gospel must include teaching not only the doctrine of Christ, but also the proper response to the Gospel.

The Gospel saves. Romans 1:16 says the Gospel is God’s power to save to everyone that believes it. The Gospel when preached and obeyed results in salvation. Without the obedience there is no salvation. And if a person is not saved, washed in the blood and added to the kingdom of Christ, we have to conclude that something less than the Gospel was preached.

Since denominations stop short of teaching what Ananias taught in Acts 22:16, and they stop short of teaching what Philip taught in Acts 8, and they stop short of teaching what Paul taught in Colossians 2:12,13, and they stop short of teaching what Paul said in Galatians 3:26,27, then their work doesn’t result in people being united with Christ death, burial and resurrection in the waters of baptism and therefore they are not saved.

At best, preaching the Gospel of Jesus without also teaching what He said in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15,16, is only teaching a partial Gospel. Without obedience and adult immersion, they don’t preach the Gospel Paul wrote about in Romans 1:5,16; 6:3-5; 10:16;16:26. In the end, a partial Gospel does not save. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” The Gospel calls for repentance and baptism and holy living. 1 Peter 3:21 says “baptism saves you”.  Since we know it is the Gospel that saves, it must save at baptism. Simple. It’s still grace. It’s still faith. The salvation is still a gift. But the moment Gospel salvation is first received is in the waters of baptism. The salvation of the Gospel only occurs when a person responds to it in obedient faith. It’s simple, really. Preaching the “core Gospel” might make the tent bigger, but it doesn’t fill the tent with the saved. If repentance and baptism are not called for and obeyed, then the complete Gospel isn’t preached.

I say this in love and respect. Sincerely, Dan Mayfield

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