“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5
How can you tell whether or not you have the true gospel? Paul gives us three tests. We mentioned these last week.
First, the source of the gospel. Where did it come from? God gave it. It is direct and divine revelation. The gospel is authenticated by its source.
Secondly, by its salvation. Any gospel that is not the gospel of grace is not the true gospel. You can’t beg it. You can’t buy it. You can’t borrow it. You can’t steal it. You can’t earn it. It was bought by Christ on the cross. It is the supernatural work of God.
The third test is its subject. Is the grace of Christ Jesus is the subject? From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is all about Jesus. Have you believed the true gospel?
As this age draws to a close, the religious scene in the Western world is in chaos. Decades of secularist thought have taken a heavy toll on those societies that were formally quite religious and moral. The state of Western Christianity has become so secular that missionaries from Africa, South America, and Asia are trying to preach the gospel to Europe and America!
Today, among those still professing to be Christian, doctrinal confusion abounds. While three-quarters of Americans are associated with Christianity, only half consider themselves absolutely committed to the Christian faith. Less than half of Americans strongly believe the Bible is totally accurate in all its teachings – and these figures are far higher than in the rest of the Western world! With so little commitment on earth to the truth of God, it is hardly surprising there is so much misunderstanding and disagreement over the basic message that our Savior brought from the Father – the gospel.
“Just believe on the name of Jesus, and you’ll be saved” is a common message of professing Christian ministers and Sunday morning “gospel programs.” Others say the gospel is that God sent His Son to die for our sins. Still others condense it all down to a trite “Jesus loves you” that fits nicely on bumper stickers – and believe they are spreading the “good news”!
It is certainly true that belief in Jesus Christ is the major requirement of salvation – although more is required than just intellectual agreement. It is also true that God did indeed send His Son to pay the penalty of our sins, and, yes, God certainly does love us. But not one of these common sentiments is the true “good news” message that Jesus Christ brought! At best, these statements are each only a portion of the gospel message.
Jesus’ words in Mark 1:15 come in the form of an urgent command: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”