What Is the Gospel?
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A couple of years ago I had the privilege of conducting my “In Light of the Cross” gospel seminar in New England. While there, a kind and gracious member of the Adventist Church I was speaking in, gave me a tour of the region and several old New England churches. Being a history buff, and realizing that the religious awakening, which spawned the Advent movement began in New England, created in my heart a deep appreciation for these old churches, some built in the early 1700’s or before.

New England Churches 100

I walked into one sanctuary, built in 1732,and sat on a pew deep in thought, contemplating the hundreds of people who had sat in that sanctuary over the last 280 years! I admired the pulpit from where the gospel was preached to weary sinners for centuries. Yes, I realize these churches were not Adventist churches, but they still preached the cross to sinners, and I imagine over the centuries many a sin weary pilgrim has laid his burden down on the altar and taken up the cross of Jesus. For that I am very thankful for these churches of various denominations. Each of these churches of various denominations were fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus that,

  ..this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, in [into] witnessing to all folks; and then the end shall come. Matthew 24:14 WYC (In my previous posts I often used the NLT Bible translation. However, writing about old churches and the religious awakening has me in a Wycliffe version frame of mind.)

When we think of the gospel we think of “good news.” Paul defines the gospel more specifically as the good news of the cross. The gospel is the cross.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not in wisdom of word, that the cross of Christ be not voided away. 1 Corinthians 1:17 WYC

Protestant churches rose out of the dark ages with the light of the gospel. John Wycliffe is remembered as “the morning star of the reformation.” If the sun rose up all at once it would blind us. God first sends the morning star to pierce the darkness so we become accustomed to a little light, and the sun gradually rises until noonday when the  darkness is gone and

the earth was lightened of his glory. Revelation 18:1 WYC

So while many think there are many different church denominations because everyone interprets the Bible differently, truth is, each Protestant church has discovered different points of light about the gospel, leading us gradually out of the Dark Ages. It is not so much about interpreting things differently as  it is about progressing as we have more light, with each ray of light leading us farther and farther out of darkness into the full light of the cross.

God has always had a people in every church, and the Protestant reformers were a light in the their time, leading to the Protestant Reformation, which brought us to the religious awakening and Advent Movement.

So the question is, what new light has the Advent Movement shined on the gospel of the cross?

1. The Gospel saves us from death instead of eternal torment.

 For the wages of sin is death.. Romans 6:23 WYC

The wages of sin is death and not eternal torment. As we study the doctrine of the punishment of the wicked, in the light of the cross, we get new light not only on doctrine but more importantly on the character of God. God is not a psychopath wanting to torture people because they did not love Him, and make them wish they had. He is a God of love. The purpose of hell is not to torment sinners (Though there will be torment and weeping and gnashing of teeth for a time) but rather to put sinners out of their misery.

For God loved so the world [Forsooth God so loved the world], that he gave his one begotten Son, that each man that believeth in him perish not, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 WYC

The most popular verse of the Gospel tells us Jesus saves us from perishing and not eternal torment in hell.

2. Jesus really died for us.

The Biblical teaching of the state of the dead changes how we view the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If we believe in the immortality of the soul, and that one does not really die, then Jesus never died and we are still without a Savior. However, the Bible teaches us that Jesus did not only truly die, but He died the second death for us. He faced not only death but the death of the wicked, which meant He loved us so much He was willing to go into total oblivion and be totally separated from God. He did not save us from the death of the righteous. He experienced and saved us from the death of the wicked – being totally separated from God, which has the effect of eternal oblivion.

..all the heathen shall busily drink, and they shall drink, and they shall swallow it all down; and then they shall be as if they had never been. Obadiah 1:16 WYC

3. Jesus saves us from our sin, not in our sin.

I once heard a Protestant preacher on the radio say, “In order for you to be able to call Jesus your Savior He has to actually save you from something.” The preacher went on to talk about how Jesus saves us from sinful addictions. Seventh-day Adventists understand that on the cross Jesus freed us from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin.

God the Father made him sin for us, which knew not sin, that we should be made [the] rightwiseness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 WYC

And he himself bare our sins in his body on a tree [Which he himself suffered, or bare, our sins in his body on the tree], that we be dead to sins, and live to rightwiseness, by whose wan wound ye be healed. 1 peter 2:24 WYC

Okay I think that last one needs a little help from the NLT!

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NLT

The gospel that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is taking into all the world not only gives us a clearer vision of the cross, but an even clearer vision of the the character of God.

God is a loving God who is not going to torment the wicked for all eternity because they did not love Him. He is a God of love who does not wish for us to perish. By understanding the Bible truth about death we understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice and what great depths he was willing to go to in order to save us. We understand that He saves us from the penalty of sin, and from the power of sin, so that we don’t have to be slaves to the sinful addictions that hurt us over and over.

This is the gospel that pierced the dark ages until it will one day be preached all over the world and then the world will be lightened with His glory. May we engage in the work of spreading this Good News!

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Comments

What Is the Gospel? — 14 Comments

  1. The only thing I can say after reading such a powerful article is AMEN! and PRAISE GOD! Thank you Bro Earnhardt.

    Like(8)
  2. Am really grateful for such a great word,God bless you and keep posting such marvelous articles to help direct us .thank you.

    Like(3)
  3. Great article, full of great insight. But did you miss the other truth that Adventists brought to the Protestant movement: that we show we love Jesus by keeping His commandments? I say this because many Protestant churches, in order to justify not keeping the Sabbath, preach that the commandments were nailed to the cross. Our movement is showing the world that God's commandments (the totality of how He taught us to live) are both a requirement and a response to His love and saving sacrifice.

    Like(2)
    • Thanks everyone for your comments and kind words. Sammy commandment keeping is included in the third point that Jesus frees us from sin, which means we now have His power to not sin, which would mean to obey the commandments. Thank you for expounding on that. Hopefully others too will find things to add to the conversation.

      Like(4)
  4. William, your word picture of the love that was displayed by God, the Father and the Son, is inspiring to say the least. We may have a tendancy to forget or take for granted the most important event in earths history, and all that was accomplished. One of the things that you mentioned was the power of Jesus that we have, to overcome sin. It is true that without His help and power we would all be lost. It seems like we should never sin again if we have His power to not sin. That is not so for the majority of us. Maybe you can help me understand what I am missing.

    Like(1)
  5. This a good article,thank you.

    There is something I am missing please help. You saying Jesus didn't know that He will ressurrect but we find it in Matthew that He once said He will resurrect after 3 days if His death and truly He resurrected. Please help.

    Like(0)
  6. Mandla, please click on where it says in the article, "He died the second death for us" and it will explain more. Yes, He predicted His Resurrection, but there came a point where He felt (even if He still knew. There is a difference between feeling and knowing.) He would not be resurrected.

    "Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father's wrath upon Him as man's substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God." -Desire of Ages, Page 753

    Like(3)
  7. Thanks for the post. We share much with other believers, yet we do have a special purpose to lovingly go into more detail with some Gospel truths.

    Thanks William for your dedication. Loved the picture and ideas.

    Like(1)
  8. Having not been 'born' into the Adventist faith, but 'converted' at the age of 24, I truly appreciated this perspective. It was greatly encouraging to see the role that other sincere pursuers of the truth play in spreading the Good News, notwithstanding their day of worship or peripheral beliefs, so respectfully explained. As a young girl growing up in the Dutch Reforemed church I already figured that God could logically not relish seeing His lost children writhe in agony eternally or the 'saved' in heaven could much less be happy as they supposeldy watched the goings on here on earth from heavenly portals. How wonderful that our beloved departed are sleeping, oblivious to every troublesome and tragic thing that unfold and the earth rushes toward the day of His return. We have a purpose to serve in our daily lives. Let us gently and respectfully bring more light and hope to those that the Lord sends our way so that the work we were commisiioned to do may be done, and the Lord can return.

    Like(2)
  9. Elizabeth, I am very happy that even as a young girl you had a balanced understanding of the character of God, and I pray and believe that many others in different churches still see God as He really is.

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