OBEYING THE GOSPEL
Sin caused a separation between God and man. The gospel is the good news of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection that makes our salvation possible. In our Bible the gospel is described this way, "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Man has a sin problem. "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin." (Ecclesiastes 7:20) Man is basically sinful; God is holy and repulsed by sin. Because God is holy and to be revered He sent redemption to His people. "He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name." (Psalms 111:9) The writer of Hebrews knew that the only answer to man's sin problem was the sacrifice of Jesus. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:28) God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Does the Bible teach that we must obey the gospel? In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 we read that, "When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." The Bible teaches that vengeance will be taken on those who obey not the gospel. We know that the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. So the Bible teaches that if we do not obey the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that God will take vengeance on us. Peter wrote, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) The vengeance of God will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel.
How do we obey the gospel? We learn how to obey the gospel in Romans 6:1-6, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” We are baptized into His death; we are buried with Him through baptism; we are raised to walk in newness of life after baptism. There must be a death, burial, and resurrection before this new life is possible. In baptism we are transformed from death to life because we have obeyed the gospel. When people obey that form of the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection they are at the point of baptism then made free from the sin and they become the servant of righteousness. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)
Have you obeyed the gospel? Have you obeyed the gospel by being buried in baptism with Christ, by being baptized into His death, and by being raised up out of the grave of water with Him to walk in newness of life? The blood of Christ provides us with the hope of heaven. Paul spoke of “The hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel." (Colossians 1:5) Hope is provided “by way of the cross.” With Paul, all should say, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14) The cross shows both God’s love for mankind and His hatred for sin. Salvation, peace, contentment and real joy comes through the cross of Calvary. God has done His part. He has provided salvation through Jesus. Man’s part, through small, is also necessary to reach heaven. Man must obey the gospel to be saved. Have you obeyed the gospel.
Faith is the beginning point of acceptable service to God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Faith is the motivation for all obedience toward God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Repentance is also required. Repentance is a change of mind or heart that results in a change in life. "The Lord is...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) It is either repent or perish. Confession of faith in Jesus as Lord also plays a part in our salvation. (Romans 10:9-10) A simple confession of one's faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ is a necessary step in conversion. The final step in becoming a Christian is baptism into Christ. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27) At baptism a person contacts the blood of Jesus that washes his sins away. Every command of God is important and baptism is a command of God. (Mark 16:16) The New Testament plan of salvation is a simple plan, but salvation can be obtained in no other way!
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037