Basic Concept of The Gospel Message
Several excellent passages in the Bible summarize the required message of the Gospel, but none is more apparent than 1 Cor. 15: 1-4:
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel, you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received, I passed on to you as first importance: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
The True Gospel:
According to the above Scripture, Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the 3rd day. So the focus of the Gospel message seems to be four-fold:
- Who Jesus is – the Christ, God’s Messiah
- Where we learn of the Gospel – in the Scriptures
- What Jesus did – died for our sins and
- How we know it is true – Jesus’ bodily resurrection.
These essentials contain several significant truths, which must be communicated to the people as recorded in the following passages of the Bible: Matt. 16: 15-16; Rom. 10:9; Luke 4:16-21; Matt. 1:20-23; John 8:21-24; Rom. 5:6-8; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 9:27-28; Heb. 7:26-27; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2: 22-24; Rom. 6:6-12; Col. 1:19-22; 1 Cor. 15:17; 56, 57; Heb. 9:12-15; Col. 1:13-14; 1:19; 2:13-15; Eph. 1:7; John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:9-10; 1 Tim. 2:3-7; Acts 4:8-12; John 14:6; Rom. 10:8-13; 10:17; Eph. 5:26; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; John 1:12-13; 1 Pet. 1:18-23; Luke 18:23-27; 1Thess.1: 4, 5; Rom. 1:16-17.
The False Gospel:
False “gospels” usually focus on the same basic fallacies by not matching up with Scripture. Any “gospel” which is inconsistent with or different from the clear teachings of the Bible is false – Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Cor. 11:3-4. Some specific brands of false gospels include:
- Salvation by works: The Bible says righteousness cannot be gained by doing good deeds against bad ones to see which prevail. Eph. 2:8-9; Ro. 4:1-3
- Salvation is by personal righteousness: The Bible says no one is righteous compared to God. Matt. 5:20; Rom. 3:10-11; Is. 64:6
- Salvation is by keeping the Law or a moral code: Phil. 3:4-9; Gal. 3:1-5; James 2:8-11; Rom. 7:7-12. The Bible says apart from God, it is impossible to keep the Law perfectly. The Law was not designed to save; it was given to the redeemed people to show them how to live.
- Salvation is by family or ethnic heritage or tradition: The Bible says that is never the basis for salvation. Everyone must personally believe to be saved. John 8:31-47; Gal. 3:26-29.
- Salvation is by religious ritual: The Bible says religion and ritual do not save; only a right relationship with God does. Rom. 3:28-29; John 4: 19-24.
- Salvation is by human reformation: The Bible says a new spiritual birth is required, not a superficial, shallow lifestyle reform. John 1:12; 3:1-9; 1 Pet. 1:22-23.
- Salvation is by superior Knowledge: The Bible says man’s wisdom and human Knowledge will not save – Col. 2:1-8; 1 Cor. 2:4-16; 1 Tim. 6:20. Knowledge that saves is not just based on facts but is also experiential and personal (religious experiences):
– Any gospel which denies the real incarnation of Christ as a man is false. Scripture teaches His real humanity. 1 John 4:1-2; Rom. 8:1-4; Heb. 2:14-17; Gal. 4:4.
– Any gospel, which denies Jesus’ bodily resurrection, is false. The resurrection declares God’s approval of Christ, the acceptance of His sacrifice for sins, and proves He has broken the power of sin. Rom. 1:4; Acts 23:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:12-17; Acts 24:20-21.
– Any gospel which denies the “Virgin birth” is false Luke 1:29-38; Heb. 7:26-28. If Jesus had an earthly father, he had a sinful nature and was not qualified to be God’s perfect sacrifice. Jesus had to be born of a woman and to be human, yet be without sin supernaturally by the Holy Spirit.
– Any gospel, which denies that Jesus is God, is false. John 10:23-33; 1 John 2:20-23, Col. 2:9; John 1:1; Jude 4.
– Any gospel, which denies the authority, truth, and accuracy of the Bible, is false. The Scriptures bear witness to Jesus. If they are wrong, then you cannot believe what they say about Christ. The Bible asserts its truthfulness. John 5:39-40; John 10:35; John 17:17.
There are other gospels that deny a fundamental truth, add to the Gospel, or state what the Gospel does not promise. These form the hallmark of Prosperity Theology:
- Gospel, which promises perfect physical health in this life as a result of salvation – Acts 8:9-25. The main subject of salvation is the sin problem, not curing physical ills. (Is. 53:4-6 & Mt. 8:14-16). Jesus, in His earthly ministry, fulfilled this prophecy in Isaiah and, in His death, brought perfect spiritual health. Eph. 1:7; 1Pet. 2:24-25. Physical ills, death, etc., are related to the curse of sin and the human body and are not removed until the eternal state when we have glorified, resurrected spiritual bodies. Rev. 21:1-4
- Gospel, which guarantees wealth and prosperity. Jesus came to bring eternal spiritual blessing, not earthly temporary material blessings. Matt. 6:19-21, 33; Luke 12:13-21; Gal. 3:14
- Gospel, which promises that Christ will solve all human problems. Christ came to save us from sin, not deliver us from every problem and trial. Earthly problems and trials cause us to trust in God, equip us to minister to others, and enable growth to spiritual maturity. John 16:33; 2 Cor. 1:3-11; 4:6-18; James 1: 2-7
- Gospel teaches that sin is only a social problem or illness. Sin is anything that violates or is contrary to the character of God. Man is a sinner by nature. Sin causes a separation between God and man and brings death and destruction. If sin is not real, then the cross was unnecessary. Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:19-21; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:18-19; 6:23; Is. 59:1-9; Gal. 2:17-21
- Gospel promises liberation from political, military, social, or economic oppression. Jesus came to set men free from slavery to sin, not earthly oppression. Not once in Christ’s ministry did he advocate revolution or rebellion from earthly oppression; that would come in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom reign on earth. John 18:33-37; Rev. 1:5-6; Is. 2:1-4; 11:1-9
- Gospel, which teaches universal salvation for all. Salvation is available to all, but not all are willing to come to Jesus and choose to receive it. Many choose to reject Christ. Matt. 7:13-14; Luke 23:39-43; 2 Pet. 2:1; Titus 1:13-16
- Gospel, which requires for salvation anything other than faith alone. To add any requirement to salvation other than faith is to render the cross a vain wasted act and to exalt man’s part in salvation. Gal. 2:16-21; Phil. 3:9
- Gospel, based on anything other than the love, mercy, and grace of God. To do so is to attribute an impure or ulterior motive to God as if He will be trying to gain something. 1 John 4:7-12; Eph. 2:4-8.
The Methodology of Effective Proclamation:
The content of preaching is essential and fundamental. H. H. Farmer says on effective proclamation:
Preaching is saying something. But it is not merely telling me something. It is God actively probing me, challenging my will, calling me for decision, offering one His assistance through the only medium which the nature of His purpose permits Him to use, the medium of a personal relationship. It is as though, to adopt the apostle’s words, ‘God did beseech me by you.’ It is God’s ‘I-thou’ relationship with me carried on your ‘I-thou’ relationship with me, both together coming out of the heart of His saving purpose, which is moving on through history to its consummation in His kingdom (27-28). 
In these words, the distinctive nature of effective evangelistic preaching emerges. The mandate of the Gospel is to call people to repentance and faith. In the New Testament sense, true faith means trust, reliance, abandonment, absolute repudiation of all human righteousness and efforts at religiosity, and complete trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ alone. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, not about Him, and you will be saved
 Herbert H. Farmer, The Servant of the Word, (London: Nesbit, 1941), 27-28