What is the Gospel?

By Ps Ho Wei Liang

In last Sunday’s sermon, Rev Dr Edmund Fong spoke of the dangers faced by the Galatian church—specifically the Christ-plus gospel. Judaisers attempted to distort and pervert the gospel of grace through their insistence on the need for circumcision for one to be saved. With its focus on human effort, the Christ-plus gospel is really a gospel emptied of the grace of Christ.

He went on to highlight some dangerous versions of the gospel we face today, one of which is the influx of consumerism into the church, which is aggravated by individualism. One version of such a gospel may be this: “God created the world and He desires for us to be in a relationship with Him. But due to man’s disobedience and sin, we are separated eternally from the holy God. Out of His love for us, God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Him. If we believe in Christ and his atoning work, we will be granted salvation and eternal life as our relationship with God is restored.”

The presentation of the gospel in this way sounds right, but it is incomplete and can potentially be a distorted gospel! How so? In this account, the Christian goal is perceived to be met the moment one believes in Jesus. One can almost hear this, “I put my faith in Christ, and in exchange, He grants me salvation and eternal life. It is now time to move on to other important things in life even as I come to worship once a week as part of the deal between Christ and me.”

Such a gospel not only relegates spiritual growth and service to something optional but also says nothing about the role the gospel ought to play in our daily lives. Is this the true gospel of Jesus Christ? No! The gospel involves discipleship here on Earth—knowing Christ and following him (John 17:3).

1 John 2:3-6 tells us that whoever knows Christ will keep his commands and “walk in the same way in which he walked” (ESV 1 John 2:6b). Let us abide in him.