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The Crux of the Gospel
What is the crux of the Gospel? What is the most important part of it, and which passage sums up the Gospel best? Many modern-day evangelicals, if pressed on the issue, would quote Jn. 3:16 to that effect:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. — Jn. 3:16
However, is that the crux of the Gospel? Definitely, it is part of the Gospel but is it the crux of it? I would propose that it is not, and that by supposing that this verse shows the crux of the Gospel, and making the love of God the foundation upon which the Gospel stand, we arrive at the sorry state that is modern-day Evangelicalism and its effeminate skewed 'gospel'.
This, then is the crux of the Gospel:
but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we we saved by His life. — Rom. 5:8-10
Notice the entire theo-centricity of the Gospel message here, instead of the anthropocentric message conveyed by Jn. 3:16 when ripped out of context by the Neo-Evangelicals. From this, we can see the full Gospel message clearly:
"'... but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners"
The love of God does not operate in a vacuum. It being extended to sinners is due to God's mercy, not because we are naturally lovable. As such, the love of God extended to sinners is not the primary work of God. God is Love, yes, yet because of our sins, our sins have subjected ourselves to the wrath of God. Therefore, even though God is Love, He is still Love even if the entire human race is thrown into hell for our sins. God's love for us is therefore logically dependent on His mercy towards Man, which is logically dependent in turn upon the Sovereignty of God. It is thus an exercise of God's Sovereignty that He has mercy on His people, and thus love them by sending His Son to die on the Cross for us. Since this is the case, we should be thankful for the Sovereignty of God. Contrary to what modern Neo-Evangelicalism teaches, the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God should be a source of comfort for us. Because God is Sovereign, He loves sinners like us, and without God being sovereign, we should not expect Him to love nor save anyone of us.
"... Christ died for us"
This is the good news for all Christians. That even though we deserve death, Christ as our propitiation suffered, bled and died for us, that we can be reconciled to God. Not that Christ make salvation possible (and then we must finish the work of salvation through our works), but that He paid its full cost, purchasing actual salvation for all who are His.
"...we have now been justified by His blood"
The doctrine of Justification is vital for the presentation of the Gospel. Any distortion in this doctrine would render the Gospel ineffective and destroy the salvation of all who believe in its distortion. To know that all our sins are placed on Christ, that we are free from the bondage of Sin, and from the punishment due to us, is the glorious freedom given and owned by true Christians. That we are counted righteous and thus deserving of eternal life NOT because of our works, NOT because of our emotions, NOT because of anything whatsoever we have or will do, BUT solely because our sins are imputed (transferred) to Christ as our sin-bearer is THE GOSPEL. Whoever denies this fact is a heretic and is not saved, deserving the eternal condemnation of God through Christ Jesus our Lord (Gal. 1:8-9). This is therefore why Roman Catholicism cannot be considered as a Christian denomination, because they deny this cardinal doctrine of the faith.
"... by His blood"
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Heb. 9:22). The doctrines of the Atonement is intricately linked to the Gospel, and thus to divorce the two and only talk about the love of God is simply nonsensical.
"...therefore, ... , much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God"
Because we have been counted as righteous even while we are not yet righteous, we have been saved from eternal damnation and God's wrath is no more on us. We can therefore have fellowship with God once again.
"...the wrath of God"
Without knowing that they are under the wrath of God as guilty sinners deserving eternal hellfire, there is no Gospel message. Whosoever preaches the love of God without stressing the lostness and sinfulness of Man under the eternal wrath of God does not preach the full Gospel, for Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Lk. 5:31-32)
"...we were enemies "
Stressing further on our former state of affairs, the Apostle Paul pressed home the point that we were enemies of God. We hated God with a passion, and we did not desire God. All non-believers are still in that state, and thus to say that there are 'seekers' who love God but are not Christians, unless they have been convicted of the Holy Spirit, is totally rubbish. All non-believers are haters of God, and we must remember that even as we proclaim the message of the Gospel to them.
"...For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God"
Christ bring us to Himself while we still hated Him. Do not for once think that you choose Christ because you are a good person who wants to know God. You, and all of us, were God-haters and did not desire Him. Yet God through the Holy Spirit calls us to Himself and regenerated our soul, making us desire Him and giving us the faith to respond to Him. Salvation is of God from beginning to end.
"...reconciled to God ... much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we we saved by His life"
The basis of our fellowship with God is the doctrine of the Atonement of Christ. Through this work done by Christ, we the God-haters were changed to love Him. Furthermore, we are given the gift of eternal life of which we do not deserve even a small part of.
From these verses, we should be thankful of the love of God being shown towards us; not the sentimental, syrupy unbiblical love of the Neo-Evangelical 'gospel', but the glorious Gospel that proclaims salvation to all who will repent and turn to Christ; the Gospel of the autonomous, Sovereign love of God that saves us despite and in spite of ourselves.