December 17, 2007

The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL,” Part 1

Dear Guests:

Following is the beginning of Greg Schliesmann’s multi-part series, 
The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL”

As I suggested earlier, please approach the series with this mind set: If the Holy Spirit shows me something that I may have misunderstood or misinterpreted I will respond to Him.


Before posting these verses, allow me to clarify what my intention IS and what it is NOT. My intention is NOT to exegetically identify the elements that comprise the specific message for salvation termed “the gospel.” I’m sure this will be done through a medium more suitable for such a study such as a more formal article. My intention is to briefly address a more basic question:

Is the term “the gospel” ever used after Christ’s resurrection as a technical term for the specific message that the lost must believe to get saved?

Before Jeremy Myers’s article The Gospel is More than Faith Alone, I had never heard any evangelical deny that the term “the gospel” does have such a technical usage. In fact, Myer’s view contradicts prior statements from the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). Even while advocating the crossless gospel, GES has argued that there is both a “broad” and “narrow” usage of the term “the gospel.” They argued that the “narrow” sense does refer to the message the lost must believe to be saved. That is why Zane Hodges could title his book The Gospel Under Siege. Crossless gospel proponents, however, have come to realize the impossibility of arguing that there is a “narrow” version of the term “the gospel” that does not include the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

[Update: Bob Wilkin, Executive Director of the GES, publicly announced his adoption of Jeremy Myer’s view at the GES Regional Conference in Dana Point, CA: August 24-25, 2007.]

Next, let me clarify my intention is NOT to prove *every* instance of the term “gospel” is applied in this technical sense. Crossless gospel advocates often pretend that our view requires every instance of “gospel” to refer to the same thing. That is nothing but a straw man argument.

For example, we know that in 1 Thess. 3:6, Paul uses the Greek word for “gospel” in its very general sense of good news… “Timotheus…brought us good news of your faith and charity… .” That is obviously the general “good news” sense. But we will see when a message is referred to “the gospel” after Christ’s resurrection, it usually refers to this specific message preached to the lost, which the lost must believe in order to receive eternal life.

It is also important to point out that we are investigating the usage of this term after Christ’s resurrection. Only after Christ’s death and resurrection did the term “the gospel” refer to this message the lost must believe to be saved. In fact, the message of Christ’s death and resurrection was never called “the gospel” until Christ rose from the dead.

Even during Christ’s earthly ministry, the term “the gospel” was used in both a broad and technical sense. For example, the term “the gospel” was often used in reference to “the gospel of the kingdom” that Christ and His disciples preached to the Jews (Mt. 4:23, 9:35, cf. 10:7; Mk. 1:15). So even at that time, “the gospel” had a technical usage then for a different specific message that applied to that particular time.

This point refutes Myers’s entire methodology toward defining “the gospel.” In his article and supplementary “Word Study Chart,” Myers collects various passages that use the term “gospel” along with any nearby statement Myers believes to hint at its content. In conclusion, Myers lists over fifty statements or truths he believes are included in “the gospel.”

The unfortunate dishonesty that lies at the root of Myers’s methodology is especially apparent when he adds his own spin to the fact that there is an undeniable technical usage of “the gospel” in reference to the gospel of the kingdom during Christ’s earthly ministry. Myers starts by properly distinguishing the gospel of the kingdom from the gospel of grace. He asks,

Would you go to Matthew [i.e., accounts in Christ’s earthly ministry that use the term ‘the gospel’], and say that Paul preached the gospel of the kingdom?”

Myers correctly implies it is illegitimate to confuse the gospel of the kingdom with the gospel of grace.

After acknowledging this well-known Biblical distinction, Myers later on defies all logic when he concludes that “the gospel” includes both the gospel of the kingdom (from Christ’s earthly ministry) and the gospel of grace (from the Church Age) so that they cannot be individually distinguished! He lists them both, along with 50 other items, in his so-called “Word Study Chart” to prove “essentially, the gospel includes everything in the NT, if not everything in the entire Bible.” This, dear friend, is the sort of reasoning on which the GES hangs its contention that there is no such thing called “the gospel” that the lost must believe to be saved? But What Does the Bible Teach?

*In Part 2 of this series we will view the first set of Scriptural Exhibits that answer Greg's question; What Does the Bible Teach? Please continue the series at The Technical Meaning of the Term, “The Gospel,” Part 2


  1. Greetings. Just want to say that I am really looking forward to this series. Your blog, including Greg's writings, have been a powerful source of information for me since this whole thing got started. We have another meeting with our church leadership tomorrow to begin to hammer out a formal definition of exactly what our church believes the lost man must know to be saved so this is perfect timing.

    Greg, thanks for your efforts in assisting so many of us stand firm in defense of the gospel.

  2. Knet:

    Thanks for the comment.

    IMO, Greg has been greatly used of the Lord to define, expose and refute the teaching and advocates of the “Crossless” gospel.

    I know that you speak for many who only lurk and read these articles and threads.

    His articles and personal interaction with me have been of great personal benefit in this debate.


  3. Hi Knet:

    You wrote, “We have another meeting with our church leadership tomorrow to begin to hammer out a formal definition of exactly what our church believes the lost man must know to be saved so this is perfect timing.”

    I recall your sharing that a doctrinal controversy arose at your church when and because Bob Wilkin was at your church earlier this year. Fortunately, you and Rachel detected something was amiss in the way Wilkin spoke of the Gospel.

    Lord willing, your church’s leadership has recognized the error, and will issue a statement that rejects the “Crossless” interpretation that Wilkin introduced to your local church.


  4. To Whom It May Concern:

    I am not comfortable with you posting under the asusmed name of Dwight Schroot.

    If you want to particpate then you need to use your real name.