In Acts, six passages speak about preaching “the gospel” to the lost (8:25; 14:6; 14:21; 15:7; 16:10; 20:24). In Acts 15:7-9, Peter recounts the story of his evangelism to the household of Cornelius:
As a matter of fact, Peter was invited by Cornelius to preach the gospel because an angel appeared to Cornelius and told him to call for Peter “who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” (11:14). By which words were these Gentiles saved if it was not the message Peter had it mind when he said, “God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of THE GOSPEL AND BELIEVE.”
The point is this: The Gentiles were saved through faith. Faith in what according to the context? The Gospel. The gospel here has a technical meaning for the message that the Gentiles were required to believe to be saved.
If Myers somehow wants to make a typically absurd GES-esque argument that “saved” (11:14; cf. 15:11) and “forgiveness of sins” (10:43) and “gospel” (15:7) and “believe” (10:43; 15:7) and “washed” (15:9) do not refer to the event in which these Gentiles were justified before God and saved from hell, and if he wishes to contend they were already saved from hell before Peter preached to them, he still must admit this is the event that they were placed into the body of Christ via the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Peter mentions in 11:16. The condition to be placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Cor. 12:13), which is the essence of salvation in the church age is the same for us — to believe the gospel (cf. Gal. 3:26-27).
GES advocates have been very satisfied with their totally unsubstantiated claim that Romans 1:16 does not refer to the message preached to the lost. Rather, they argue it refers to general truths preached to believers for salvation from God’s wrath (even though the Bible teaches believers are NOT subject to God’s wrath).
To the contrary, I believe there are several proofs this particular verse speaks about the gospel brought to the LOST for first-tense salvation/ justification/ eternal life, not to a message brought only to believers supposedly for God’s wrath toward carnal believers! The most obvious, in my eyes, is that “the gospel” which is “the power of God unto salvation” is carried “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” This is concerning the evangelism of the LOST. There is no sense whatever that the gospel is “first to the Jew” among BELIEVERS who are “in Christ” where “there is neither Jew nor Gentile” (cf. 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 3:11).
Let me summarize a couple points why this is talking about salvation from hell and evangelism to the lost:
1. “…for the Jew first and also for the Greek” refers to the early Church pattern of evangelism of the lost. To claim that spiritual truth among Church-age believers somehow applies to the “Jew first and also to the Greek” specifically contradicts the NT teaching that… “the new man who is renewed in knowledge [this does refer to sanctification truth] according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised…” (Col. 3:10-11). The NT specifically teaches that the new man is to be renewed in the knowledge of God’s word, but that there is absolutely no distinction between Greek nor Jew in this respect. How then could general revelation for believers be “first to Jewish church age believers, then to Gentile church age believer” in light of Colossians 3:10-11??? Such an idea also contradicts the general teaching about believers being positioned in Christ where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (cf. 1Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:26-27).
2. Romans 1:2-4 also refers to “the gospel” which was promised previously in the “Scriptures”. This is significant for a couple reasons. First of all, there is certainly no reason to distinguish between “the gospel” of Romans 1:2-4 and 1:16. So in the very first chapter of Romans, Paul teaches that justification is by faith alone in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection. This is paralleled throughout the rest of the book where Paul teaches justification by faith in the same truths (cf. 3:19-26; 9:30-10:4; 10:16). These each refer to first-tense salvation.
Second, Paul states that the gospel was “promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (1:2). This corresponds with Paul’s point about “the gospel” being “according to the Scriptures” in 1Cor. 15:1-4. He is referring to the same gospel. Third, this gospel message emphasizes the Deity, humanity, death, and resurrection of Christ (1:2-4), all of which are preached, for example, in Acts to the LOST. It is simply implausible to suggest this “gospel” is intended only for believers to escape the temporal wrath of God, not for unbelievers to be saved from hell!
3. There is a change in pronouns between 1:15-16 from “you” (1:15) to “everyone” which are specifically identified as “Jews” and “Greeks” (1:16). Although Paul intended to preach the gospel to the Romans, so that they could gain a greater understanding of how Christ’s death and resurrection relates to their lives, Paul does not say in v. 16, “so that it can save you”. He reminds them of the importance of the gospel by stating “it is the power of God to salvation for EVERYONE who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The implication is that the objective truths of Christ’s death and resurrection which is essential to the salvation of the lost (Rom. 1:16) is also the basis for everything in the Christian life (Rom. 1:15).
4. For some reason GES advocates are very adamant about claiming there are TWO conditions to “salvation” from God’s temporal wrath for believers when they get to Romans 10:9-10. They argue that “confess” means to live a life of discipleship in which one outwardly confesses Jesus Christ. They specifically point out this is in ADDITION to believing. And yet, Romans 1:16 — which they claim also speaks of salvation of temporal wrath for believers — only mentions one condition: “the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who BELIEVES.” This sounds like salvation by faith alone to me, not salvation by faith plus discipleship. Why the inconsistency?
5. Notice, also, that this passage is parallel to the next which is clearly a reference to the gospel brought to the lost for salvation:
On another forum, Antonio da Rosa indicated that it is insufficient to cite this passage as proof the message of the cross involves Christ’s death. Instead, I needed some exegesis to show “the message of the cross” by which Paul preached “Christ crucified” includes Christ’s death. Umm. Huh??
Can any exegesis possibly prove the “message of the cross” does not necessarily involve Christ’s death? There is little left to say to a person who chooses to be such a fool. I do not say this without love for Jesus Christ or the accursed heretic. Earlier I pleaded to him with this message:
“For the man who so lacks fear before God that he would somehow divest “the message of the cross” of Christ’s death, whatever fear he does not have, I fear for him. O, I beg you not to shut your eyes, not to harden your heart, not to resist the utterly clear statements of Scripture on this subject.”Paul points out that what separates those who are PERISHING from those who are SAVED is that the saved were saved via faith in the message of the cross which is also called “the gospel” (1:17, 18, 21)? Lest anyone claim that this only has to do with salvation of believers, let me point out the terms “saved” and “perish” (1Cor. 1:18) are articular participles that function like adjectives to refer to two GROUPS of people, without reference to progression/verbal aspect. Notice that faith in the “message of the cross” is what separates the “saved” from the “perishing.”
Furthermore, let me point out that the message of the cross is a STUMBLING BLOCK and FOOLISHNESS to the world! Even though the world was stumbled by this message, Paul thought it ESSENTIAL to preach to the world so that they could be saved! How utterly ironic–and how incredibly sad–that GES members would accuse people like me of STUMBLING the lost by insisting they believe in Christ Crucified!!
This point completely dismantles the crossless gospel argument that we “should” preach the cross only because it is a good apologetic for the offer of eternal life. Paul held up the cross of Jesus Christ to the lost even when it stumbled them. Zane Hodges said,
“Most of us deplore efforts made by Lordship people to add provisos to the message of faith in Christ…We rightly reject such ideas. But in our own circles, there is a tendency to add theological information to our message of faith.”By “add (extra) theological information,” Hodges explicitly includes “the cross” or “Christ’s substitutionary atonement,” or the insistence on telling the unsaved the must believe “Jesus died for your sins.” This is found in his How to Lead People to Christ Pt. 1, 2 articles.
Other GES advocates have accused us of stumbling the lost by insisting that the lost believe the message of the CROSS for salvation. Their posts can be found on virtually any of the Free Grace blogs. Yet, how utterly ironic that they have placed us into the same company as the Apostle Paul–stumbling the lost with the message of the CROSS by insisting that they believe the message of the CROSS for salvation! Paul indicated that YES, the message of the cross IS a stumbling block for the lost, and yet he did not offer them any other message by which they could be saved!
Please notice very carefully that the message of the cross was not confined inside the churches, but is specifically what “Jews” and “Greeks” heard and rejected (I’m thinking again of the parallel between Romans 1:16 and 1Cor. 1:17-21).
Yet crossless gospel proponents insist that there is no such thing as “the gospel” that the lost must to believe to be saved!