Greetings in the name of the Lord:
This is the first of the series of articles (originally published May 5, 2008) that I am planning on writing on the latest issue that seems to have surfaced regarding the “Crossless” gospel controversy, namely the issue of incongruity.
I think that we can all agree that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest message a voice could ever proclaim and a heart could ever believe. Yet there are those in the Free Grace camp that are:
1) Denying that the Gospel has a technical meaning anywhere in the New Testament, and claiming that it never is used in reference to the message of eternal salvation.
“What if the word ‘gospel’ doesn’t ever mean the saving message? Now hang with me here. I gave this same message, but I didn’t say quite this, a little over a month ago in Omaha at a Regional we had there. And what I suggested is that the term ‘gospel’ rarely, if ever, means, ‘What must I believe to have eternal life? What must I believe to be saved? What must I do to have, to go to heaven, to be sure I’ll be in the kingdom?’ But in the intervening time as I’ve been reflecting on it etcetera, I realized that we should go further than saying, ‘It’s rare that this term refers to the saving message.’ I’m now of the opinion it never refers specifically to ‘What must I believe to have eternal life’?”2) Gutting the Gospel of the necessary components of Jesus Christ’s deity, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, etc.
“In Jewish prophecy and theology the promised Christ was also the Son of God—that is, He was to be a divine person. Recall the words of Isaiah: ‘For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (9:6-7). But in Samaritan theology, the Messiah was thought of as a prophet and the woman at the well is led to faith through our Lord’s prophetic ability to know her life. Her words, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet’ (4:19) are a first step in the direction of recognizing Him as the Christ. There is no evidence that she or the other Samaritans understood the deity of our Lord. But they did believe that he was the Christ. And John tells us in his first epistle that “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (5:1)! A full theology of His person is not necessary to salvation. If we believe that Jesus is the One who guarantees our eternal destiny, we have believed all we absolutely have to believe in order to be saved.” 3) Claiming to preach the person and finished work of Jesus Christ as part of the Gospel, but are not convinced that this is necessary to be believed in order to possess eternal life/salvation.
“John keeps the signs distinct from the message of life, so evangelicals must not confuse them either. John does not set forth the sign of the cross-and-resurrection as the message that one must believe in order to receive eternal life.” 
So the real question then is not "How much of the gospel do you have to believe?" but rather "What do you have to believe to receive everlasting life?" If we want to know what a person must believe to receive everlasting life, we should not ask the question, "What is the gospel?" but rather, "What is the message of life?" When asked that way, the answer becomes crystal clear. The Gospel of John, which does not contain the word gospel, tells us over and over what people must do to receive everlasting life: believe in Jesus for everlasting life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; etc.) You do not have to believe the gospel to receive everlasting life, you only have to believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Thus, it has been Tom Stegall’s and my contention from the outset of our public exposure of this aberrant teaching of the Crossless gospel (2007 Spring edition of the Grace Family Journal) that the issue is not merely what must be PREACHED to the unsaved, but what must be BELIEVED to receive eternal life. This is critical and crucial to remember as believers grapple with this new Crossless gospel (*also referred to now as “the promise-only gospel” and/or “a crossless faith that saves”).
I mention this as there are those within the Free Grace camp that have heralded, “Let’s preach the MAXIMUM but remember that God accepts the MINIMUM.” This dichotomy and tension was reflected in the recent Free Grace Alliance (FGA) **Executive Council’s statement from early March, 2008.
I appreciate the first half of their statement,
“The FGA’s mission is always and everywhere to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we preach the gospel. We encourage every member of the FGA to be fervent and faithful to preach that message.”This is a step in the right direction to which I can say a hearty AMEN. But unfortunately right on its heels they go on to state,
“Within the membership of the FGA there has been discussion about the minimum one must understand to be saved. Regardless of a person’s convictions, believers are called to preach the gospel, not the minimum.”This statement alludes to an apparent difference between “the Gospel” and “the minimum” one must understand (and believe)to be saved. This is confusing at best, and falls right into the hands of the Crossless crowd at worst. What I find amazing is how cross-less advocates remain in the FGA requiring either semantical gymnastics or a lack of personal integrity in light of the organization’s short doctrinal covenant which clearly reads,
We affirm the following:Since point 3 clarifies point 2, and is addressing justification before God and not progressive sanctification in time (which isn’t addressed till point 6), I am mystified how some in good conscience before God can remain in the FGA (which I also am a member of).
1. The Grace of God in justification is an unconditional free gift.
2. The sole means of receiving the free gift of eternal life is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose substitutionary death on the cross fully satisfied the requirement for our justification.
3. Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life.
4. Justification is the act of God to declare us righteous when we believe in Jesus Christ alone.
5. Assurance of justification is the birthright of every believer from the moment of faith in Jesus Christ, and is founded upon the testimony of God in His written Word.
6. Spiritual growth, which is distinct from justification, is God’s expectation for every believer; this growth, however, is not necessarily manifested uniformly in every believer.
7. The Gospel of Grace should always be presented with such clarity and simplicity that no impression is left that justification requires any step, response, or action in addition to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But all this serves to highlight the bottom-line issue of what not only needs to be PREACHED regarding the Gospel of salvation but what also needs to be BELIEVED in order for a hopeless, helpless, Hell-bound sinner to be eternally saved. Does the Bible allow for an INCONGRUITY between the Gospel preached and the content of saving faith? I will begin addressing 12 scriptural nails in the coffin of incongruity in my next article.
For those who can’t wait and would like to hear 2 audio recent messages that address the subject, “WHAT MUST I BELIEVE TO BE SAVED,?” you may hear them at the Duluth Bible Church web site.
All by God’s grace and to His glory for the furtherance of the Gospel,
Pastor/Teacher at Duluth Bible Church
Please continue to Part 2 of Pastor Rokser’s The Issues of Incongruity.
 Bob Wilkin, Gospel Means Good News, Grace Evangelical Society Southern California Regional Conference, August 24, 2007.
 Zane C. Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1: The Content of Our Message,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 13 (Autumn 2000): 5 (bold replaces original italics).
 John Niemelä, “The Message of Life in the Gospel of John,” CTSJ 7 (July-Sept. 2001): 18.
 Jeremy D. Myers, The Gospel is More Than “Faith Alone in Christ Alone,” JOTGES 19 [Autumn 2006]: 44.
*Some advocates of the Crossless gospel have been referring to their new and inconsistent interpretation of the Gospel as “Refined Free Grace Theology.” Stephen (KnetKnight) was the first to coin what would be the more appropriate label, which is: “REDEFINED” Free Grace Theology.
**For discussion of the FGA’s statement, including several comments by FGA VP Fred Lybrand, please read, FGA Executive Counsel’s Official Statement.