Don't Leave Out The Cross
(The “Gospel” Defined)
by David J. Stewart
There is a CROSS-LESS gospel being taught in many religious circles today. To be defined properly, the Gospel must include the cross. 1st Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Christ didn't just die, He was crucified upon the cross of Calvary!
As difficult as it is for some Christians to grasp, there are countless people who believe Jesus died, was buried and raised up, but they don't understand that Christ was sacrificed UPON THE CROSS FOR THEIR SINS. I heard a popular Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) singer recently give her testimony on the radio. She said she was saved at age 3 by “praying the Jesus prayer.” My friend, prayer is not the Gospel. Starting a relationship with Jesus is not God's plan for salvation. Inviting Christ into your life is not the Gospel. Asking Jesus into your heart is not the Gospel. Much of what we hear on religious radio stations these days concerning salvation are false teachings. Deciding to follow Jesus Christ is not the way to be saved. Making a full surrender to serve Christ is not God's way of salvation. You may do all of these things and yet never have been born-again at all!
Jesus proclaimed in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Christ paid our debt of sin in full with His broken body and shed blood. We are saved by simply accepting Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins. We are saved by GOD'S IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 10:3-4). We cannot be saved by our own faulty, insufficient, tarnished, unacceptable and self-righteous, DEAD WORKS (Hebrews 6:1; Isaiah 64:6). Even though we have no righteousness of our own to offer God, He counts (credits) a man's faith in the Gospel as righteousness. Romans 4:5-6, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” The words “counted” and “imputeth” in Romans 4:5-6 are the same exact Greek word, which means they are interchangeable. By faith, God imputes (or counts) Christ's righteousness to us, and our sins to Christ. Amen! Thus, being saved has absolutely nothing to do with one's personal performance, labours, merits, or works; but rather, we are saved solely by God's righteousness, by faith in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That's an awesome God! Literally, God is willing to apply all of Christ's righteousness to our account in Heaven (2nd Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:5-6), and all He asks in return is for our faith in His only biological (begotten) Son, Jesus, the Christ.
What has happened over the years is that unskilled hands, woefully lacking Biblical knowledge, have become popular religious radio personalities and even Christian leaders in apostate churches. Oftentimes their influence is given to them merely for family association (like Joel Osteen). Tragically, most radio Bible teachers are dry, dead and incompetent. They certainly don't know how to preach, lead or inspire people for God.
It is very popular in these apostate times to hear such things as “trust Jesus,” or “make a commitment to Jesus,” or “invite Jesus into your heart,” or “surrender to the Lord” to be saved, but none of these are the Gospel. The cross upon which Christ died MUST be included or else it is a false plan of salvation. Most unsaved people believe that a man named Jesus once lived and died as a human being, but they completely reject the idea of a miraculous resurrection or a miraculous virgin birth as the Son of God. The Biblical Gospel is that Christ DIED on the cross for our sins, He was BURIED (officiating His death), and He was RESURRECTED from the dead three days later. This was nothing less than a miracle of God's Holy Spirit.
Most people recognize Martin Luther King Jr. as a Christian, but he was not in any sense of the word. Martin Luther King Jr. in his own writings rejected Christ's virgin birth, deity and bodily resurrection from the dead. King was a Modernist (i.e., an unsaved person who pretends to be a Christian, perhaps even sincerely). No man can be saved who rejects Christ's death, burial and resurrection. If someone claims to be a Christian, ask them if they believe in the miraculous resurrection of our Lord from the dead.
Matthew 28:6, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
John 21:14, “This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.”
Romans 8:34, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
1st Corinthians 15:13-14, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”
The cross and the resurrection must be included in any Gospel presentation to be Biblical. Placing your faith in Jesus means nothing unless the cross of Calvary is included. Tell the world, Christ is crucified and risen! Our Lord has risen and is in Heaven seated on the right-hand of the Father, interceding for the saints as our heavenly High Priest. The Messiah was crucified upon a cross for OUR SINS. He died, was buried and rose from the dead. This is the Gospel (the good news) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tell the good news to the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who died in our place for our sins, was buried and He has risen!!!
You've probably heard the following statement... Have FAITH that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead, plus or minus NOTHING to be saved. The preceding statement sounds really good. The problem is that it's not true. It's missing something. THE CROSS IS MISSING!!! Any gospel presentation that leaves off the cross is a false plan of salvation. Christ died upon the cross for our sins, He was buried, and then He was raised up from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I've been paying much greater attention in recent years to the drastically different gospels that are bombarding society today, and have infiltrated our churches...
I recently heard a visiting Baptist missionary in our church give his two-point outline to be saved. He said: 1) you must believe that Christ is resurrected, and 2) you absolutely must recognize Christ's Lordship in your own life. This may sound good, but it is a false plan of salvation. The cross was not mentioned. Sin was not mentioned. Making Christ Lord was ADDED to the Gospel. There's nothing in the Bible about making Christ one's Lord to be saved. You don't make Jesus “Lord”—HE IS LORD! The Gospel is delicate, clearly defined in the Scriptures, and we must be very careful not to pervert it. Amen!
Always include THE CROSS when presenting the Gospel. Always include THE LAW, whose intended purpose is to show men their sinnership and total inability to save themselves. By “law” I mean make sure that a person understands they are a guilty sinner in God's eyes for breaking His commandments in the Bible. Romans 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The purpose of the Mosaic law was never intended to compel people to stop living in sin, forsake the world, or turn over a new leaf in order to be saved. These are false doctrines. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to be a schoolmaster, to “BRING US TO CHRIST.” This is the plain teaching of Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
The simple plan of salvation is this... YOU ARE A SINNER!!! Christ has made your payment and mine in full. You can either pay for your own sins in Hell for all eternity, or you can receive Christ's payment for your sins instead. I have already received Christ's payment. Have you? Salvation happens when you acknowledge your guilt of sin in God's eyes, and you receive the gospel as full payment for your sins.
Christ DIED upon the cross for our sins, He was BURIED, and He RAISED up, having shed His precious blood to wash away our sins. Christ sprinkled His liquid blood upon the heavenly Mercy Seat in the presence of His Father (Hebrews 9:12, 22-24; 12:24). Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” You don't have to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. If you receive the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as payment for your sins, then you are saved securely and eternally.
Let us all be more diligent to include THE CROSS when presenting the plan of salvation. May we be careful to always teach the three-fold nature of the Gospel: Christ DIED, He was BURIED and He was RESURRECTED from the dead three days later. May we always teach sinners about the LAW OF GOD (i.e., the Ten Commandments or Mosaic law), which God intended to be used as a measuring stick, by which when men and women are compared, we are shown our total sinnership and utter inability to save ourselves. The LAW shows men their desperate NEED, and then CHRIST fulfills that NEED. Only Jesus Christ can deliver a person from sin and Hell.
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Mark 1:15: “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”