Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 13, 1964

The Gospel Of Grace

Leslie Diestelkamp

Paul declared that the purpose of his ministry was to "testify the gospel of the grace of God" (Ac. 20:24). Gospel means "good news and Paul's mission was to make known the good news, especially to the Gentiles. (Eph. 3:1, 2). But the gospel was for all not just for the Gentiles, and it began with Christ, and not with Paul.

"Gospel" is a New Testament word. Indeed Paul said that the gospel was preached before unto Abraham, but when that was done, the word "gospel" was not used, and the good news that Abraham received was by promise and not regarding fact. However, always, and among all people, good news had prevailed throughout the Old Testament era. The rainbow was the symbol of the good news that another flood would not be sent to destroy the world (Gen. 9:13). Abraham received the good news of a great nation that would come from his seed. (Gen. 12:1-3). But blessings were promised to all people, even those who were not of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 22:18). An indestructible kingdom was promised (Dan. 2:44) and a new name, given by God was foretold (Isa. 62:2).

But "the gospel" began to be emphasized by Jesus when he preached the gospel of the kingdom (Mt. 4:23; 9:35). This was still, as in the Old Testament, a gospel of promise. But the full gospel of God's grace is not only of promise but of fact. This is called the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19). It is the power of God unto our salvation (Rom. 1:16) and therein (in the gospel) is revealed the righteousness of God (Rom. 1:17). That is, in this pure gospel is revealed the means God has provided and the arrangements he has made to bring sinful man to justification. This is the gospel that must be preached by God's people and that must be received by sinful man.

Of What Does The Gospel Consist?

The gospel of Christ, which is indeed the gospel of grace, consists of:

I. Facts to be believed, Jesus said, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). In Acts 8 we read of people who believed the good tidings regarding the kingdom and the name of Christ. The facts of the gospel are clearly defined in I Cor. 15:1-4, Christ died for our sins, he was buried and he rose again. Actually then, the fact of the deity of Christ (John 1:11; Jn. 8:24) and of his sacrificial death for humanity (Eph. 5:25) plus the facts of his resurrection in victory over the grave (1 Cor. 15:20) and ascension to heaven to be King of kings (Rev. 17:14) — these are the very first principles of the gospel of grace.

2. But it also consists of commands to be obeyed. "What shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel" (1 Peter 4:17). Indeed Jesus is coming at last to take vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8). When Peter preached the gospel, he commanded that the believers "repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). When Paul preached the gospel he commanded repentance (Acts 17:30) and baptism (Rom. 6:4; 16:17). Paul said that the gospel "sound" had gone everywhere (Rom. 10:18) but that "They have not all obeyed the gospel" (Rom. 10:16).

3. Promises are also a part of the gospel of God's grace. "That the Gentiles should be...partakers of the promise in Christ by the gospel." (Eph. 3:6). Every spiritual blessing is promised to those who are "in Christ" (Eph. 1:3) and eternal salvation is promised to those who endure in faithfulness (Mt. 10:22).

Mercy Not Merit

Let us remember that all of the gospel — the facts, the commands and the promises — are of God's mercy and not of our merit. Indeed, the facts are abundant and altogether believable. "Many other signs did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written that ye might believe and believing might have life through his name" (Jn. 20:30,31). Furthermore, the commands are explicit and practical. Obedience brings the sinner to God's favor because he is thus born anew: he receives the new relationship to God, in Christ, Then he continues in fellowship with the Father and the Son by obediently "walking in the light" (1 Jn. 1:3-7). The promises of the gospel of grace are attractive and superlative. "In my Father's house are many mansions ....I go to prepare a place for you....I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also" (Jn. 14:2, 3).

The gospel of grace is comprehensive and unbending. It is for all people, everywhere (Rom. 1:16) and any promise given for any people today may be received by all people alike. "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10::4) But this gospel, though given out of a heart of love and compassion, is altogether unalterable. "Though we or an angel preach any other gospel....let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). We dare not alter the facts, we must not change the commands and we cannot improve the promises.

— 1833 Ivy Lane, Aurora, Illinois