3 comments on “Jeremiah Burroughs Summarizes the Gospel

  1. Better:The Gospel is information about a past, historical event.*

    Each of the three words past, historical, and event is of vital significance for understanding what the Gospel is. The Gospel of the apostles was something that had happened. They all looked back upon it. They did not speak of anything in the present as Gospel, and they did not speak of anything in the future as Gospel. Notice, we are not saying that they did not speak of anything in either present or future. We are simply saying that they did not speak of anything in present or future as Gospel. Unless we are looking back and speaking of something that happened in the past, we are not preaching the Gospel. The “past-ness” of the Gospel is one of its essential aspects. The Gospel was not a vision. It was not a dream. The Gospel is good news about an event that happened in history.

    The historical nature of the Gospel-its past, historical nature-has certain important consequences. First, you cannot exhort the Gospel. It is logically impossible. You cannot exhort a past, historical work. You can only declare it, proclaim it, and publish it abroad. Exhortation is good (because it is Biblical) and needed, but it is not the Gospel and is not included in the Gospel. Notice, we are not saying that it is not included in a sermon wherein the Gospel is preached. We are simply saying that if it is included in a “Gospel sermon,” it must not be a part of the Gospel.

    Second, not only can you not exhort the Gospel, but you cannot experience the Gospel. The Gospel cannot be experienced. The Gospel is information about a unique experience and achievements. A unique experience is that which cannot, by definition, be repeated. If the believer could experience the Gospel, then he would repeat the experience; and if he could repeat the experience, then the Gospel would not be about a unique experience. The Gospel is perfect. Since the Fall, there have been no perfect, ordinary human beings on Earth, either before or after the Gospel. If men could be perfect, they would not need the Gospel. The Gospel concerns the substitutionary work of Christ. If the believer could experience the Gospel, it would cease to be substitutionary. The Gospel is what God has done in Christ in my place. If I could experience this, it would not be in my stead. The Gospel cannot be experienced. We certainly do experience some of its benefits, but, as we have seen, the fruits or benefits are not the Gospel. The Holy Spirit given to the believer is the effect of Christ’s finished work on behalf of his people. So also are faith, hope, joy, peace, and holiness as a state of the believer. They are all effects of the Gospel. We must not confuse the root (the Gospel) and the fruit (see Colossians 1:5, 6). The Gospel is information about a past, historical event.

    There is no imperfection in the Gospel. It is the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ for his people. There are two important aspects of this: First, the Gospel concerns the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ. Unless we are preaching a work of perfection in Jesus Christ, we are not preaching the Gospel. The Gospel admits of no development. Anything that does admit of development (the Christian life of sanctification, for example) cannot be the Gospel. For instance, faith is good, but it is not perfect. Repentance is good, but none of us repents as he ought to. Holy living is good, and no man will see the Lord without it; but our holiest living is far from holy enough. None of these things can qualify as the Gospel. The second important aspect is that the Gospel is information about the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ. Even if the believer were perfect, the Gospel would not be about him. It concerns Jesus Christ as the place of God’s perfect work. Nothing that is happening in the believer can be called the Gospel. It may be called the fruit of the Gospel, but not the Gospel itself.

    Because the Gospel is information about the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ, there is no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved. The Gospel is information about the only Saviour, the only mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The Gospel is exclusive. All other means of salvation taught by the churches are false. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

    The third important aspect is that the Gospel is information about God’s perfect work in Jesus Christ for his people. The Gospel is good news to those who are chosen in Christ for salvation. To them it is the aroma of life, but to those who are perishing it is the stench of death. The Gospel is not the message, God loves everyone, for God does not love everyone.* “What Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?,” John Robbins, 1997.
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=159

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  2. And, from “What Is the Gospel?” (John Robbins, 1988):

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ

    In contrast to Robertson’s near total reliance on his subjective religious experience, the apostle Paul tells us what the Gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:

    Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

    For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

    That is the Gospel, and that Gospel is preached in very few so-called Christian churches today: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, and he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

    Because of contemporary religious confusion, there are several aspects of Paul’s Gospel that demand elucidation. First, the Gospel concerns history, not legend or myth. It is not, as Peter says, “cunningly devised fables.” When Paul mentions Jesus Christ, he means an actual historical character like George Washington or Julius Caesar. He is not speaking of an experiential “Christ” whom we imagine. There are many different “Christs” and “Gods” being talked about today. The words Jesus, Christ, and God have become almost meaningless in the twentieth century, as we have seen, and unless one says exactly which “Christ” he means, no one, including himself, can know. Paul does that. His Christ is an historical figure, not a voice, nor a vision, nor a dream.

    Second, the Gospel concerns the past, neither the present nor the future. It is history. The Gospel does not describe any present or future action that God or man might take. The Gospel is news about actions God in Christ took 2,000 years ago to save his people, actions that are wholly outside of our experience. Just as all men are condemned by Adam’s sin, which was wholly outside of us, so are all of God’s chosen people saved by Christ’s obedience unto death, which is wholly outside of their experience. Just as the Gospel is history, not legend; and just as the Gospel concerns the past, not the present nor the future; so the Gospel is about something that God did, not something that we must do or can do. Christ is both the author and the finisher of our salvation. We do not complete what he began; Christ said, “It is finished.”

    Third, the Gospel concerns what Christ did for his people: Christ died for our sins, not for the sins of everyone in the world, but for the sins of his people only. He did not die for the sins of Judas, for example, for Judas went to Hell. If Christ had died for Judas’s sins, why was Judas sent to Hell? Was it for his unbelief, his failure to “let Jesus into his heart”? But unbelief and failure to “accept” Christ admittedly are sins, and Christ, according to this false but popular gospel, died for all of Judas’s sins. So the question remains unanswered: If Christ died for all men, why are some men punished in Hell?

    The Scriptures teach that Christ did not die for all men. He came to Earth to save some men, whom the Bible calls “his people,” “the sheep,” “friends,” and “the church,” among other names, and he actually earned salvation for them. He did not come merely to offer salvation to all men and hope that some men would accept his offer. He came to save his people, and he did so.

    The Gospel is an objective and historical message. It does not concern our experiences at all. It does not concern our works, but God’s works. It does not concern our alleged miracles, but Christ’s death and Resurrection. Regeneration—sometimes called the new birth—sanctification, faith, and the Second Coming—are all consequences of what Christ accomplished 2,000 years ago in Judea. They must not be confused with the Gospel, for effects should not be confused with causes.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=95

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  3. So excellent!! How many so-called “Gospel preachers” even understand this? I pray this post reaches a W-I-D-E audience to the glory of God!

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