Advanced Bible Studies, Lesson 4 of 8
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15, 16).
In Lesson 2, the Patriarchal Dispensation was defined as the system of religion in which God made His will known to families by the fathersa family system. The Mosaic Dispensation was defined as the system of religion in which God made His will known to the nation of Israel through the Law of Moses and the prophetsa national system. The Christian Dispensation is that system of religion in which God makes His will known to all the world by the Gospel. It is an international system. This is why Paul wrote:
"...For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
The Gospel is described as a "system" deliberately. It is not just a random collection of wise sayings and good advice. Neither is it an expression of an abstract philosophical concept. It is a system of facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be received. Paul,the apostle, summed up the facts of the Gospel to the Corinthians, saying:
"Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Notice that Paul said Christ died for our sins. It is impossible for man to appreciate the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ until he realizes that he is lost in sin without the Gospel. The Bible plainly teaches that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The God we serve is true and holy and just and cannot ignore sin. He is also loving and gracious and merciful and does not desire that men should suffer death. The mystery of the gospel is: how could a righteous God save a sinful man. The answer is: "...God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..." (John 3:16). "who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).
While Jesus dwelt among men He was " in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, when He was slain, He died not for His own sins, but for the sins of the world, that the world through Him might be saved. So the requirements of justice were satisfied, and the grace of God was extended to man. While Jesus died for all the world, all will not be saved, because all will not obey the Gospel. The apostle Paul wrote: "...and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
The Gospel includes commands to be obeyed. Salvation is a free gift of the grace of God, but this gift is given only to those who meet the given conditions. Jesus proclaimed, " ...All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). Jesus said:
"...except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24); "...except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Luke 13:3); " Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33); and, "...Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
While faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are necessary for salvation, they do not merit or earn our salvation. Rather, "...when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants " (Luke 17:10). Paul explained the commands of the Gospel to the Romans this way:
"Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:16-18).
Notice, they were servants of sin before they obeyed, they were servants of righteousness after they obeyed, and they were freed from sin when they obeyed. That which they obeyed was "that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered." As has been shown from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the teaching which Paul delivered was "...that Christ died for our sins and that he was buried, and that he hath been raised on the third day...." Paul had just explained the "form of teaching" which they had obeyed, saying:
"Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).
The Gospel also includes promises to be received. Isaiah, the prophet, had spoken of them before, saying, "...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Peter preached, "...every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). Paul wrote, "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). And John the apostle testified, saying, "...this is the promise which he promised us, even the life eternal" (1 John 2:25).
The sum of these promises is salvation. That is why the Gospel is called "the gospel of your salvation" (Ephesians 1:13). In fact, that is why the Gospel is called the Gospel, for the word "gospel" literally means "good news"!
Therefore, what you must do to be saved is:
BELIEVE: John 8:24; Mark 16:16; Hebrews 11:6.
REPENT: Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30.
CONFESS: Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:10; 1 John 4:15.
BE BAPTIZED: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21.
Then, the promises of the Gospel shall be yours.
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