Yesterday, millions of American families sat around the dinner table thanking God for
His blessings. But most people don’t acknowledge God’s greatest gift; the gift of His Son. The Gospel, the GOOD NEWS, is that God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to this earth to pay the penalty for our sins.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 the apostle Paul summarizes the Gospel:
“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
So Jesus, God the Son, the Messiah, died for our sins and was buried. But He rose from the grave, conquering sin and death. Catholics and Evangelicals can agree on those elements of the Gospel. But the question then becomes how does a person receive God’s gift of salvation made possible by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice?
Evangelicals believe that, by God’s grace, a person receives the gift of salvation when they acknowledge before a Holy God they are a depraved sinner deserving eternal judgment and they repent of their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12
In the article far below, Catholic bishop, Robert Barron, ponders what precisely is the Gospel. Barron agrees that the Evangelical Gospel is a good starting point but states the Catholic version places those initial truths in a “wider and more clarifying context.”
Barron says the gospel actually means becoming a member of the Catholic church and then “cooperating with grace” by participating in the church’s sacramental system thereby increasing one’s justification and sanctification. For Catholics, salvation is a process initiated by God but which requires their lifelong obedience to the Ten Commandments and church law in the pursuit of becoming holier so as to merit Heaven. As Barron illustrates, the Catholic gospel is anything but “precise.”
Catholics are like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, thinking they’re doing a pretty good job of obeying God’s commandments while Evangelicals see themselves as the tax collector in the parable, sinners without a single plea other than the perfect righteousness of their Savior.
“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” – Galatians 3:10-11
For the tax collector and the thief on the cross the Gospel wasn’t a complicated process involving a long legal laundry list of religious do’s and don’ts administered by an autocratic clerical class. The Gospel is genuinely accepting Jesus as Savior; so simple that even a child can understand it yet so few get it.
For more information on accepting Christ by faith see here.
What Precisely is the Gospel?
By Bishop Robert Barron
The National Catholic Register