Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together
By R.C. Sproul
Baker Books, 1999, 208 pages
Theology? Most people don’t want to discuss theology, right? But it’s extremely important to know what the Gospel of Jesus Christ IS and what it ISN’T.
As the Word of God says…
- We are all sinners.
- The wages of sin is death and eternal separation from God.
- But God the Father so loved us He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to live a sinless life and pay for our sins by dying on the cross.
- Jesus defeated sin and death by rising from the grave.
But how does one appropriate the free gift of salvation? Some say by baptism. Some say by obeying the commandments and being “good.” But the Bible says salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Back in 1994, Chuck Colson and his ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) project declared both Evangelicals and Catholics believed in the same Gospel. Many Evangelicals were shocked by ECT. Evangelicals believe in salvation by grace through faith while Catholics believe in salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The two views are definitely not the same.
In 1995, Evangelical theologian, R.C. Sproul, responded to ECT with the book, “Faith Alone,” which contrasted the salvation theologies of Rome and Evangelicalism. See my review here.
ECT’s next chess move was to issue “The Gift of Salvation” declaration in 1998, which reiterated that both Evangelicals and Catholics believe in justification and salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Sproul countered by writing this book, “Getting the Gospel Right,” which critiqued The Gift of Salvation’s studied ambiguity and clarified Evangelicalism’s view on justification and salvation in comparison to Rome even further. Every Evangelical needs to read this book.
“Getting the Gospel Right” was published in conjunction with the release of “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration,” a declaration from Sproul and other Evangelical Protestant leaders that defined the Gospel from an Evangelical perspective. The UNCANNY thing is Sproul allowed a couple of the ECT ecumenists, Timothy George and J. I. Packer, to help draft the declaration and more than a few ECTers signed it (Bray, Bright, Brown, Colson, Land, Lucado, Moore, Mouw, Robertson and Rodgers). Essentially, Sproul allowed the ECT ecumenists to trump his efforts.
All of this might be a lot of gobbledygook to a lot of Christians. So let’s break it all down to its bare essentials:
Evangelicals believe justification comes before sanctification (being more obedient, more Christ-like). You can’t know God or please Him until you acknowledge your sinfulness and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Once you accept Christ then you can grow in obedience to the Lord. But “good” works won’t save you.
“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
Catholics believe the opposite. They believe sanctification comes before justification. By obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules Catholics believe they can be justified and merit salvation.
Evangelicals: Justification then sanctification.
Catholics: Sanctification then justification. This is the philosophy shared by natural man and all of the world’s religions which teach that people can become “good” and merit Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, etc.
Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Religion won’t save you. Trying to be “good” won’t save you.
“I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32