Doctrine and the Gospel

I saw this quote on the internet the other day:

A rejection of penal substitutionary atonement is a rejection of the gospel. Either you’re saved through the work of Christ on the Cross, or you’re not saved at all.

I fully agree that you are saved by the work of Christ on the cross or not at all (as long as the resurrection is included). No problem there.

But the idea that my belief in the Gospel equals my belief in a man-made attempt to explain what Christ did, crosses the line.

Substitutionary atonement is not the Gospel. It’s the Calvinist/Reformed understanding of the Gospel.

If this quote is true, then only Calvinist/Reformed people can be saved.

This is one example of many I have seen and heard over the years. This is not an issue with substitutionary atonement; it’s an issue with overstating your case.

The fact that you can read your doctrine into the Gospel does not mean that your doctrine IS the Gospel.

One of the main problems Jesus Christ had with the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day was the demand to adhere to their ideas rather than adhering, by faith, to God Himself.

Believing what people say is not believing the Gospel! Believing a person’s summation of the Gospel is not believing the Gospel!

You do not have to have 100% agreement in doctrine with some elite group in order to get into heaven.

Furthermore, substitutionary atonement was not codified until about 600 years ago. Are we to believe that no one was saved before the Reformers showed us what the Gospel was?

Your job is to know the Lord Jesus Christ. To grow in your love for Him and all He has done and will do for you.

All of this is based upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. It is not based on adherence or conformity to a group’s doctrine.

The temptation to say “Only people who agree with me are saved because I’m the only one who knows what the Gospel is” ruins people, leads to self-righteousness, and divides the Church.

Stop doing that.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

That’s a direct quote from the Bible and there are other verses like it. None of these verses say “believe what some guy theorized about what Jesus did and you will be saved.”

Know Christ yourself. Know His Gospel. Pray and talk with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. People can help you understand the Gospel (Ephesians 4 makes that clear), but nowhere is salvation promised to those who agree in totality with some random group.

Deal with God. He’s your Judge. Deal with the Word of God, for by His Word you will be judged.

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
–Matthew 15:8-9

5 thoughts on “Doctrine and the Gospel”

  1. I am not sure what you are saying. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin, right? I am hoping you will expound over the next few posts.

  2. Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, did everything necessary for our salvation.

    I’m not critiquing substitutionary atonement itself here, I’ve done that before. My point here is that a person’s doctrine is not the Gospel. I personally don’t think Substitutionary Atonement is the best explanation of the Gospel. it gets some things right, but it’s just a theory, an attempt to explain the Gospel.

    I think substitutionary atonement over-emphasizes a couple points of the Gospel and ignores others. It’s a nice attempt but falls short, in my opinion. But to say that you don’t believe the Gospel if you don’t believe someone’s theory of atonement is putting your idea on par with inspired Scripture.

    In other words, I don’t think subsitutionary atonement is a great explanation of the Gospel: I think it’s Calvinist philosophy. But that doesn’t mean that I think anyone who believes substitutionary atonement doesn’t believe the Gospel, nor that they are not saved. The guy who said this quote, who believes in Sub. Atone., thinks his theory is the Gospel and must be believed to be saved. I find that to be ridiculous.

    Believing a person’s doctrine does not save; believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ does.

  3. People can help you understand the Gospel (Ephesians 4 makes that clear)

    Sadly too many people don’t merely allow people to help them understand the gospel, they reply on them to categorically define the gospel.
    Too often that attitude is encouraged (even demanded) by a church or a teacher, fostering the idea that scripture is too hard for the average person to understand and therefore they need that church or teacher to explain and interpret it for them.

  4. Yes, there is a difference between “people in the church can help you” and “listen to those God appointed infallible guys at the top. Shut up and do what you’re told.” That is a cult; that is not true Christianity.

  5. Mulling this over. Really?!?! Both Onesimus and Pastor Jeff make points that sound wonderful.

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