I always enjoy watching professionals work. The experienced and accomplished craftsman is poetry in motion. And my appreciation for their fine-tuned abilities is amplified when I try to use the same tools!
Most tools take time and effort to master. The right tool in the right hands is sweet harmony. As Christians laboring to carry out God’s mission in this age, we must be accomplished at using the right tools. Our primary tool is the gospel. We must work to be experts at using the gospel.
The final mention of the gospel in the New Testament is in the Book of Revelation (14:6). The Apostle John sees an angel flying in the sky and proclaiming the eternal gospel to those on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue and people. In other words, this is the one true gospel for all peoples, everywhere and always.
The words spoken by this angel may come as a surprise. In a loud voice he says, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship the one who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the springs of waters.”
When we hear the term “gospel,” we expect the story of Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive our sins and his resurrection from the grave to be our Lord. The angel’s eternal gospel sounds different. It consists of three commands: Fear God, give him glory, and worship him.
Is this a different gospel? No. The Bible assures us that there is only one gospel. But we should distinguish between the gospel and the plan of salvation. The plan of salvation is for God to give eternal life to all who exercise saving faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
The gospel (the word means “good news”) is something bigger than the plan of salvation. When Jesus began preaching, his subject was the good news of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is every person submitted to God’s rule in their lives. It is true that God rules over everyone, even those who oppose him. But anyone who persists in rejecting him will not enter and enjoy the blessings of his eternal kingdom.
Is the angel’s call for actions other than faith a call to “works salvation”? In other words, if we must do these things to get saved, then salvation is not truly from faith alone, right? But the angel is not denying that salvation is by faith. The angel with the eternal gospel is reminding us of the rest of the story. Once saved, we live saved.
So the plan of salvation is saving faith in Jesus, which is the entryway into God’s kingdom. Once in, what do we do? We fear God, give him glory, and worship him. Anyone who does not want to fear God, give him glory, and worship him does not want to be saved.
To proclaim the plan of salvation without explaining the purposes of salvation would be misleading. Our mission is to share the good news about being saved and living saved. God saves us completely so that we can serve him joyfully.
May God’s Spirit enable us to be faithful in proclaiming his gospel,
Brother Richard Foster