The Message of the Gospel [2]

This is the second half of what I posted re: the message of the Gospel. As I said before, this is Packer’s take on the message. I wanted to finish the second half so I can post on some other things re: evangelism and misc. So here are the last two taken from his mini opus. Forgive me for the bad spacing…

3. It is a message about Christ (64-65).
a. We must not present the Person of Christ apart from His saving work.
It is sometimes said that it is the presentation of Christ’s Person, rather than of doctrines about Him, that draws sinners to His feet. It is true that it is the living Christ who saves, and that a theory of the atonement, however orthodox, is no substitute. When this remark is made, however, what is usually being suggested is that doctrinal instruction is dispensable in evangelistic preaching, and that all the evangelist need do is paint a vivid word-picture of the Man of Galilee who went about doing good, and then assure his hearers that this Jesus is still alive to help them in their troubles. But such a message could hardly be called the gospel. It would, in reality, be a mere conundrum, serving only to mystify. Who was this Jesus? we should ask; and what is His position now? Such preaching would raise these questions while concealing the answers. And thus it would completely baffle the thoughtful listener (64).
b. We must not present the saving work of Christ apart from His Person.
– We must not in presenting the gospel isolate the cross and its benefits from the Christ whose cross it was (66).
– The gospel is not, ‘believe that Christ died for everybody’s sins, and therefore for yours,’ any more than it is, ‘believe that Christ died only for certain people’s sins, and so perhaps not for yours.’ The gospel is, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for sins, and now offers to Himself as your Saviour’ (69).

4. A summons to faith and repentance (70-71).
It needs to be said that faith is not a mere optimistic feeling, any more than repentance is a mere regretful or remorseful feeling. Faith and repentance are both acts, and acts of the whole man. Faith is more than just credence; faith is essentially the casting and resting oneself and one’s confidence on the promises of mercy which Christ has given to sinners, and on the Christ who gave those promises. Equally, repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Saviour as king in self’s place. Mere credence without trusting , and mere remorse, without turning, do not save. ‘The devils also believe, and tremble.’ ‘ The sorrow of the world worketh death.’
a. The demand is for faith as well as for repentance.
– If there is to be faith, however, there most be a foundation of knowledge: a man must know Christ, and of His cross, and of His promises, before saving faith becomes a possibility for him (71).
b. The demand is for repentance as well as faith:
Knowledge of the gospel, and orthodox belief of it, is no substitute for repentance (72).
– Where there is no clear knowledge, and hence no realistic recognition of the real claims that Christ makes, there can be no repentance, and therefore no salvation (73)

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