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What Must We Believe? – 10 Components of The Gospel Message

When I first came to faith in Jesus Christ — that is to say, when I got “saved” — I was a 9 year old boy. At that time, I had never heard the word “Trinity” (except maybe as part of the name of a church), I couldn’t have told you who Habakkuk was, I was unable to even spell Deuteronomy, and I didn’t even realize there was a difference between Methodists and Presbyterians (except that they attended different churches, of course). Names like John Wesley, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, and John Calvin were completely foreign to me. But I did know one thing: I knew that Jesus Christ loved me and cared about me. I knew that He had given Himself for me (although I really had no idea what the Crucifixion and Resurrection were all about or why they were even necessary).

My faith in the Lord Jesus was very simple and literally “child-like” at that time, but it was a real faith. I trusted in Him and knew that I wanted to follow Him, whatever that meant. After a time or two of finding myself wayward and wandering, this prodigal son did eventually come home, and I ended up learning a few more things about my precious Savior and His Word than I knew at the beginning. I didn’t become more saved by learning these things, nor did my faith somehow become more efficacious having found them out. But after I did become a part of God’s family, there were some important components of the Gospel Message that I came to understand more fully, components that are fundamental to what actually defines the Gospel.

But the question remains: Are there essential elements of the Gospel that should eventually be believed and accepted as a Christian gains maturity in their relationship with the Lord? I believe that there are. There are certain absolute, non-negotiable tenets that constitute what it means to truly be a Christian, doctrines which cannot be rejected by one who would claim to trust in and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, once they do learn about them. Traditionally, the Church has written down “creeds” which delineate agreed upon doctrines that should be universally accepted,whose recital and confirmation often establish whether or not an individual may join their congregation as a full member. But long before a single creed was written, the Apostle Paul included 10 such fundamental doctrines for all believers in the Book of Romans:

“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:23-25)

The “it” that Paul is writing about here is “Justification by faith” or, “Salvation.” In the same manner that Abraham was justified before God by the simple fact that he believed God, so it is with the believer in Jesus Christ. Contained within this statement are our 10 key elements that we must believe:

1.) Salvation Is Available To All

“But for us also…”

The universal availability of Justification with God is repeatedly demonstrated throughout the opening chapters of Romans (e.g., 1:14, 1:16, 2:11, 3:22, 3:30, 4:12, 4:16). This is very crucial for us to believe because if we doubt that God’s Grace is available to us, we are not going to put our faith in Him. If we believe that God’s Grace is not available to someone else, we are not going to share the Gospel with them. Therefore, it is very important that we understand and believe that every living person has access to receiving Salvation.

2.) Righteousness Is Imputed, Not Earned

“to whom it shall be imputed…”

Again, many verses in the opening chapters of Romans clearly show that Salvation is a gift of Grace from God, not something earned by man’s efforts (e.g., Rom. 3:20, 3:27-28, 4:4). Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

One of the most crucial things that we must understand about the Gospel is that Righteousness with God is never earned, it is imputed as a gift.

3.) Salvation Is Voluntary And Contingent On If We Believe

“If we believe…”

Salvation is not an automatic provision for anybody. It occurs only if we believe. There are some who teach that you need to do absolutely nothing in order to be saved. There are others who teach that everyone (or almost everyone) will be saved. Neither of these teachings are supported by the Bible.

Granted, our part in the process of Salvation is vastly lesser than God’s part. In fact, He has done EVERYTHING else in order for you to be saved. The ONLY thing that you have to do is believe on Him. But you do have to do that.

4.) We Must Believe On God

“believe on Him…”

Some people believe that it really doesn’t matter who or what you believe, as long as your belief is sincere. But whom we put our faith in is extremely crucial. It is not enough to just have faith, our faith must be in God. We must know in Whom we have believed (2 Timothy 1:12).

5.) Jesus Was Raised From The Dead

“that raised up Jesus…”

We MUST believe that Jesus Christ was literally and physically resurrected from the dead. If we do not, then we remain dead ourselves in our own sin (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). If Jesus Christ was not literally raised from the dead, then He is dead still. And so are we.

6.) Jesus Is Our Lord

“Jesus our Lord…”

There is a movement in some parts of the Church today which teaches that one does not need to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord in order to be saved. Proponents of this “No-Lordship Salvation” teach that it is only necessary to believe that Christ paid the price for your sins. There is no obligation or expectation to turn from sin and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, only to believe that He has paid the price for your sins and then you are consequently free to live your life however you choose.

I am unable to find any passage in the New Testament where the Gospel is presented apart from the accompanying call to follow Christ or the title of “Lord” being attached to His name. This passage is no exception.

7.) Jesus Died

“from the dead…”

Along with a literal, physical resurrection, we must believe that Jesus suffered a literal, physical death. Skeptics and liberal Theologians have suggested countless alternate scenarios where Jesus did not actually die, it only seemed that way.  But in order for an actual resurrection to occur, an actual death must also occur.

Jesus Himself said that He was dead and is alive again (Revelation 1:18).  How can we say we believe on Him if we do not believe what He has said?

8.) Jesus Was Delivered

“Who was delivered…”

We must understand that Jesus was not a helpless victim, no, He was in control of His destiny and voluntarily went to the Cross (Matthew 26:53, John 19:11). Jesus was the Perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus willingly paid the price for the sins of mankind.

9.) For Our Sins

“Delivered for our offences…”

This is why Jesus was crucified. For our sins. He has paid the penalty required of us.

10.) And Raised For Our Justification

The whole purpose of His death and Resurrection was so that we could be justified with God if we believe on Him.

So, we see nestled into Romans 4:23-25 a summary of the entire Gospel Message. These are the essential components that we must believe if we are truly trusting in Him.

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16 responses

  1. […] View original post here:  What Must We Believe? – 10 Components of The Gospel Message … […]

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  2. Hi Loren,

    You have hit a home run again. It is amazing to me that some modern churches have wandered away from these most basic doctrines. I don’t know how you can be called a Christian if you don’t believe these 10.

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  3. Hi Loren,

    There are absolute “must beliefs” that one must have in order to be saved. While I was a lot older than you when I came to faith, I knew next to nothing. All I knew was that I was a sinner and apart from the atoning work of Jesus, I would be lost in my sins. I believed that He died on my behalf and rose again. Unbelievably, I did not know that His rising was literal. It wasn’t until about a couple of months later that I found out that He literally rose.

    While I agree that Christians MUST believe that He literally rose, if they don’t understand fully (as in my case), I did not try and explain it away. When I was told He literally rose, I immediately accepted it as pure truth. I was shown the scriptures.

    The fundamentals of Christianity must be accepted. You outlined those fundamentals perfectly. This is a post that I’m going to keep so that I can reference it to folks.

    Thanks.

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  4. Hi Ed,

    Thanks a lot. I don’t understand either how a church can call themselves “Christian” and yet reject His Word and not believe what He has said. It seems to me that these 10 components are pretty cut and dry; but I guess not everyone sees it that way.

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  5. Hi Tishrei,

    “I did not try and explain it away. When I was told He literally rose, I immediately accepted it as pure truth. I was shown the scriptures.”

    I think that is the key to it right there. There is much that we are ignorant of when we first come to Christ, but the important part is not so much what we know at the beginning, but whether or not we accept the truths from His Word when we do learn them. If we love the Lord and believe Him, we are not going to struggle to accept what He has said as true. If we believe Him at the beginning of our relationship with Him, we will continue to believe Him as we learn more about Him.

    You gave the great example of what you learned about the Resurrection. I had a similar experience concerning the doctrine of the Trinity. When I found out what the Word of God says about the Trinity, I didn’t try to explain it away either, I accepted it. You and I both could have said, “Wait a minute, people don’t normally rise from the dead, that’s impossible!”, or “How can Three Persons be One God? That’s not logical!” Because we believed and loved the Lord, we had no problem accepting what He has said as true.

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  6. Hi Loren,

    I agree. Unless we grow up in a Christian home, many of us kind of just start from scratch. Knowing all the theological nuances is not a requirement. I’m sure the thief on the cross did not know much but he was saved in the last few hours before his death. He had no time to learn the in and outs of theology, could not be baptized and all the other things people learn during their life in Christ.

    I really enjoyed this post.

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  7. Loren,

    Very well put in a nutshell….. It brings to mind what I wrote about my growth in faith in an article in the right hand column of my site….. I think it was called “Becoming a Christian Kid”….. I didn’t have to know much of anything to believe in God’s grace in Christ Jesus….. Grace?…. What’s that?…. Righteousness?…. Justification?…. Doubt if I even knew what “faith” meant…. Nevertheless, I knew Jesus loved me and would always care for me and have me live with Him in heaven…..

    And so, Jesus rightly said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” … Matthew 19:14 …

    Margaret

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  8. Thanks, Margaret, well said.

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  9. This is so good to have on hand for others! Thank you for all the time and work you put into these. What a blessing you are! deb

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  10. Thanks, Deb, for the kind words.

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  11. With this u have hit the nail on the head.God bless you

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  12. Thank you for reading this and sharing your thoughts :)

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  13. Great work Friend.
    Cheers to you for your insistence upon #6. I am horrified by the number of voices simply telling people they are “going to heaven” because they repeated a prayer. Without the fruit of a life-change, I doubt the sincerity of the confession, or prayer.
    My own list of what I call “deal-breakers” includes two more:
    a) You must believe Jesus Christ is God (John 8.24); and
    b) You must experience the “power” of Christ’s presence (2 Tim. 3.5).
    I understand that you may find the second one a bit experiential, but from my perspective, it is exactly the “forms” of religion that are causing the trouble that makes these lists necessary! The early church didn’t need these creeds–these were introduced later when the “power” of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in people’s lives made it seem necessary.
    In Christ’s grace,
    S Reyes
    Northern California

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  14. Thanks for reading this and taking the time to share your thoughts.

    I think that there are definitely some points we could add to the list here, but I wanted to limit myself to those things mentioned in the passage (Rom. 4:23-25). I think that the Deity of Jesus Christ is definitely a non-negotiable doctrine in that so many aspects of Christianity make no sense and cannot be reconciled if Jesus is not God.

    As far as the second point you mentioned, I suppose it would depend on what we mean when we say “experiencing the power of Christ’s presence.” Are we genuinely saved apart from God’s power? No, we are not. For the Gospel itself is called the power of God (Rom. 1:16), the preaching of the Cross is called the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18), in fact, everything that God does on our behalf is done through His power working in us (Eph. 3:20). Can a Christian be a Christian if he is separated from the power of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! It is the power of the Spirit of the Lord that makes us “Christians” and saves us.

    If by “experiencing the power of Christ’s presence” we are referring to some outward demonstration of the miraculous and spectacular, if we are alluding to a feeling or sensation, either real or imagined, then I would not include such as a mandate for a believer. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself differently to different people. The anointing and gifts for service that He gives to each individual believer also varies from person to person (1 Cor. 12:12-31). How much power we are experiencing in our daily walk might not be the best indicator of our spiritual condition…how much of the Holy Spirit’s fruit our lives are bearing is probably a much more reliable measurement.

    Thanks again for sharing these insights. May the Lord richly bless you :)

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  15. George Haithcock

    You have one major mistake in your outline that is not supported by scripture.
    You say,”Salvation is Voluntary (1st mistake, How is it voluntary and dependent on us if it is all of God? Even Nicodemus recognize he could not do what Jesus was saying, Because Salvation is a Spiritual Birth, According to Paul Eph 2 out side of Christ men are dead, Can dead men bring themselves back to life? Was lazzurs coming out of the grave his doings or jesus? Paul also says Men are blind. Can a blind man restore his own sight if He wants to? So How can salvation be voluntary? Aren’t men in the same postion as Nicodemus? Jesus did not Preach you can be saved if you want to. He said ye must be born again. In Kohn 3 he states this twice and give the consequence if one is not born again.

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  16. Hi, George. Thanks for reading this and taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Perhaps to head this section of the outline with the words, “Salvation is voluntary…”, is a mistake which leaves open wide the door for misunderstanding. My intent in writing this article was to keep the matter as succinct as possible without digressing into an involved theological argument.However, I assure you, that my statement was in no way an endorsement of a works-based Salvation. I wrote under the heading:

    “Granted, our part in the process of Salvation is vastly lesser than God’s part. In fact, He has done EVERYTHING else in order for you to be saved. The ONLY thing that you have to do is believe on Him. But you do have to do that.”

    This is not to imply a work of Salvation on the part of man, but rather a reception of God’s grace for Salvation.I have given the analogy before of the plight of a beggar. The benefactor decides to give money to the beggar, it is his choice. The benefactor has earned the money he will give, it is his work which provides it, not the beggar’s. The benefactor extends the money in his hand and freely offers it to him. The beggar then…what?…places his hands in his pocket and turns his back on the benefactor while the benefactor tackles him and forces him to take it? No. The beggar reaches out his hand to receive that which is being freely offered to him.

    So, who is then responsible for the meal that the beggar will now enjoy with the money? Was it the gift of the benefactor or the reaching out of the beggar which secured it? I maintain that it is entirely the work and graciousness of the benefactor (Christ) without which the beggar (the sinner) would go away hungry. Yet the beggar did have to hold his hand out and take (faith) what was being offered.

    I recognize that this whole subject matter is a very theologically complex one that has been parsed ad infinitum and has drawn battle lines in the Church for centuries.I staunchly support the vindication of Salvation Sola Gratia and the refutation of any works-based approach. Yet to hold that faith has no place in Salvation is to deny a crucial component of the Gospel.

    You mentioned Ephesians 2, but remember, this is where Paul wrote:

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” (Eph. 2:8, emphasis added)

    It is by the Grace of God, it is the gift of God, but it is received through faith (the beggar holding out his hand). Therefore, it is no contradiction for Paul to say it is not “of yourselves” even though you are receiving it through faith. It is God’s work, not ours. Nevertheless, the beggar who refuses to accept what he is given is in no better state than he was before.

    Maybe the best illustration from Scripture is found in Romans 10:13-15:

    “For “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

    Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved (you have to call on His name, i.e., accept Him through faith, right?). But how can you do that except you hear the Gospel (the work that God has done, i.e., Salvation by Grace alone). And how will you hear the Gospel except it is preached by someone whom God has sent (Calvinism, pre-destination, Divine election, and whatever else we wish to label it!). God has done the work, sent the Message, and even chosen to whom it will be preached. All we have to do is hold out our hand and receive it.

    Men are blind and a blind man certainly cannot restore his own sight. But what would have happened to the blind man if he did not accept the words of the Lord by faith and go and wash his eyes at the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-11)? Was it the waters of Siloam that gave him sight? No, it was the touch of Jesus Christ that gave him his vision. But the Lord decided that he was to receive the healing through faith and had he not done so he would have remained blind.

    The Bible makes it clear that Salvation will not be forced upon anyone (if you don’t believe me, consider Judas Iscariot). It must be received. Jesus knocks at the door, but we must open it (Rev. 3:20). He simply is not going to break it down. Salvation is not voluntary as in it is our decision for it to happen. But it is received voluntarily and is contingent on whether we accept the Gospel by faith.

    Loren

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