The heart of the gospel

The heart of the gospel: justification by faith

George WhitefieldThe heart of the gospel is justification by faith alone. St Paul wrote, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous shall live by faith’”(Romans 1:17). “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”(Romans 3:21,22).

Message for the baptized too

This message is basic, and many pastors feel it is only for the unsaved, and therefore not needed anymore for the baptized.  There is a gospelution going on that underlines the need for this “heart” to be preached to the baptized too. The baptized need to hear it over and over again, cooked and served in a hundred different ways, from Old and New Testament texts, to keep them from straying into the unmarked side trails that lead to condemnation, religiosity, Phariseeism and legalism.

Message of the Reformation

Some think that this message originated from Joseph Prince. It does not: it was the message of the Reformation; the message of Martin Luther and John Calvin, and it is still preached today, and needs to be preached much more from all the pulpits  in Singapore and Malaysia. R.C. Sproul is a Reformed theologian and John Piper is a pastor. They are respected by many and I include myself among them. Watch them here teaching or preaching about the “heart” of the Gospel.

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  • That’s right. I learned so much from the Reformed and Lutheran traditions. It didn’t originate from Joseph Prince but he added great insights and preaches it in a winsome way.

    I would argue that many Reformed tend to be legalistic (I’d exclude people like Michael Horton whom I learned much from) and the Lordship Salvation debate reveals that. For example, the great JI Packer wrote,”In common honesty, we must not conceal the fact that free forgiveness in one sense will cost everything.”

    John MacArthur (who’s pretty Reformed) wrote that “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.”

    It’s preaching like the above that mixes law and gospel/grace in regards to justification. And that is quite common preaching in the Church today – Reformed or not. That’s the reason why Joseph Prince’s message is so well received.

    On Sproul and Piper, I think I could probably find quotes from Sproul and Piper that are similar to the above passages (by Packer and MacArthur) – though I don’t think I’ll find any from Horton. My point being that I would strongly argue there is a lot of what is termed “mixture” in the Reformed ranks. Not Lutheran because they are extremely strong on the law/gospel distinction. A preacher can preach an extraordinary message on the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet in some other message take it all away (and totally mixes it up) by saying what MacArthur or Piper said above which results in their hearers questioning their salvation. That’s not the gospel.

    Lutheran Rod Rosenbladt echos what you wrote about the gospel message being preached to Christians too: “The most important thing to remember is that the death of Christ was in fact a death even for Christian failure. Christ’s death saves even Christians from sin. There is always “room at the Cross” for unbelievers, it seems. But what we ought to be telling people is that there is room there for Christians too… “

  • Hi Blogpastor,

    Just to share my thoughts and personal experience.

    For those who have followed Ps Prince’s messages through the years (1999-2010) will know that he taught extensively before of Martin Luther as having the revelation of the imputation of righteousness of God apart from works and it is this ‘enlightenment’ that led to the Reformation movement. He mentioned of E W Kenyon, Martin L. Jones as some of the teachers of the imputation of Righteousness apart from works and being saved by Grace alone as being the New Testament gospel of salvation.

    In actual fact, the list of preachers and teachers of Word who hears from God on the imputation of righteousness and preaches it unreservedly is endless. EW Kenyon (wrote a book “Two Kind of Righteousness”), Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones (wrote The New Man. An Exposition of Chapter 6 (London: Banner of Truth, 1972) ), Steve McVey, Peter Youngren, Ps Åge Åleskjær just to name a few.

    (Those who attend NCC for a number of years will know the above names.)

    In any case, the message of the true Gospel is Holy Spirit inspired. No one man can claim that he is the source. After all, the Holy Spirit alone is our Helper that teaches us all things and guide us into all truth (John 14:16, John 16:13)

    It was helpful for me years ago to read more from different teachers of the Word who taught on the imputation of righteousness apart from works and the message of No Condemnaton. Then I could see the consistency of the Gospel. Coming from an AOG background and listening more to CHC’s teachings before I came to NCC, I had doubts in my mind even though I had a strange peace hearing the “strange” gospel being preached in NCC. So the readings helped.

  • I agree with shf that just because a preacher preaches one great sermon on justification by faith does not mean that he is a gospel preacher. We have to see a consistency in his preaching, otherwise he is still preaching mixture, though not within a sermon but across many sermons.

    John Piper may be preaching justification by faith alone in the video but I have read articles which he wrote that undo all that good work eg. in “JUSTIFIED, BUT NOT FORGIVEN?”, John Piper wrote:

    “God also sees our sins as “covered” and “not reckoned” because of the blood of Christ (Romans 4:7-8).Thus, paradoxically, he sees our sins as both guilt-bringing (and thus producing grief and anger) and guaranteed-of-pardon (though not yet pardoned in the sense of his response to confession and the actual removal of his fatherly displeasure).”

    “This new covenant commitment was purchased by Christ for us (Luke 22:20) and applied to us through faith so that, though we incur our Father’s displeasure, we, who are justified believers, never incur the judicial wrath of God to all eternity. Or to put it another way, since the forgiveness of all our sins is purchased and secured by the death of Christ, therefore God is totally committed to bring us back to confession and repentance as often as necessary so that we may receive and enjoy that forgiveness in the removal of his fatherly displeasure. “

  • Hi Stanley,

    Loved the justification and explanation of a “no consequence transgression” Grace.

    Still trying to wrap my head around this message.

    BTW still waiting for my yellow newly pre-owned Bentley!

  • John Piper is confused regarding atonement with forgiveness of sins.

    In the Old Testament, people’s sins are atoned ( covered ) temporary since Jesus has not yet come. After He appears, He took all of our sins, past, present and future on his body at the cross. God the Father judged Him righteously there. At the same time, His righteousness was imputed (transferred) to us.
    Therefore in the mind of God, He doesn’t see any sin in a Christian even though he is not walking uprightly at times. The sin issue is a closed case for God.

  • Dennis – please correct this logic based on your statement.

    God does not see any sin in a Christian because Jesus paid the price.

    Logically by your assertion, there cannot be any sinful Christians, despite not walking upright all the time!!

    Sounds illogical to me, perhaps I am missing the spiritual here.

  • hello Dennis , you meant every christian automatically go heaven when they die ? That means i can keep a mistress and still qualify for heaven ? That’s wonderful!!!!
    Btw, where did you get this kind of teaching from ??

  • Dear Jack,

    Do not under-estimate the power of God’s grace.
    When you behold Jesus, understand who He is and have close relationship with Jesus. All sins of flesh will be conquered.
    You can try it, come to New Creation Church to check it out.
    I am sure you will never check-out.

  • Jack,

    If every believer doesn’t go to heaven, then salvation is not by grace alone through faith alone.

    If a Christian’s relationship with God is still based on fear of punishment and hope of rewards, then this is definitely not the gospel and the doctrine of justification recovered during the reformation. Let’s just go back to a works-centered religion that would make people live right before God based on fear that they may not get to heaven.

    If a believer keeps a mistress, he needs to be confronted. Does he/she still qualify for heaven? Jesus qualifies him, not what he does. Does that mean he can sin all he wants? Nope, but guess what, there’s not much of a difference between a person keeping a mistress and we all falling into habitual sins. His obedience is not what makes him go to heaven ultimately – it’s Christ’s obedience.

    God’s grace is still there – even for habitual sinners. Sin needs to be confronted, but in a loving and gracious way. And God will bring the person closer to Him.

    I’m sure a person who keeps a mistress and understand God’s grace would struggle inside not because he fears going to hell. But because, if he truly understands the gospel, that God loves him and sent His Son to die for his sins to give him eternal salvation. And that experiencing more of this love would cause him not to want to sin against God – not out of fear of going to hell for that question is already settled, but because he loves his Saviour back.

    That’s the transforming power of grace.

  • SHF from you illustration of unmerited, no consequence Grace, seems to me that if you loved your mistress like you love God, things will be hunky dory.

    Christians should focus on Love part and less on the Sex part?

  • HI Journeyman,
    The 10 questions and its own answers are from some fools. There are 4 great fools in the bible.One of them are: The fool has said in his heart,”THERE IS NO GOD.”… Ps14:1

    To SHF,
    Have you read the book written by Mary.k.Baxter – A Divine Revelation Of HELL ???

  • Journeyman,

    There’s no such thing as no consequence grace because grace has consequences. The Bible says in Romans that the goodness of God leads to repentance and in Titus that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness. And in John, we read that we love because God first loved us. There will definitely be consequences! Not always as we’d like to see it, but there’s no doubt that grace changes the person’s heart.

    Regarding the rest of your message, do re-read my message again because I think you’ve got the wrong idea.

    jacktan, I heard lots about that book when it first came out. I’m not exactly keen to read such books as I dunno how beneficial or true it is.

  • For Child of God
    God choose a willing heart,
    God knows you before you are born
    God choose teachers for his flock

    Blessed are you,entrust by God
    God will lead the way,give understand,change hearts


  • Jacktan,
    Think it would be very ungracious to dismiss my new friend as a great fool for asking the 10 questions. Better to admit being an incompetent unable o raise to the challenge than to hurt another because one does not have the answers.

    The parties may feel unease or even guilt but humans have a incredible capacity to rationalize, justify and deny.

    Circumstance is the only event that will change the course of human attitude, relationships and ultimately our histroy.

  • SHF,
    Re-reading your post on 30Jun – perspective of Sin is dependent on definition of mistress. It is a range from “a sexually and economically exploitative one” all the way to “a loving soul mate with physical intimacy,” relationship between opposite sexes.Trying to steer clear of complexity of LGBT matrix-combination.

    In western societies, sometimes it is purely economics that couples continue to live in “Sin” because when you have a legal union the pension/unemployment benefits for one party is eliminated. In these circumstances, I would personally find it hard to even just comment let alone counsel “compliance” or quote any Biblical passages to encourage removal of the “Sin” from the relationship.

    Have seen many instances of well meaning but insensitive remarks based on lucidly applicable “God’s words” destroy friendships and Faith.

    Perhaps we should reflect on WWWJD?

  • If you have a personal relationship with God, Almighty, will you sin in his presence?

    It’s those that do not have a personal relationship with God that will go sin.

    For the presence of God in once life is so precious that you will want to behold His Presence forever, you mind will not be focus on the pit of hell.

    This is how sin have no effect on those who have a personal relationship with God.

  • Hi Stephanie,

    Like your neat packaging of Jesus but I think life is never so tidy – it is a 3D matrix spectrum capable of creating surprising combination. Add to this mix the metastable and transient human relationships punctuated with ego, desire and passion, you have the “REAL” human life, warts and all.

    Classical Christian theologians put Biblical coherence and elegance first and investigating data second.

    Is it any wonder that after 2000 years of the the Church existence the social statistics to measure Christian social progress is so dismal?

    We still have wolves masquerading as shepherds. Charismatic orators are becoming star performers and by default the “anointed one.”

    Often sin has no effect on people because they have not been found out. In reality, who can survive the revealing light of absolute truth?

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