We must defend the Gospel at all costs. Eternal destinies depend upon it.
I want to discuss a couple of false teachings today that pervert the Gospel and leave people destined for a hopeless eternity. The first and perhaps most important would be works-based salvation.
This perversion destroys the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 provides a short summary of the Gospel:
1 Cor. 15:3-5, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Even in a statement this short, you see that Christ died “for” our sins. Christ paid the price and provided the substitute for our sins. His death did not serve as merely an example of great love to be emulated. He took the penalty of our sins and as the spotless Lamb, He willingly laid down His life as our substitute. The Gospel is a Gospel of grace and not works.
Other Scriptures clearly present a Gospel of grace. Consider Eph. 2:8-9:
Eph. 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Systematic study of Scripture concerning the Gospel also provides further insight, including: how Old Testament were saints saved by grace looking forward to Jesus’ death; explaining that we are saved to works not by works; demonstrating how faith without works is dead faith while maintaining a Gospel of grace; whether Jesus must be Lord of your life at the point of salvation or if can He be your savior and not your Lord; not to mention the understanding of how conversion relates to repentance and where justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification fit into a healthy understanding of salvation. All of these discussions fall into the doctrine of salvation.
Second, we must also defend creation against the popular doctrine of Darwinian evolution. If humanity arose as a cosmic accident, then no Creator exists and no judgment awaits mankind. If God created man in His image, then we have an obligation to give glory to our Creator. We do not find our worth in self-esteem but by being created in God’s image. With a judgment forthcoming, we live differently and tolerate the temporary problem of evil with eternal perspective. You do not have a Christian worldview without creation.
Editor’s Note: This is the ninth article in the series “Why You Should Study Systematic Theology” by Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications at Southwestern.