WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE OBEYS THE GOSPEL?
The expression “obey the gospel” may not be familiar language to many, but to those acquainted with the Scriptures it is recognized as the expression of a great spiritual truth. Peter wrote, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God (Christians, the church – I Timothy 3:15, hf). And if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (I Peter 4:17). As if in anticipation of that question Paul had earlier warned that at the second coming of Christ He would take “vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thessalonians 1:8). In his letter to the Romans Paul plainly stated: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (10:16). The American Standard Version says, “But they did not all hearken to (heed, NASB) the glad tidings” (another term to refer to the gospel, hf).
Thus, “obey the gospel” is an eminently biblical expression, and refers to hearing, believing, and submitting to the facts and commands of the gospel of Christ in order to enter into a saved state with God, become His child, and be entitled to wear the name Christian. It stands in contrast to such humanly devised expressions as “accept Christ as your personal savior,” “just believe,” “say the sinner’s prayer,” “have a spiritual epiphany” (a religious experience), “join the church,” and other non-biblical notions that are the inventions of men rather than expressions of the will of God.
Those acquainted with scriptural terminology should not be embarrassed to use it, and they should not allow those who use unscriptural terminology to dominate the conversations regarding these matters. Such discussions provide excellent opportunities to instruct others in Bible truth and to point out the terms used in the Bible as opposed to those terms that arise out of the ignorance of those unacquainted with Bible terminology. Those knowledgeable in the Scriptures need to “educate up” rather than permitting a “dumbing down” to continue.
Clearly, those who are knowledgeable in the Bible should be kind and patient with those who are not knowledgeable in the Scriptures and should look for the most judicious moment in which to offer Bible teaching, but they should not allow biblical ignorance to trump biblical knowledge, otherwise one has a classic case of “the tail wagging the dog” when it comes to the discussion of biblical matters. I, for one, grow tired of seeing this happening over and over.
The book of Acts sets forth several accounts of people obeying the gospel (2:1-47; 8:4-13; 8:26-40; 9:1-19; 10:1-48; 16:11-15; 16:16-34; 18:8; 22:1-16). I would urge all to read these accounts of how people obeyed the gospel and were converted to Christ in New Testament times.
Your soul is too valuable, eternity is too long, heaven is too wonderful, and hell and is too horrible for you to tell yourself that you do not have the time to read them or that you think you are already “right with God.” God put those accounts in His word for a purpose and you need to know what He has said about this important matter that will mean the difference between heaven and hell on the day of judgment.
Not only do we have biblical accounts of how people obeyed the gospel in New Testament times, but we also have a divinely inspired description of what is involved in obeying the gospel. Paul writes:
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. … Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants to obey, you are that one’s servant whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were servants of sin, yet you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:3-4, 16-18).
Have you obeyed “that form of doctrine” (the gospel) by dying to your sins in genuine repentance, being buried with Christ in baptism, and raised from the waters of baptism to walk in newness of life as a redeemed child of God?
What happens when one obeys the gospel? Consider the following:
- One is saved from sin (Mark 16:15-16).
- One receives the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
- One’s sins are washed away (Acts 22:16).
- One becomes a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27; I John 3:2).
- One receives the Holy Spirit as a seal of his sonship to God and as an earnest/deposit/guarantee of one’s eternal inheritance in heaven (Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; II Corinthians 5:1-5).
- One is justified (made right) and has peace with God (Romans 5:1)
- One is reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:11-22).
- One enters Christ and puts on Christ (Galatians 3:27).
- One enters the realm of all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3).
- One becomes a new creature/creation (II Corinthians 5:17).
- One begins a new life (Romans 6:3-4).
- One is no longer condemned (Romans 8:1).
- One is added to the church, the one spiritual body of Christ (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:4; Matthew 16:18).
- One is delivered from the power of (spiritual) darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His (God’s) love (Colossians 1:13).
Have you obeyed the gospel? Those who do not “will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (II Thessalonians 1:6-9).
Hugh Fulford, October 15, 2019
- October 13-16: Hartsville Pike Church of Christ, Gallatin, TN
- October 20-23: Sylvia Church of Christ, Dickson County, TN
- October 27-30: Adams Church of Christ, Adams, TN