Semantics and the Gospel, Part 2 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #4)

The Bible says in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

The wages of sin is death (eternal death here is contrasted with “eternal life”). This death is eternal separation from God in hell, in which unbelievers suffer conscious torment forever. This is the wages they have earned and deserve because of their sin. By contrast, the gift of God is eternal life. Eternal life is a gift that cannot be earned. Three times in this chapter Paul wrote that sin results in death. But believers have been set free from sin and are no longer slaves to it but are “slaves to righteousness.” Because they are alive to God and have eternal life they should present themselves to Him and live accordingly, not letting sin master them.

Today’s quote is from C.S. Lewis. He said: “Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.”

Our topic today is titled “Semantics and the Gospel (Part 2)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

Observe this random sampling of expressions of the Gospel taken from tracts, sermons, books, and radio and TV messages. I list them without documentation since the point is not who said these but to show what was said and to illustrate how varied and confusing these statements are. If we gave even half of them to an unsaved person, what would he be expected to believe?

Here they are:

1. Repent, believe, confess your sin to God, and confess Him before man and you will be saved.

2. The clearest statement of the Gospel in the New Testament is found in Luke 9:23: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

3. Perhaps the most comprehensive invitation to salvation in the Epistles comes in James 4:7-10: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

4. May the Lord reveal to the sinners that the only way for them to be saved from their sins is to repent with a godly sorrow in their hearts to the Lord.

5. Utter the prayer of the Prodigal Son—ask Jesus to be your Lord and Master.

6. Come forward and follow Christ in baptism.

7. Place your hand in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.

8. Find Christ by praying through to Him.

9. Believe in Him, trust Him, accept Him, commit your life to Him.

10. We have the warning of Christ that He will not receive us into His kingdom until we are ready to give up all, until we are ready to turn from all sin in our lives.

11. God offers eternal life freely to sinners who will surrender to Him in humble, repentant faith.

12. Do we literally have to give away everything we own to become Christians? No, but we do
have to be willing to forsake all.

13. Matthew 7:13-14 is pure Gospel: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

14. No one can receive Christ as his Savior while he rejects Him as his Lord.

15. Give your heart to Christ.

16. Ask Jesus to come into your heart.

Not all these statements are incorrect or equally good or bad. But they are not all saying the same thing. They are not expressing the same truth only in different words. The differences cannot be harmonized by saying, “It’s only a matter of semantics.” And yet they all purport to be explaining the way of salvation.

Just as words were the means God used to record the Gospel in the Scriptures, so words are the means we use to explain the Gospel to others. Therefore, a correct choice of words is important, even essential, in stating the Gospel well.

We will continue looking at the topic of Semantics & the Gospel in our next broadcast.

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