Some Christians are Not “Gospel Wakeful”, and Some Are?

I Corinthians 5:20—“we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

As ambassadors FOR Christ, we command all who hear, “’be ye reconciled”. Even though II Cor 5 is addressed to Christians only, the message taken by Christians to the lost is not for the elect only. The “be ye reconciled” is for those who have not yet been already justified.

Some “high Calvinists” don’t have a category for lost elect people. They would tell you that you were never lost, but that you only didn’t know you were already saved.

Many pastors (who are not Calvinists at all) like to say to people who are still legalists: some of you didn’t know the motives and how reconciliation worked, but you were already reconciled.

The elect have already been judged at the cross; everybody else will be judged, since all will be judged. But not all who were judged at the cross have been “baptized into that death” yet by God’s legal imputation. Since this is so, we should NOT talk to people assuming that they are Christians even though they don’t know the gospel yet.

To those who are still ignorant of the gospel, we don’t talk only about gratitude and freedom. Yes, we tell them that those for whom Christ died are thankful and free and pleasing to God. But we also tell them: if you don’t know the gospel and believe it yet, then you should be shut up to nothing but legal fear.

If Christ did not die for you, you should be afraid. Being afraid won’t save you. But legal fear is the reasonable response to not knowing the gospel. Because not knowing the gospel means knowing that you are not yet justified.

I do not want to preach terror to Christians. But we must not assume that people are Christians.

Do we address the people in church as if we are all elect, who have been believing some form of the gospel all along? “Close as in horseshoes”? Or do we say: some or all of you may need to be reconciled. Nobody is born reconciled. Let’s not presume. Let’s not beg the question.

Jerry Bridges, p34, Transforming Grace—“if you are trusting TO ANY DEGREE in your own morality, or if you believe that God will somehow recognize any of your good works as a reason for your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian.”

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5 Comments on “Some Christians are Not “Gospel Wakeful”, and Some Are?”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Yes, we don’t know who the elect are…and need desperately to preach the gospel so they will hear…thanks…this was a much needed article…

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Whereas the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was necessitated out of the fact that salvation could not be gained by human work or righteousness (Isaiah 59:15-20; Galatians 2:21; Titus 3:5), Arminianism grounds salvation ultimately in the human sinner, asserting that God’s actions toward sinnners are indiscriminate and that the difference between those who belong to God and those who do not is not found in God, who treats all sinners the same but is found in the sinner’s free will.

    In the face of the biblical statements about the horrible judgment that fell on Christ and the purpose of this work on the cross to secure the salvation of his elect people, we must reject any idea that Arminianism is only another version of the gospel, or a less biblically consistent reading of the gospel. The transition from being evangelical to being Reformed is seen by this argument as a transition from one seat to another on the same bus.

    Bonhoeffer—there are some who, when they find out that the bus is going the wrong direction, walk toward the other end of the bus.,

    If the “Arminian” bus is headed for a fatal precipice, and I can see it as one who is “Reformed”, am I showing love to the people on the bus by smiling and waving assuring them that all of “us” on the bus are going to the same place?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    do we say, all you here are Christians and are loved by God, we start there, no matter what you believe or don’t believe, we assume you are Christians and then attempt to talk you down from your legalism. I start from the other end—if you sound like a legalist, and think like a legalist, then you should not think you are already justified and born again.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    my standard diagnostic questions

    1. do you believe that anybody is justified without believing the gospel? do you think God’s sovereignty just means that God can and does save without any gospel? lots of “Reformed” do think this

    2. which part of the Arminianism is part of the gospel? and if they say, I don’t know anything about Arminianism, i answer–well, one basic idea of Arminians, which is most people you know think is that “jesus died for everybody”

    now, which part of “jesus died for everybody” is the gospel? Do you think that some people will perish (John 3:16)? Do you think that Jesus died for these people who will perish? How is it good news to say that Jesus died for people who perish

  5. Rick Phillips explains why he is not a dispensationalist with a narrow gospel of forgiveness but has a gospel which is also law——“We often read today of a “gospel-centered”TM ministry as opposed to a legalistic or otherwise sub-Christian approach to salvation. When used in this trade-marked sense, “gospel-centered” usually means that we must exclusively present God’s forgiveness for sinners through faith alone in the blood of his Son. We must not emphasize (or perhaps even mention) God’s standards of conduct, methods for becoming more holy, or the application of spiritual effort in Christian living.
    This will certainly lead to an emphasis on justification through faith alone and forgiveness through Christ’s blood, but it will extend to include the entire scope of his redemptive work and will. It is in this sense that we may contrast a Christ-centered ministry to the kind of “gospel-centered”TM ministry that presents forgiveness + nothing as the gospel. . So, working through the Gospel of Mark, how would we categorize Jesus’ ministry?
    The answer is that Jesus’ primary emphasis was in 1. Declaring his deity as Messiah and teaching theology. Working through Mark, I made 30 tick marks under this category. The next emphasis was 3. Training and reproving his disciples. I noted this emphasis 22 times. Third was category 4. Exposing false teaching and religious opposition, which occurred 16 times. The least frequent emphasis was 2. Preaching the gospel, which was observed 8 times.
    For ease of consideration, let me put this in a table:
    Revealing Self & Teaching Theology
    Training & Reproving Disciples
    Exposing False Teaching / Opposition
    Presenting the Gospel to Sinners
    In this approach, the biblical evidence shows that Jesus did not have a “gospel-centered”TM ministry. In fact, most of what Jesus did in Mark’s Gospel involves messages that a “gospel-centered”TM ministry does not approve.
    How can this be? How can Jesus himself fail to be “gospel-centered”TM? The answer is that, biblically speaking, the gospel does not have the trademark given to it today. Indeed, the Bible shows that Jesus is himself the gospel, so that the good news involves all that he said and did. So, removing the trademark, we ask again: Was Jesus gospel-centered? The answer is Yes! But how was Jesus gospel-centered? The answer is that he revealed himself as the divine Messiah and enlightened man about God, he showed the power and grace to live a new kind of life, he exposed darkness and unbelief as false and ungodly, and he offered forgiveness to broken sinners. This was Jesus’ gospel-centered ministry, and what good news it is! May we, following our Savior, likewise present fully-orbed gospel-centered ministries to the church and the world in Jesus’ name.
    – See more at:

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