Man and the Gospel
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
In these days when Christendom generally is not remaining faithful to the fundamentals of the Christian gospel it is vitally necessary that those who have experienced God's salvation should teach and preach it in its fullness. The aim of this article is therefore to reiterate and explore some of these fundamentals as we find them regarding man's position and his need of the gospel as established in the scriptures.
Unbelieving men today are propounding and teaching the false theory of evolution in order to do away with the fundamental truth that man in the beginning was created by God. This is, of course, a device of the archenemy, Satan himself, so that men might not find themselves accountable in any way to a higher authority, and thus free to sin as much as they wish. But the scripture clearly states that in the beginning man was created in God's own image; 'in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them', Gen. 1. 27, that is, in His moral and spiritual image. Man in his innocence, prior to his fall into sin, was in communion and close fellowship with God on a daily basis, 'And they (Adam and Eve) heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day', Gen. 3. 8. Modernists will dismiss the first chapters of Genesis as fable. However, it is as much the word of God as any other portion of scripture, the Lord Jesus Himself verifying its account of creation in His answer to the Pharisees, 'But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female', Mark 10. 6.
Through Satan's cunning, however, man succumbed in unbelief to sin against God. This was accomplished by the introduction of doubt concerning God's word; 'Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' Gen. 3. 1, and again, 'And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil', Gen. 3. 4-5. Eve was tempted to move away from implicit trust and obedience in God and Adam likewise, so that immediately they had sinned, fellowship with, and the blessing of God, were no longer possible without the death of another. This truth was recorded later by Moses, 'and without shedding of blood is no remission.' Heb. 9. 22.
Through this original sin the whole world has become guilty before a holy God. 'As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God', Rom. 3. 10-19. There is not one person who has lived on this earth, apart from the Lord Jesus, who is excluded from guilt before God. Each person born into the world is born with a sinful nature; 'Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me', Psa. 51. 5.
From these scriptures it is clear that man is guilty as to his:
- way - there is none righteous - they are all gone out of the way.
- understanding - there is none that understandeth- 'But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. 2. 14.
- desire for God - there is none that seeketh.
- actions - there is none that doeth good - in terms of his justification before God man can do nothing, for everything he does, even if reckoned by other men to be good, is stained by sin, Isa. 64. 6.
-tongue - whose mouth is full of cursing.
- evil intent - destruction and misery.
- lack of peace - the way of peace have they not known.
- conscience - there is no fear of God before their eyes.
- guilt - all the world guilty before God.
- birth - sinful by nature and practice.
Not only is man guilty before God but he is deliberately at enmity with God. In his rebellion, man put to death the Prince of life. At the time of the Lord Jesus offering Himself up, the blackness of man's fallen nature was shown in all its fullness, as men did their very worst. Indeed there was nothing else left that they could have done to express their bitter hatred toward Him who had done nothing but good, and so completely shown the mind and love of God. The Lord Jesus felt this most keenly, as we find His innermost thoughts during His sufferings revealed in the Psalms, 'But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him . . . . . Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture', Psa. 22. 6-18.
The whole of humanity is represented in those who wickedly placed Him upon the cross, and showed their enmity towards Him.
The proof of man's powerlessness, in terms of his own justification, is found in the fact that the Lord Jesus had to die in order for the sin question to be dealt with. 'He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.' He alone who was spotless in His manhood could pay the price for sin. The standard required by a holy God is perfection, and men miss the mark without exception for, 'all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God', Rom. 3. 23.
That man is accountable to God is witnessed by his own conscience, for who could have put it there but God Himself? Conscience proves accountability to the Creator. The theory of evolution, certainly cannot account for it! At the beginning of each person's life their conscience is there to witness to them of the fact of sin. Only after conscience is ignored does it eventually become marred. Even so the hardest of men cannot totally extinguish its witness within themselves. Above and beyond this, God-given internal witness in the testimony of the scriptures. God will hold all accountable who do not exercise faith and accept His way of salvation and mercy by putting their faith in Christ. 'And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.' Says John, by revelation of the Lord, 'And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire', Rev. 20. 11-15. Certainly there is a day of reckoning for all who have rejected Christ.
From the point of Adam's original sin man became subject to death, not only physical death but also spiritual. Death in the final analysis is a complete cessation of communication. This applies to those who have physically died in that they cannot communicate any longer with those still living and spiritually it is true, for the person who dies without God's salvation by faith in Christ is cutoff from God; for in eternity communications cease. This will culminate with the second death; 'But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death', Rev. 21. 8.
How hopeless the lot of mankind is apart from the gospel of the grace of God. He is altogether lost, without strength, ungodly, a sinner, an enemy of God and the object of His wrath, Rom. 5. 5-9. The only remedy for his desperate plight is to be reconciled to God, through the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary's cross.
How much, in these days of gathering darkness, do we who are saved need to preach the gospel, teach it, gossip it, and above all live it! This article would not be complete without challenging in these terms those of us who are saved:
- When was the last time we asked a friend to the gospel meeting?
- When did we last speak to someone personally about the Lord and His saving grace as contained in the gospel?
- When was the last time we were burdened and prayed specifically for an individual's salvation?