‘let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. ‘ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11, 12).”’
What exactly is the gospel? And why should we [believers] defend it?
The gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ; just as the text above says, ‘for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’
OK, so if we are saved – from what are we saved? The wrath of God to come!
Paul warns readers of his Epistle to the Romans, ‘But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteousness judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath (Romans 2:5-8).’
The Good News Received by Some, Rejected by Others
So knowing of the wrath to come we are compelled (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:13-15) to warn everyone of God’s judgment, but more than that to tell of His love and compassion. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for our eternal salvation (John 3:16). This is love (1 John 4:10) that he first loved us (V. 19). We have by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) been saved, and this is the message of hope for all who put their trust in Jesus (Ephesians 1:13). God will not refuse anyone (Matthew 11:28, 29) who repents and believes (Mark 1:15) in His Son. This is the good news of the gospel.
Addressing the Jews Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9, 10: ‘“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them (Acts 28:26, 27).’”
Poignantly he went on to say, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it (V. 28)!”’
Paul continued for the next two years at his home in Rome to preach the good news ‘to all who came to him (V.V. 30, 31).’
Opposition and the Challenge of Gospel Compromise
As we take this message of hope to the world, we meet opposition from those who do not want to hear it, i.e., those who are ‘hard of hearing’ and have closed their eyes, but there are those who open their hearts and want to hear and understand (Matthew 13:23).
This is the message that must never be diluted, never compromised. We must stand firm (Ephesians 6:13-19) and live by God’s Word. We must follow the example of Jesus when he rebuked the devil saying, ‘“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).”’
Irrespective of pressure from the world and the demands of the societies in which we live, we must not compromise the Word of God. God does not change (cf. Hebrews 13:8), neither does His Word change (1 Peter 1:25) and nor does His good news of salvation. His gospel of love and hope is for all who will hear and understand. No one is too vile or too depraved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) that they cannot receive the Holy Spirit who transforms (2 Corinthians 5:17) and gives eternal life (Galatians 6:8) to those with open hearts – those who acknowledge their sin and repent (cf. Luke 24:46, 47).
‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1 Peter 3:15, 16).’
We can take heart and know that God is with us (cf. Genesis 28:15; Hebrews 13:5) just as He was with Saul: ‘But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22).’
God’s Word will accomplish what He pleases: ‘“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).”’