by Thomas Boston
The gospel is a report from heaven to be believed and trusted to for salvation. First, we shall view the gospel in the nature of a report in general. And,
1. There is the subject of a report or the thing that is reported, viz., some design, action, or event, true or false. The subject of the gospel report is a love-design in God for the salvation of sinners of mankind (2Ti 1:9-10). Such was the gospel report that was first made in the world (Gen 3:15). It is the report of an act of grace and kindness in God, in favor of them, whereby He has given them His Son for a Savior (Joh 3:16; Isa 9:6) and eternal life in Him (1Jo 5:11). The report of the event of Christ’s dying for sinners and a crucified Christ’s being ready for marriage with sinners (Mat 22:4), [which is] a subject of the utmost importance.
2. There is the place whence the report originally comes. And the place here is heaven, the bosom of the Father. Hence, the gospel is called “heavenly things” (Joh 3:12), revealed from the bosom of the Father. The original place of a report is the place of the transaction, and that at some distance from where it is reported. So,
(1) The gospel is a report from heaven, where the design of love was contrived, the gift of the Son was made, and from whence He came to die for sinners, and where He is ready to match with them. The gospel may come from one place of the earth to another, as it did from Jerusalem to other places of the world (Isa 2:3; Luk 24:47). But it came from heaven originally (Luk 2:13-14).
(2) The gospel is good news from a far country, and so should be as acceptable as cold water to the thirsty (Pro 25:25). The farther off a country is from whence a report comes, we think ourselves the less concerned in it; and so do carnal men treat the gospel report. Far indeed it is. But as far as it is, we must spend our eternity in it or else in hell; and therefore it does most nearly concern us.
3. The matter of a report is something unseen to them to whom the report is made. And so is the matter of the gospel report. It is an unseen God (Joh 1:18); an unseen Savior (1Pe 1:8); and unseen things (2Co 4:18) that are preached unto you by the gospel. So the gospel is an object of faith, not of sight (Heb 11:1). We receive it by hearing, not by seeing (Isa 55:3). It is not what we credit on our eyesight, but upon the testimony of another, viz., of God. Hence, the carnal world are fond of seen objects (Psa 4:6), but slow to believe the gospel.
4. There is a reporter or reporters. And in this case, the report is made by many. But,
(1) The first-hand reporter is an eyewitness, viz., Jesus Christ. Christ Himself was the raiser of the report of the gospel (Heb 2:3). And who else could have been so (Joh 1:18)? What He reported, He saw and gives us His testimony of the truth of it on His eyesight (Joh 3:11). Hence, He is proposed to us as the Faithful and True Witness (Rev 3:14), Who was from eternity privy to the whole design revealed to us in the gospel.
(2) The prophets, apostles, and ministers of the gospel. They are the secondhand reporters. The former had it immediately from Christ, the latter from them again...
5. Lastly, there is a manifestation of the thing by the report to the parties to whom the report is made. So is the grace of God to poor sinners, manifested to them by the gospel (2Ti 1:9, 10). It is no more kept a secret from them, but they are let into the knowledge of the design, action, and events that concern their salvation. The gospel opens up and reveals the secret of God’s grace to sinners with the method of communicating it, even the whole plan of salvation, which from eternity was hid in the breast of God (Joh 1:18)...
We shall consider the report of the gospel and the trusting to it conjunctly:
1. The gospel is a report from heaven of salvation for poor sinners from sin (Mat 1:21) and from the wrath of God (Joh 3:16). [It is] dear bought, yet freely made over to you in the word of promise, so as that ye may freely take possession of it (Isa 55:1). This report being brought to the sinner, faith trusts it as a true report, believing that God has said it and trusts to it as good, laying our own salvation upon it. So the soul greedily embraceth the Savior, and the salvation brought to it in that report, as ever a drowning man would take hold of a rope let down to bring him out of the waters.
2. The gospel is the report of a crucified Christ made over to sinners as the device of heaven for their salvation. It is proclaimed by the authority of heaven that Christ has died and by His death purchased life and salvation for lost children of Adam and that they and every one of them may have full and free access to Him (Mat 22:4). Faith trusting this report as good and true, the soul concludes, “The Savior is mine,” and leans on Him for all the purchase of His death, for life and salvation to itself in particular (1Co 2:2).
3. The gospel is the report of a righteousness wherein we guilty ones may stand before a holy God. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (Rom 1:17). And by faith, one believes there is such righteousness, that it is sufficient to cover him, and that is held out to him to be trusted on for righteousness. And so the believer trusts it as his righteousness in the sight of God, disclaiming all other, and betaking himself to it alone (Gal 2:16).
4. The gospel is the report of a pardon under the great seal of heaven, in Christ, to all who will take it in Him. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things” (Act 13:38-39). This pardon is proclaimed openly by the authority of heaven, full and free, without exception of any of lost Adam’s race, to whom the report comes. The soul by faith believes this to be true and applies it to itself, saying, “This pardon is for me! It is good and suitable to my case. I will therefore lean to this word of grace for my pardon and come in, for this is the Word of God that cannot lie.”
5. The gospel is the report of a Physician that cures infallibly all the diseases of the soul (Mat 9:12-13; Heb 7:26), and freely (Hos 14:4), and rejects no patients (Joh 6:37). The soul believes it, applies it to its own case, and says, “Then I will trust Him for the removing the stony heart out of my flesh, for curing me of the falling evil of backsliding, the fever of raging corruption, the running issue of the predominant lust, and the universal leprosy of the corruption of my nature.”
6. The gospel is the report of a feast for hungry souls (Isa 25:6), to which all are bid welcome, Christ Himself being the Maker and Matter of it too (Isa 55:2). The soul, weary of the husks of created things and believing this report, accordingly falls a-feeding on Christ—His flesh which is meat indeed and His blood which is drink indeed—believing and applying to itself all that Christ was, did, and suffered, as that whereof the soul shall reap the benefit, which is the feeding by faith on a slain Savior.
7. The gospel is the report of a treasure (2Cor 4:7). In it are the precious promises—within them precious Christ with His merit—like the gold mentioned: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich” (Rev 3:18). The field it is hid in may be yours (Mat 13:44); the gospel offers you the covenant as that field. Faith believes the report; and the soul lays hold on the covenant and trusts entirely to the treasure hid there for the payment of all its debt, for its through-bearing during life, and through death, and for procuring it eternal happiness.
8. The gospel is the report of a victory won by Jesus Christ over sin, Satan, death, and the world, and that [for the benefit] of all that will join the glorious Conqueror (Psa 98:1). Faith believes this report; and the soul trusts to it for its victory over all these as already foiled enemies (1Jo 5:4). To name no more,
9. Lastly, the gospel is the report of a peace purchased by the blood of Christ for poor sinners (Eph. 2:14)...Faith believes it; and trusting to it, the soul comes before God as a reconciled Father in Christ, brings in its supplications for supply before the throne, believing the communication to be opened betwixt heaven and them...
USE: This shows that the gospel is the means of divine appointment for the salvation of sinners. Therefore, it is called “the gospel of our salvation” (Eph 1:13), and [it] “bringeth salvation” (Ti 2:11). The light of nature is not the external means or instrument of salvation, for it brings no report of Christ (Act 4:12). The Law is not it either—it is the ministration of death and condemnation (2Co 3:7, 9)—but the gospel only. For it is in the gospel only that a righteousness is revealed for the unrighteous (Rom 1:16-17), and in which the Spirit is conveyed to dead sinners (Gal 3:2). To slight the gospel, then, is to slight the only means of salvation...Wherefore know, that your life lies here, and that there is no salvation but in the way of trusting to the report of the gospel.
From “The Unsuccessfulness of the Gospel...” in The Complete Works of Thomas Boston, Vol. 10, reprinted by Richard Owen Roberts Publishers.