Classic Essays on the Gospel

"Are you indeed Christ's sheep? Then beware of ever trusting to yourselves; nothing offends the Good Shepherd more than to see the members of His flock, forgetting that in Him alone is all their safety, and glorying in their own attainments and performances...your best attempts toward heaven are in themselves but broken reeds, and can bear no weight; they are precious as evidences of spiritual life--but they cannot justify." J. C. Ryle

“The Gospel, as it teacheth what is to be done, so it hath also the efficacy of the Holy Ghost adjoined to it, by whom being regenerated we have strength both to believe the Gospel and to perform those things which it commandeth” (Art of Prophesying VII, [Abingdon, 1970], 341-342). - William Perkins

We shall never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first know assuredly that we have no righteousness of our own. —Calvin

A man-centered gospel is the belief that the determining factor in whether or not a man is eternally saved, in the end, relies (at some level) upon an act of his own will i.e. human decision. This is often called synergism because it is thought to be a cooperative effort between God and man. While a God-centered Gospel means that man has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with causing his salvation by “choosing God,” “deciding to follow Christ,” “asking Jesus into your heart,” and/or any other like phrases so common today.

Sola fide and sola gratia as used in the Protestant Reformation mean that while the sinner is dead in his trespasses and sins God Himself sovereignly regenerates those whom He will. As His gift God gives them the faith to believe in Christ, and they repent of their sins. This is actually diametrically opposed to any of the seeker-friendly postevangelical movements e.g. the Purpose Driven Life as taught by Rick Warren.

The sad fact is that the contemporary American Christian Church largely believes in synergism (man cooperates with God), while in stark opposition to the synergism of apostate Roman Catholicism, the Reformers (even before John Calvin) taught monergism (soli Deo gloria). Yet to a great extent today the Emerging Church movement overall, and voices in this Emergent rebellion against Sola Scriptura like Rob Bell in particular, also strongly believe in synergism (at best). - Ken Silva

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