If you have ever gone evangelising then you have carried along a Bible tract that summarises what it considers the bare bones of the gospel. If you’re Protestant it probably is some rehash of the “Romans Road”, where all have sinned and you can only be saved by grace alone being justified by faith alone in Christ alone. New Testament scholar Dr Matthew Bates in his latest book Salvation by Allegiance Alone challenges these popular and long held notions as missing the point of what the gospel really is according to the New Testament.
By surveying what the New Testament does say when it defines the gospel, he has outlined what according to it are the 8 essential elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are as follows:
- preexisted with the Father,
- took on human flesh, fulfilling God’s promises to David,
- died for sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
- was buried,
- was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
- appeared to many,
- is seated at the right hand of God as Lord, and
- will come again as judge.
He argues that (7.) is the quite literal climax of the gospel message, so the correct response to our exalted king is to swear our allegiance to him alone. Another key thing to remember is Jesus is himself the climax of Israel’s scriptures, which is the proper context of the good news.
As with all summaries, particular with good ones like this, their is a lot that needs to be unpacked. Not everything is expressly mentioned but it is certainly not ignored. That being said, I do think he fundamentally captures what the gospel is according to the New Testament. I think it is time, in fact long overdue, for this new old message to be our evangelistic formula.