Romans 1:16 says "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." I read that the gospel is the power of God for salvation; but being convicted, repenting, confessing, and being baptized are not in the gospel. Am I missing something? Aren’t being convicted, repenting, confessing, and being baptized required for salvation?


Here is a good question for you: What is "in the gospel?" I am sure that different Bible teachers and scholars will have different answers. There are a couple of things that surely will be in nearly any definition of "the gospel." Let me propose a couple of those.

1. The gospel is, by definition, good news."

2. It is the good news that Jesus came–God in the flesh–full of grace and truth. Any definition of the gospel which does not include Jesus is not the real gospel.

3. The good news is the coming of the Kingdom of God. This is what Jesus talked about constantly during his ministry. It is the coming of the lordship of Jesus, as consummated in heaven.

4. The good news is the opportunity of salvation–forgiveness of sins–to all those who put their faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Are repentance, confession and being baptized into Jesus Christ part of the good news? Well, we can debate this and it would not be a useful debate. Let me put it this way. Biblically, one is saved by the blood of Jesus only after having confessed Jesus to be Lord, repenting and being baptized. If one has not done these things, then one does not receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:36-28). So, the good news is only turned into practical good news for us as individuals if we have done those things.

Is baptism part of the good news? Again, that is debatable, but it is principally a semantic point. Let me use an analogy. Let us say that it was announced that you won ten million dollars, and all you have to do is come forward to accept your money. In this case, what is the good news? It is that you have won ten million dollars. The fact that you have to come forward to accept it is not really the good news, the prize is the good news. By analogy, the good news is Jesus Christ–it is the opportunity for us to have eternal life. Technically, the fact that we have to respond–to repent and be baptized in order to be saved is not the good news, the salvation is the good news. Do you see the semantic point?

The first recorded "gospel sermon" is found in Acts chapter two. Here Peter preached the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Near the end of his sermon, when people were cut to the heart by the good news, they asked what they need to do. Peter had already declared the gospel–the good news, but now he told them what they must do to respond to the good news and to appropriate for themselves the wonderful gift of forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit. They had to repent and be baptized. So, are confession, repentance and baptism part of "the gospel?" That is debatable and it would not be a useful debate, but we can be assured that this is what God has asked us to do in order to experience salvation and to become part of his Kingdom.

John Oakes

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