J.I. Packer on the Gospel

Here is a statement that shows a desire to earnestly contend “for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3):

If, ten years ago, you had told me that I would live to see literate evangelicals, some with doctorates and a seminary teaching record, arguing for the reality of an eternal salvation, divinely guaranteed, that may have in it no repentance, no discipleship, no behavioral change, no practical acknowledgment of Christ as Lord of one’s life, and no perseverance in faith, I would have told you that you were out of your mind. Stark, staring bonkers, is the British phrase I would probably have used.

– J.I. Packer, “Understanding the Lordship Controversy“Tabletalk, May, 1991. Published by Ligonier Ministries, Inc.

The true gospel includes the belief that Christ has paid the penalty for the sins of the elect and the obligation to make Christ the Lord of one’s life. Consider Romans 6:16-23:

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Any proclamation of the way to salvation that does not include the obligation to obey through the power of the Spirit is a deficient gospel at best and most likely a false gospel. A gospel that is not wholly dependent on the teachings/commandments/principles/precepts of Christ is an arrogant gospel and empty of power.

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