24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If someone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, 25 for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed word of Christ on behalf of those he came to save. The message is about his incarnation, his perfect life, his death on the cross, his three days and nights in the tomb, and his resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses….
The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the Atonement is complete. Those who hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1-10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved.
Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Oklahoma, I saw a lot of people walk those aisles during those endless altar calls at the end of each sermon. I also saw many of those same people, some of them my classmates at school, who were completely unchanged just a few days or weeks later. In those Sunday School classes and later Youth Groups during that period, the emphasis was highly moralistic. I’m not saying we didn’t hear the Gospel because we did, but it was always presented in such a way that there was something we had to do about it. As I witnessed a religious system that seemed to be all about moralism, I rebelled. As soon as I was old enough and left home, I severed all my ties with that “moralistic therapeutic deism” that had begun to creep into the SBC during that period. The odd thing was, in all those years of Sunday School and Church, I really learned a great deal about the Bible STORIES, but I most certainly did not know Jesus. I knew what was right from what was wrong. That came from knowing the Law so well from all those years in that type of church system.