Sep 10, 2020

When the Gospel Is at Stake, Everything Is at Stake

4 Min Read

Christians have hope because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to them, but where will our unsaved friends turn? To the world and its standards of righteousness? Or to God’s standard? And who will tell them?

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This month, we’re eager to send you a special gift when you support Ligonier with a gift of any amount: the twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Faith Alone by Dr. R.C. Sproul. This book can assist you in holding fast to the true gospel and fighting back the influence of the legalism pervading our culture.

Today, it seems our acceptance in society depends on our measuring up to an ever-moving standard. One misstep and all is lost. An intolerance for truth results in people being silenced for stating inconvenient facts. Historical figures are dismissed altogether for their failing to perfectly live up to the creed they professed. The family structure is attacked for being too exclusive, too biblical.

Make no mistake: this is nothing less than the bondage of cultural legalism that holds so many people, past and present, to impossible standards and provides no means to atone for the failure to meet them. Legalism is no gospel. It offers only condemnation.

And as Dr. Sproul frequently observed, the problem with legalism isn’t just out there in the culture—it’s here in the church, among the people of God. It lurks in my sinful heart and yours. As goes the church, so goes the culture.

There is also a legalism in the church that confuses the gospel, adding unbiblical burdens where God has made His people free. This kind of legalism can stunt spiritual growth and reduce the Christian life to mere externals rather than living before God in dependence on Christ’s grace and seeking true holiness in heart and life. It’s a legalism that binds consciences, requiring adherence to rules not mandated by Scripture.

As I have learned from R.C. and the Teaching Fellows at Ligonier, there is only one answer to overbearing legalism—the pure, clear, simple gospel.

For anyone who trusts solely in Christ’s sinless life and sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross, there is no condemnation (John 6:47; Rom. 6:23; 8:1–4). Your hope and mine are found only in the righteousness of Christ imputed to our account.

Carrying on R.C.’s legacy, Ligonier Ministries puts the gospel of God at the center of everything we do. We’re striving to maintain R.C.’s laser-like focus on preaching the gospel of grace and for standing for the essential truths of the gospel when others want to compromise. He understood that if we fail to get the gospel right, we have no hope in this world or in the world to come.

Standing for the gospel is never easy and always invites opposition. Paul and many other Apostles were beaten and executed for their gospel testimony. The Lord Jesus Himself, the first preacher of the gospel and the One whose person and work are the subject of the gospel, was killed for proclaiming it.

So it has been with Christians throughout history. The freedom proclaimed in the gospel turned the ancient world upside down (Acts 17:6). Great Christian leaders such as Athanasius and Martin Luther faced exile and the threat of death for holding fast to core gospel truths. Closer to home, R.C. lost friendships and support when he contended for the gospel truth that we are justified by faith alone.

These men and others suffered for the gospel because its message of salvation is truly worth suffering for. Fallen humanity is always trying to save itself, but only the gospel can give us peace with God (Rom. 5:1). The only solution to the legalism and unrest we’re seeing in the church and in the culture is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tragically, however, many churches and preachers focus on everything but the gospel. In reality, the biblical gospel is very simple—consisting of the truths about the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and the means by which we receive the benefits of Christ and His work: through faith in Him alone. But we so easily allow lesser matters to distract us from the simple, unvarnished gospel.

By your generosity, you work with Ligonier around the world to help believers know and remain committed to the gospel. This international effort has grown expansively in recent months as the need for clear biblical teaching is more dire. Discipleship in the truth matters because all people matter.

As I mentioned above, when you support Ligonier this month, we will gladly send you the twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Dr. Sproul’s book Faith Alone. I think this ranks among his most important works, as it lays out in plain language what is at stake in the debates over the gospel, considers the work of Christ, and explains why we must insist that we are justified by faith alone.

Your gift will go far in taking the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. As R.C. has said, “When the gospel is at stake, everything is at stake.”

Thank you for your support in the fight against legalism’s enslaving influence and the defense of God’s saving grace in Christ.