An answer to those who say, "The gospel is bigger than that. "

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi brothers and sisters,
I need some wisdom and some biblical direction...

I keep hearing the phrase, "But the gospel is bigger than that", often times from pastors and those in leadership. This phrase is used in response to issues that involve taking stands regarding moral/ Biblical issues like abortion, sexual sins, etc in the church. It goes something like, "Yes, what you're saying is true regarding abortion, etc, but we're not preaching it because the gospel is bigger. " I know that is wrong headed and just another symptom of the soft relativism and antigospel thinking that is creeping into the church, but I don't know how to answer this concisely and concretely from scripture. Please help!:)
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi brothers and sisters,
I need some wisdom and some biblical direction...

I keep hearing the phrase, "But the gospel is bigger than that", often times from pastors and those in leadership. This phrase is used in response to issues that involve taking stands regarding moral/ Biblical issues like abortion, sexual sins, etc in the church. It goes something like, "Yes, what you're saying is true regarding abortion, etc, but we're not preaching it because the gospel is bigger. " I know that is wrong headed and just another symptom of the soft relativism and antigospel thinking that is creeping into the church, but I don't know how to answer this concisely and concretely from scripture. Please help!:)
Interesting. I have heard it peddled the other way, that the Gospel includes "such and such" or that "such and such" is a Gospel issue. And depending on who you ask it includes nearly everything.
I suppose a simple answer runs along the lines of including the response to the Gospel when it is preached; the didache and kerygma cannot be separated if you have people who don't actually turn from sin and unto Christ.
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
Apparently, they don't think the Gospel is bigger than that, or they'd preach all of it, such that those who find themselves practicing such things would fear, and be shut up to faith in Jesus Christ, forsaking such things, and fleeing to Him. The Bible says that those who practice such things will not inherent eternal life, and that's Gospel truth. Bound up in the Gospel is not only the truth of being saved from the guilt of our sins, but also being cleansed from them, albeit not perfectly in this life. We are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and no person satisfied in his sins, no desire to be rid of them, can rightly think himself to be in Christ.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I've never heard the phrase, myself.

But it reminds of one time I offended a putative pastor by saying the Gospel has the odor of death to those in rebellion.

He was very upset, demanding how I could say such a thing. . . . well, it wasn't me who first said it.

I then asked him what would (will) Jesus do to unrepentant sinners?

The Gospel is bigger than what many might think.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi brothers and sisters,
I need some wisdom and some biblical direction...

I keep hearing the phrase, "But the gospel is bigger than that", often times from pastors and those in leadership. This phrase is used in response to issues that involve taking stands regarding moral/ Biblical issues like abortion, sexual sins, etc in the church. It goes something like, "Yes, what you're saying is true regarding abortion, etc, but we're not preaching it because the gospel is bigger. " I know that is wrong headed and just another symptom of the soft relativism and antigospel thinking that is creeping into the church, but I don't know how to answer this concisely and concretely from scripture. Please help!:)
Paul tells the Corinthians that "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1:17) and he "determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (2:1). Indeed chapters 1-2 are basically all about (if nothing but) the gospel. Nevertheless, in the same epistle he delves into sexual ethics (chapters 5,6 & 7), including church discipline for violation (chapter 5). He also comments on marriage & divorce (chapter 7), matters of conscience (chapter 8), provision for ministers of the gospel (chapter 9), the sacraments (chapters 10&11), conduct in worship (chapter 11 & 14), along with the place of women in the church in the same. He speaks of spiritual gifts (chapters 12-14), defends the resurrection (chapter 15), and ends his letter anathematising anyone who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ (16:22). And all throughout he chides, corrects and rebukes the Corinthians for their childish, fleshly & worldly attitudes.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
It sounds like something Kellerites and others say in order to justify their compliance with Leftism and silence in the face of evil. I suppose you could have used "But the gospel is bigger than that" to justify saying nothing in 1930s Germany as well.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
It sounds like something Kellerites and others say in order to justify their compliance with Leftism and silence in the face of evil. I suppose you could have used "But the gospel is bigger than that" to justify saying nothing in 1930s Germany as well.
Yes. It's most definitely along those lines with the people I'm dealing with...sadly.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
I've never heard the phrase, myself.

But it reminds of one time I offended a putative pastor by saying the Gospel has the odor of death to those in rebellion.

He was very upset, demanding how I could say such a thing. . . . well, it wasn't me who first said it.

I then asked him what would (will) Jesus do to unrepentant sinners?

The Gospel is bigger than what many might think.
Sobering.... and true. There's a lot there to consider.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
Apparently, they don't think the Gospel is bigger than that, or they'd preach all of it, such that those who find themselves practicing such things would fear, and be shut up to faith in Jesus Christ, forsaking such things, and fleeing to Him. The Bible says that those who practice such things will not inherent eternal life, and that's Gospel truth. Bound up in the Gospel is not only the truth of being saved from the guilt of our sins, but also being cleansed from them,
Thank you. This is very helpful.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
Interesting. I have heard it peddled the other way, that the Gospel includes "such and such" or that "such and such" is a Gospel issue. And depending on who you ask it includes nearly everything.
I suppose a simple answer runs along the lines of including the response to the Gospel when it is preached; the didache and kerygma cannot be separated if you have people who don't actually turn from sin and unto Christ.
I looked up the two Greek works you used, but could you expound on your use of them here?
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you. This is very helpful.
I think the Rev. Kok's is excellently thorough, whilst being concise. The truth is Whole Bible theology is not embraced, and it's why the "swimmin' in the Gospel" types -while perhaps meaning well- have done a great disservice to the LORD's visible people, whether it be those who have grown up in the church and are yet unregenerate, or those who -while being regenerate- are in a deep slumber. If we love people -especially those of the household of faith- we will tell them the truth. This can be done tactfully, though the sting of conscience that God brings upon a man we have no power over. What needs to be understood by the LORD's people is that His primary concern is not our temporal comfort or happiness, but always our holiness, in which alone we will find true happiness. If the minister does not cry aloud, if he spares telling the people of their sins, then we are in a most desperate condition.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
Paul tells the Corinthians that "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1:17) and he "determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (2:1). Indeed chapters 1-2 are basically all about (if nothing but) the gospel. Nevertheless, in the same epistle he delves into sexual ethics (chapters 5,6 & 7), including church discipline (chapter 5). He also comments on marriage & divorce (chapter 7), matters of conscience (chapter 8), provision for ministers of the gospel (chapter 9), the sacraments (chapters 10&11), conduct in worship (chapter 11 & 14), along with the place of women in the church in the same. He speaks of spiritual gifts (chapters 12-14), defends the resurrection (chapter 15), and ends his letter anathematising anyone who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ (16:22). And all throughout he chides, corrects and rebukes the Corinthians for their childish, fleshly & worldly attitudes.
Yes, yes! So true- meaning, 'Christ and him crucified' did not mean only acceding to that fact.
 
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Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the Rev. Kok's is excellently thorough, whilst being concise. The truth is Whole Bible theology is not embraced, and it's why the "swimmin' in the Gospel" types -while perhaps meaning well- have done a great disservice to the LORD's visible people, whether it be those who have grown up in the church and are yet unregenerate, or those who -while being regenerate- are in a deep slumber. If we love people -especially those of the household of faith- we will tell them the truth. This can be done tactfully, though the sting of conscience that God brings upon a man we have no power over. What needs to be understood by the LORD's people is that His primary concern is not our temporal comfort or happiness, but always our holiness, in which alone we will find true happiness. If the minister does not cry aloud, if he spares telling the people of their sins, then we are in a most desperate condition.
Forgive my ignorance, who is Rev. Kok? Is there a good book on Whole Bible Theology you can recommend? I recently heard that terminology from someone I respect and my husband and I were just discussing it.
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
Forgive my ignorance, who is Rev. Kok? Is there a good book on Whole Bible Theology you can recommend? I recently heard that terminology from someone I respect and my husband and I were just discussing it.
Author of this post. https://puritanboard.com/threads/an...ospel-is-bigger-than-that.104277/post-1261685

I don't particularly know of any books off hand having to do with a well rounded view of preaching all of Scripture, but I can always promote to your reading Puritans and Puritanesque authors like Richard Sibbes, Thomas Manton, Thomas Boston, William Swan Plumer, etc. In fact, it's nor particularly about "whole Bible" theology, but William S. Plumers book The Law of God as Contained in the Ten Commandments is excellent with regard to God's standard of righteousness, and -in my own estimation- popularly accessible.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
Author of this post. https://puritanboard.com/threads/an...ospel-is-bigger-than-that.104277/post-1261685

I don't particularly know of any books off hand having to do with a well rounded view of preaching all of Scripture, but I can always promote to your reading Puritans and Puritanesque authors like Richard Sibbes, Thomas Manton, Thomas Boston, William Swan Plumer, etc. In fact, it's nor particularly about "whole Bible" theology, but William S. Plumers book The Law of God as Contained in the Ten Commandments is excellent with regard to God's standard of righteousness, and -in my own estimation- popularly accessible.
Thank you!
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
It is also worth noting that historically we have defined the gospel narrowly and broadly. The former refers to what Christ has done for us and the latter what we do in response to God's covenant with us. See Patrick Ramsey's helpful explanation here: https://www.reformation21.org/blog/what-is-the-gospel
This is true. If I remember correctly, the Dutch theologians defined the gospel "strictissime", "most strictly" as the "the good news of eternal life to those who believe" and more broadly as "the whole doctrine of the new testament". They didn't think the word had just had one use.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Whoa Nellie, it seems the "Whole Bible Theology" is its own new thing.

A website claiming that name rejects both Covenant Theology and the Reformed notion that not all scripture is alike clear. (I can appreciate rejecting the "hidden meaning" notion of the Left Behind folk but worry about where someone will end up if he approaches scripture without the humility to recognize that man cannot stamp a meaning on every verse.)

The Whole Bible folks use the term Biblical theology, but certainly don't hold to the Dutch and Princeton scholarship that developed the approach. It's telling when someone tries to pit Biblical theology vs. systematics.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi brothers and sisters,
I need some wisdom and some biblical direction...

I keep hearing the phrase, "But the gospel is bigger than that", often times from pastors and those in leadership. This phrase is used in response to issues that involve taking stands regarding moral/ Biblical issues like abortion, sexual sins, etc in the church. It goes something like, "Yes, what you're saying is true regarding abortion, etc, but we're not preaching it because the gospel is bigger. " I know that is wrong headed and just another symptom of the soft relativism and antigospel thinking that is creeping into the church, but I don't know how to answer this concisely and concretely from scripture. Please help!:)
It's best to avoid and treat with suspicion pat utterances that could be said in any given context:

"He's a monophysite!"
"The gospel is bigger than that."

"I don't like singing 'Jingle Bells' in church."
"The gospel is bigger than that."

"You forgot to put salt in the cookies?"
"The gospel is bigger than that."
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
It's best to avoid and treat with suspicion pat utterances that could be said in any given context:

"He's a monophysite!"
"The gospel is bigger than that."

"I don't like singing 'Jingle Bells' in church."
"The gospel is bigger than that."

"You forgot to put salt in the cookies?"
"The gospel is bigger than that."
So true!
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
It's best to avoid and treat with suspicion pat utterances that could be said in any given context:

"He's a monophysite!"
"The gospel is bigger than that."

"I don't like singing 'Jingle Bells' in church."
"The gospel is bigger than that."

"You forgot to put salt in the cookies?"
"The gospel is bigger than that."
So true!
Whoa Nellie, it seems the "Whole Bible Theology" is its own new thing.

A website claiming that name rejects both Covenant Theology and the Reformed notion that not all scripture is alike clear. (I can appreciate rejecting the "hidden meaning" notion of the Left Behind folk but worry about where someone will end up if he approaches scripture without the humility to recognize that man cannot stamp a meaning on every verse.)

The Whole Bible folks use the term Biblical theology, but certainly don't hold to the Dutch and Princeton scholarship that developed the approach. It's telling when someone tries to pit Biblical theology vs. systematics.
Hey, thanks for addressing this! The person I was talking to was indeed pitting Biblical theology against Systematic theology. Some of what they had to say sounded good, and some of it required more background information on where they were coming from. They actually claim to be Covenant and see Biblical theology fitting within that. I'm going to look into it more as it's come up a few of times in conversations in they last year or so.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Hi brothers and sisters,
I need some wisdom and some biblical direction...

I keep hearing the phrase, "But the gospel is bigger than that", often times from pastors and those in leadership. This phrase is used in response to issues that involve taking stands regarding moral/ Biblical issues like abortion, sexual sins, etc in the church. It goes something like, "Yes, what you're saying is true regarding abortion, etc, but we're not preaching it because the gospel is bigger. " I know that is wrong headed and just another symptom of the soft relativism and antigospel thinking that is creeping into the church, but I don't know how to answer this concisely and concretely from scripture. Please help!:)

Is the gospel bigger than those who abuse women and children? Is the gospel bigger than pedophiles and pimps? YES!

The gospel is bigger than any sin-- the gospel even saves the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! The gospel is bigger than any sin, and proclaims salvation to sinners upon faith and repentance. Repentance is the turning away from sin and toward Christ in faith. The gospel is big enough to cleanse any person from any sin, no matter how grave, how gross or egregious.

What do we mean by saying "the gospel is bigger than that"? Is the gospel big enough to overlook abortion-- the murdering of the innocent-- but not big enough for overlook the pedophile? Just how big is the gospel? Bigger than abortion, smaller than pedophilia? If we say the gospel is "bigger than that" in order to excuse sin, we've made the gospel small. The gospel confronts sin. The gospel calls sinners to turn from sin. Paul says of sinners who embraced the gospel, "and such were some of you. But you were washed..." (1 Cor. 6:11).

If by saying "the gospel is bigger than that" we excuse sin, we are lying, because what we really are saying is "the gospel is smaller than that." The gospel is not powerful enough to deal with sin. The gospel is not able to change lives and conform them to the image of Christ.

But for those who preach this small gospel, I have good news-- the gospel is bigger than that!
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
Is the gospel bigger than those who abuse women and children? Is the gospel bigger than pedophiles and pimps? YES!

The gospel is bigger than any sin-- the gospel even saves the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! The gospel is bigger than any sin, and proclaims salvation to sinners upon faith and repentance. Repentance is the turning away from sin and toward Christ in faith. The gospel is big enough to cleanse any person from any sin, no matter how grave, how gross or egregious.

What do we mean by saying "the gospel is bigger than that"? Is the gospel big enough to overlook abortion-- the murdering of the innocent-- but not big enough for overlook the pedophile? Just how big is the gospel? Bigger than abortion, smaller than pedophilia? If we say the gospel is "bigger than that" in order to excuse sin, we've made the gospel small. The gospel confronts sin. The gospel calls sinners to turn from sin. Paul says of sinners who embraced the gospel, "and such were some of you. But you were washed..." (1 Cor. 6:11).

If by saying "the gospel is bigger than that" we excuse sin, we are lying, because what we really are saying is "the gospel is smaller than that." The gospel is not powerful enough to deal with sin. The gospel is not able to change lives and conform them to the image of Christ.

But for those who preach this small gospel, I have good news-- the gospel is bigger than that!
Amen! Thank you!
 
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