A Gospel without Final Judgment Is Not the Gospel
by Tim Barnett
There is a tendency in our presentation of the Gospel to stick with what makes people feel good. God loves you. He gave His life for you. He wants to be in a relationship with you. These are wholly true. But they are not the whole Gospel.
There is a part of the Gospel that many shy away from. We don’t like to talk about it. Even many churches avoid the subject. But when it’s left out, it leaves people without a complete understanding of the Gospel.
I’m referring to final judgment.
We would rather talk about God’s love, grace, and mercy. Of course, these are essential to the Gospel message. But they aren’t sufficient. Something is missing. It’s not enough to tell people they can be saved. We are commanded to tell them what they are saved from.
The Gospel Message Includes Judgment
When the apostle Paul stood before Felix, procurator of Judea, he had the opportunity to speak “about faith in Christ Jesus.” Fortunately, Luke tells us specifically what that looked like:
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you” (Acts 24:24–25).
Please don’t miss the significance of this text. Paul is summoned to speak before a great government official. This is his opportunity to carefully communicate the Gospel. And, as part of the Gospel, he includes “the coming judgment.”
Furthermore, take note of Felix’s reaction to Paul’s message. He was alarmed. He was afraid. In fact, Felix tells him to go away. He cannot bear to hear anymore.
Some of us might think that Paul should have softened his message. Do we really want to frighten people with our message? Obviously, Paul was more concerned with accurately communicating the Gospel than compromising the Gospel to make people feel good.
Lest you think that this was a one-time occurrence, consider Paul’s words to the Church in Rome…
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