“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Romans 1:16 ESV
Paul tells us here in one sentence that there is only one gospel that saves. One gospel that is the power of God for salvation. One gospel, the believers of which, shall all be saved.
Let’s look at the text–“For I am not ashamed of THE gospel…” The definite article “the” indicates that Paul intends to communicate that there is a single gospel. One gospel of which he is not ashamed.
I run into many people online, and I mean tons of people who do not believe that there is only one saving gospel. This is demonstrated by their defense of others who believe manifestly false gospels. These people will claim that others who believe false gospels are nonetheless “believers” and are saved, based on the sincerity of their belief.
At bottom, this defense of others who believe false gospels as believers can be rendered in a short, direct manner-false gospels save. In effect, they are saying someone can believe whatever they want about Christ and still be a saved believer.
Paul disagrees with this blasphemous defense of falsehood by saying that there is one gospel that is the power of God.
Let’s go back to the text-“for it (the gospel) is THE POWER of God for salvation…” Again, we see the definite article “the” attached to the word “power.” The singular gospel of which Paul is not ashamed is the singular power of God for salvation.
Let’s consider what this means. 1) God uses power to convert His people. 2) The power that He uses is the singular, true gospel. Paul says that THE gospel IS THE power of God for salvation. 3) Therefore, there is only one gospel that saves, end of story. There is one gospel, one power of God that He uses for salvation.
People who claim that people who believe false gospels are nonetheless saved deny at least two things-1) that there is only one gospel, and 2) that God only uses that true gospel to save His people. Instead, they claim that there are multiple gospels, all of which may work, and they claim that God uses falsehood to save people. This is nothing short of blasphemy. God cannot lie, according to opening words of Paul’s letter to Titus. Therefore, God is not the source of false gospels, because false gospels are lies. Who is the source of false gospels? The father of lies-Satan himself.
What’s the issue with a false gospel? Well, it is not the power of God for salvation. A false gospel is a satanic counterfeit which is design specifically to deceive. Who can someone, with a straight face, say that someone who is deceived is nonetheless a “believer” and is saved? Doesn’t that claim make mincemeat of everything Jesus taught regarding believing? It is really saying that you can believe whatever you want, it doesn’t matter, and you’re still saved…because you “believe.” Basically, the defense is saying, well, they “believe” so they are saved. It doesn’t matter what they believe-it is the simple act of believing that makes one saved.
This is, of course, utter nonsense, because when that analysis is applied consistently across the board, anyone who believes anything is saved. That means Mormons are saved. That means Jehovah’s witnesses are saved. That means Catholics are saved. That means Muslims are saved. That means Buddhists are saved. That means Hindus are saved. And on and on the list goes.
Let’s go back to the text-“for it (the gospel) is the power of God for salvation to everyone who BELIEVES, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Believes what? The gospel! That singular true gospel. This verse is completely repudiating the idea that false gospels can save! It repudiates the idea that sincerity plus a false gospel can save! Why? Because it is only the true gospel that is the power of God for salvation, and everyone who believes that true gospel shall be saved!
Now, some people will say, well, are you saying that you must believe in limited atonement and election to be saved? YES! Those doctrines, among others, are at the heart of the gospel! You can’t pick and choose what you like about the gospel, you either believe it as a package deal or you don’t! There is no in between! There is no negotiation. You don’t get to build your own gospel and say, that’s good enough, I’m a believer. That’s attempting to mock God, and God cannot be mocked.
To clarify-one cannot DO anything to be saved. I’m not here saying that one must first sort out all of the correct doctrine IN ORDER to be saved. What I am saying is that correct doctrine must be preached (because it is the power of God for salvation and God’s people must hear the true gospel in order to believe it-hint, God makes sure that they hear and makes them to believe it) and those who believe that true gospel are saved! Why? Because God has given them life to believe that true gospel. It is impossible for the natural man to receive the things of the Spirit, because they are spiritually discerned. One must be born again BEFORE one can believe the gospel. It is God who causes one to be born again. I’m not preaching doctrinal regeneration, but I am saying that all those who have been regenerated have good doctrine, and by good doctrine, I mean true doctrine.
It is God who saves, and He causes His people to believe the truth regarding what He has done. That truth is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes it.