Gospel of the Grace of God

Paul's Mission;...“that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 NAS). Paul could have told them, “Keep preaching baptism in Jesus name.” or, “Don’t ever let go of speaking with tongues as the initial evidence.” But he never even hinted at those notions. He reminded them that the center of his ministry – the ministry by which God brought them into the Church – was the “gospel of the grace of God.”

To best understand how Paul truly understood the events of Acts 19 we need only to read his words in Ephesians 1:13 (NAS): “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” The sequence of events as Paul states them is simple. The Ephesians heard the “gospel of your salvation” and then believed. When they believed they were “sealed in Him [Christ] with the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit opened their hearts to believe the Gospel, and then he sealed them into Christ. There were not sealed because they spoke with tongues. They were sealed with the Holy Spirit when they believed the Gospel.

The picture of what happened in Ephesus is very evident when you read all the Ephesians texts together in their proper historical order: First, Paul preached to them to “believe . . . in Jesus.” Next, Paul exhorted the Ephesians about the centrality of the “gospel of the grace of God.” Finally, Paul reminded them in an epistle that they had received the Holy Spirit at the time they believed the Gospel. There is no mention of a specific form of water baptism or of any necessary evidence such as speaking with tongue. There is not even a hint of these doctrines. But, the idea of believing the Gospel – faith alone in Christ alone – is central and conspicuous to Paul teaching about salvation.

Bernie Gillespie