Mere truth won’t do it. Our souls desperately need the gospel.
“The grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1:6) is the shock that brings a dead soul to life, and the charge that keeps it living. The gospel is the gas that awakens and energizes the human heart, not mere truth — essential as truth is. Two plus two equals four — that’s true. It just doesn’t do much to jumpstart and drive a languishing soul.
It’s all wonderful and good to learn various truths from the Bible — and there are many crucial truths to learn — but we must not miss or minimize the one truth of the gospel, “the word of the truth” (Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5), the message so central and significant that the apostle calls it not merely a truth, but the truth, throughout the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 2:4; 3:15; 4:3; 6:5; 2 Timothy 2:18, 25; 3:7, 8; 4:4; Titus 1:1, 14).
A Dozen Texts About the Truth
Recently we compiled two short lists of Bible verses that especially reward the effort to vigilantly stockpile in our hearts. One was ten passages for pastors to memorize cold; the other was ten one-verse summaries of the gospel for all. Here now are twelve carefully selected “gospel passages” that get at the very heart of the biblical good news in just two to four verses.
“Mere truth won’t do it. Our souls desperately need the gospel.”
These short sections are ripe for memorization, and at least warrant some extended time of reflection. Build your life on them and around them, and let them shape and flavor everything. Soak in them — and soak them in.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . .
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness . . .
1 Corinthians 15:3–4
I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . .
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” — so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved . . .
Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
In [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
You, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift.” –Romans 3:23–24
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
1 Peter 2:22–25
[Jesus] committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.