Recently a member of the Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) society put out a Facebook status that stated that the gospel was not the main thing. He argued that loving God and loving others was the main thing and that the gospel was secondary to these 2 things. This was also followed up by several leaders in the AHA coming to his defense both on this individuals post but also on their own threads, blogs, etc.
This, of course, erupted into some fully expected backlash from several folks outside of AHA responding to this statement and arguing that this borders on being a heretical statement and providing a biblical response to all of it.
I being one of those.
And then, of course, this erupted into AHA folks defending their defense and then falling back on the age-old argument that they are simply being persecuted for following God.
So here we are.
Before I dive into why the gospel IS the main thing, I want to clarify that yes…Jesus absolutely said the 2 greatest commandments were loving God and loving others. And that all the rest of the commandments hinge on these 2 things. THIS is not the part that folks are taking issue with.
The issue stems from, and what most are taking issue with, a total lack of continuity between what the gospel is and how it impacts our ability to love others.
Let me explain…
1 John 4:7-11 ESV states this:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
In other words, we love one another because He first loved us.
And how was this love manifested? Through God sending Jesus into the word so that we may have life through Him because He died for us and was resurrected in order to conquer sin and death and provide us a bridge to right standing with God.
In other words, God manifested His love to us in what would become known as THE GOSPEL!
If it was not for the gospel we would not be able to truly love one another.
If it was not for the gospel, helping someone in physical need would be of no consequence.
If it was not for the gospel, what motivation would we have to love another person?
This is what we take issue with. We absolutely agree that Jesus commanded us to love God and love others and stated that this was the greatest commandments. But the only way we can love God and love others is through the gospel.
What profits a man if he saves his body but loses his soul?
Or as Jesus put it in Mark 8:36 ESV:
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
And what is at the center of the gospel?
By making the gospel the main thing you are making Jesus the main thing. And by making Jesus the main thing, you can love God and love others as He commanded us. Without the gospel, this is not even remotely possible.
So to say the gospel takes a backseat to or is secondary to loving God and loving others is a completely false notion lacking any real biblical understanding of love and the gospel. The two are interconnected. They are intertwined. One makes the other possible. It is the main thing for a reason.
Now, I have also seen some arguing from AHA that this was intended to be directed at pastors who use the argument of “the gospel is the main thing. so let’s keep the main thing the main thing” in order to avoid addressing social issues like abortion.
And to that I would simply say, the pastor has misunderstood the gospel then and is incorrectly applying the idea of the gospel being the main thing in order to avoid stepping into an arena that either a) they are uncomfortable with or b) they have no desire to engage in. And this makes them just as wrong as the AHA person arguing that the gospel is secondary to the 2 greatest commands without fully expressing how the gospel is central to the 2 greatest commands.