Obedience of the Gospel – Donald E. Smith

Donald E. Smith

It is both an honor and a privilege to write this initial work to be published by The Gospel Preceptor. Many great articles have come from its pages to the eyes and ears of myriads of readers and listeners through the years, doubtless through both its paper publication and digital form. It is one of the many great blessings still prevalent in the brotherhood, and accomplishing much good, as the Word of God taught never returns void (Isa. 55:11). The hope is that it will continue unhindered for many years to come, so long as sound words come forth from its pages. It is to this end that we write.

Obedience of the Gospel is one of the most fundamental subjects any sound brother could cover. It only seems fitting that it be our initial article for publication. Perhaps brethren reading this article can use it in an effort to open the eyes of, and convert, the lost. Evangelism is always needed, as it is our great commission, the greatest and most important work we can do. Therefore, we hope to encourage brethren to continue this work in the face of all that may impede us, whether it be discouragement with the attitudes of the world, complacency, or even the fear of danger.

The term “gospel” is a word meaning “good news.” We are told by the apostle Paul that the Lord will take “…vengeance on them that …obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:8). What is the Gospel which we must obey? Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you… By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you… For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

According, here, to Paul, the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Is this what we are expected to obey? Are we expected to literally die, be buried, and literally raise again from the dead in order to be obedient to God? Paul explains what he preached to the Corinthians in verse 3 of our current passage, where he says he “delivered” the Gospel to them. Paul also reminded the Romans that this was “delivered” to them as well: “…ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you (Rom. 6:17).

Notice that what was delivered was a form of doctrine. The understanding here is that to obey the gospel is to obey a form of doctrine (or teaching) relating to it. There are things God has commanded us to do which He expressly relates to the characteristics of the gospel (i.e., death, burial, and resurrection). Paul touched on these in the context of Romans 6:1-17 when reminding the Romans of that form of doctrine delivered to them.

Belief is a mandatory prerequisite to these—without belief we cannot be saved: “…if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). The belief, or faith, that God wants is a complete trust in Him as the ultimate authority figure in one’s life. This requires obedience to that authority. Notice how Peter equates belief with obedience by implication in 1 Peter 2:7: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.” So it is undeniably clear, belief is the opposite of disobedience and obedience is the opposite of disbelief. This is seen again in Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized (belief/obedience) shall be saved; but he that believeth not (disbelief/disobedience) shall be damned” (emph. DES). When we obey that authority that God has rightfully laid down for our lives, we are saved. “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Heb. 5:9).

Let it now be explained, biblically, how we obey that authority; how we submit to the command to obey the Gospel.


In this faith (Eph. 4:5, see the context of verses 4-6), we must repent of our sins. Repentance is a change of mind which leads to a change of life. To repent of our sins is to die to them: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin…” (Rom. 6:11). So we must die to that “old man” (old self) (Rom. 6:6). And we are given stern warning to heed this instruction with the same words twice within three verses: “…except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).


Once we have repented and died to sin, we must confess with our mouth in the presence of men (Matt. 10:32) that Jesus is the Son of God, and be buried in baptism: “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9).


The burial and resurrection are completed in one act, and baptism is that final act that puts one into Christ, where all spiritual blessings are (Eph. 1:3), including the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14). This is done by being submerged (buried) in the water, into His death.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death… (Rom. 6:3-4a).

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).


And raising up from this water burial into Christ’s death, we are in the likeness of His resurrection; a new “being,” to walk in newness of life.

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Rom. 6:4b-6).

Baptism is for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). Baptism washes away our sins. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Baptism saves us. “…baptism doth also now save us…” (1 Pet. 3:21). And it was commanded by Jesus Christ Himself.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19).

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).


And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south, unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus [The eunuch heard the word (Rom. 10:17)]. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? [By asking this question the eunuch believed what Philip preached and repented of his religious error – Judaism (John 8:24; Luke 13:3).] And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God [The eunuch confessed Christ as the Son of God (Rom. 10:8-10)]. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him [And the eunuch was baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38; Col. 1:14)]. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:26-39, emph. DES).

To summarize:

The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

We must obey a doctrinal form of the Gospel in order for our soul to be in a saved condition (Rom. 6:17; 2 Thess. 1:8).

To obey the Gospel we must:

Hear the word (Rom. 10:17)

– Believe (John 3:16)

– Repent of our sins (Luke 13:3)

– Confess Christ as the Son of God (Rom. 10:8-10)

– Be baptized (Mark 16:16)

There is much more to Christianity and continuing in salvation, but these are the initial steps that God requires us to take in order to be saved. There are aspects of the kingdom that differentiate it from denominations. The first converts to the church continued in the pattern of worship God had relayed to the apostles (Acts 2:42). They did this just after being baptized (Acts 2:41). Teaching comes prior to baptism (Matt. 28:19) showing that this is what they were taught prior to their baptism (Acts 2:40). When Christ was preached to the people of Samaria (Acts 8:5), the things concerning the kingdom are exactly what they were taught prior to their baptism (Acts 8:12). This is God’s safeguard against religious error. No one can be added to the kingdom prior to knowing the truth of these things. How could we be added to the church and not be doing the things the church does? This safeguard shows when a person is under the right teaching. We cannot be taught wrong and then baptized right. Being taught wrong, baptized, and then coming to a knowledge of the truth does not make our baptism valid. We must be re-baptized (or actually, initially baptized correctly) in order to make our election sure. We have an example of this in the 12 Ephesians who were under an incorrect baptism (Acts 19:1-7). But that baptism was at one time valid. How much more so should we be re-baptized if we were under a denominational baptism that was never valid?! These things can be further explained for any and all who may inquire. Let us always strive to do all things in accordance with the revealed Will of God, the Bible!

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Author: Editor

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