What the Gospel Cannot Do

The Apostle Paul stated that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation.” (Romans 1:16) The Bible reveals that through obedience to the gospel, one can be saved from our sins and have hope of eternal life in heaven. The gospel is God’s plan which makes it possible for anyone to have that precious gift. What a remarkable yet so very simple action for receiving such a marvelous reward! However, there are some things the gospel cannot do. 

The gospel cannot save someone who will not submit to God.
The gospel has the power to make believers and to save the obedient, but it is entirely conditional. One must choose to obey Joshua 24:15). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4) but He will never force you against your will to do so. Thus, the gospel itself cannot save those who will not submit to the process of believing John 8:24), repenting of their sins (Luke 13:3) confessing Christ (Romans 10:9) and being baptized into Christ (Mark 16:16). The gospel can only save someone if they willingly obey God’s plan of salvation, as it is presented in Scripture (Romans 6:17).

The gospel cannot do the work of the church.
The word gospel means, “good news” but that precious news cannot preach itself. Faithful disciples carry the responsibility to spread the good news around the world (Mark 16:15). The message also contains instructions that can strengthen and equip the church, but the gospel itself cannot teach others by itself. The Lord’s disciples must do that work of teaching so that others can teach also (Matt 28:20; 2 Tim 2:2). The gospel itself cannot fulfill the call to be benevolent. While the good news can motivate Christians to be compassionate, God’s children must still do the work themselves to “do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

The gospel cannot serve as a substitute for prayer.
Our Lord and Savior commissioned us to preach the gospel (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15) and He also commands us to pray (Matt 6:9; Luke 18:1). He even said pray for workers to send to the harvest (Luke 10:2). Paul encouraged brethren to pray for opportunities to preach the gospel (Colossians 4:2-3). While Christians are to live the gospel, teach the gospel, and defend the gospel, we are still commanded to bring our petitions and thanksgiving before our heavenly Father in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). All of this implies that the gospel is certainly powerful, but it cannot take away the need to pray. In fact, prayer and the gospel should be intertwined within the heart of a disciple.

The gospel cannot take the place of faith.
It is the gospel that produces faith, which comes by hearing the good news of God’s word (Romans 10:17). Faith is, indeed, the proper response to the gospel message. Yet, it does not stop with faith only. James teaches us that believers must “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” James 1 :22) and that “faith works together with works” (2:22-24). A faith that pleases God is a faith that produces acts through love (Galatians 5:6). Therefore, just hearing and believing the good news of the gospel is not all that God requires of us. Indeed, “without faith it is impossible to please” God (Hebrews 11:6) and “the just shall live by faith” (Heb 10:38). We are still required to manifest proof of our faith through our behavior. The gospel is good news, but faith in the gospel is shown through our good works.

We should all lift up prayers of thanksgiving to God for the power of the gospel and its ability to change people’s lives and their eternal destiny. What an almighty and loving God we serve Who provided that ultimate sacrifice for us (1 Cor 15:1-4) which made it so simple to be restored back to Him. To have hope of eternal life is an incredible blessing! But we must also recognize that there are some things that even the gospel of the Lord Jesus cannot do.