We’ve always heard that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what it says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
So what do I mean that the Ten Commandments are part of the gospel? Am I adding to the gospel? Before you judge me as a heretic, consider this:
1 Timothy 1:5-11 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
Notice in verse 11: “according to the glorious gospel.” That means the preceeding verses are an explanation of the gospel. Let’s look at the preceeding verses so we can see how the Ten Commandments are part of the gospel.
In verse 5, it says “Now the end of the commandment…” Paul is getting ready to explain what the end – or the result – of the commandment is. In verse 8 we learn that the law – the Ten Commandments – is good if we use it lawfully. What does it mean to use the law lawfully? It does not mean we are to try to make the saved live by the Ten Commandments. Verse 9 tells us the law was not made for the righteous – the saved. Using the law lawfully means we are to give the law to those for whom it was made. Verses 9 and 10 gives a list of people for whom the law was made: the lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, whoremongers, sodomites, adulterers, liars – in other words, for the unsaved, the lost.
For whom is the gospel? The lost. So how does the law fit in as part of the gospel? Look back to 1 Corinthians 15:3: “Christ died for our sins.” What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). How is a lost person going to know he or she is a sinner unless he or she knows the law? A person will not know he or she is guilty if he or she does not know the law. A lost person will not know why the Lord Jesus Christ submitted himself to the death penalty unless that person knows why he or she deserves the death penalty under the law.
The law is a very important part of the gospel. The law brings us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). The law stops the sinner’s mouth from self-justification (Romans 3:19). The law brings knowledge of sin (Romans 7:7). Nowhere in the Bible are we told to tell lost people they have a God-shaped hole that only he can fill. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to tell lost people God has a wonderful plan for their lives. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to tell lost people to give Jesus a try. We do, however, see plenty of examples of the lost being given the law (the rich, young ruler, the woman at the well, etc.) to prepare their hearts for the grace of God.
Please, when you witness to someone, do not leave out the law. Throw the book at him or her. When he or she sees that he or she is guilty and condemned before a holy and perfect judge, he or she won’t need to be prodded into saying a sinner’s prayer. He or she will be like those in Acts 2 who were pricked in their hearts and said “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” or the Philippian jailer in Acts 16 who said “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And remember, a lost person can’t see the law by the way you live. Walking the walk is great, but you need to open your mouth and talk the talk too.
Now, go out there and be a spiritual police officer, find a transgressor, and inform him or her of the law he or she has broken and there is a judgment day coming before a holy, righteous, and perfect judge. And then tell him or her how to get a pardon.