In his very popular work Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Dr. Wayne Grudem devotes a chapter to a treatment of “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling.” In this chapter, he writes, “In human preaching of the gospel, three important elements must be included” (694). He says that these elements are the following:
I. Explanation of the Facts Concerning Salvation
II. Invitation to Respond to Christ Personally in Repentance and Faith
III. A Promise of Forgiveness and Eternal Life
These headings cover many essential aspects of giving the gospel to sinners, but unbelievably and inexplicably, Dr. Grudem does not say anything anywhere directly about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in this treatment of the subject, “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling”! How is it possible that a renowned biblical scholar like Dr. Grudem does not say that testifying to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is an essential fact that must be explained concerning salvation!
I was shocked when I first saw this omission years ago and could not believe what I was reading. I am still amazed that this lacking treatment of the gospel was published and has not been addressed for all the years that the work has been available. How could those who have proofed this work not have noticed the lack of any mention of the Resurrection in the chapter that explains what the Gospel call is?
Apparently, Dr. Grudem and others have thought that in giving the gospel, it is enough to say that Jesus Christ “is a Savior who is now alive in heaven” and who is Himself appealing to the sinner to come to Him.1 The Gospels2 and the apostolic preaching of the gospel throughout the book of Acts,3 however, show that this is not a sufficient testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Leaving it to sinners to infer the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not how we should present the gospel to them.4 Explicit, detailed, and emphatic testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very essence of biblical gospel preaching!
In his own thinking and practice, every reader of this leading theological work needs to correct this omission in Dr. Grudem’s teaching concerning the gospel call. Those who are responsible for training future leaders must take care to address this matter with those that they train for gospel ministry who have encountered this teaching by Dr. Grudem.
1 After quoting Jesus’ invitation to sinners that is recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, Dr. Grudem writes in this regard,
It is important to make clear that these are not just words spoken a long time ago by a religious leader in the past. Every non-Christian hearing these words should be encouraged to think of them as words that Jesus Christ is even now, at this very moment, speaking to him or to her individually. Jesus Christ is a Savior, who is now alive in heaven, and each non-Christian should think of Jesus as speaking directly to him or her (694).
2 Every Gospel ends with extensive testimony to the bodily resurrection and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28; Mk. 16; Luke 24; John 20-21).
3 Explicit mention of the resurrection is part of the climactic content of key evangelistic messages that are recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 2:31-32; 10:40-41; 13:30-37; 17:30-31).
4 Paul told the Corinthians that the gospel that he preached to them was the message that included testimony that Christ “rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). He did not relate that he had testified to them that Jesus was alive—he had borne witness that God raised Jesus from the dead (1 Cor. 15:15).