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“The word ‘gospel’ in the New Testament is applied exclusively to the announcement of certain events occurring at a particular time in the history of the world. These are, the Incarnation, Birth, Baptism, Temptation, Ministry, Miracles, Betrayal, Condemnation, Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus. This is the meaning of the word ‘gospel’ in the opening sentence of St. Mark’s Gospel. This is its meaning in the opening sentence of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans… When St. Paul in another place, sets forth in so many words the gospel which he preached, and by which his converts were saved, he declares it to be the record of three facts…

“If this be the aspect under which the Gospel is set before us in the New Testament, then a Church which would set forth the Gospel as it is contained in Scripture must adhere to this Scripture form of it. It is not given to any Church to assume to be more spiritual than God’s Holy Spirit—so as, in place of the sequence of events recorded in Scripture as ” the Gospel,” virtually to substitute a sequence of certain doctrines beginning (say) with the secret decree of God respecting the election of the individual soul, proceeding to set forth the effectual calling, conversion, and justification of that soul so elected, and culminating in the present assurance of its salvation.

“Presenting the Gospel under such a form as this would not be scriptural, for the Scriptures do not set forth this as the Gospel. I am not now denying that all this (or something like it) respecting individual election, calling, justification, and sanctification, is to be found in Scripture, or to be inferred from some Scripture statements. I am pronouncing no opinion upon it, except that it is not presented in Scripture as ‘the Gospel.’

“The Gospel does not appear in Scripture under the aspect of certain dealings of God with the individual soul apart from its fellow souls. It does appear as certain events or outward facts having to do with the Second Person in the ever-Blessed Trinity, which facts are—the Incarnation, Birth, Life, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Son of God.”

M.F. Sadler, Church Doctrine, Bible Truth 1867

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2 thoughts on “Gospel Definitions: M.F. Sadler”

  1. Charles says:


    I was surprised to see you include Sadler in your work! Still I’m glad to read this Anglican “worthy”. Not all reformed people like N. T. Wright, but Sadler writing in 1867 anticipates Wright’s position that the Gospel is first and foremost an annunciation about what God has accomplished in and through Jesus Christ. We normally start defining the word “Gospel” as “how I appropriate the blessings of what God has done for me through Jesus Christ”.

    This was to become his rationale for the Christian Year and the Prayer Book System of the liturgy over and above the “doctrinal” preaching method of his opponents.


  2. Elder Hoss says:

    M.F. Sadler is a fascinating read. Encountering his “Second Adam & The New Birth” led me to then scour well-nigh every UK bookstore under the sun (on the net) in the quest to obtain his commentaries, this volume you cite, “Church Doctrine & Bible Truth” (arguably his best), and a few others.

    Apart from what appears to be a minimizing of the biblical witness to the fact of eternal election and conversion (as distinct from baptism), his writings are pure gold.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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