The Hidden Gospel

Title: The Hidden Gospel

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians 4 : 3-4

Author: Francis Dixon

Subject: Gospel; Evangelism; Soul Winning; Christian Living



"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them..." (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

It is interesting to notice how full verse 3 is of very important words - "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." Consider these words, one by one. (1)The word "but" is always important. But what? (2) The "if" here is the word of supposition. (3) The word "gospel" is the most significant word in the verse, and one of the most significant words in the Christian vocabulary. (4) The word "our" strikes us as being somewhat audacious. (5) The word "hid" literally means 'veiled', the veil being upon the hearers and not upon the gospel. (6) The word "lost" is the word 'perishing', and it refers to those who are 'on the way to perdition'. (7) The word "are" tells us that those who are lost are lost right here and now.

My meditation on this one striking and solemn verse led me to ask several questions, and I want to share these with you.

I. What is "our gospel"?

Paul says, "If our gospel be hid..." What is the gospel? The word 'gospel', of course, is a great word, it is an identifying word, and it is quite different from the word 'religion' which we hear so frequently today. The word 'gospel' means 'good spell', 'good news' or 'good tidings'. The gospel is good news from a particular source and about a particular person. The source is God and the person is Christ. The gospel is good news about what God has done in sending Christ to be our Saviour. The gospel is God spelling out His love in Jesus Christ. John 3:16 epitomises the gospel. Here is the gospel in miniature. The gospel is not just a lovely story; it is a declaration of a great fact, a great historical act of God, and that act was the giving of His own Son to be our Saviour. Thus, we see at once that the gospel is not man's religion but God's revelation. Moreover, it is not good advice, about what we have to do in order to be saved, but it is good news about what God has already done for us in Christ.

Any preaching that excludes this is not, strictly speaking, the preaching of the gospel. The gospel is summed up in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." In Romans 5:8 we read, "God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." This is the message of the gospel; this is the good news of the gospel, and this is what Paul refers to when he says, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." But here is a second question.

II. In what sense is the gospel "our" gospel?

It is very remarkable that Paul should speak of the gospel as "our" gospel, but as a matter of fact he says a more audacious thing than this, for in another place he refers to the gospel as "my" gospel. In what sense, then, is the gospel "our" gospel?

It seems that there are three reasons for its being ours.

A. We Have Heard It

First, it is ours because we have heard it, whereas millions have not heard it. They have heard about religion but they have not heard the gospel; they heard that they must do certain things in order to be acceptable before God, but they have not heard that God has done everything that is necessary for their acceptance.

B. We Have Received It

Second, the gospel is "our" gospel, not only because we have heard it, but it is ours because we have received it. This is what the apostle means when he says in verse 1 of this chapter, "We have received mercy". God has given and we have received, and therefore this is something that is ours. But there is a third reason why it is "our" gospel.

C. We Have Been Entrusted With It

It is ours because we have been entrusted with it. In Galatians 2:7, Paul speaks about the gospel being committed to him. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, he says that Christians have been "put in trust with the gospel". This means that we have been entrusted with the privilege and responsibility of spreading this gospel and of making it known to others. So you see, this is "our" gospel because we have heard it, because we have received it and have been saved by it, and because we are entrusted with it. Now, this leads us to the third question:-

III. How and when is the gospel hidden?

Paul says, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." What does he mean by this? Verse 4 must be read in connection with verse 3, for here we are told that the gospel is hidden from men and women because the Devil puts a veil over their minds and thus blinds them so that they cannot see or receive the truth of the gospel. This is what Satan is doing today, and his strategy is described as "the mystery of Israel's blindness" and is demonstrated in the fact of Gentile blindness. All the heresies and false cults that abound on every hand are Satan's effort to keep the veil over the minds of men and women so that the gospel is hidden to them and from them. Notice, it is not the gospel that is veiled; the gospel is revealed and declared, but it is veiled on the part of the hearers, and it is Satan who does the veiling.

But, it is also true to say that those of us to whom the gospel has been committed and entrusted may hide the gospel from those with whom we should be sharing it, and it is possible for us to do this in three ways.

A. We Fail To Declare It

First, by failing to declare it with our lips. How guilty the Church has been in this matter, and how guilty some of us have been! There are people around us from whom the gospel is hidden because we are hiding it; we are keeping it to ourselves and we are not making it known to them; we are not speaking to these people about the Lord and about His love and grace and wondrous plan and provision for their salvation. We hide the gospel from men and women by failing to declare it with our lips.

B. We Fail To Demonstrate It

But we also hide the gospel from men and women by failing to demonstrate it with our lives. We are not only to speak the gospel; it is more important still that we should live it. The man in the tombs who was delivered from demon possession was not only told to go home and "tell" how great things the Lord had done for him, but he was told to go home and "show" how great things the Lord had done for him. We hide the gospel from men and women by failing to demonstrate it in our lives.

C. We Fail To Defend It

There is a third way in which we hide the gospel, and that is by failing to defend the gospel. Paul, in his letters, had a lot to say about "the defense of the gospel". Someone might ask: But does the gospel need defending? In one way, of course, it does not, and yet in another way it does. The situation on every hand today calls for the defense of the gospel. Men and women, some of whom are professing Christian men and women, are denying the truth. They tell us the Bible is not reliable and they preach a so-called New Theology, which is a man-made concoction of beliefs that they feel are credible. What they preach is no gospel at all. What we have to do is to defend the true gospel and to declare it as the authentic revelation of God's truth.

Here is an imaginary story about a famous doctor who is dying. On his deathbed the doctor turns to his son who has a dreadful disease and tells him that he has found the cure for his son's disease. Almost with his last breath he transmits the cure to his son and says to him, "Take it, and then when you have received the benefit of it make it known to the world so that the disease from which you have been suffering, and from which millions of others are suffering, may be cured!" The doctor dies, and the son takes the cure - and it works; but instead of sharing the good news of this great discovery with the millions of others who like himself are dying from the dread disease, the boy hides the information and does not share it with them at all. This is exactly what many of us have done. We have hidden the gospel from those who need it so desperately. Having taken the cure and proved its benefit we should show the benefits of the gospel by our new health, and then we should declare the secret with our lips. But there is another important question that must be asked:-

IV. From whom is the gospel hidden?

Paul tells us - "...from them that are lost." Let these words sink in. One translation has it -

"...from those who are spiritually dying", and the New English Bible renders it, "...from those who are on the way to perdition". This may refer to loved ones in the family circle, or to friends or neighbors; it may refer to our children or grandparents. What is their condition, their present position? They are lost, they are perishing, they are on the way to perdition. This reminds us of Amy Carmichael's vision of a mass of people who were walking towards a precipice and falling over, one by one, because there was no-one there to warn them of the danger. How solemn all this is! How negligent we have been! How criminal our silence has been! Should we not ask one final question?


Are we hiding the gospel from those who are lost? Are our lips closed when they should be opened? Are our lives inconsistent when they should be radiant with the beauty of holiness?

The prayer of intercession will remove the veil that Satan has placed over the minds of men and women who are lost, and the preaching of the gospel, by life and by lip, by dedicated Spirit-filled men and women will secure the salvation of many of these perishing souls who are on the way to perdition.

"If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost."

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