I recently heard of a story attributed to the late John Stott. He spoke of a man who, when ordering his breakfast at the hotel asked for egg and bacon. When his breakfast arrived, there was on his plate egg, bacon and a sausage. The man complained to the waiter pointing out that he only wanted egg and bacon. The waiter duly took away the plate and returned a short time later with the man’s breakfast. This time there was only an egg on the plate. The man again protested, ‘I asked for egg and bacon’ he said. The waiter apologised, took away the plate, later returning with what the man hoped was the breakfast he had asked for. As the plate was put before him, the man sighed. On the plate was a fish!
Credited to the author of the book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ Stephen Covey said: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. I can say amen to that.
But I do find it ironic that such a statement could come from a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Covey was a Mormon. Far from keeping the main thing the main thing Mormons, like many other religions and cults, either add a sausage, remove the bacon or give you a fish.
What is the main thing?
‘Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…’ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
The apostle here is setting out the gospel. Note the following points he makes.
It is this gospel by which they are being saved.
They are to hold fast to that which he proclaimed to them.
What he said to them were of first importance (the main thing)
Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures
Christ was buried and he rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
These things for Paul were the main thing. This is the gospel.
I have often asked Jehovah’s Witnesses what the gospel is and what is the good news they are sharing. I have never had one of them take me to 1 Corinthians 15 or even alluded to anything it contains. Their reply has always been to tell me in detail their version of the good news. It usually goes something like this: Armageddon is coming soon and I, through being baptised into their organisation, can escape annihilation, and live forever on a paradise earth. This is not the biblical gospel.
If I ask the Mormons the same question, they will often tell me about an illiterate young man named Joseph Smith who, when visited by an angel, was led to gold plates, which he in turn translated into the Book of Mormon. If I accept Joseph Smith as a prophet sent by God and confess my faith in the restored church he founded, get baptised and faithfully follow the laws and ordinances of the Mormon ‘gospel’, I may become a god. This is not the biblical gospel.
These kinds of groups never talk about the main thing, they never share the biblical gospel, they are always ‘adding a sausage’.
Then we have so called liberal progressive Christians. If I were to ask them what the gospel is, they may say something along the lines of the good news is that God loves everyone. This leads them to teach that everybody will therefore be saved. It matters not how a person lives or what they believe. There is no need to trust the Scriptures or believe you are a sinner in need of forgiveness. You need not believe that Jesus died or that he literally rose from the dead. This is not the biblical gospel.
These kinds of groups never talk about the main thing, they never share the biblical gospel. They remove the meat of the gospel, the ‘bacon’.
Finally, there are other religions and cultic groups who have neither the egg nor the bacon but give you something completely different. These groups either leave Christ out completely or so downplay his person and role in salvation, that he is not important at all. There is no biblical gospel to be found. Think Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology etc.
These groups like those mentioned above, never talk about the main thing, they never share the biblical gospel, they just offer something different, they give you a fish.
The simplicity of the gospel gives what the complexity of human wisdom promises but never delivers.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to make sure keep the main thing the main thing. Only the Lord Jesus can save. We need to know that we are wretched sinners in need of grace. Jesus died to pay my sin. He was buried to prove that he died. He rose again proving his victory over death and appeared to many to testify to this fact.
Paul encourages the Corinthian church to hold fast to these important truths and we believing the Scriptures to be the Word of God, must do the same. For this is of first importance – this is the main thing.
Many will add a sausage, remove the bacon or offer you a fish – but only the true gospel of the Lord Jesus can save us!
Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
 Rock of Ages