Some have called the four writers of the four Gospels - Evangelists. By this they meant that these four men presented a Christ-centred Gospel. The message presented and
preached by these four has been called the evangelical gospel. But of course within the New Testament the Gospel or Evangel was not restricted to these four.
We are clearly instructed that Christ, the apostles, the early church and Paul the apostle all proclaimed the Gospel. It was universal. The Gospel was first defined as the "Gospel of the kingdom" (Mt.4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mk.1:14).
This Gospel was a message. Some try to define the Gospel as social action, but this cannot be a true definition when we look at the NT. Time after time the NT records that the Gospel was "preached" (Mt.4:23; 9:35; 26:13; Mk.1:14;16:15; Lk.9:6; 20:1; Acts 8:25; 14:7, 21; 16:10; Rom.1:15; I Cor.9:16). Two Greek words are used for preach. First kērussō which means to herald like a town crier. Secondly euaggelizō which means to announce or declare. So the correct means to make known the Gospel is by opening the mouth and speaking either personally or publically.
Although miracles, signs, healings and even baptism in water confirm and accompany the Gospel, they in themselves are not the Gospel (Mt.11:5; Lk.4:18; 7:22; 1Cor.1:17). It is also called "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24) the gospel of God (Rom.1:1) gospel of his Son (v9) the gospel of Christ (v16) and the glorious gospel of Christ (II Cor.4:4) and Paul also called it "my gospel" (Rom.2:16).
The Gospel must be believed and obeyed (Mk.1:15; Acts 15:7; Rom.10:16). Through it men are begotten or born-again (I Cor.4:15) established (Rom.16:25) and they stand (I Cor.15:1). When Jesus returns He will take vengeance on "them that that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction" (II Thess.1:7-9).
To be Evangelical is to hold the Gospel as it is proclaimed, preached, presented, taught and written in the New Testament without subtraction or addition. John Milton (1608-1674) the famous English poet and author of the 17th century considered the word 'Evangelick' to mean 'consonant to the doctrine of the Gospel.' In other words to be Evangelical you must line up with the truths that go to make up the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the NT.
In the 1828 Webster's Dictionary Evangelical is defined as: "According to the gospel; consonant to the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, published by Christ and his apostles...Sound in the doctrines of the gospel." In the 1913 Webster's Dictionary it is defined as: "Contained in, or relating to, the four Gospels...Belonging to, agreeable or consonant to, or contained in, the gospel, or the truth taught in the New Testament; as, evangelical religion. Earnest for the truth taught in the gospel; strict in interpreting Christian doctrine; preëminently orthodox."
Since the term was first coined in Church history it's greatest leaders, writers, defenders and preachers have consistently held to well defined truths. The Gospel and the New Testament are themselves made up of clearly defined truths which the early members of the Church believed and those who rejected such was not considered to be one of them. Certain truths of the New Testament Gospel have been set forth in such a manner as to divide between those who truely are evangelical and those who are not. Such truths are:
*A belief in the authority and Divine inspiration of the Biblical text as well as a literal acceptance of its historic narrative (Genesis, Creation, the return of Christ, etc).
*A clear belief that salvation is exclusively found in Christ alone through repentance and faith.
*A belief that Christ suffered the righteous judgement of God for our sins on our behalf on the Cross at Calvary.
*A belief in justification by faith alone.
*A belief that good works (obedience, holiness) will follow as the result and fruit of true salvation.
*A belief in a coming day of judgement for every man.
*A belief in a literal eternal conscious state of blessing as a reward to the righteous but an eternal conscious state of punishment in the lake of fire for the wicked.
Those defined as Evangelicals have held to these and other truths for 500 years. But more than that, true believers have held them as a continuing unbroken line from the days of the apostles down to our own day. Evangelical, when used correctly, is just another name for a Bible beliving Christian. When men move away from holding certain truths of Scripture they cease from being both Evangelical and Biblical.
Sadly today the term Evangelical has been redefined and twisted to be a broad term to mean and include anything and everthing. Even those who deny all of these key points now call themselves Evangelicals. Compromisers, heritics and apostates have constantly pressed to broaden the term Evangelical in a manner that includes themselves and their associates.
Let us again define, clarify, protect and proclaim these simple truths of Christ as a part of the New Testament Gospel. "I am set for the defence of the gospel" (Php.1:17). 'I am appointed for the defence of the euaggelion - the Evangelical Gospel.'