What is the Gospel?
Oct 01, 2009
In Christian circles we throw terms around a lot. We don’t always actually know exactly what we mean by them, unfortunately. One of those terms is “gospel”- and knowing what we mean by it is as important as anything I can think of.
This the heart of what we believe and putting our hope and confidence in. This is the core of our faith, intended by God to be the bedrock of our lives, the guiding reality that shapes who we are, how we live, and what we do with one another and the world around us. In other words, it’s kind of a big deal. And yet, we often get kind of fuzzy on what, exactly, the gospel boils down to. In American Christianity, the gospel is most often reduced to a private, personal transaction made between and individual and God in which we give a nod to a set of facts (God, Jesus, the Cross) and have our proverbial ticket punched so that we can go to heaven when we die. But that is far from the Biblical story.
The word gospel simply means “good news”. But it was used in a particular way in Roman times- it was used specifically when a new Emperor was crowned and allegiance was sworn to him as the new “Lord”. In fact, Romans were required, on pain of death, to regularly say and affirm, “Caesar is Lord.” So Christians were doing and saying something remarkable and revolutionary by their proclamation and declaration, “Jesus is Lord!” It often cost them their lives. And here’s what that means:
The one true God, creator of all things and giver of life, is Lord and King. But we (all of us) have sinned and rebelled against God and deserve His wrath and judgment. Further, no amount of good work or effort on our part can bridge the gap between us and God. And so God, in His great love and mercy, entered our world in the person of Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God, to take on Himself our penalty by dying in our place on the cross, absorbing in Himself our punishment. He was raised from the dead, thereby defeating death and making available to all who will believe and put their confidence in Him- life, full abundant and eternal. But that’s not all of it. Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church, says it well:
“The ‘gospel’ is the good news that through Jesus, the Messiah, the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. Through the Savior God has established his reign. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. We witness this radical new way of living by our renewed lives, beautiful community, social justice, and cultural transformation. The good news brings new life. The gospel motivates, guides, and empowers every aspect of our living and worship.”
Like I said, this is a big deal. It leads me to 3 questions:
- Have I personally, intentionally embraced and believed this gospel?
- How much of my life is currently living in line with the gospel?
- Am I committed enough to this gospel to be willing to speak about it and share this amazing good news with others?