Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is the Gospel?

So many people talk about "the gospel" but so few define it the same way. There are many versions of the gospel that are not the gospel at all. There are distortions of the gospel which only set forward part of the truth, while neglecting other parts. An example of this would be a gospel that proclaims that God is love, which He certainly is, but neglects to speak about the wrath of God poured out on unrepentant sinners, which He absolutely will. If this is the gospel message shared, then it is not the gospel.

I cannot cover every aspect of the gospel, nor will I try, in one blog post. But what I do want to attempt to do is give you a skeleton for understanding and explaining the gospel. I did not create this; in fact, there have been great books written on the subject which go into incredible detail about this gospel skeleton and other facets (two of these would be What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert and Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax). Here is one way to help remember and explain the gospel.

The Gospel:

1. God - the gospel message begins with God. The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God was here first. God is eternal. He is Creator of all things. God is Sovereign King over all things. The Bible describes Him as ruling and reigning the world. It is His sovereign plan that governs everything. In addition to being creator, God is holy. He is holy, more holy than any of us can fathom. He is perfect in all His ways. He cannot sin, nor can He put up with sin. Because of sin, God will also be Just Judge of the world. In His perfect righteousness He will judge the world according to His perfect standard. God created humanity to experience close and loving fellowship, to be His image-bearers in the world.

2. Man - man, who was created in the image of God, for fellowship and worship of God, has rebelled. We all, like sheep, have gone astray. We have chosen our own ways over God's ways. We are selfish at our core, and we willingly sin against His perfect standard. Our condition is a result of the fall of Adam in Genesis 3, yet all are guilty because sin is done willingly and often. In our fallen condition, man is separated from God and will one day suffer under His righteous and just judgment for sin. We must all stand before God and give an account for our lives. The Bible declares that all are guilty. In this state, man is without hope.

3. Christ - But God, being rich in mercy, showed His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ Jesus died for us. God made him (Jesus) to be sin, who knew no sin, so that we might become His righteousness. The story of the gospel is the story of God's rescue and redemption of sinners through His one and only Son Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Godhead, has existed from the beginning of time. He willingly stepped out of heaven and into history, so that he could live a perfectly righteous and sinless life, accomplishing the demands of the law, and went to the cross, so that he could take upon himself the sin of his people. At the cross, Jesus Christ drank dry the cup of God's wrath reserved for sinners. He took what he did not deserve, so he could give what humanity did not deserve. He gave his life for sinners and was killed on the cross, but on the third day he rose again. He was raised in victory, conquering Satan, sin, and death, and ascended back to heaven where he sits ruling and reigning the world, awaiting the day he will return to bring judgement and the restoration of all things.

4. Response - the only thing that we as sinful humans can do in response to this good news is reject it or surrender to it. This news requires a response. We cannot simply agree with it, rather belief in it requires a surrender to God. Our response is faith and repentance. We turn our lives over completely to the will of God. We trust Jesus Christ and we follow him. Our lives are made new in response to this message. We are forgiven, saved, redeemed, restored, and made new in Christ. We are then called to live our lives for the glory of God in all things, seeking to love as He has loved, and to share this good news with others.

This is just one tool that can be helpful for remembering, reciting, and reflecting on the gospel. Take time to review this with yourself. Practice sharing it to yourself. Remember God, Man, Christ, Response and learn to take your faith and the gospel everywhere you go.

Have you found other tools that are helpful for sharing the gospel? What things about this method do you think can be helpful for you?

An older post similar to this topic: The Death of Orthodoxy

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