What is the Gospel?
If you read Christian blogs and books, you’ve probably heard the word “gospel” a lot. Gospel people, gospel-centered, gospel-proclaiming. And Verity Fellowship is no different. We’ve said that the gospel is the central message of the Bible. We’ve said that all of discipleship and growth must be rooted in the gospel. We’ve said that the gospel should be foundational in all of our ministry practices. We can say it so much that it loses its meaning. A friend once told me that she thought the over use of the term had instilled a password-like quality; its use meant you could sit at the popular table of the high school, which is what the Christian blogosphere can seem like. That makes me sad and terrifies me at the same time. We do have to proclaim and center on the gospel, not because it is a magic word, but because it is our hope.
So what is the gospel? The gospel is a message. It’s the good news that the Bible brings—for the whole world. It’s not something people do. Nor is it an award that you can pin to your shirt. It’s an announcement. There is much we can say about the gospel; there is much we will likely say. But for now, the best place to start is with a simple definition. Paul tells us that the gospel is the good news that Jesus died for sin, was buried, and rose from the dead.
That’s a very simple definition. And it excludes some common assumptions that the readers of Paul’s letter would have. We would add that God sent Jesus as part of his plan of salvation. We would also add that people are called to repent and believe this message, which we see in Acts as the response for salvation. So the gospel is the good news that God sent Jesus to die for sins and rise again, calling people to turn from their sin and believe in him for salvation.
That is the gospel. Yet to communicate the whole message, there are still more questions that need to be answered. There is a context that must be given. Who is God? What is sin and why must we be saved from it? Who is Jesus and why did he have to die and rise? What exactly does a saving response to the gospel look like? We’ll keep talking about these questions in our series "What is the Gospel." We will structure the posts into the four truths we need to cover to express the gospel in context: the truth about God, the truth about sin and people, the truth about Jesus, and the truth about our response to the good news. This may seem like a basic, less-than-exciting series, but it’s crucial that we understand rightly. After all, we have said the gospel is the central message of the Bible, the roots of discipleship, and the foundation of ministry.
There’s no magic to the word "gospel," even if it can be observed as trendy branding for the cool kids. It’s a lot more powerful than any popular logo or hip vocabulary. It’s the best news possible for desperate, needy people like us. As we walk through the details, may its beauty moves us to worship, and its clarification binds us to our Savior. The word "gospel" means something real and concrete; we have to know what it is to ground ourselves in its message.