Over the last few days I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the Gospel because of a blog posting that I read at Signposts 02 asking what is or is not the Gospel. In fact, I’m writing this in response to a request by specksandplanks. To be fair, this is probably a post I should have written some time ago and I would definitely like to thank specksandplanks for calling me out on it.
Before I begin, though, I would like to say that of all the responses I read, there was one that stood out to me, posted by Teddy. It’s a video of John Piper’s presentation of what the gospel is (an event, an experience, etc), which I also shared with my Facebook friends. If you haven’t already seen the video, you should definitely check it out here.
The Gospel is both simple enough that a child can understand it and so beautifully faceted and shaded with nuance and glory that it will take the full understanding of all those who name the name of Jesus to begin to understand it.
The Gospel begins with God.
Actually everything begins and ends with the Triune God – Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit.
There is no other place to begin and God is big enough that I can’t begin to describe him. That said, here is my feeble attempt. God is absolutely holy. He is the creator, owner, and sustainer of absolutely everything. He is the definition of beauty and love and light and all that is magnificent. He is without compare. He is the totally righteous judge and yet the author of mercy and grace. He is beyond definition. All of creation speaks of his invisible attributes – his divine wisdom and power – and yet all of this is not enough to describe him. Everything that is created exists within him. He is the lover of the unlovely. He protects the widow, the orphan, and is a father to the fatherless. He is the very source of all life and all of time and eternity rests within the palm of his hand.
The Gospel addresses the human condition.
We are messed up. We are all sinners, born into sin and a cursed world.
We are separated from a right relationship with God because of our sin, completely unable to be made right with God of our own efforts. We are damned to an eternity without God, unable to exist in or even enter his manifest presence. We are without hope. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to obtain God’s favor.
(this is the small section because the Gospel is really about God, not us)
The Gospel focuses on Jesus of Nazareth.
Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we can be restored to relationship with God.
It was always God’s plan for humanity to be restored to right relationship with him. But because we were (and are) unable to be made right with God, Jesus, out of obedience to the Father’s plan, came to do that which we are unable.
Jesus of Nazareth, God incarnate, fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life of obedience to God so that he could offer himself up as a sacrifice for our sins. He took our punishment on himself so that we could receive the gift of eternal life, which is to “know God, the one true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).
The Gospel is a free offer.
You don’t have to do anything but accept it by faith.
God extends us this offer – a free offer – to be restored to right relationship with God through faith in Jesus of Nazareth. You don’t have to – in fact you can’t – do anything to get it.
- You don’t have to earn it. You can’t earn it.
- You don’t have to buy it. You cant.
- You can’t bypass or circumvent it.
It is only through faith in Jesus of Nazareth that our sins can be forgiven and we can be restored to right relationship with God. But if we do come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, he restores us to right relationship with himself and makes us completely new – reborn if you will.
There are some other things I would like to discuss here – wonderful things that God has put in the Bible. But these things are all results of the Gospel. They are effects or byproducts of the Gospel. But if they were all to fall away, the Gospel alone remains and is more than sufficient.
Please, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me directly or leave them below.