What is the Gospel? How can we explain it to others? Mark Dever and Paul Alexander in their book, The Deliberate Church, give a helpful explanation of the gospel:
The most important aspect of evangelism is the evangel—the Gospel, the Good News. If we are not getting the evangel right according to the Word, then whatever we’re doing, it can’t be called evangelism. So what are the essentials of evangelism? We can sum them up in four words: God, man, Christ, and response. God is our holy Creator and righteous Judge. He created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever (Genesis 2:7; 16-17; 18:25; Matt.25:31-33). But mankind has rebelled against God by sinning against His holy character and law (Gen. 3:1-7). We’ve all participated in this sinful rebellion, both in Adam as our representative head an in our own individual actions (I Kings 8:46; Rom. 3:23; 5:12, 19; Eph. 2:1-3). As a result, we have alienated ourselves from God and have exposed ourselves to His righteous wrath, which will banish us eternally to hell if we are not forgiven (Eph. 2:12; John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Matt. 13:50). But God sent Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to die the death that we deserved for our sins—the righteous for the unrighteous—so that God might both punish our sin in Christ and forgive it in us (John 1:14; Rom 3:21-26; 5:6-8; Eph. 2:4-6). The only saving response to this Good News is repentance and belief (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 3:7-9; John 20:31). We must repent of our sins (turn from them and to God) and believe in Jesus for forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation to God.
God, man, Christ, response. Remember—it’s not evangelism without the evangel (51-52).
We can talk to a lot of people; we can have a lot of discussions over coffee and talk about family, philosophy, the weather, and even the Bible. But if we are not giving people the Gospel, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we are actually practicing evangelism. Let’s know the Gospel. Let’s preach the Gospel.
2 thoughts on “What is the Gospel?”
Great post D. Nothing is more important for us than an understanding and embracing of the gospel.
Here’s MacArthur’s short presentation of the gospel on the Larry King Live show last night (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0610/18/lkl.01.html):
…our message is a message that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins and death Hell. And that is the message.
Piper had a helpful break down of the dimensions of the gospel:
The gospel is a message about historical events: the life and death and resurrection of Christ—summoning us to open them with thorough expositions of texts.
The gospel is a message about what those events achieved before we experienced anything or even existed: the completion of perfect obedience, the payment for ours sins, the removal of the wrath of God, the installation of Jesus as the crucified and risen Messiah and king of the universe, the disarming of the rulers and authorities, the destruction of death—all of these summoning us to open them with thorough expositions of texts.
The gospel is a message about the transfer of these achievements from Christ to particular persons through our union with Christ by faith alone apart from works—which summons us to open for our people the nature and dynamics of faith by the exposition of dozens of texts.
The gospel is a message about the good things that are now true about us as the achievement of the cross is applied to us in Christ: that God is only merciful to us now instead of wrathful (propitiation), that we are counted righteous in Christ now (justification), that we are freed now from the guilt and power of sin (redemption), that we are positionally and progressively made holy (sanctification)—all of which summons us to open these glorious realities for our people week after week with thorough expositions of texts.
And finally the gospel is a message about the glorious God himself as our final, eternal, all-satisfying Treasure. “We . . . rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11). The gospel we preach is “the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” If our gospel stops short of this goal—enjoying God himself, not just his gifts of forgiveness and rescue from hell and eternal life—then we are not preaching “the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Our ultimate goal is knowing and enjoying God. As we saw in the beginning of this chapter, that is why we were created—that God might share with us the knowledge and enjoyment of himself. This is what it means for him to love us. This is what the cross ultimately obtained for us. And this too, by every text of Scripture—all of it inspired by God to awaken hope in his glory7—calls for the richest exposition that our people may be fed the best and highest food of heaven.
It’s helpful to realize that the Gospel is really a person–Jesus Christ. No stress. Just telling people about Jesus.