What Is The Gospel

Posted by ajenkins on February 24, 2011 under Devotionals, Good News, Jesus, Sermons and More, The Parish | Comments are off for this article

During Lent we will continue our study and sermons on the fundamentals of life and the Christian Faith. We will be using a small book entitled, What Is The Gospel, by Greg Gilbert.

Why will we ask and investigate such a fundamental question as this? Surely, everyone knows what the Gospel is? Why even non-Christians know what the gospel is. We use the expression, “That’s the gospel truth” all the time. Everyone knows what the gospel is.

Sadly, this is not true.

The gospel is being challenged today at almost every major point.  When it comes to God, people no longer think of Him as holy and righteous, and it has become almost axiomatic to reject the idea that He judges.  What we have instead is a sort of affable, but kind of clueless grandfather who wishes we’d do better but understands that of course nobody’s perfect.  Not only so, but people also shy away instinctively from the understanding that we are sinners who are liable to God’s judgment and condemnation.  We tend to think of ourselves as more or less good people, with a relatively minor infraction here or there.  Even many evangelicals have, deliberately or not, started to shy away from talking about sin as rebellion against God, instead saying that the human problem is really one of disintegration, meaninglessness, and broken relationships. The biggest challenge to the gospel, though, I think, is a strong tendency to make its center something other than the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross cannot be shoved over to the side or replaced with something else (like cultural transformation, or the promise of a new heavens and new earth, or social justice).  As Paul said, the gospel that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” is not just important.  It’s not even just very important.  It is of first importance.

Have We Lost The Cross?

As I look around at books being published by evangelicals, even books that claim to be explaining the gospel, the more I see authors getting exciting about things other than the death of Jesus on the cross in the place of his people, taking the punishment for their sin.  There are two things that are particular dangers for evangelicals in this area.  First, there’s a tendency simply to shove the cross out of the center of the gospel, to say something like, “Yes, yes, of course the cross is important.  But we need to understand that what the gospel is really about is…” It could be “God’s purpose to remake the world” or “God’s invitation to us to join him in bringing about his kingdom” or “a declaration that Jesus is Lord over all” or any number of other things.  So the center of the gospel becomes something other than the cross. That is a misunderstanding of the gospel.  Second, there’s a tendency to re-think or re-understand the cross as something other than Jesus dying in the place of his people, taking the punishment they deserved for their sin.  So, often you’ll read or hear someone saying something like “At the cross, human culture and human systems reached their lowest, most evil point.  All the oppression and violence that humans could muster was flung at Jesus, and he absorbed it all and defeated it!”  What’s missing there, of course, is any understanding that what Jesus really absorbed on the cross was God’s wrath for our sin.  It’s why Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” and not, “O culture, O culture, why have you turned against me?”

We will use the Gospel, the Cross, Jesus’ Substitutionary sacrifice and God’s Word to answer some of our questions of God and life. “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Now, what do I do?” If God is good, why ______?” “If God is all-knowing, why should I bother to pray?”

Why not take another look at the Cross? Why not take another look at Jesus? Why not take another look at the Gospel? It might just change your life – eternally.