What is the Gospel?

Historic Christianity is about something that happened. What happened is often referred to as the gospel and is what distinguishes historic Christianity from the other religions of the world. The gospel is news of such great historical importance (such as victory in war or the ascension of the king) that everything is changed for the listener in such a way that the listener must respond. The historic Christian gospel is that Jesus, who lived in perfect obedience on our behalf and died in our place, is LORD. God came in flesh to renew and restore the broken world in which we live and to which we contribute our own brokenness. It is the life changing good news of what God has done in history to reach us. It is not news about what we must do to reach God. The Christian is one who has recognized the Lordship of Jesus and is endeavoring to respond to that great change in his or her life.

God has pierced through the universe in the person of Jesus Christ to achieve this salvation that we could not otherwise achieve for ourselves. It truly is good news because it both converts and transforms individuals, forming them into a new humanity and community and, eventually, will renew all creation. Why is this good news important?

The gospel is important because it is:

  • The good news of gracious acceptance through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • It is the good news of changed lives.
  • It is the good news of a new world coming.

These three points provide three perspectives on the gospel. The first stresses the news that Jesus Christ died and rose for our salvation in history. The second stresses the personal impact provided by transforming grace of the gospel, changing our hearts and innermost motives. The third point stresses the social impact of the gospel, the new order in which believers will no longer be controlled by material goods or worldly status but be driven by the desire to love their God with all their might and to love their neighbor as themselves.

The gospel is the dynamic for heart-change, life-change and social-change. This change will not happen through “trying harder” but only through encountering the radical grace of God.

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