This month I would like to write about what I believe the Gospel is. A lot of the conversations that I have had lately with fellow believers and non-believers have helped me to see the need for clarity when it comes to understanding what the Gospel is. Although it may seem like such an easy answer, I think there are a lot of these basic principles that we as Christians'(myself included) often take for granted and don’t really spend time thinking about. This leads to a lot of clichés that end up taking the true meaning away from the expression. Now as most of my friends know, I absolutely love Christian Apologetics, and I spend a lot of time reading them. And one of the most common things that are said when trying to encourage others to learn apologetics is that we are commanded in scripture to be able to give a reason (defense in Hebrew) for the hope we have. Now I totally believe that this is a very compelling reason for us as believers to learn apologetics. Being able to share the Gospel with people in a way that is rational and clear is a very powerful tool to reaching people for Jesus Christ. But I think there is another reason Christians should be studying apologetics, specifically the Gospel, a reason that is as important, maybe even a little more. In my opinion, a deeper understanding of the Gospel comes from a deeper walk with Jesus Christ. As we grow in our walk with Jesus Christ, we grow in our learning of what the Gospel really is and how much it means to us. We experience its power even more and it changes our lives. So I think that sound reasoning would suggest that if we don’t really even know what the Gospel is, that may be a sign that we are stagnant in our walk with Jesus Christ. Now I’m not saying that if you don’t know the Gospel or what it is, that you are not a Christian. But I am saying that I think it is worrisome when most of the believers I talk to, when asked to share the Gospel to me, aren’t able to tell me anything. Or the most they can tell me is “Jesus died on the Cross.” Or “The Gospel is the Bible.” Could this be a sign that they are missing out on something? The Bible says that the Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to people (Romans 1:16NIV). So whatever the Bible is meaning when it is talking about the Gospel we need to know it.
So what is the Gospel? Well, to say that the Bible is the Gospel just doesn’t cut it. Why? Because if someone is asking me to share the Gospel with them, to simply reply to them that “it’s the Bible” would not be helpful at all. I do believe that the Gospel is in the Bible, and that the Bible centers around the Gospel, but the Bible provides us not just with the Gospel, but also with a lot of other stuff as well, such as; details that provide context to the Gospel to help us understand it better, words of encouragement, letters addressing specific subjects, history, and much more. In my opinion the Gospel is “something” it’s not a generic word to describe a vague piece of knowledge, it is “something”. Also the Gospel is a whole package deal. Meaning you need the whole Gospel not just some of it. To tell someone “Jesus Loves You” may be a very nice thing to say, and even encouraging, but in the context of sharing the Gospel it is not sufficient to leave it at that, or even really to start with that. Imagine the following conversation:
Person 1: Can you share the Gospel with me?
Person 2: Sure, Jesus Loves You.
Person 1: Ok? Well my Mom loves me to..
Person 2: Ya, but Jesus died for you
Person 1: Ok? I never asked Him to?
Person 2: No, no, you see if He didn’t die we would all end up in Hell forever.
Person 1: Really? Why?
You see? Person 1 wants to hear the Gospel, and Person 2 is just reciting Sunday school answers, without context and without clarity. That’s why, in my opinion, in order to share the Gospel properly, it has to be shared in its entirety. If you leave out a portion of the Gospel, you can end up misleading someone, and you really haven’t shared the Gospel. I like to think of the Gospel as the story of how the universe began, how sin entered the world and man and God were separated by sin, how God showed us that we as humans were incapable of ever making ourselves right with him through our own effort(Galatians 2:16NLT), how God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to live a perfect life and give His life in our place as a perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the whole world(1Jn2:2), how Jesus Christ rose from the death conquering the power of death and creating a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and the opportunity to one day live in eternity with Him. It’s a linear story that has multiple points expounded upon. Now there could be a lot more to the Gospel then the points that I mentioned, but it for sure isn’t less. One of the cool things about the Gospel is that each step in the story, or each point, is that it is crucial to understanding the Gospel. There have been many different books, and studies that came out of each point because there is so much in each point that we can learn. As we spend time first establishing the core points of the Gospel, and then studying them, we become more comfortable sharing them with others, not just because we have more knowledge, but because as we dwell on the Gospel it actually grows our love for Jesus Christ and for what He has done for us. So when someone asks us to share the Gospel it comes from our heart, and not merely our head.
So I would encourage any of you who read this to ask yourself this question “If I was asked to share the Gospel with someone, what would I say?” Take a piece of paper and write out what you would say and evaluate it. Chew it. Think about it. And let it change you.