I remember the first time I was challenged to define precisely what the gospel is. It was 20 years ago, and I replied something like this: “It’s admitting you are a sinner, and receiving forgiveness from God because of Jesus’ death.” Definitely Good News!
That day, I was challenged: is this the sum total of the gospel as Scripture lays it out? In fact, you might term what I wrote above as “the plan of salvation”… which, again, is good news. But is it the WHOLE of the Good Announcement in Scripture?
Over the last two decades, we’ve seen a lot on a deeper and fuller grasp of the Gospel. In the NT, it’s an announcement (Jesus is Lord!), it’s an event in history (the death, resurrection, & ascension of Christ that changes everything), it’s an invitation (the plan of salvation above), it’s everything. John Piper wrote a book a few years back entitled, “God is the Gospel”. All true.
So, over the years, I’ve tried to conceive of the good news in different ways. I thought of it this way the other day:
The Gospel is this: “In Christ, God did for us what we could never do: he brought us to himself.”
“In Christ” It all centers on Christ. No Christ, no good news. This is the event part… The Cross is our forgiveness, the resurrection is our power and guarantee, the ascension of Jesus to the Right Hand of God is our hope that he will take care of all things well. The gospel is always, only, fully, greatly Jesus Christ! Amen and Amen.
“God did for us…” The gospel is start to finish God’s work. He thought it up, he accomplished it at the cross, he applies it by his Spirit. He woos us and brings us to the point of surrender. We were dead in sins… can’t make ourselves alive. We were rebels in heart… wouldn’t consider terms of peace. We were lost, blind and stubborn… no chance on our own. So, “God did for us what we could never do…” The gospel is God moving toward us. Amen and Amen.
“He brought us to himself” This points to the actual and eternal benefits of the gospel: forgiveness of sins (clearing the way to come to him), adoption into his family (giving us an eternal belonging), indwelling of the Spirit (giving us a guide, a power, and a friend), sanctifying us (so we CAN please him in our lives), giving us Spiritual gifts (so we can make a different in this world with him) seating us with Christ in the heavenly places (hope and confidence forever). Union with Christ is the greatest and most fundamental benefit of God’s action on our behalf, and we rejoice in its many fruits!
Ok. So, when you think about ‘sharing the gospel’ or ‘sharing your testimony’, anytime you are pointing out Christ’s life, death and resurrection, you are sharing the good news. Anytime you are pointing out how God has met you, healed you, led you, provided for you (because you belong to Christ) you are sharing the good news. Anytime you are pointing out the forgiveness, adoption and all the other benefits of belonging to Christ, you are sharing the good news.
One final thought: who can you share part of God’s story in your life with today or this week? Take the chance and watch God lead through you. And, in that sharing, invite them to surrender to God like you have. At the end of the day, the gospel is news that changes the world… IF someone steps into it. Invite them into it. Powerful medicine on the counter is useless; it’s got to get into the one who is sick. “Why don’t you come to church with me this week?” or “Would you read the story of Jesus’ life?” (and direct them to Mark’s gospel in a bible app.) or “have you ever thought about this? does it make sense? Do you want to think more about it?” Be courageous and ASK the question you want to ask.
Watch God do miracles as you bear witness to him! He’s in the business of using the gospel to change the world. Are you?