If I were to ask you, “What is the gospel?” how would you explain that message of Christian faith?
We are in need today of rediscovering the robust and revolutionary good news message and mission of the gospel. But what is the gospel?
In an admittingly content-driven chapter, John Dickson in his new book, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, details his answer.
Before reading him, I would say the message of the gospel is that:
• Christ came to forgive our sins and reconcile us with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
• Christ came to destroy the power of Satan and deliver people from bondage (Colossians 2:15).
• Christ came to change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
• Christ came to treat people with compassion and justice as God’s loved creation (Matthew 12:18-20).
• Christ came to invite and summon followers to become the new people of God (1 Corinthians 1:2).
What Dickson adds is that a narrative account of Jesus’ birth, miracles, teaching, sacrificial death, and resurrection are included in the core content of the gospel. Not that we share all these aspects every time we share the gospel. But “the gospel message is not a set of theological ideas that can be detached from the events that gave these ideas definitive expression” (page 127).
Thus the gospel includes:
• both a narrative account of Jesus and theological content
• both Jesus’ words and deeds and an explanation of their significance to our salvation
• both the broad events of Jesus’ life and an explanation the doctrine of salvation
Then, to be sure, “the gospel . . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).