Thursday, September 13, 2007

What is the gospel?

We hear the word "gospel" all the time. We all know the word means "good news." But what exactly is the gospel? What is the good news? What does the gospel teach us? How does it benefit us to know what the gospel is? Why is it good news? What about it makes it good news?

These are some great questions for discussion, I think. Perhaps in a small group or in a casual conversation with friends, or wherever you may have an opportunity to chat with others. What do you think of when you hear the word "gospel?" What does the Bible say about the gospel?

We could also discuss it here as well, if anyone's interested. What is the gospel?


  1. When I heard the word "Gospel" before I was born again, I would think of music and country preaching. I would see this old beaten up church building on some farm or something. I had no idea what the real Gospel meant. I being a Christian meant to quit sinning.

  2. I meant to say I thought* being a Christian meant to quit sinning. ;)

  3. I too had many 'concepts' about gospel. But now it boils down to - the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Nothing else. Thats what saves people. Thats a good news. Death of Jesus took my sins away, burial proves His death, resurrection gives me LIFE.
    Do I have anything to do with any of these three?

  4. I agree with Bino, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, it's the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. It's placing our faith in that Gospel that saves us. Unfortunately men try to add to that gospel some work of their own. Things like cleaning themselves up or baptism.

    While we are discussing the Gospel there is something that I have been going back and forth on. It has to do with something Bob George teaches. I agree with him that Christ's death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins and I agree with him that salvation is the receiving of Jesus' life. We pass from spiritual death into spiritual life. The part I have some difficulty with is when the forgiveness of the cross gets applied to our lives. Whether it was applied to everyone across the board at Christ's death or whether it is applied at salvation.

    I know that we are saved by His life and not by His death, but I don't think knowing the timing of when my sins are forgiven really matters, just that they are forgiven. What is your take on this?

    In Christ,

  5. These are all great thoughts about the gospel. One thing that strikes me is that in the past when I've discussed this question with others, the same thing has come up that came up here: that there are many misconceptions about the gospel. As with Matthew, I always used to think of "gospel" music. In another somewhat common usage, someone will say, "now that's 'gospel,'" when they hear someone saying something they believe to be true. I could go on.

    I love the passage from 1 Cor 15. Man, that truly gets to the heart of the real gospel. As you say, Bino, what part can I play in any of those three things, death, burial and resurrection! It's Christ's doing, not mine.

    Gary, I'm in the same boat as you, as far as my acceptance of the doctrine of universal forgiveness (not universal salvation). I'm going back and forth on it. There's a difference between being reconciled and being saved. Rom 5:10 says we were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus, and much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. The theory goes that everyone has been reconciled by His death, but not everyone has His life, so everyone is not saved.

    Another verse... Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. If this is taken to mean the all the sins of the world have been taken away, then everyone is forgiven. But yet, not everyone has Life, through faith in Jesus. Jesus said, "all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter..." (except against the Holy Spirit).

    On the other hand, those words of Jesus could mean nothing more than every sin is forgivable (except blasphemy against the Spirit). Jesus says in Matt 26:28, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins." Col 2:13 says that "He has made you alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses..." This could be taken both ways... that the prerequisite for being made alive is having already been forgiven, or that the saved person has received both forgiveness and life at the same time.

    Bino, I know you have talked about this before, and you may have things to add.

    I will make it clear that this is not about universal salvation! People will go to hell. But it's not because of their refusal to stop sinning, but rather their refusal to accept the salvation that is given freely.

    I'm teetering back and forth on the forgiveness thing, but like you say, Gary, it doesn't really matter, as long as we let people know they that forgiveness and life is found solely in Jesus!

  6. Paul-Anderson Walsh of The Grace Project in England is one who is pretty bold with his thought on all this (everyone forgiven, but not saved). I'd guess his thoughts are the same as Bob George's. On this video, he gives his case. It takes a little while to get to the point, but perhaps the last 2/3 or 1/2 of this video gets fully into it.

  7. I'm with you Joel on universal forgiveness. (not salvation)

    I'm kind here and there with it. It makes sense, but there are some verses that seem to contend with the idea of it all. I say that they seem to, not that they do. Right now, I am leaning toward universal forgiveness being correct. Jesus' words in John chapter 5 come to mind: "There is one who accuses you. Moses, on whom you have set your hope".

    And again, "You refuse to come to Me that you may have life."

    I feel that it's sort of an offer of forgiveness. "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you."

    Jesus already payed the cost if you will only receive the "abundance of grace" by faith.

    I could be wrong, but the scripture seems to point more toward universal forgiveness.

  8. I will check that video. I have never listened to him before.

    Salvation is not universal. But I think the forgiveness is universal. It’s available for all, it’s given for all. But we receive it by faith.

    It’s like I buying a gift for my wife and keeping it on the dining table. Is it available for her? Yes. Is it meant for her? Yes. But does she possess it? No, not until she receives it.

    Jesus gave us a gift 2000 years ago. It is sitting there. It’s available. I can receive, ignore or reject.
    Is he going to buy the same gift again? No.

    I guess this is what Bob George means by all sins are forgiven for all. Jesus did it once for all. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
    When He shed the blood He did it for all. Unless I personally receive it, what benefit it has for me?

    It confuses me sometimes.:) I think I know what it mean, I just don’t know how to put it in words.

    But regardless of this, we all agree on one thing – The death of Jesus was sufficient for my past present and future sins. There is nothing I need to do.

    Jesus (death, burial and resurrection) + Nothing = Salvation

    All I do is, respond to it by faith.

  9. I was going to use the gift analogy, but by the time I got to the end of the comments I realized someone already had. I definitely believe in universal forgiveness! I'm with you guys... He paid the price once, and it's available at any time to anyone who will humble themselves and accept it.

    Gospel. Well, it certainly means something different now than it used to! I was saved when I was 5, but raised in a very legalistic group until I was about 14. From the time of my family's departure from that group until now, I have been on a journey into the unfathomable depths of Grace. I used to hear the word Gospel and knew it meant "good news." I would have told you that's what it meant, but I wouldn't have known just how GOOD! Yes, I knew Christ came to save me, but I didn't understand that He also came to give me life more abundant. Now.

    Gospel. Wow. GOOD news; beautiful, lovely, freeing, wild, outrageous, uncomprehendingly GOOD news.

    The song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" says it well in this line:
    ..."And life more abundant and free!"

  10. Joel,

    Thanks for the video link. I listened to it and it appears that he is saying the same thing that Bob George is, that everyones sins have been forgiven at the cross...regardless of our choice to receive the gift.

    They say it this way, "Nobody will go to hell because of their sins, only for the sin of the rejection of Jesus." Bob uses John 16:8-9 to say that the world's sin is unbelief in Jesus.

    On second thought, instead of going through it all, here is a link to a recent program where he explains his belief. It is towards the end of the program.

    In Christ,

  11. Looks like the link got cut off for some reason. Here is what comes after the underscore.


  12. Yep, the gift analogy is a good one. :) Erica, those are great thoughts about the gospel! I was also one of those people who could say that gospel means "good news," but that's about as far as I could take it. Kind of like something I recently saw regarding the word "grace" on another blog. Sure, it's God's Riches At Christ's Expense... but what does that really mean? I sense a new post coming... ;)

    Gary, I'll give that mp3 from Bob George a listen. I love listening to him. I've got some other audio from him that I've listened to time and again and it's really helped me grow in my understanding of the gospel.

    I love that you brought up John 16:8-9. When have you ever heard a preacher preaching this truth about being convicted of RIGHTEOUSNESS?!!!

  13. Overall, I'm content to hear both sides of the "everyone forgiven" theology. I 'get' both sides, but right now I can't be dogmatic about either one. I do believe that universalists ("everyone is saved") have misappropriated "forgiveness" as "salvation." They say that since Jesus' blood provided forgiveness for sins, then what's the issue? How could anybody go to hell if their sins are forgiven? But forgiveness doesn't equal justification and salvation! Actually, their error has helped me to understand justification and salvation better! As we've talked about here... we not only need forgiveness, as provided by Jesus' death, but we need LIFE, as provided by His resurrection.