What is the Gospel?
I was with a group of Christian friends a few months ago when one of them said, “One of the tasks of every Christian is to present the gospel to everyone we know.” I agreed. However, my next question evoked a long discussion. I simply asked, “What is the gospel?”
The majority opinion was that the gospel was how people got saved. That Jesus was the Son of God, came to earth, died on a cross and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins so that anyone who put their faith in him would be saved and live with him forever. And I believe that is the most common usage of the word “gospel” among Christians. But in reality, it’s so much more than that!
The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word, euangelion, which literally means “good news.” In the New Testament it refers to the announcement that Jesus has brought the kingdom of heaven, the reign of God to our world in a whole new way through his teachings, life, death and resurrection from the dead. The point is the gospel is so much more than how one gets saved. It’s also the introduction to all who believe, of a whole new way to think about the world and how we are to live in it. That’s why it’s message is called the New Testament. A whole new promise and plan.
When we think about someone’s Last Will and Testament, it’s their declaration while still alive, as to how everything that belongs to that person is to be handled upon their death. The four gospels are Jesus’ Last Will and Testament! In essence, Jesus is saying, “I am preparing you for my death by telling you that one enters the kingdom of God by believing in me and I’m also instructing you how I want you to carry on when I leave you and I’m back with my Father in Heaven. So I’m telling you and showing you what the good news of the kingdom of God is so that my Father’s will, will be done on earth as it is in heaven until I return again.”
“But he said, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’” Luke 4:43
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1
“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Matthew 11:5
The point is, the gospel is so much more than salvation. It’s our mission from God. So when we live as Jesus taught, the gospel is being “preached” not just in our words, but in and through our lives.
So today, yes share with others how to become children of God through faith in Jesus. But also share and live out the gospel by being kind and respectful to your parent or a sibling who you might not even like or admire. Be generous to the poor and encouraging to the poor in spirit. Forgive that person who gossiped or told a lie about you. Look for a person to bless today with an encouraging word or a gift. Send a text or a note to someone in a retirement home who may be lonely. Invite someone to lunch or coffee who’s made some poor, even sinful choices and still may be making them who other Christians have given up on. When you do and if you do, the good news, the gospel is being proclaimed and lived out and the Kingdom of God is alive and flourishing, even if no one “gets saved!”
“Go out and preach the gospel and if you must, use words.” St. Frances of Assisi