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A Working Definition of the Gospel… For me

January 5, 2011

Spend any amount of time reading this blog and I think you should see that I love the Gospel. I want my life to show that I love the Gospel, I am trying to understand it more and let it change my life. But a question was raised the other day, as to what was my definition of the Gospel.

And it’s a honest question right? Because I turn on the TV or walk into a Christian Bookstore and see all kinds of things claiming to be “the Gospel.” There is the social gospel, the prosperity Gospel, the black liberation Gospel and so on and so on.

You can put whatever definition you want on it, I don’t think you would be right to do that… but I can’t stop you. So let me give you my working definition of the Gospel.

  • First, anytime you put anything in front of the Gospel, like “the social Gospel” it’s no longer the Gospel.
  • The Gospel should include something about humans being sinners, in need of being saved.
  • There are lots of things that come after the Gospel but I wouldn’t include because it clutters the definition.

The Gospel defined as I think of it in my mind and when I refer to it. (It is always changing a little as I learn)…

The Gospel is the good news that God sent His Son Jesus Christ (also God) to earth to live a perfect life, to redeem us from our sin and path towards hell, through Christ’s (empowered by the Holy Spirit) work  on the cross and resurrection from the dead. God did this so that we might be given the grace to have eternal life and be saved from eternal damnation.

Let me just say, that it’s really hard to define it, in a very short way. I read a good post by Ed Stetzer on this subject, you might want to check that out too.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Craig permalink
    January 5, 2011 11:22 am

    Great post Ben. Thanks for clarifying and sharing your thoughts. I agree with you. The Gospel is the Gospel. Though I’m not sure about not putting a definition on it, if you don’t know the truth of what the Gospel is, you will add the words to it that you talked about.

    Somethings I have learned about the gospel. The word was used in Bible times to mean good news. So technically, people would talk about the gospel of someones birth or the good news of someones birth. (Glenn Packiam talks about this in his podcasts on the advent.) In the Christmas story, when the angels brought good tidings to the shepherds, they were preaching the gospel to them (good tidings = good news), the good news that Jesus was born. And so our definition of the Gospel was formed because there is no better news than the news of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.

    Adding words before it distorts it because the Gospel is the Gospel. What more can you add or take away from Jesus? To think we know better would be crazy. The Gospels, the first four books of the NT, are the good news of Jesus and what He came into the world to do. They are life changing. Let us heed the words of Jesus as they are and not try to add to them.

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 5, 2011 12:34 pm

      Good thoughts Craig.

      I love that you are reading Glenn Packiam. I have a lot of respect for that guy.

      Let me ask you this, or give you this thought…

      I am not sure how many people understand what the Gospel is. We say we are preaching the Gospel but then all our sermons are about how to better manage your money and have a better marriage.

      The Gospel is not “wise living” but it is the good news that God saves. I think lots of guys lump things in with the Gospel without thinking about it.

      The Gospel should stand alone, and from that other things in our lives should change because we understand it.
      I think I mentioned that someone said to be that Joel Osteen preaches the Gospel would be a perfect example of what I mean.

      Thoughts?

      • Craig permalink
        January 5, 2011 2:46 pm

        I’m not a Joel Osteen fan (though he does have a way of encouraging people). I understand what you are saying and where you are coming from.

        I do believe that people distort the Gospel or become so focused on one aspect that we become top heavy and distort the truth. Some guys get so focused on preaching how Jesus brings a better life through “things” that everyone starts to only think about having “things” while here on earth. Sometimes God does bless us abundantly while here on earth but we forget that a better life doesn’t mean “more things” just here on earth but peace of mind through the storms of life and treasures in heaven. When we fail to focus on the entire Gospel, and preach it in an understandable way, we can become top heavy. And when you are top heavy, there is the danger of toppling over.

        And I don’t want to lump things in with the Gospel but at the same time, I believe we need to preach the Gospel in regards to finances, godly living, etc. to help people grow. Just like Paul’s letters to the churches always dealt with specific areas that the people were struggling in.

        We must guard against becoming top heavy on one aspect of the Gospel that it distorts the meaning and peaks the interest of the flesh inside us to want more “things” and think that Jesus is an easy way to get what we want here on earth.

        Am I making sense?

        I believe we are on the same page, maybe not on the same line, but pretty close.

  2. January 5, 2011 12:45 pm

    This is our summary from our values paper

    “Deep in our gut we all understand that things are not the way that they should be. Everything is our life is effected by what the Bible calls sin. 
    The Gospel (which means “good news” in Greek) says that God cares about our broken lives and our broken world, and through Jesus, he makes things right.
    Jesus lived a life that was not broken by sin, and at the cross, he paid the cost for fixing our brokeness. 
    When we embrace this good news, and rely on Jesus’s work (instead of our own) it frees us to interact with God and everything else in a new way.  “

    • Benjamin Davis permalink*
      January 5, 2011 12:50 pm

      I like this. Very nice Sam. Would you say this is your personally? I would assume yes?

  3. January 5, 2011 1:19 pm

    I think people have sugar-coated the Gospel to fit their own depravity. We for the most part, we’ve watered down the Bible as a whole and pick over the parts we like/need. There is a lot garbage being preach and passed as the Gospel..

    To me, when it comes down to it the Gospel of the Bible is about “A loving Father (God) sending his perfect Son, Jesus Christ (fully God and Man) to pay a debt/price he didn’t owe so that we may become God’s sons [through “Grace/Faith” salvation – Spirit of Adoption] and shine with his Righteousness [through the Holy Spirit]”

    * and yes, I did put “Grace/Faith salvation” to clarify.. that a whole other issue!

    What do you think of Greg Stier/Dare2Share 6-Step Gospel tool? http://media.dare2share.org/pdf/gospel_journey_4_up.pdf

    ** I am working hard on the guest post Ben. lol

  4. January 6, 2011 12:29 pm

    I loved, really loved both Corey’s and Ben’s Gospel definition. Shouldn’t this be at the center of all we do?

    “I think people have sugar-coated the Gospel to fit their own depravity. We for the most part, we’ve watered down the Bible as a whole and pick over the parts we like/need.”

    What a great observation!

    I’ve also noticed people take single verses, interpret them to fit their own belief system and then use that verse as a militant gateway for all other verses in the Bible to pass through and thus agrees with their theory. First, who says it shouldn’t be the other way around – how do we really know which verse should be interpreted and compared and which should be the standard verse to be compared to? Second, shouldn’t we use Christ’s own words and ministry as the “gateway” verses, for all other prophets and scripture to agree and correspond?

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