What Does It Mean to Preach the “Gospel”?

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TheGospelImagine for me a preacher who is about to step onto a platform with a microphone over his ear and a Bible in his hand. A couple of friends approach the preacher, asking if they could pray for him. The preacher, grateful, nods solemnly and says, “I need it; I’m going to give them the gospel.”

Pause that scene for a moment. What do you assume the preacher is going to be preaching about? For most of us, what comes to mind is likely a message that centers around our sin, our need for redemption, and Jesus’ crucifixion. And such a message is absolutely the gospel, a message that we all need to hear, understand, and agree with in our own lives.

But is that all the gospel is? Or is there more that we sometimes leave out? The “gospel” is multi-faceted, able to be viewed from a variety of angles, each with its own beauty and magnificence. Each angle is important, though none gives us a clear picture of the gospel on its own. When we boil the gospel down to one simple message, we miss out on a large part of it.

It’s not that one can’t have a saving relationship with Jesus without a full understanding of each angle. In fact, no one this side of heaven could possibly have a full picture of the “good news.” Just as we grow in our understanding of who God is, we can grow in our understanding of the gospel. And doing so should give us a fuller appreciation of the beauty of a God who rescues us. Here are a few angles we can view the gospel from:

God planned

Ephesians 1:4 says, “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Before we ever were born — indeed, before the creation of the world — God planned to rescue and redeem us.

In fact, throughout the Old Testament God points to Jesus and the redemption that would come through him. Abraham was counted as righteous not because of his actions, but because of his trust in God (Genesis 15).

God loved

Why is there even any good news to speak of? Because “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16).

God gave

Keeping on the same passage, God’s generosity is shown in the fact that “he gave his only Son.”

Jesus humbled himself

Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus died

We certainly were not deserving of this sacrifice, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus rose

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). Jesus was not able to be defeated by death, and because of that, he has defeated death for us as well.

Jesus rescued

We were without hope and unable to help ourselves, yet Jesus “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…” (Colossians 1:13)

Jesus redeemed

We were in slavery to sin and death, with insufficient funds to secure our own release. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus made us righteous

We were anything but righteous: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25).

God reconciled us to himself

Our relationship with God was broken because of sin, yet he made us new in Christ. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

God sees us as holy and blameless

And why did God reconcile us to himself? “…in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22).

The Holy Spirit transforms

Though we are positionally justified and seen as right in God’s eyes, we still often choose sin and fear over God. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

Jesus will come again

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Jesus was, is, and will be

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). He was not created, and he will have no end.

 

There are many more that could be added, of course. That’s part of the greatness of the gospel.

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