Responses to "What the Gospel Isn’t" – and "Is"

Laymond struggles with me – with all of us – to understand the nature of the Godhead and says, “What I believe is NOT gospel is; that Jesus was sent to earth to elevate himself to the level of God the Father. To make himself equal to the creator.”

Frank responds, “The gospel isn’t a denial of the deity of Jesus the Messiah.”

Tommy says, “One thing that is NOT the gospel is ‘You’re not good enough,’ ‘You’re not worth God’s love or time or effort,’ ‘God is a long way off.’ “

Michael says, “The Pattern is not The Gospel.”

Donna says, “The Gospel is not five clean and easy steps that ends in baptism and earns us a right to be a Christian. The Gospel is not something one group has a better handle on than another. The Gospel should NOT be a point of division.”

Royce agrees, “The gospel is not a relegious system, even if it was concocted by coC folks.”

From a different perspective, Bruce says, “The Gospel is not a new religion.”

PegC says: “… every word in scripture is not gospel. … I can trust God and instead of asking, ‘why me, Lord?’ I can ask, ‘Why not me, Lord?’ “

From a place of extraordinary sympathy for recently-paralyzed brother in Christ, Lacey speaks of the gospel inspiring: “… a trust and a faith that says … ‘Lord, we don’t know why all of this has happened…but we know that we love you.’ It’s that kind of trust and faith that allow us to have that love relationship with the God who is love. And anything else never has been and cannot be the gospel.

We all come to an understanding of what the gospel is – and isn’t – as the result of a long and ongoing journey. Each step in the journey adds to or subtracts from that understanding.

To me, in simplest form, the gospel begins with the Story of Jesus. It saves us (1 Corinthians 15:2). Yes, I know that many other things are spoken of in scripture as saving us (see By Grace, Through Faith, Expressed in Works? for a short list), and ultimately Jesus saves us (see The Gift of Baptism for steps in my journey to that point).

So, in the end – as so many of you pointed out in your responses to What Is The Gospel? – the good news is also the Story of Jesus and us. We become a part of it.

We see Him instrumental in creation. We are comforted at His incarnation when we fall. We witness His mercy toward those He calls and who are willing to follow. We learn from His laws. We see ourselves distanced from Him when we disobey. We yearn for His presence among us. We follow the star that leads to His manger-crib; follow Him in awe and listen as He teaches and watch as He heals and blesses. We follow and are heartbroken as we gaze at Him on the cross; are astounded when we peer into His empty tomb; are startled when we realize that all He has predicted is coming true. We are compelled to love as He loves; teach as He teaches; bless as He blesses; promote peace as He redeems creation and draws all of us closer to God. And we feel that sense that – even with the gift of His own Spirit inspiring each breath within us – it cannot be close enough until He returns.

What I think most of us agree upon is that the gospel – though long in the unfolding and the scriptural telling – is really very simple. When we are troubled by what seem to be complications in it, I believe it’s because we are demanding too much of the gospel to satisfy our heads, and ungrateful for the sufficiency it has for our hearts. When we focus on any single aspect of it to the exclusion of others, we rob it of its panoramic power. When we zoom in, for instance, on details of law and reason alone, we neglect the big picture that says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s what Jesus came to teach us, to show us, exemplify for us, to live out and die to achieve among us.

32 thoughts on “Responses to "What the Gospel Isn’t" – and "Is"

  1. I’m glad you revisited this…I had a feeling you weren’t quite done with it!So you did finally to decide to share w/us your interpretation of the gospel. And, yes, it does sound similar to your other declarations of the gospel that I’ve read in this not-so-goofy old blog of yours!Thanks for compiling these, analyzing them, and pointing out the common thread…that is, this marvelous relationship that we can have with Him, as we journey through this life, learning what it really is to love each other, and to love Him.

  2. The gospel “saves us”? From what?And I can’t agree that we “become” a part of the story. We ARE a part of the story. Some of us just don’t realize it yet.I still can’t see that anyone has answered my question… what does the term “Messiah” mean?

  3. bruced, while it’s true that “Messiah” means “chosen one” or “anointed one,” that’s hardly proof that contradicts scripture also speaking of Christ as both God and the Son of God.Saved from what? “Perishing” would be Paul’s answer throughout his epistles.I realize that you are trying your best to share the comfort you have found in a system of universal salvation that has nothing to do with anything we might do in response to God’s love, but that’s simply not a system found in scripture – unless you are willing to ignore or rationalize large portions of it. How we respond to God matters to Him. Our faithfulness confirms His gospel. It has never been a question of whether He <>has<> to work through us; it’s that He <>chooses<> to work through us.“For to be sure, he (Jesus) was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4

  4. We’re getting closer! And what did the prophets say that the “annointed one” would accomplish?Well, good luck with your religious systems, brother! You’ll never know true freedom in Christ as long as you think your redemption to God is based on your faith. I tried for nearly 40 years. It doesn’t work. I can have no assuredness of my standing with God as long as that responsibility is on me. None. But, hang in there, friend. As your faith begins to fail you, you’ll have no choice but to accept the grace of God. That’s when it gets really good. That’s when we awaken to the reality of who we really are in God!You’ll be just fine!

  5. bruced, my faith – and yours, and the faith of everyone else – is a gift from God. (< HREF="" REL="nofollow">Ephesians 2:8<>; you know that).You keep talking about faith as if it is something totally up to you. It’s not. It’s a gift. It’s a partnership. It is His faith in you, yes; but it is also your faith in Him. Whether you participate in it is totally up to you.Paul expresses the relationship in terms of a marriage. If both parties don’t agree to participate in a marriage, it fails. God doesn’t force you to use the gift He gave you. Jesus expresses it as a father and prodigal child. You choose. If you walk away, He waits. He doesn’t go chasing after you, forcing you to come back home. He waits until you come back, and once you’re in sight, He runs to you.It’s not a religious system. It’s a relationship. God doesn’t call all the shots. He could, but He doesn’t. He leaves it up to us to <>choose<>, one of the most extraordinary privileges any being can give to another as a gift.Why do you insist on minimizing the value of that gift? None of us is going to handle it perfectly. God doesn’t expect that of us. Instead, He provided it in the person of His Son.

  6. Cool, man!If what you’ve got is working for you, hang onto it with everything you got! But, when it lets you down, remember these conversations. I know you don’t want to hear this stuff, but I am compelled to speak the good news to all. I’ll be glad to leave you alone though. No sweat off my back! 😉And you’re right, it is like a marriage. But, I don’t think you understand marriages of that time. It wasn’t a two-way relationship. It was purely the “man” choosing (or buying) his bride.And I think you’re missing the point of the prodigal son. I see it as a demonstration of a love so incredible, there is no reason NOT to come back.I’m minimizing the gift? I see it as His amazing grace (love) that you’re minimizing. You don’t believe God could be THAT loving, do you? Your religion won’t permit you to trust God THAT much!Like I said before, it really doesn’t matter what you believe about God. But if you will allow yourself to imagine for a moment that God’s love is greater than anything we can possibly know, even greater than you and your “faith”, it will set you free to participate in unimaginable connectedness to God. Certainly, I can’t convince you of anything. These are concepts that your spirit must awaken to, and permit you to open your heart to the revelation that brings the fullness of Life.May you have great peace.Are you still angry about the men who don’t give enough?

  7. Who said they were men ; ) ?I’m over it for the moment. It’s their loss. I’ll probably get ticked off about something else down the road; I’m human. ( Jesus, as I recall, was pretty ticked off about a marketplace being set up within the temple courts.)I’m not sure we disagree on a whole lot, bro – God through Christ <>has<> done all of the heavy lifting when it comes to taking away sin and guilt.All that He really asks of us is that we believe that, accept the fact, and live out the truth of it.

  8. Keith, words in your post like “follow” and “are compelled” remind me that it’s a kind of category mistake to try to size up the gospel as merely a message. In 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Paul says “our gospel came to you not simply in words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” Gospel is a noun and a verb. And the two can hardly be separated, as James 2makes clear.

  9. Keith, how do those who say all are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus, justify the scripture that seems to give up on salvation for most.Mt:7:14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

  10. laymond, it’s been my experience that those who support universal salvation will do so with a handful of scriptures, and explain away all of those dealing with faith by saying that those are talking about God’s faith in us, or Jesus’ faith in God or somesuch.Those scriptures dealing with repentance they say are not limited to this life, and that people can and will repent when God saves them and they experience His goodness first-hand.Things like Matthew 25 are extremely inconvenient for them, and must be explained away in some manner, and all kinds of treatises have been written to emasculate the sense of what Jesus says there.They usually don’t bother with scriptures having to do with baptism or confession or living godly lives or

  11. It seems that you have more faith in the bible than you have in God. Jesus showed us that there is no reason to fear death, but instead we cling to religious ideas that propose a formula for escaping death. We are advised to “repent”… change our minds about God and death. But instead we devote ourselves to faith recipes that promise life. We are told to be baptized (transition from one realm to another), but instead we cater to rituals which promise deliverance. Salvation is of the mind, and it is a gift from God to those who believe that Jesus truly demonstrated fallicy of death’s claims over us. When we can understand the enormity of that fact, the possibilities to experience abundant life are endless! The Messiah redeemed all the world to the Creator… He bought the field containing the pearl. Rejoice in the understanding that you are His, whether you want it or not… whether you like it or not… and whether you accept it or not!Look within your heart for understanding and revelation. God is there, He always has been, and will always be. Believe it or don’t believe it. It doesn’t change the Heart of God. But believing it will change your heart, and will set you free from all your fears and doubts. God is with you.

  12. Cliff, it is plain to see you have come well prepared to preach your gospel, but not so much the total gospel brought by the Lord Jesus.I just have a couple of questions,do you believe in heaven, and if the sacrifice on he cross was the final act of salvation why are we still here. Who wouldn’t like to have someone come to them and say, “I have paid off all your debts, and bought you an island paradise” you ask “why” the answer “because I love you”.Years later you are still laboring at your job. ( I know poor analogy but nothing is totally free, not even the garden of Eden)

  13. Gents, I can respond with scriptures like < HREF="" REL="nofollow">2 Peter 3:9<> and < HREF=";&version=31;" REL="nofollow">Acts 2:38<> and < HREF=";&version=31;" REL="nofollow">John 3:16-18<> and < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Revelation 22:17<> till the cows come home and the good Lord returns, and you are still going to believe what you want to believe, and see in those scriptures what you want to believe. You can’t just ignore them.Of course you are right in saying that there is no one that God does not love. But that does not mean that there is no one that God will not save. Why? Because He says otherwise, and His reasons are His own.Jesus does draw all men unto Himself. And some of them still walk away.If indeed it is a “religious system” as you accuse, it is God’s system by His design, not mine.Universal salvation is not the gospel. Sorry. There is a part of me that desperately wishes it could be – just as I am sure that there is a part of God’s own nature that desperately wants it to be. But that part of His loving nature would conflict with the just and righteous part of His nature.And half a God is no God at all.

  14. Laymond quoted this passage:Mt:7:14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.Laymond, First, when you quote something maybe it would be better if you quote the whole quote on the narrrow and wide gates? It says:Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.Geo here:I know this will be a hard one for you but here goes.The STRAIT Gate that is narrow and leads to life is “GRACE”! Without your belief! Grace without your beliefs is a NARROW Gate and there are few who find it and it does lead to life.Then it says:Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:The WIDE& BROAD Way that leads to destruction is following THE LAW and believing in your “PERSONAL” Faith in order to be accepted by God. It leads to destruction of all who go that way. As it was meant to do. Did you also notice that even those who go in through the WIDE Gate (The Law) are also “IN” ? In what? IN The Kingdom thats what!Anyway as Bruced has said, hold on to what you believe and one day it will fail you. And in that day you will come to the knowledge of the Faith of God and then life will be something you never could have imagined.PeaceGeo

  15. Sorry, Geo, that ain’t the gospel either.It’s never been by grace alone, but by grace through faith.Where did you get the interpretation that the broad way is “through faith”?Y’all keep saying that our faith will fail us. How can you know that for a fact?Finally, bruced – my faith <>IS<> the way I accept God’s grace.Whether you like it or not, so is yours.

  16. Keith Wrote:Universal salvation is not the gospel.Geo Here:I AGREE! Does it surprise you that Bruced and Cliff would also agree with that statement?Because you see Salvation is of the soul i.e the mind, will and emotions. But we do believe that ALL are Redeemed! Which is of the spirit. Which is what we are! Our spirits were Redeemed and there is NOTHING we can do about that be it believing or unbelieving. It is when a person becomes aware of their Eternal Redemption that they then can believe and be “saved” in their mind. Which leads to great peace. Redemption and Salvation are two very different and distinct things. So again Keith we agree with you that Universal Salvation is NOT the Gospel. But Universal Redemption is! Please show me from The Scriptures (definition being what Jesus called the scriptures i.e , The Law, The Psalms & The Prophets) Where mankind would be given a chance at redemption. Nowhere in what Jesus Himself called the scriptures will you find a Redeemer who would redeem a few. The Prophets of Old spoke of a Redeemer to come who would Redeem ALL and wipe the tear from EVERY Eye! Jesus also said that not one jot or tittle would pass from the Law, the Psalms or the Prophets until ALL THINGS about him had been completed. That means the minute one observance of the Law (630 of them) ceased to be observed then ALL things had been accomplished. No more judgment no more destruction of the world. The world ended 2007 years ago at the Cross. In that world mankind related to God according to laws rules and regulations. The New World relates to God through Grace and Peace that was brought by the Sacrifice of Jesus. The reason the world is not seen as new is that Christians do not trust the faith “of” God and instead have embraced their faith “in” God.PeaceGeo

  17. Keith Said:It’s never been by grace alone, but by grace through faith.Geo Here:AGAIN we agree! It is By Grace through Faith!But where we disagree is you think it is God’s Grace Through Your Faith.I believe it is God’s Grace Through Jesus Faith which is NOT of myself.PeaceGeo

  18. And there you have it, laymond, from folks who can explain their point of view far better than I can. Because I just cannot see it.I don’t see a distinction between salvation and redemption in scripture. Obviously, these folks have spent a lot of time structuring it to their satisfaction.In the end, universal salvation/redemption/whatever sounds like a very attractive prospect: “Oh, boy! I don’t have to do anything and I’m saved! I don’t have to believe anything and I’m redeemed! I don’t have to live a moral life or let Christ’s Holy Spirit dwell in me and nudge me to do the right thing, and I still go to heaven!”I don’t and can’t see salvation/redemption/the gospel that way. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory.

  19. Keith Wrote:Oh, boy! I don’t have to do anything and I’m saved! I don’t have to believe anything and I’m redeemed! I don’t have to live a moral life or let Christ’s Holy Spirit dwell in me and nudge me to do the right thing, and I still go to heaven!”Keith do you really think that the trusting of the faith “of” God really leads people to believe what nonsense you just wrote? If you do then you must not understand the unmerited favor and Grace of God at all!You believe in Jesus the same way The followers of the deposed dictator of Iraq believed in him. You and 99% of Christendom believe in Jesus under threat of punishment if you do not believe. You see Keith it is only when the threat of punishment for not believing is removed that you will know for sure what you do believe.And on another note you asked Bruced how could he know that everyones faith will fail at some time. I have a question for you? Have you ALWAYS believed and NEVER had any doubt? If you say yes then I would say you are not being honest. And if you have had doubts then your faith has failed and you need to embrace someones faith other than your own. Namely The Faith of ChristPeaceGeo

  20. Keith Wrote:It is Christ in us, the hope of glory.Geo Here:AMEN! Once again we AGREE!Where we disagree is how did we get into Christ?According to Paul we got into Christ on the Cross. When he said that Jesus took both Jew (believer) and Gentile (unbeliever) into His body thus making Believer (Jew) and Unbeliever (Gentile) one NEW MANIt was Jesus who drew ALL peoples into His body on the Cross and not your belief with did it. PeaceGeo

  21. You are right I can’t accept your explanation of the Narrow Gate, the way you explain it there is no need for a comparison, of the two, the following is my description of the Narrow Gate.Jn:14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.all other ways are the wide gate to destruction.

  22. Laymond Wrote:all other ways are the wide gate to destruction.Geo Here:AMEN I Agree!The ONLY other way to the Kingdom is WIDE! It is The Law and following Moses instead of Jesus and Grace!Following the Law and Moses is a VERY VERY WIDE Gate (over 600 laws and rules) The Narrow Gate is indeed NARROW (Only one thing GRACE) Wide to DESTRUCTION = 600+ LawsNarrow to LIFE = GRACEYou can continue to follow your or should I say the way of Moses (law) and it will lead to your destruction and to the destruction of all you come in contact with or you can choose the Narrow Path that leads to Life GRACE. When you come to Grace apart from your performance then you will have life and have it more abundantly.

  23. Cliff, how do you come to such a conclusion? That is hyperbole at its most outrageous.I did respond to your scriptures: “Of course you are right in saying that there is no one that God does not love. But that does not mean that there is no one that God will not save. Why? Because He says otherwise, and His reasons are His own.” The scriptures you cite only tell half the story.Did any of you who disagree with me respond to even one of mine?Do I have an open mind? Yes, to what scripture says. All of scripture. Even the parts which ask a response of me.Will I fail? Doubtless I will. Will my faith in God fail? Possibly. That’s called “doubt.” Paul doubted that he could do it all right all the time. Jesus doubted in the Garden, if I read His prayer accurately. Point is, God does not require perfect faith – and the words you’re putting in my pixels here say that He does. He does, however, ask for a response of faith. And when we are willing to give it, He is willing to work with and through us.How can we just ignore that request?I have accepted the fact that He loves me. Period.I just can’t let it go at that and NOT respond in the way He has asked.Geo, you make a lot of fine distinctions to validate your system – between redemption and salvation; between faith and “accepting;” between heart, mind, soul and strength – but scripture does not make them. God redeems and saves through Jesus; He wants us to love Him with heart, mind, soul and strength.Do any of you have children?Do you require the minutest adherence to everything you ask them to do in order for them to remain a part of your family?Of course you wouldn’t. Neither would God. But you would ask them to do their best, to let you help them when they need it. That’s what God the Father does, too. What He asks is tiny in comparison to what He has accomplished in Christ, yes.But He still asks, so that we have the gift of choosing and the opportunity of participating in our relationship with Him.You write as if that is some sort of crushing burden under which no one could stand or survive. If He hadn’t created us equipped for the task of choosing, there would not have been Eden, and He would not give us the gift of faith to be able to. Scripture still says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

  24. Keith Wrote:but scripture does not make themGeo Here:Keith,What are The Scriptures according to Jesus The Christ? And do you believe The Scriptures are or contain more than Jesus said they were?PeaceGeo

  25. Mt:7:21: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

  26. This is where I get off the bus, folks.I have no interest in a conversation about picking and choosing which scripture is “really” scripture.I have no interest in wresting it to my own destruction.I have no faith in a faithless faith.Have a nice conversation now.But include me out.

  27. LaymondMaybe you might want to reconsider who the real bus driver is? As Cliff says you are all welcome to come over to BoldGrace.COM and share your thoughts there. Thanks again for the conversation and may your hearts continue to be established in GracePeaceGeo

  28. Keith Wrote:I have no interest in a conversation about picking and choosing which scripture is “really” scripture.Geo Here:Understood. But could you at least answer that question? Do you believe “The Scriptures” are more than what Jesus said they were?PeaceGeo

  29. Keith, you said “What He asks is tiny in comparison to what He has accomplished in Christ, yes.”What exactly does God ask to be in his family?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s