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.

What Isn’t the Gospel?

I don’t want to draw to a close the comments in the previous post (Lacey, you’ve read all kinds of my declarations of the gospel in this goofy old blog!), but whether you’ve contributed already or not, I’d like you to feel free to go another direction:

What isn’t the gospel?

What are the things that no one in his or her right mind and heart would be likely to put in the comments of the previous blog post as the gospel according to them; the good news of scripture; the core message of God’s Word to man?

Tonight, a young man from my church has found out that his spinal cord was severed in the dirt bike accident he had last weekend.

That is not the gospel.

Yet his church family continues to pray for and over this young man; will conduct a blood drive Sunday in his behalf; and some will fast and some will attend his bedside and some will plead with God on their knees, not knowing him well but loving him as if there were an empty place at their kitchen table that only he could fill.

Why?

Yesterday, I spent the day hearing a case with eleven fellow jurors against the mother of two toddlers and deciding that she was guilty of five of the seven counts against her, two of which involved the endangerment of their lives.

That is not the gospel.

Yet we deliberated long and contentiously, trying to find the benefit of the doubt, because it was obvious that she was not the primary culprit behind the evil that had taken place at her house, and that she had tried to take ineffective steps to protect them. One godly older gentleman not of her race, serving on a jury for the first time, begged on her behalf for us to try to see her life from her point of view at each charge. And at each charge and specification, we tried to gently persuade him of the overwhelming nature of the evidence and testimony. It was difficult for him to vote unanimously with us, for at heart he still felt that those children needed their mother and she needed to be with them.

Why?

I’m convinced that it’s because there is a gospel, a Story unlike any other, a Word of God that gives meaning and purpose and direction to life itself, and that word is love.

Love that powerful and undiluted can temper even the fearsome justice and righteousness of God Himself. Unlimited love is a frightening thing to the faint-of-heart but the bold-of-brain; to those who fear the Lord but are afraid to love the God who is love, cowards and bullies and experts and self-appointed prophets and correctors and straightener-outers who have tried their damnedest to dilute that love with a lot of other things and then bottle it up and sell it as the gospel truth. They’ve been around for a long time, from the first moment that God dared to show His love for mankind until now.

So defy those impostors. Be bold. Be brave. Be specific.

Tell me about the diluting ingredients that have never been and cannot be the gospel.

What Is the Gospel?

Exercise time! Don’t just sit there! Sit there and think!

Give me your best answer in a few words to the question,

“What is the gospel?”

None of that, “Well, it’s God’s word/the New Testament/the Nicene Creed/etc.” No additives or omissions. No embellishments and no illustrative stories. No paste-ins from “Bible Gateway.” No preacher jokes.

No lurkers and no slackers.

C’mon. If you’re a follower of Christ, you know what the gospel is. Right?

So what words would you use to share it?

How long does it take to say it?

Put the gospel according to you in the comments below. Be a witness for the gospel, right here, right now.

Ready!

Set!

GO!