I am a Church of Christ guy and in our tradition the word “gospel” is heard often. The context in part is “gospel preacher”, an often used term on a preacher’s resume’, many of our churches have annual “gospel meetings”, and perhaps one of the most heard in our circle of friends is “obey the gospel”, meaning responding to the gospel by being baptized.
In my reader I have perhaps two dozen blogs and other sites and I read all of them from time to time and more. And, I often comment and read comments on some of my favorite blogs.
It has become more and more apparent to me recently that at least some of those who write blog posts and make comments do not know what the “gospel” of Christ is and, or, what it means for us today. (I claim only to be an expert on my own opinion. I am a flawed individual prone to mistakes. I insist that you should check very carefully what I say before you believe it.) The purpose of this post is to lay out what I believe are some important truths concerning the “gospel” that seemingly are routinely overlooked.
One of the most concise statements about the gospel and it’s importance is the familiar passage in 1 Corinthians 15.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)
These inspired words written by the Apostle Paul are a snapshot of the gospel. It’s like one of those professional pictures you might see in a magazine of a beautiful cake or pie. It is wonderful to behold but what are the ingredients?
Unfortunately many of our friends seem unconcerned with the “ingredients” of the “gospel”. The above passage is not just a set of facts to be acknowledged. It is rather God’s redemptive story crammed into two verses. While it is factual and historical, it is far more.
Right away we learn an important truth, one completely missed by many of our friends, that is, Nothing is more important than the gospel of Jesus Christ! I cannot over emphasize this. Every subject, every work, and every program of every church must take a back seat to the good news about Jesus! It is FIRST! There can be only one thing first and Paul says the gospel is it!
In the next post let’s see what the ingredients are, one at a time.
I appreciate your article. Are you aware of the following poster that compares 1 Corinthians 15 with Romans 6?
http://wvbs.org/Images/posters/18 x 24/Printable/Baptism.png
Shane, I was not familiar with it but it is very well done art work. Baptism is a beautiful picture of the gospel but it is not faith, nor is it repentance, it is not new birth, it is baptism.
Royce, I am anxious to read the other posts in this series. I would like to know, though, how you reconcile your 1 Corinthians 15 definition of ‘gospel’ with Jesus’ words. (I believe) every time he is described as preaching the gospel, it is the gospel of the kingdom he is declaring. I’m not suggesting the two can’t be reconciled — I’m actually suggesting they must be reconciled. Your thoughts?
I would have to disagree with your summation of Jesus preaching/teaching in regard to “gospel”. While Jesus did preach the gospel of the kingdom that is not the only times. We cannot overlook his teaching to Nicodemus can we, to Martha, to the woman at the well in Samaria, ect, etc? “Gospel” is simply “good news” and in particular in the Bible context “good news” about Jesus and what he has accomplished for sinners. What Jesus told Nicodemus the learned Jew, the elite religionist, was indeed “good news”.
Royce, I was only referring to the times that Jesus is actually described as preaching the gospel. When the biblical authors actually wrote that Jesus was preaching the gospel, they use the phrase “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”
I’m not suggesting Jesus didn’t share good news in the instances you speak of; I’m only saying it wasn’t referred to as the “gospel” or “good news” by any of the bible’s writers (that I know of).
But none of this changes or affects my question. I’m not attempting to discount Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as being the gospel. Rather I’m asking how you reconcile that definition with Jesus preaching the good news as being the kingdom? I’m not suggesting it can’t be reconciled, but only want to know how you reconcile it.
Jesus taught how one should live in the Kingdom of God. By his sacrifice he made it possible to do so. A new covenant people would emerge as a result of his atoning sacrifice with the law written on their hearts, who were made specifically for “good works”. Now the kingdom of God is “within you” it is not an external goal.
Very well said, Royce. As always.
Royce, I am looking forward to your posts. I am new to the Church of Christ and was amazed when I first was asked “have you obeyed the gospel” and realised it meant (in the context of who was asking ) “have you been baptised as a mature believer after repentance and in the belief that the point of becoming a Christian is when you emerge from the water?”
Thanks for reading and for your comment Wendy. I have made the case in some posts here that to “obey the gospel” in the Bible is always referring to having faith in, trusting in, or depending on Christ and the claims of the gospel. (https://gracedigest.com/2007/04/02/obey-the-gospel/)