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The Gospel

gospel pic for blog

The gospel is often misunderstood, and many have misunderstood it since the early days of the Church. Today especially, there is mass confusion—or at least ignorance—about what the gospel really is. Some might think that the gospel is simply “Jesus loves you.” Others might cite “What Would Jesus Do?” Still more may easily say, “The gospel is about me getting right with God so I don’t go to hell.” These, however, are not the gospel (though the last one comes closer than the ones before it). Some reduce the gospel to a formula, the ABCs of becoming a Christian. “Admit, Believe and Confess,” the VBS mantra goes. This, however, is not even the whole gospel, or at least not the best presentation of the Biblical gospel. It is not that three steps are too few; it is that they do not present all the gospel truths to the extent that they should (it is more event- and [one-time] decision-driven than should be.) The 4-step model of the gospel presented by Dr. Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church is, I think, the best and simplest Biblical presentation of the gospel available to us:

  1. God. The God of the Bible is the one and only God. He is eternal and Triune (One God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is the Creator of the universe and still acts in this universe today. Not only did God create us, but he also “has acted to save people who have rebelled against him.” He does this of his own “great mercy” (1 Peter 1:3).
  2. Man. God made us in his image (Genesis 1:27-28). This means that we are “sub-rulers over God’s creation” by God’s ordinance and also that we are “spiritual and rational beings … communicate and establish relationships … [and have] souls [that] endure eternally.” But in Adam’s fall we sinned all … and we all continue “to fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we are separated from God. Indeed, we are “dead” in our sin (Ephesians 2:1) and on our own, none of us would ever seek to restore our relationship with God. In our sin, we justly condemn ourselves to hell by our actions. We judge ourselves “unworthy of eternal life” (Acts 13:46) by our rebellion against God.
  3. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is both fully God (John 10:30) and fully Man (Philippians 2:7-8). He lived a perfect life (Hebrews 4:15). Indeed, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Christ gave himself to die on a Roman cross. He became sin so that in him we would become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the third day, God proved his satisfaction with Christ’s sacrifice by raising him from the dead. Jesus later ascended into heaven and will one day “come in the same way” as he went into heaven (Acts 1:11).
  4. Response. The proper response to this message is repentance and faith. Repentance is literally a change of mind; to repent is to turn away from love of sin and hate it; to repent is to turn toward the God we once hated and love him. Faith is to “believe and trust God’s promises in Christ, and to commit ourselves to Christ, the living Lord, as his disciples.” We must realize, though, that it is Christ who saves us, for repentance and faith are not our own works, they are “the gift of God … so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    Quotes without a source are taken from “God’s Plan of Salvation” by Mark Dever, pp. 2501-2503 of the ESV Study Bible.

In the coming days/weeks, I’d like to unpack each of these four parts of the gospel. I’d even like to possibly go even more in depth than this by looking at salvation from the perspective of eternity past to eternity future (possibly … I don’t know yet). I ultimately will provide a post (or series of posts) on personal evangelism, which is what we as Christians should do once we know the gospel and can articulate it.

I pray—and ask that you all join me in praying—that this series on the gospel will kindle in all our hearts a greater desire and love for God and his glory. I pray that we would become so gripped by the gospel and the glory of God that we “cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” in the gospel (Acts 4:20).

Categories: General Posts

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