The Gospel

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 it should be.) The 4-component model of the gospel as 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. 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 in the above list are taken from “God’s Plan of Salvation” by Mark Dever, pp. 2501-2503 of the ESV Study Bible (2008 hardback edition).

The gospel is all about Jesus Christ, but knowledge and affirmation of all of these things (even implicitly) are necessary for a true gospel presentation. It is my prayer that this presentation of the gospel would embolden Christians to be like the Roman believers of whom Paul writes in Philippians 1:14. Like them, may we be “much more bold to speak the word without fear” since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

If you are an unbeliever, I pray that God would bless this exposure of the gospel and bring you into a saving relationship with Him. If you are a recently saved person, I encourage you to obey the Lord by being baptized in water and joining a local Bible-based, Christ-centered, gospel-preaching church. If you need help finding such a church, I recommend that you go to the church directory housed at thegospelcoalition.org.

"The Gospel Song" by Bob Kauflin is a beautiful, simple, and straightforward presentation of the gospel in musical form. Chris Powers has added animation to it, and John Piper provides a voice-over during the piano solo. May the Lord use the below video to "set your minds on things that are above," on the ultimate such thing: the gospel.

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  1. December 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm

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