In the church world, we throw around the word gospel on a daily basis. Indeed, it has become the adjective de jour in the Christian publishing world (gospel-centered this, gospel-shaped that). And yes, we should be a gospel-centered people and churches… I agree emphatically. The problem is that sometimes we use the word in a way that is disconnected from its Biblical roots. The gospel can easily become short-hand for a specific system of doctrine, or for a particular way of looking at salvation. Doctrine and salvation are so important… but they are not the gospel itself. They flow out of the gospel; they are implications and applications of the gospel… but what is the gospel (good news) in Biblical terms?
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-7, a very early account, Paul tell us pretty squarely:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
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, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
What’s the good news here? The person and work of Jesus in history. Jesus is the good news! Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is good news… all of which occurred “in accordance with scripture” – that is, Jesus (especially in view here is His death and resurrection) is the climax of the redemptive work that God has been about throughout the “scripture” (read: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament).
As Scot McKnight says, “It’s not about us. It’s not about salvation. It’s about Jesus. But in getting Jesus, we get salvation, and us, and a lot more flourishing than we could ever imagine”. Check out this short interview posted by the people over at the Regeneration Project:
What do you think? Helpful? More important, biblical?