What Is the Gospel?
Dr. John Yocum
In Jesus' time the emperor ruled over virtually all the known
world. His decrees were known as euangelion which transliterated from
the Greek means glad tidings, or in today's language gospel.
Such an evangelion or gospel therefore came from him who “held
the world together.”It was not a trivial, sentimental term. It was majestic
and it inspired awe.
message from the King
The gospel is a message from the King of the universe. It's an address. It's
personal – from Someone to someone. It’s not an abstract philosophical
interpretation of the universe, but a promise, a call and a claim: The promise
of freedom and life to captives. A call to follow the liberating Savior-King.
And a claim on our gratitude and obedience. In the four gospels themselves,
it is often referred to as “the gospel of the kingdom.”
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages,
teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and
healing every disease and every infirmity.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only
may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord
Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God .
The gospel is grace (Acts 20:24). It is favor from Someone
who is in a position to be gracious – not a claim asserted.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only
to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded
the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel
of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is
not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants
for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of
darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
to face with God
The gospel is the message “of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of
God.” It's the message that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” the term that belongs
in the Greek version of the Old Testament to God alone. (cf. Isaiah 45:18)
The gospel tells us, that it is in Jesus Christ that we come face to face
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an
apostle, set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through
his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son,
who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of
God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from
the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace
and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his
name among all the nations.
The gospel was promised beforehand through the prophets. The
gospel comes first in the Old Testament. This passage tells us that the Son
of God descended from David according to the flesh, that is, according to
his humanity. He is the anointed King promised to the people of Israel, of
whom any other king is at best a pale shadow.
Furthermore, this passage tells us that his glory as the Son of God is revealed
by his resurrection from the dead. David conquered his earthly enemies in
their ‘ten thousands.’ Jesus Christ, the divine-human King, has conquered
the seemingly invincible and ubiquitous human foe – death itself. When
we recognize this it calls forth faith – belief, trust, confidence – that
is manifest in obedience.
Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with
an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation
and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God
and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him
who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water.”
This is a simple and clear call to fear, glorify and worship
God, who is the Judge of all. Here, in the Book of Revelation, the identity
of Jesus Christ is probably presumed. On that basis, the 'gospel' here is
a message to acknowledge, confess and obey him.
It is clear from this survey that the gospel is not simply a particular form
of the message, like “The Four Spiritual Laws,” or “The Bridge Diagram.”
Although these are sometimes helpful tools in evangelism, they are not equivalent
to the gospel.
The Letter to the Ephesians provides a good New Testament summation of the
gospel. It includes everything from the glorious decision of God before time
to make us his sons and daughters in Jesus Christ, to the way we ought to
speak to one another in the light of the way that God has set for us in Christ.
You can preach the gospel in three minutes but you can't expect to exhaust
it in three minutes. In the early Church the preaching of the truth leading
to baptism for adults normally took three years, at least among Gentiles.
This whole process of preparing and instructing newcomers was a preaching
of the gospel.
What can the gospel be in a particular situation, such as a one-on-one conversation
or a small group presentation? It might be a statement about the identity
of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It might be a declaration that God is
alive and reveals himself in Jesus Christ. That there is a Someone who desires
to have a relationship with you. It might be an assurance that someone has
a destiny in the plan of God in Jesus Christ. That life is not hopeless,
When presenting the gospel message in particular situations, it is important
to first ask ourselves, “What is the way in which I ought to speak of Jesus
Christ to this person now?”
|Dr. John Yocum teaches theology at Sacred
Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. He is an elder of the Servants
of the Word and leader of the international formation house in Ann Arbor,
Michigan USA. He also serves as a a coordinator in the Word of Life community
and the international teaching team for the Sword of the Spirit.