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What Is The Gospel?

Good News Blog

This week we studied the second of Peter's sermons which is recorded in the book of Acts.  What a great place to be in scripture as we celebrated Easter together as a church family, as we see another explicit Gospel presentation from the Apostle.  If you have spent time in church, you are likely very familiar with the term "gospel."  In church culture, it is often attached to everything we do: gospel-centered preaching, gospel-centered community, gospel-centered discipleship...and the list goes on.  Too often, the word gospel is misused, misunderstood, and taken for granted.  So, what is "the Gospel?"

If one were to boil the Gospel down to its fundamental parts, I believe you would be left with four key components that make up the traditional Christian Gospel as found in scripture.  Those four parts are the Trinity, Sinners, redemption, and restoration.  If you remove any one of those key components, like ingredients in a recipe, the final result just doesn't come out right.  Let's look at each one individually to get a better understanding how they fit together as a whole.

The Gospel, like all things, begins and ends with God.  Because the story of the Gospel is the story of Jesus, he takes center stage.  However, failing to properly understand God's trinitarian nature, and the important roles of each person of the Godhead within the Gospel narrative, leaves us with an incomplete or inadequate understanding.  We must first understand and acknowledge God the Father as the author of all creation and the perfect standard against which all things are measured.  Of course, we know that Jesus, the eternal Son, is the Christ...the Savior of the World.  Finally, we must recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in resurrecting the spiritually dead, redeeming lives, and restoring hearts and minds.  Therefore, the power of the Gospel flows from all three persons of the Trinity individually, with each responsible for their own portion of the work; while, simultaneously acting in accordance to the will of their unified nature.

The beauty of the Gospel, which means "good news," is never fully appreciated unless there is equal consideration of the bad news.  This is the story of the sinner.  Too often we view our sinfulness as what we do, instead of who we are.  You lie because you are a liar, you cheat because you are a cheater, you steal because you are a thief...your actions are always a result of the desires of your heart, and the hearts of all men are desperately wicked.  In our wickedness, not only are we woefully ill-equipped to worship God...we don't even have the slightest inclination to want to.  Sin, like a deadly disease, infects every area of who we are...into our deepest, innermost recesses.  We blindly follow the depraved longings of our hearts to our inevitable destruction.  This is who we are are, and who we long to be, apart from the miraculous, saving work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

This brings us to redemption.  We've talked about who is responsible for it (the Trinity), and why we need it (we are sinners), but let's briefly look at what it actually is.  Redemption is synonymous with salvation, and theologically/doctrinally/scripturally, it encompasses (or has in view) everything necessary to accomplish God's saving work.  Because God's standard is perfection, and because we are so far from it and unable to get there on our own, we require some other means of "making things right" with God.  Unfortunately, God's righteous wrath must be satisfied.  A crime has been committed and God, as the just judge, cannot simply ignore it.  It is important to distinguish between "forgiven" and "forgotten" when talking about our sins.  God did not forget (or turn a blind eye to) our sins, rather he punished them fully upon the cross through Christ, so that he might be justified in forgiving us.  Let us never stray far from remembering that fact, lest we fall into believing we somehow deserved or earned something that was purchased for us at so great a price.

Attempting to earn one's own salvation is only one of the many errors we can fall into when it comes to how we think about redemption.  Another is to view it as the finish line, or the ultimate goal in life.  To view our salvation as a ticket to Easy Street for the rest of our days is to reject God's purpose in salvation.  Remember in the beginning how I said it begins AND ends with God.  It's not about us, it's all about him and his glory.  Not only is God at work in saving sinners, but he is also at work in restoring them, and indeed all things, unto himself.  The universe was created to be a place of eternal peace and communion with God, where we can worship and enjoy him...and in time, it will be once again.  God's purpose in salvation is to redeem and restore a people unto himself, so that we can be his people and he will be our God...and we can worship him forever in the presence of his glory.  When we stop at redemption, we make the Gospel a story with no ending...a cliffhanger of the worst kind!

Hopefully, now you can see why it is so important to include all of the proper ingredients when putting together a Gospel presentation...and how leaving one or more out can leave us with a bad taste in our mouths.  In this week's lesson, Peter showed us how to, like a master chef in the kitchen, masterfully put together a meal of biblical truth to satisfy and nourish the soul.  I pray as you ponder these truths, and reflect upon this week's scripture and message, that you will savor and enjoy every delectable morsel for your good and God's glory.

In Grace,
Chris Morris

If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 8 - Peter's Second Sermon

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  What was Christianity originally about?
2.  What was the purpose of the lame beggar being healed?
3.  How do Christians experience Christ's kingdom now?

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