As a follower of Christ, the understanding of what the gospel is and how to live it out in our lives is the most important or the central part of our faith. Do you fully understand what the gospel is? If you do, how much does understanding the gospel impact the way you live? If the word "gospel" is used over 100 times in the Bible, it must be important!
Just recently I have been reading a book called "Fierce Marriage - Radically Pursuing Each Other in Light of Christ's Relentless Love". In Chapter 2, Ryan and Selena Frederick talk about the impact of both understanding and actively learning to live out the gospel in their relationship. Living out the gospel was the hardest thing to do, but the rewards were worth the hard work and pain. There are some key things in their chapter about living out the gospel that are relevant to all who follow Christ, that can have impact on every relationship.
16 For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. John 3:16 TPT.
To begin with, we have been given a gift from God. This gift is one where God gave something of His that was unique and infinitely precious. His gift, instead of being treasured by His people, was instead criticized, mocked, ridiculed, beaten and nailed to a cross. This gift was Jesus, the Christ. Because of this precious gift, we now know of and can live a life set free of sin and death and walk in an intimacy with God that was unthinkable before this gift was given. God, when He created mankind, also had planned to redeem His creation through His Son. This gift is what we know of as the gospel.
In the Cambridge online dictionary, there are a number of definitions for what the gospel means:-
Any of the four books of the Bible that contain details of the life of Jesus the Christ.
The complete truth
A set of principles or ideas that someone believes in
When we drill down deeper, in the Bible the word "gospel" has a much deeper meaning. In the Strong's Concordance, the word comes from the Greek word euaggelion (298) which comes from the word euaggelizo which means to announce the good news.
Euaggelion originally denoted a reward for good tidings but later the reward dropped. In the New Testament, it denotes the "good tidings" of the kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ to be received by faith on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection and ascension (eg: Acts 15:7, 20-24)
The apostle Paul uses the word gospel for two associated yet distinct things:-
Of the basic facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). It is a historical fact.
Of the interpretation of these facts. Eg: Romans 2:16, Galatians 1:7, 11, 2:2. The gospel is viewed doctrinally, with reference to the interpretation of the facts, as is sometimes indicated by the context.
To more deeply understand the gospel, let's go on a journey to find out what this gospel is through what different authors of the Bible say:-
To begin with, what is the gospel, whose is it and what does it bring?
It is the gospel of God. (1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God. Romans 1:1)
It is Christ's gospel. (12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 2 Corinthians 2:12)
It is the gospel of the kingdom (14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14)
The gospel is of the grace of God (But none of these things moves me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24)
The gospel is the gospel of peace (and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Ephesians 6:15)
It is the gospel of salvation (In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13)
The gospel is actually the glory of Christ (whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 2 Corinthians 4:4)
There are a number of things that define what the gospel is:-
It has come to us by supernatural means and was not thought up by man. (But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:10-11)
The gospel is the power of God bringing salvation (For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16)
The gospel is a mystery (and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:19)
Is given to us by revelation (how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already), Ephesians 3:3)
It is the truth which we need to stand in. (Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
The gospel was mentioned over one hundred times in the Bible. Who was the gospel revealed to?
The gospel was first preached to Abraham. (And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you, all the nations shall be blessed.” Galatians 3:8)
The gospel was revealed to the Prophets in the Old Testament. ( Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures Romans 1:1-2)
John, the man who came before Jesus, announcing that He was the messiah. (The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in [a]the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” Mark 1:1-4)
Jesus the Christ preached the gospel wherever he went. (Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15)
God is choosing men and women to reveal the gospel so they can share it with others. God is revealing things that angels would love to find out about! (To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. 1 Peter 1:12)
As followers of Christ, God is calling us to respond to the gospel in a number of ways:-
The most important thing God is calling us to do is to believe the gospel. (In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13)
We must submit ourselves to the gospel totally. (while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 2 Corinthians9:13)
We are called to establish ourselves on the gospel. (Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began Romans 16:25)
God is calling us to live by the gospel (Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, Philippians 1:27)
We must defend the gospel at every opportunity ( just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. Philippians 1:7)
How Can We Live The Gospel?
God has designed us to need and cherish love… real love that is unconditional and without expiration. This type of love is quite rare. This love is not able to be given by anyone. Giving this type of love is humanly impossible. We are all inadequate at giving this love because we have gaps in our ability to both give and receive love. No matter what we try as individuals, nothing works over an extended time. There is hope though …. The gospel brings the answer to our relationship with God and all our relationships with others.
The gospel is like a rudder on a huge ship. Without it, the ship would be dangerous and ultimately end up on the rocks. Through Christ and the gospel, we can understand unconditional love, true covenant and radical grace and forgiveness. Armed with the gospel we can love truly all people God gives to us to love.
What is the gospel? Gospel means "good news" and points to the story of creation, the fall, redemption and salvation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ. We can be saved through no other name. The beauty of the gospel is the work of Christ, God in the flesh, is finished! What happened on the cross has three huge ramifications on how we live in relationship with others:-
1.Our Diagnosis: The Gospel is realistic about what to expect - We understand through the gospel that sin exists and Jesus is calling us to admit we are sinners and repent of any sin. A gospel centred relationship will have both parties understanding that the other person is not perfect and will always fall short. Repentance through the work of the Holy Spirit is something that happens regularly in a healthy gospel centred relationship.
2.Our Cure - the Gospel Transforms How We Love - The cure comes when we experience the love of God through Christ. This experience changes how we love other people in three ways:-
Real love is more powerful, costly and rewarding than anything offered by the world - loving each other based on God's design is extremely difficult but always worth it
We understand what covenant means - When we love according to covenant boundaries we treat the other person according to our promise to them and not their performance. The covenant we enter when we become a Christian, extends to all our relationships.
Experiencing the gospel first-hand transforms how we love - when we experience the gospel our heart is flooded with grace, empathy patience and the capacity to forgive. We can radically love because we have been radically loved.
3. Our Recovery - the Gospel provides context for real relationships - By understanding the gospel, we learn to live with an eternal perspective. It is the compass for the direction we take. As we endure difficulties, the gospel gives us overwhelming joy. Purpose and infinite power come when all your friendships point to an infinite God. How you love when it is hard, how you keep your covenant when you want to give up and how you display unity shows the oneness God's people will have with the Bridegroom which is Jesus. Every way you relate to others should point to the gospel!
When we read the Bible and come across the same words and concepts over and over again they must be important. Both understanding the gospel AND learning to live out our relationship will bring a depth of relating that will initially be extremely challenging, but the end point will be worth it. As followers of Jesus, we are called to both understand and live out the gospel through the way we relate to others. Spend time to know what the gospel is, learn to receive from Jesus His grace and forgiveness through His work on the cross, and then extend this to everyone you connect with both at home, work and socially.
The gospel will not only change you, it will bring you into a way of relating to God and others that will transform your life. It is really difficult, messy and can be uncomfortable ....... but it is worth it!
Fierce Marriage - Radically Pursuing Each other In Light of Christ's Relentless Love