What Is The Gospel?

I was foolish the other day and attempted to throw stones at a beehive on Twitter and then was mad that I got stung. For the record, having a solid theological discussion over a medium that limits your discourse to 140 characters is my great folly. Furthermore, I regret being able to be so quickly goaded into a discussion with such limitations. These are my foibles. Maybe I’m learning from them.

However an important question was raised in the midst of this theological back and forth. No doubt much ink has been spilled over this subject over the centuries and it is probably the most important question of Christianity. Namely, what is the gospel? Many have written excellent works on this question that deserve to be read and considered.[1] However, it seems to me that we seem to be ignoring simple, straight-forward texts like Galatians 1:3–5 so that we can define some sort of “robust” or “broader” gospel. Paul states:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Herein is the robustness and clarity of the gospel that can be stated in a simple form. It declares to us we have grace and peace from and with God because the Christ, Jesus has died in our place to make us right with God (justification) and deliver us from the present evil age (sanctification), and this was the preordained plan of God so that He receives all glory forever and ever.

If you have any doubt over this being the good news then ask yourself, why would Paul declare a curse on anyone who distorts or teaches another form of this gospel in the following verses (Galatians 1:6–9)? It makes no sense to me (and maybe I’m just simpleton trying to argue with intelligentsia) to wrangle and divide the person of the gospel from the work of the gospel. Both are the good news. Jesus died to save sinners. It is that robust. It is that simple.

That’s why children “get” the gospel. They are capable of recognizing themselves to be sinners and Jesus to be the only Savior, and so, often with faith stronger than ours, they believe that good news. To say the gospel is a person (namely Jesus) is good but unless we talk about what He has done (justification) we have no basis for any grace or peace. Which is exactly how Paul begins this letter. Grace and Peace.

  1. Recent examples of this include John Piper’s God is the Gospel, Matt Chandler’s Explicit Gospel and Michael Horton’s The Gospel-Driven Life  ↩