The Gospel is for believers! It is not only the power of God to convert unbelievers, it is the power of God to save those who are believing. It is the door by which we enter the house and the house itself! Every room we explore is an exploration deeper into beautiful Gospel truths.
 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, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, ESV, emphasis mine)
If there is anything we need to get right, this is it. Over the next few posts we’ll look at three components of the Gospel that I pray will help Christians think rightly about the Gospel and live from the power God supplies through it. We’ll look at Gospel clarity (What is it?), Gospel content (Of what does it consist?), and Gospel centrality (How does remembering it give us strength day to day?).
At times we can confuse the Gospel with the effects of the Gospel. Most of the time this is unintended, even well meaning, but tends to muddy the waters a bit when it comes to the true Gospel message. Here are a few things to think through as we grow in our understanding of the gospel impacting our lives and how we might share this news–the greatest news ever-with others in our culture.
The Gospel IS News
At it’s simplest it is a report of an event. It is the good news of what a loving God has done, in Christ, for sinners. It is news about something that happened at a specific point in history. It can be proved. It is NOT some esoteric system of beliefs that only the deep thinking or spiritually minded people can understand. The news is presented and either believed or not believed.
It MUST be Preached
Since the gospel is news it has to be proclaimed, preached, told. It can not be lived. We can’t live the gospel in front of others. We can’t live news. We live our lives as Christians who, by God’s grace, believe the Gospel–in front of others. But our lifestyle and even our love won’t save people. God may use our lives to draw people or to pique their interest, but He will use the Gospel to save them. “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words” may be well intentioned, but wrong. People can not believe news they haven’t heard.
It IS True because It Happened
It is not true because we believe it or had some great experience. People have great, very real “experiences” all the time apart from Christ–even spiritual experiences. It’s not wrong to tell people about our experience with Christ so long as the Gospel’s truth or legitimacy are not based on said experiences or feelings.
The Gospel IS His Story
The Gospel is His story, NOT our story. I see nothing wrong with sharing our story with others. Paul shared his story multiple times, but never in place of the gospel. Changed lives is one proof of the Gospel’s saving power. But sharing our testimony is not a substitute for sharing the gospel. It may be a wonderful way to lead into the Gospel, but neither your story nor mine has the power to bring life to spiritually dead sinners. Only His story does.
It is NOT a Life Improvement Plan
“Want a better life? Try Jesus.” Don’t get me started on church signs, we don’t have time! Only in America would we promote it like this. In much of the world, following Jesus could very well make your life physically worse or even nonexistent. Believing in Christ will give you the peace you are looking for but, may or may not immediately improve your life. If you had debt before Jesus you will still have debt. If you had a bad marriage before Jesus you could still have a bad marriage if your spouse is an unbeliever. If you were sick before Jesus you could get sicker and even die. We are never promised a trial-less life in Christ. We are promised He will be with us–which is better by far!
It is NOT a Having Personal Relationship with God
Everyone in the history of the world has a personal relationship with God. Satan has a personal relationship with God. The question is: what is the nature of that relationship? Is God righteous, wrathful Judge, or is He gracious, merciful, forgiving Father? Belief in the gospel (trust in Christ’s work for you on the cross) is what changes or reconciles that relationship.
These are just a few of the references I hear when people talk about the Gospel. I hope this post will help Christians begin to think rightly about the story God uses to save us, keep us saved, and one day save us completely!