I have come across, or been sent, a number of published (book or internet) items about the gospel, and nearly every one of them comes from the same sector of the church and each one presents the gospel in nearly identical form. In the last few years the gospel has become especially important to The Gospel Coalition and to those more or less connected to the resurgence of Calvinism. And, since I am convinced their gospel, regardless of how robust it is in matters pertaining to theology and soteriology, needs to be pressed against the light of Scripture. Here’s another one:
Scott Thomas, a “gospel coach,” sketches his understanding of the gospel, and it illustrates one more time how easy it is to frame the gospel in such a way that we need only three chapters in the Old Testament, we don’t need Israel’s Story, and that means we don’t need to understand the kind of Story that gives sense to the New Testament. Let me emphasize one more time — the big ideas below are true statements from the Bible. The “story” he tells below is the story of personal salvation (soterian gospel).
The gospel is not merely a definition, but a story (Rom. 1:1–6, 16). J. I. Packer said it includes not just the cross, but also the cradle, the cross and a crown. I added to Packer (that sounds like a bad idea) by including “creation” and “coming” as complementary bookends.
- Creation. In the beginning, God created all things for his glory, including mankind made in the image of God. It was complete harmony.
- Cradle. The sin by Adam and Eve had a consequence of condemnation and a need existed for a Savior: an atoning sacrifice and a substitute who could take our place. God sent his Son Jesus, born of a virgin who lived a sinless, perfect life.
- Cross. The promise of a Savior was fulfilled by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the cross, he paid the price in full and took away our condemnation by placing it upon himself.
- Crown. At the resurrection of Jesus, he established his kingdom on earth as the victorious conquering King over death, hell and condemnation. Upon his return to heaven, he sat down at the right hand of the Father, having completed the work he was sent to accomplish.
- Coming. One day, Jesus will return and will fully establish his kingdom on earth and in heaven. He will completely obliterate sin and Satan. Every tear will be wiped away, every sorrow, every pain, every disappointment, and every stress. He will restore relationships and will reunite those believers we temporarily lost out of this life: our parents, siblings, babies, and friends. Most of all, his coming will completely and thoroughly unite us with the Lamb of God whose blood was shed for our eternal joy and the glory of our Father.