What is the “Gospel”?

In April 2010 I heard a man I know and respect greatly, Scot McKnight, speak about his understanding of the Gospel. Scot is a no-joke theologian and someone that when he talks, people (and I) listen. His talk about the Gospel peaked my interest because I had never really thought deeply about what I believed the Gospel is. My whole life I hear Christian folks constantly talking all of the time about:

preaching the Gospel

teaching the Gospel

spreading the Gospel

presenting the Gospel

After much reflection and study on my part since April, I have some very strong thoughts about what I believe the Gospel is. But before I post mine tomorrow, I would love to hear your thoughts first. Don’t worry – this isn’t a test and there are no right or wrong answers 🙂

What do you feel the Gospel is?

Much love.


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  • Be loved and love…

  • I *know* (rather than just feel – makes one sound like a Mormon Andrew!) that the Gospel is the good news that Jesus saves sinners. Not that he helps them live a righteous life (that’s about discipleship and sanctification which should come afterwards), simply that Jesus saves sinners.

  • To me … the Gospel is Jesus.

    It’s about loving God with all that we are and have. It’s about loving others through the love God pours in (and out of) us. It’s about living for God’s glory above our own – daily.

    Acts 8:35, for me, sums it up. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all for Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less.

  • Kevin Harris

    My understanding of what the gospel is has been evolving over time and continues to do so. I grew up primarily in the Southern Baptist church, and at the time my understanding was that it only entailed accepting Jesus as lord in your life. The “Roman Road” pretty much sums up that view where you acknowledge God as creator (Romans 1:20-21), our state as sinners in need of forgiveness (Ro. 3:23), how God demonstrated God’s love for us through the death of Jesus (Ro. 5:8), noting that the wages of sin is death and the gift of god is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Ro. 6:23), confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (Ro. 10:9-10) and determine to make Jesus the Lord of your life (Ro. 11:36).

    In that context it was kind of like earth was this place that we waited around on until we got to heaven and the focus was primarily on getting people to “make a decision for Jesus.” Once I went to college my ideas of the gospel started to expand to incorporate more of Jesus’ words on his mission and what it looks like to live out our faith. Talking about Christianity, I feel that Wendell Berry had a point when he said “Because it has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been made the tool of much earthly villainy.

    I like what people people are saying about it all being about Jesus and the fact that Jesus saves sinners, but that still leaves me feeling like there is more although that is obviously the foundation. Jesus didn’t say, I have come that you may believe in me and be forgiven of your sins but “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19) And the parable of sheep and goats in Matt. 25:31-46 had an impact on me as Jesus talks about feeding the hungry and thirsty, caring for strangers and the sick, and visiting those in prison as the parable points to the idea that their judgement and dare I say salvation is contingent upon how they treated the ‘least of these.’

    I agree the gospel is all about Jesus, but I guess that I have a hard time separating the redemptive work that God is doing in us and through us in the process of restoring God’s creation.

    So all that to say, I think I view the gospel as the ‘good news’ that through a relationship with Jesus, God restores us to rightful relationship with God while working through us and helping us to find our rightful place in the unfolding narrative where we are co-workers with God in the redemptive process of bringing about God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That we continue to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) that began in Jesus that allows us to strive to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind while seeking to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39).

    • Debbie Thurman

      I like this, Kevin. And I absolutely LOVE that moment in Luke’s gospel you cite where Jesus takes the scroll in the synagogue and reads from Isaiah’s prophecy, then tells the people that prophecy has been fulfilled in their very sight. Gives me goose bumps. 🙂

  • Sam

    The Gospel is the good news that Jesus, God’s Son, walked among us as a real person. He loves us and desires to live in and with us, like forever. How do we spread the good news? How do we preach, teach and present it?

    There is no better way than showing the love of Jesus to the people we come in contact with each day. Let me see the love of Jesus in you – loving people, just as Jesus did – including touching the lepers, those considered unclean, the outcasts of society and bringing healing to their lives. There is no better sermon, no better lesson, no better presentation.

    Jesus tells me to follow His example if I love Him. Of course this includes talking and writing, but to me the whole Gospel includes actively loving people, including people who may be way out of our comfort zone. If I discover that the guy at the end of my street was recently in jail for trafficking women and children, even though what he did is totally repulsive to me, as a follower of Jesus I need to figure out ways to show Jesus’ love to him.

    Jesus in not an abstract notion. He is more than a systematic theology. He is a living person. Help me see Him in you so that I might imagine the possibility that He might also live in me. Don’t spout theology or a bunch of Bible verses at me. It makes no sense to me. Show me Jesus. Let me see Him in you. That makes sense to me. Maybe later I’ll be able to comprehend your holy writings.

    Where are the holy ones in whom He resides? How do I find such people? Show me that I too might find my way.

  • Ryan

    The gospel is the ‘good news’ of the kingdom of God that has been inaugurated by Jesus incarnating into human history and enacting God’s plan of redemption and restoration for the whole of creation, though his life, death, resurrection and ascension. How do we get to be a part of it? Through faith in the work Jesus accomplished on the cross in atoning for the sins of those who repent and believe. So in a way there is a narrow sense and a broad sense to the work of the gospel. But the broad without the narrow simply isn’t the full gospel. I love that J. I Packer condenses the gospel to ‘God Saves Sinners’ – and I agree that a it’s heart that is true.

    • Ryan

      *edit – sentence should read ‘through faith in Jesus and the work he accomplished on the cross in atoning for the sins of those who repent and believe.’