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Years ago I asked an audience to state the Gospel for me, so that I could write it on the whiteboard. In rapid-fire style they shouted out their favorite way of saying it and I dutifully wrote them down. When we were finished, we had 14 different definitions of the Gospel. Is it any wonder that people are confused about this subject?
No matter one’s belief system, the most important thing people want to be sure of is whether or not they will get into heaven. If there is a heaven, how is it possible to get in? It seems that the answer may be in the question: “What is the Gospel?” There are so many possible answers.
Let’s check out several uses of the term “gospel.” Jesus’ first appearance to speak is in Matthew: Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news (the gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)Jesus gives an interesting identification to the gospel-the gospel of the kingdom.
The first few verses of the Gospel of Mark are: The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah. Later: After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1)
“Gospel” is used both as a noun and a verb. It has come to mean the “good news.” Originally it was the reward for good news; later the reward was dropped and became simply the “good news.” There is a sense of proclaiming good news of deliverance and freedom.
But what is the Gospel-the Good News-exactly? If you had to nail it down to a few words, what would it be? Many who are familiar with the New Testament attempt to nail the Gospel down to a few points-a belief system made up of certain vital ingredients. Others might do the same thing, but each might disagree as to what the essential points are that you must believe for salvation?
Since surrendering my life to Jesus and learning to follow him, I’ve come to understand the Gospel-the Good News-is really not that complicated. The Gospel is Jesus, simply Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less! To make the Gospel more than Jesus is to say that Jesus is not enough.