What is the gospel we share?

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This is a foundation question to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. What is the good news - the gospel?

Ask a group of Christians and you will get a wide variety of answers! I did recently and 48 replies were all quite different. Only a few key words were common to all, as you can see illustrated in the largest letters on the tag cloud picture here. The 6-8 largest words are the most repeated in the 48 replies. Most of the other words are small in comparison, indicating that all of the respondents used a wide variety of words - there was no set formula.

Ask a biblical scholar like Tom Wright, and you may think it possible to get a single answer. However, in his many books he apparently offers 5 explanations of the gospel message - as one of his students observed.

Many Christians have quoted St Paul and the Epistles as their source material for an explanation of the gospel, not least as it was the apostles intention to write a clear explanation to all of the churches he wrote to. However, as Paul addressed different audiences, he too presented various facets of the big picture, for example:

'I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith' Rom 1:15.

'Remind you .. the gospel .. that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures' 1Cor 15:1-4.

A good summary of the gospel is found in the Apostles creed:

 

I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Amen.


A further exploration of the gospel - or good news - of the Christian church is to be found in the four books that are called The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These texts of the church have been handed down to provide us with a record of teaching of Jesus, who 'came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe the gospel'. Mark 1:14.

Interestingly, when we read the four Gospels we find Jesus addressing the crowd, or each individual, with a facet of the gospel message most relevant to them.  This reading from John V Taylor illustrates the point well (with 'person' replacing 'man' in the original text:

An essentially biblical emphasis - all too often ignored by the church - is that Christ is Lord and saviour of a whole of a person, or he is no saviour at all. Because Jesus insisted on seeing men whole, one could never be sure which aspect of a person's needs he would tackle first. Here comes the paralyzed man, helpless and obviously sick in body,. His friends have brought him hoping for a simple cure, and Jesus talks about the forgiveness of sins. Here, on the other hand, come s a clear case of spiritual need, an enquirer asking how to gain eternal life, and Jesus gives him an economic answer, telling him to give away his goods to the poor. Because ultimately Jesus cannot rest content until all of a person's needs are fully met, it does not matter much to him where he starts on the work of salvation'.

This picture of Jesus presenting different facets of the gospel message to meet individuals needs, has been studied. The booklet 'The 360 Gospel of Jesus' explores this. To follow that up 'Sharing faith the Jesus way' helps Christians who have never had the confidence before to pass on the good news of the gospel, by connecting three stories: the other persons story, your story, with the Jesus story. All this is available through a dedicated website www.jesus360.org.uk.

All of this study is seeks to help people discover what Pope Benedict XVI describes as 'the intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends'.
 

 

A further exploration of the gospel - or good news - of the Christian church is to be found in the four books that are called The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These texts of the church have been handed down to provide us with a record of teaching of Jesus, who 'came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe the gospel'. Mark 1:14. Interestingly, when we read the four Gospels we find Jesus addressing the crowd, or each individual, with a facet of the gospel message most relevant to them.  This reading from John V Taylor illustrates the point well (with 'person' replacing 'man' in the original text:An essentially biblical emphasis - all too often ignored by the church - is that Christ is Lord and saviour of a whole of a person, or he is no saviour at all. Because Jesus insisted on seeing men whole, one could never be sure which aspect of a person's needs he would tackle first. Here comes the paralyzed man, helpless and obviously sick in body,. His friends have brought him hoping for a simple cure, and Jesus talks about the forgiveness of sins. Here, on the other hand, come s a clear case of spiritual need, an enquirer asking how to gain eternal life, and Jesus gives him an economic answer, telling him to give away his goods to the poor. Because ultimately Jesus cannot rest content until all of a person's needs are fully met, it does not matter much to him where he starts on the work of salvation'.This picture of Jesus presenting different facets of the gospel message to meet individuals needs, has been studied. The booklet 'The 360 Gospel of Jesus' explores this. To follow that up 'Sharing faith the Jesus way' helps Christians who have never had the confidence before to pass on the good news of the gospel, by connecting three stories: the other persons story, your story, with the Jesus story. All this is available through a dedicated website .All of this study is seeks to help people discover what Pope Benedict XVI describes as 'the intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends'.
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