• What is your picture of the gospel? Doubtless it is affected by your personal spiritual biography and formative spiritual experiences.
  • Is it possible that your view could contain an incomplete or even distorted view of the gospel?
  • For many, the gospel is mostly about forgiveness, going to heaven, and avoiding hell. Is that all?
  • Today is part 1 of two classes designed to refresh and expand our view of what the gospel is, and what it means for us today.

1. Good News

  • The gospel is not ‘the gospels’ which are the first four books of the New Testament detailing the life of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • The English word gospel comes from Old English ‘godspel’ meaning ‘good news’.
  • The ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’ (from the Greek, euangelion). The Scriptural idea is encapsulated in this verse:
    • Isaiah 52.7
      “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!””
    • The image is someone running from the battlefront, bringing good news of a military victory. Watchmen were trained to notice how these specialist runners ran. If they were doing the survival shuffle it was bad news. If their legs were pumping, and the dust was flying, it was good news.
    • In essence, this is the gospel. God has won the victory; we are part of his victorious people and we share in his celebration.

2. How did Jesus define the good news?

  • Jesus connected the good news with the coming of the kingdom. They are one and the same.
    • Mark 1.14-15
      “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus 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 in the gospel.””
  • Why did he see the gospel as the coming of God’s kingdom? Because the kingdom is where God reigns and gets his stuff done. Because his stuff is good (love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, healing, wholeness), it is good news that the kingdom is here. It is an attractive place!
  • That is why we pray:Matthew 6.10
    “‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”
    • When you pray this prayer, what image do you have in mind? What are you hoping for and expecting will happen?
  • A completely different kind of life is now available:Romans 14.17
    “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
  • Ephesians 6.14-15
    • We are in God’s kingdom and share in the practices and promises of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. How are these manifested in your life? What about in your local group?

Conclusion: Cultivating a Healthy view of the Gospel

  • Questions and suggestions for reflection and discussion
    • Write a one sentence description of the gospel that you could share with anyone
    • How would you explain the gospel to someone who has never heard it before?
    • How does Jesus embody the gospel message?
    • What key biblical passages define or illustrate the gospel message?
    • What are the most common misconceptions about the gospel you have heard – or you used to believe?
    • What aspect of the gospel is most meaningful to you?
    • How could your local group grow in understanding and living the gospel?
    • Read one of the gospels and make notes on anything you notice that reveals the gospel
  • I hope you found these thoughts helpful. Drop me a line if you have any questions or feedback:
  • Next time we will proceed to explore what Jesus’ gospel means for mission and life.
  • God bless, Malcolm

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)