What is the Gospel?
The word gospel has been around since Jesus, so it is definitely not new, but it has become an especially trendy word to use these days. Just take a short walk through the Christian bookstore and you will see that just about ever other book title contains the word gospel.
It is one of those words that we know we should be familiar with, so when it is used in our presence we nod knowingly, afraid to admit that we may not know much more about it that it means “good news”.
What is the Gospel? How would you explain it to a friend? How would you personalize it so that someone would see their self in the gospel story?
Here is a simple way to remember the Gospel – four words…
Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration
God created the world good. Mankind was created very good, bearing the image of their Creator. There was no shame as the man and woman found their identity – their sense of who they were and why they mattered – in their relationship with God.
It went tragically wrong when the man and woman sought wholeness apart from God. They fell for the lie that there was more, that God did not have their best interest in mind, and they became disconnected from their Creator.
In their sin the image was broken. The entire creation was broken as it fell the effect. Immediately they felt shame – wondering if they were loveable and distrusting God – and covered themselves.
When one lives in the fallen state, they create an identity as a way of self-definition and a source of value to cover the shame that is the natural default of this broken state. (see Covering the Broken Image)
At God’s initiation, access to our true self was returned. In Christ we receive forgiveness and the value of our self is returned and secured. By adopting Christ as our identity we are freed from enslavement to the world’s standards and freed to obey God without fear of failure – for righteousness does not depend on our right actions.
God fully heals the broken image. All things are made new. There will no longer be the tug-of-war between our old nature and our true self in Christ as all brokenness is gone.
Where we look for redemption is a gospel. <– Click to Tweet
We seek wholeness in a relationship, financial status, body image, eating lifestyle, having children, environmental concern, political affiliation, or any host of other things. And we form our identity – our sense of self and why we are valuable – around those things. (see Why Do We Adopt an Identity?)
Even in Christ, because of the lies and systems that have shaped us, we have functional gospels that we cling to and God is trying to break our grip on.
But these substitute gospels offer enslavement – in Christ there is forgiveness.
Substitute gospels offer value by comparison that changes and must be maintained – in Christ there is security.
In Christ there is no disappointment in what is hoped for – God is faithful to every one of his promises.
That is the Gospel.