What Is The Gospel?

Years ago I remember hearing an elder say that if my sermon could be accepted in a Jewish synagogue then it is not a distinctively Christian sermon. I’ve thought a lot about that over the years. What makes Christian sermons distinctively Christian? What damage could be done in the life of the Christian church if our sermons lose their distinctively Christian character? To answer that, of course, one would need to understand and appreciate what makes a gospel message distinctively “gospel.”

To be sure, the word “gospel” is used differently in the Scriptures. Robert Godfrey provides a helpful observation… read more»

Chris Gordon

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  1. “Mark uses the word “immediately” an astonishingly forty-two times throughout the book. …It’s a gospel of Jesus’ whole work for us. That, according to Mark, demands immediate response.” Which use of “immediately” in Mark is that?

  2. The elder’s remark sounds like a comment Ed Clowney made often in a class I took at Westminster Philadelphia. His version focused on preaching Christ as what distinguished a Christian sermon from a sermon that could be heard in a synagogue.

  3. The Christian church can say with Christ, “Come to me you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Because Christ has fulfilled all righteousness of the law perfectly, so that our yoke of taking on obedience to the law, as a guide for loving God and neighbor, is easy and a burden that is light. Not only has the requirement of perfect obedience been met by Christ, but the motive of love and gratitude makes it easy through our desire to obey Him. Those who reject the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, through trying to be justified by their own righteousness, have the crushing weight of the law and its requirement of perfect obedience on them. Matt. 11

  4. A propositional summary of the gospel: “God is God. Jesus is Lord. The powers of evil have been defeated. God’s new day has begun.” NT Wright, more or less – and I realize some folks may have trouble with Wright’s writings….but this particular bit is, I think, spot on for a brief encapsulization of the good news of Jesus Christ.

    • Paul,

      The problem is what this summary doesn’t say. It reflects his revision of the gospel, his truncated version. There’s no atonement. The cosmic (vagueness) has overwhelmed the NT presentation. The offensive bits (federal headship, imputation, sola fide) are omitted.

      God has been faithful. He has kept covenant. We can have Christus Victor but there’s more to the story.

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