It was particularly interesting last Friday when we chatted about 'What is the Gospel?' and we each came up with different things that it meant to us. Perhaps that shouldn't be too surprising as the Bible presents a multi-faceted picture of the Gospel too.
Anyway, today I thought it'd be interesting to chat a bit more about that question: What is the Gospel?
In the Bible the word 'Gospel' (euangelion in Greek) is used 77 times, but in different ways. Across these 77 instances, it's referred to as:
The Gospel of the Kingdom (e.g., Matthew 4:23).
The Gospel of the Grace of God (e.g., Acts 20:24).
The Gospel of God (e.g., Romans 1:1).
The Gospel of Your Salvation (e.g., Ephesians 1:13).
The Gospel of Peace (e.g., Ephesians 6:15).
In each of these cases, the word 'Gospel' is used quickly in a sentence, and then the writer moves on. It's almost as if it's too big to describe in that moment. It is, however, described as 'truth', 'fellowship', 'glorious', and 'a mystery'. Further, that word euangelion means 'Glad Tidings', so it's really, really good!
In his own preaching of the Gospel Jesus said, "Repent", but he followed it with: "For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" So, yes, it does include a very real call to repentance. And, the stark fact is that some will reject God. But our job is to bring the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven.
And so, we carry this Good News in our homes, daily, and over long years. It's seen by our spouse all the time. Whether or not we say a word about it. It will (metaphorically) ooze out of our pores as we live out our Christian life and make all the choices we make as SUMites.
Now, here's an extra little thing: I mentioned in Monday's post that I know someone who is an evangelist. He's an older minister than me and he runs the New Zealand branch of a global ministry (Evangelism Explosion) that teaches Christians how to share the Gospel. It's a great ministry! Anyway, a few weeks ago he invited me to come on one of his courses and, as I write, we're currently midway through.
Now you'd think for a SUMite we'd know a lot about this topic ... Yes, yes we do. But, I am not an evangelist, and I believe I can benefit from putting myself in a room with those who are. Indeed, this course is turning out to be very enjoyable with plenty of new things to think about.
One of the things my evangelist friend has given us in the course is an outline of the Gospel, showing how it has five elements to it: Heaven, Man, God, Jesus, and Faith. The idea is that we can use these five elements to think about how chat to others when sharing our faith. Here they are:
"(1) Heaven is a free gift. It is not earned or deserved.
(2) Man is a sinner. He cannot save himself.
(3) God is Love and doesn't want to punish us. But God is just and must punish our sin.
(4) Christ is both God and man. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in Heaven for us.
(5) Faith is not just head knowledge, nor is it temporary faith. True saving faith is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for our eternal life."
(Quoted from the Evangelism Explosion manual)
Can that outline help us a little more, I wonder? I, for one, am going to blue-tack it up on my kitchen wall for a week or so and mull over how I carry these five messages.
We may find, even, that we have the opportunity to chat about one of these five areas to our spouse in the course of natural conversation. In any case, we can be sure that as carriers of this message our spouse will see it. They will see what we believe; and they will see what we stand for. And that is our great commission fulfilled.
I look forward to chatting in the comments, as always, and have a lovely weekend.