The word Gospel is an ancient Greek word that has been brought into the modern English language. The word Gospel, literally translated, means “good news”. 92 times in the New Testament, the word Gospel is used. There are no uses of this word in the Old Testament of the Bible, because the Old Testament wasn’t written in the Greek language. However, the word Gospel describes the overall plot of the entire Bible.
Gospel, is a great word to describe the whole of the Bible. However, there is a challenge with this word Gospel because we don’t have one singular verse in the Bible that explains the word succinctly. As a result, a lot of people toss the word Gospel around with varying meanings. The purpose of this blog today is to clear up some confusion about the word Gospel.
Having Gospel conversations
I’m just gonna be honest with you; most preachers that I listen to don’t explain the Gospel well. Don’t get me wrong, they spend their time talking about the Gospel. They just don’t describe the Gospel well or often in their sermons. Even preachers who have a genuine love for Jesus and hold to a very high view of the Bible will spend a lot of time talking around the term Gospel without being explicit about what this word means. Christians can become very confused when they have listened to ambiguous Gospel teaching over a long period of time.
Maybe you are asking – What is the difference between talking about the Gospel and explaining the Gospel? The difference is subtle yet significant. I like to think of it like swimming in a pool. By the way, Gospel conversation are not just the responsibility of preachers during sermons –all Christian are called to make disciples. Making disciples requires that all Christians have regular Gospel conversations.
Here’s the difference between talking about the Gospel and sharing the Gospel: Talking about the Gospel is shallow-water conversations. Sharing the Gospel and inviting someone to respond to the Gospel story is a deep-water conversation. In other words, where exactly does the shallow water end and the deep water begin?
What is the Gospel?
Here is my definition of the word Gospel. (This is the line in the pool that separates shallow-water from deep-water Gospel conversations.)
The Gospel is the good news that “Jesus saves sinners”. The overall plot of the Bible is the Gospel. The Gospel has Jesus as the hero of the story and his church as the bride in need of rescue. The gospel story consists of four chapters:
Chapter 1- Creation
Chapter 2- The Fall
Chapter 3- Redemption
Chapter 4- Re-creation
The Gospel requires a response by all who hear it. The proper response to the Gospel is repentance and faith.
Who is it for?
I hope my swimming pool analogy hasn’t confused you. The Gospel isn’t only for people who don’t know Jesus. The Gospel also applies to those of us who have been redeemed by Jesus. Pastor J.D. Greear described this perfectly in his book Gospel: “The gospel is not merely the diving board off of which you jumped into the pool of Christianity; the gospel is the pool itself. So, keep going deeper into it. You’ll never find the bottom.”
I need the Gospel as much today as the moment that Jesus saved me. You need the Gospel no matter who you are. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to radically change your life (Romans 1:16). If you’ve never responded to the Gospel before, I want to challenge you to do that right now. You can turn to Jesus in the form of a simple, sincere prayer. Something like this:
Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I understand that my sin has made me unholy and unacceptable in your sight. I believe the Gospel that you left heaven and came to earth to rescue me from my sins and to restore me to a right relationship with you. I repent by turning from my sins and trusting you as my Savior. Please forgive me by your death on the cross and change me by the power of your resurrection right now. Amen.
If you’ve made that commitment for the first time, we would like to know about it. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This Gospel is not just for people who are turning to Jesus for the first time. It is also for everyone who needs his power to make it through the temptations and troubles of today. That’s what makes Greear’s Gospel analogy fit perfectly: because I need Jesus’s Gospel as much today as the day that he first changed me.
 J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (Nashville: B&H, 2011), 248.