Our church is currently in a study based on Tim Keller’s book, The Gospel in Life. This leads to the question, “What is the Gospel?” The truth is the Gospel is larger than most Christians realize.
The word “gospel” of course means “good news,” but what exactly is the good news that Jesus proclaimed? Most American evangelicals may say the good news is “you get to go to heaven when you die,” but that is only part of the gospel. Jesus said, in Luke 4:43, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because this is why I was sent.” The good news is that the kingdom of God is present and available now and forever through reliance on Jesus. We get to experience life with Jesus in the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life” (John 10:10). This includes, of course, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven, but it is more than that. As a Christian, I must trust Jesus for everything, not just for what happens when I die.
The Gospel in Life curriculum has been relentless in reminding us that grace changes everything. Grace changes the way we think about money, success, family, work, and worship. Tim Keller frequently asks, “Have you allowed the gospel to shape you?” Living as gospel people means we live in the reality of a new kingdom with a whole new perspective.
Dallas Willard writes:
The new birth should be seen as an entrance into the kingdom of God. John Chapter 3 is not a ‘forgiveness of sins’ passage but a new life from above passage. Forgiveness from sins is essential – but it is not the whole package.
We must help people receive and embrace “the whole package.” The gospel must include regeneration, not just justification. New life is available. In Christ, you and I can be fully alive. In Christ, you and I can live now in the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed. Jesus ushered in a whole new reality. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33) and Paul reminds us that Jesus, “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). The point of discipleship is to help us live now in the Kingdom of God. If the gospel were only about entering heaven when we die, discipleship would not be necessary. A “whole-package” gospel says, “Put your confidence and trust in Jesus and live with him as a disciple now in the Kingdom of God and forever with Him in heaven.”
How would you define “Gospel?” How have you seen the Gospel reduced to a partial gospel? How would a “whole-package” Gospel change the way we live?