What is the gospel? Why does it matter?
The gospel is the story of God’s restoration purposes for humanity that he began through the calling of Abraham, continued through the formation of the nation of Israel, and fulfilled in the story of Jesus’ life, his death, his resurrection, and his promise to return as king. It matters because it is the vehicle or mode by which God is restoring all things, including our own lives, to his original and perfect purpose. The gospel is how God is making all things new, defeating evil, forgiving humanity’s sinfulness and restoring his wholeness and peace to all creation.
The church is the custodian of the gospel to the nations, and we are to announce the gospel and call all peoples to believe, repent and be baptised in the name of this King Jesus. But if we don’t really get what the gospel is, at least two errors are made. Firstly, we will be unsure of the full and gracious gift of freedom and life God has given us and are likely to revert back to religion and law. And this is one of the problems Paul is scathing against in his letter to the Churches in Galatia. Secondly, we will be presenting this diminished and ‘sick gospel’ to others and essentially replicating disciples that are not fully free, not receiving the gift of God’s Spirit as the new way of living.
So in one of the earliest texts in our New Testament, the apostle Paul, called by God to be a messenger for the gospel, writes to the churches in Galatia (now modern day Turkey). And in the letter he reminds them of the centrality and vital importance of remaining true to the gospel. As N.T. Wright says:
For Paul, the gospel isn’t simply a system of salvation, or a new way of being religious. It’s the announcement that Jesus, the crucified Messiah, is exalted as Lord of the whole world; therefore, he is calling into existence a single worldwide family. This is the true gospel, he says; beware of illicit imitations. Indeed, shun them; they are a curse, not a blessing.
Paul’s apostolic aim to build a single Jesus-based family by announcing this gospel has been partially successful and partially not. It’s as much a challenge in our day as it has ever been. In the wider world, ethnic rivalry and hostility continue unabated. Isn’t it time for the church to rediscover the apostolic gospel, and to live by it?
Yes, it is time for us to rediscover the gospel and to live by it and embody a new passion to make it known to a world in desperate need of its life-giving and liberating message.
Jesus: The End of Religion.
Jul 17: God’s Grace Transforms People (Gal 1:1–24)
Jul 24: Grace Enables Authentic Community (Gal 2:1-14)
Jul 31: The Liberating Power of Faith (Gal 2:15–3:5)
Aug 7: Receiving What God Has Promised Us (Gal 3:6-22)
Aug 14: Enjoying Freedom as God’s Children (Gal 3:23-4:7)
Aug 21: Guard Your Freedom! (Gal 4:8–31)
Aug 28: Free To Love (Gal 5:1–12)
Sep 4: Living Life in the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:13–26)
Sep 11: Being a Jesus-Centred Community (Gal 6:1-18)