What is the Gospel?

rustic cross on church

The descriptor gospel-centered is becoming a bit of a buzz word. If you ask 25 people what it means, you are likely to get 30 different answers. When we use the phrase at this website, it’s important to have parameters for what we mean. First what is the gospel? And, second, what does it mean to be gospel-centered?

What is the gospel? Now there’s a loaded question. There are two mistakes to avoid in this article and on this website as a whole. Mistake #1 is treating the gospel as a word that everyone already knows and understands. It’s a mistake to believe that when one uses the word gospel, all reading it are on the same page and reference the same core beliefs at the mention of the word. Mistake #2 is believing that any of us has the ability to fully explain the gospel to someone who doesn’t already know it. The gospel is a deep concept, a multifaceted diamond that after a lifetime of study will still contain elements we have not completely understood.

In an effort to avoid these two mistakes, here is a baseline for understanding the gospel, coupled with an acknowledgement that the gospel is much more than this as well.

The word gospel means simply good news, and it is good to understand what the word meant to the original audience to fully understand its implications for us today. The evangelion was the good news of regime change. It was originally a political word. When a new ruler was installed, evangelists would ride out with the good news to the furthest reaches of the areas affected. The first time the word gospel appears in the New Testament is in Matthew 24:14, where Jesus refers to the gospel or good news of His kingdom. The good news to the people listening in His day was that Jesus is king. But we also know that His kingdom was not the one they expected. Yet He is indeed king.

The good news of Jesus surpassed the evangelion of the installment of mere earthly kings. Jesus’ kingship is spiritual and eternal, yet it also has an earthly element to it. We are instructed in the Lord’s Prayer to long for His kingdom to come on earth as it is now in heaven. When we use the word gospel or good news here on earth now, we are thinking of all that His kingdom encompasses and all that His life, death, resurrection, and ascension have accomplished for us. This good news and all it includes is the culminating message of the entire Bible.

This good news of Jesus seems to culminate on the cross, and there is much to contemplate about this good news by way of Christ’s punishment in our place. Yet this good news reaches another peak when Jesus returns from the dead, actually defeating the greatest consequence of the fall of man, death and decay. Then the good news of Jesus reaches the highest point of all when He ascends back to heaven, sitting as King Jesus ready to receive us when we return to Him for eternity there as well. These are all facets of salvation. Theologians call the implications for us from His death justification, the implications for us of His resurrection sanctification, and the implications for us of His ascension glorification. When we are found in Jesus as believers, His life, death, resurrection, and ascension change everything about our life, our death, and our future after death.

The gospel changes everything, but it will take a lifetime in Christ to unpack it all.

When we use the term gospel-centered at this website, the question to ask is “What does it look like to apply this good news in this situation right now?” How does the fact that Jesus is King transform how I approach a particular subject? How does it transform how I respond to trial? How does it equip me to face my sins head on? It’s centering ourselves in the truth of all Jesus has accomplished for us and how His kingship changes everything and then acting from that truth in ways that are consistent with it in our particular set of circumstances.

This website is a little place in the internet world to explore the implications of this good news for us as women. Single, married, widowed, or divorced. Daughter or orphan. Working woman, stay at home mom, or a hybrid of the two. Among the books we recommend and the articles we post, this is the focus we are aiming for.

2 Timothy 2 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.

By Wendy Alsup

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