In church we talk a lot about ‘the gospel’, and how ‘the gospel’ is our message and our hope. However, if someone outside church asked someone inside church to explain what ‘the gospel’ actually means, what might they say?
With the best of intentions I think many would say something like, “the gospel is a declaration of the love of God”, then they would perhaps quote a Bible passage like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. Now this is of course true. The gospel is indeed a declaration of the love of God to the world, but is that all we are telling people the gospel is?
Recently on one of our Sunday evening services we looked at the content of the apostle Paul’s gospel which he taught in 1 Thessalonians, and we noted that Paul’s gospel in that particular letter consisted of the following seven themes:
1. there is only one living and true God, 1:9;
2. the living and true God has a Son, who is Jesus, 1:9, who is the Lord, 4:2; 5:9;
3. Jesus, Son of God and Lord, died but was raised from the dead, 1:10; 4:14; 5:10;
4. Jesus, Son of God and Lord who died and rose again, saves us from God's coming wrath, 1:10; 5:9;
5. Jesus, Son of God and Lord, who died and rose again and rescues from coming wrath, will one day return from heaven to rule and reign on God's earth, 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-17;
6. all are invited to follow Jesus, and it is through Him anyone can become a member of God's Kingdom. The only ones excluded from God's Kingdom are those who will not accept God's invitation through God's King, 2:12;
7. followers of Jesus are governed by the will of a holy God who expects His people to live holy lives, ie, He expects His people to be distinct from others around them, and He empowers them to live this way by giving them the Holy Spirit, 4:1-8.
Seven points that we believers can perhaps learn and memorise, so that when we are next asked “what is the gospel” we will know how to reply Biblically.