Category Archives: Bible

Broadening Our View of Gospel and Salvation

The term for gospel as a noun only occurs in Matthew and Mark about a dozen times. It doesn’t appear in Luke or in John. It doesn’t show up again until Acts 15:7. The verb form (to preach or proclaim the good news) does show up a few times in Luke and the early chapters of Acts but never in John. When you read what all of these verses have to say they almost never talk about having our sins forgiven. What they mostly talk about is the kingdom, the resurrection of Jesus and Jesus as Lord.

In Scot McKnight’s book “King Jesus Gospel,” he asks a riveting question, Did Jesus preach the Gospel? The Gospel writers say he did. Mark chapter one has this mentioned directly twice. Luke 4 is another chapter where Jesus directly says he has come to preach the Gospel. I am quite sure it was N.T. Wright at this point who has pointed out that yes Jesus preached the Gospel but not as we most often define the Gospel – individual forgiveness of sins so we can die and go to heaven. Instead, Jesus preached the Gospel as the in-breaking kingdom with himself as the anointed king of that kingdom and Lord or master. So when you read the Sermon on the Mount you are reading Gospel.

In Acts 15:7 Peter says that when he preached to Cornelius and his family he preached the gospel/good news to them. Go to Acts 10 and read Peter’s speech to the Gentiles. He does mention forgiveness of sins and he mentions many other things as well because the Gospel is more than just the forgiveness of our sins. The gospel is about whole life transformation that conforms us to kingdom living or life in the kingdom of God.

Why have we boiled down the gospel to something much less than the sum total of what the New Testament itself calls Gospel? I believe it is because we go to the scriptures for what we don’t think we can provide for ourselves. Most of us are fairly affluent by worldly standards. We aren’t impoverished. We aren’t destitute. We aren’t anywhere close to where Jesus’ Palestinian, Roman occupied and oppressed, audience was in the first century. They understood Gospel as liberation from all that enslaved and oppressed them. Because we are so affluent we skip over all that we don’t think we can fix ourselves to the part we know we can’t do anything about – our sin. So we don’t see the gospel as having anything to do with our illnesses, our attitudes, our mental state, or our treatment of others. We don’t see the gospel as having anything to do if we lack peace, even though the gospel is called the “gospel of peace.” We don’t connect any of those dots because we have not picked up on the fact that in the Bible itself the Gospel covers so much more than forgiveness (did you know the word forgiveness only shows up 14 times in the New Testament and forgive a few dozen? I would have guessed more and nearly half those times are about how we are to forgive others. If that is all the gospel is about you would think it would be mentioned more). What is more, even the word forgive is about being set free. See if you can spot the word, even though it is not translated as forgive in Luke 4:18-19,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Here is where it is in those verses,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The Spirit of the Lord is on Jesus to proclaim the good news and look what is listed (forgiveness/release from sin is not on the list): the good news is for the poor, freedom for prisoners, healing of the blind, and set the oppressed free! The Gospel message has something to do with forgiving sins, Peter himself says that in Acts 10 and Paul does elsewhere as well but it is so much more wholistic than that because so much more of us needs set free than just our soul from sin because we are enslaved to more things than we would like to admit. Forgiveness is the release from those burdens, not just sin.

The truth of the matter is, so much less is under our control than we would like to think. Secondly, we are enslaved and oppressed in far more ways than we would like to admit. The Gospel message of deliverance from more than sin is a message that we need to understand, live and share with others. When we do this the gospel message will be as relevant and compelling as ever.

Five Reasons You Need to Read The Old Testament

The more I study the New Testament (NT), the more I understand my need to study the Old Testament (OT). The Jesus’ story is a story of two testaments, not one. The Gospel is best understood when one has some comprehension of the whole Bible in order to get the full meaning of what isContinue Reading

Bible Study Tip #7 Rely on the Spirit

The Bible is the word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16). The Spirit helped write the words that we have and the Spirit has full comprehension of the meaning of what the Spirit has communicated to us through the Bible. So the Spirit helps on the “speaking” end of the conversation.Continue Reading

Bible Study Tip #6 Not Every Word in the Bible is Something to Live By

Did you know that not every word in the Bible is something we should live by? You have to pay attention to who is speaking. You have probably heard someone say in your lifetime “God doesn’t hear a sinner’s prayer” and point you to John 10:31. That is what the text says. But you haveContinue Reading

Bible Study Tip #4 Which “Gesis” Do You Need?

No, not Jesus…Gesis. I am talking about exegesis and eisegesis. I know this doesn’t sound like beginner material but let me assure you that you need to have a handle on these terms if you are going to be a student of the scripture. The reason I believe understanding the ideas behind these two termsContinue Reading

Bible Study Tip #3 The Gist of Bible Translations

Since most people will not be reading the Bible in its original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) we typically rely heavily on English translations. In the previous post I said the best translation is the one you will read consistently just make sure it is a fairly modern translation (so the language is current) doneContinue Reading

Bible Study Tip #2 Which Bible Translation Should I Use?

There are many English translations one can choose from. There are so many that Craig Blomberg remarked a few years ago in his book “Can We Still Believe the Bible” that publishers need to stop making new English translations until we have put more translations in other languages. I appreciate that position a great deal.Continue Reading

Bible Study Tip #1 Consistency

If you want to know God’s Word you have to study regularly. Consistency is the key even if what you are reading or studying is a very small amount. It isn’t about getting through the Bible in a year. It isn’t about always doing an in depth study. Knowing the Bible takes consistency. Be inContinue Reading

What is the “Perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13? It Has Nothing to do with the Completion of the Bible

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (KJV) For as far back as I can remember the popular interpretation of this verse was that the perfect was the completed New Testament.Continue Reading

What is the Real Issue in Churches of Christ?

It isn’t women’s roles. It isn’t instrumental music. It isn’t clapping or dancing. If I had to boil down to what our real issue is it is this – how we read scripture and the presuppositions we bring to the table when we read the Bible. A necessary and related discussion is our view ofContinue Reading

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