Category Archives: Gospel

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.

Losing Our Way in Churches of Christ and Finding the Answer in the Gospels

I intend to spend a lot more time in the Gospels this year and I would like to tell you why. In 2015 I tackled N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God. I started it while on jury duty via my kindle app and when I first downloaded the book it told me IContinue Reading

Two New Small Group Series Uploaded to Kingdom Living

I just uploaded two new small group lesson series. I wrote these for Northwest to use in my absence in order to help them transition to a new way of developing small group curriculum next year. Here they are: Generations Seeking God Together The Gospel

The Gospel is Not Just a Set of Facts, It is Those Facts Proclaimed

When I think of the Gospel I often think of information. Usually that information is summed up as the death and resurrection of Christ that brings us forgiveness and eternal life. But if you look up how the word “Gospel” is used in the New Testament it is almost always used in the context ofContinue Reading

What Did Jesus Mean When He Talked About Causing “Little ones to Stumble”?

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. ” – LukeContinue Reading

Review of Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection – Part 3

The third book in the Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection is Stan Guthrie’s “All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us“. Guthrie takes the majority of questions Jesus asked during his ministry and weaves them into an investigation of the identity and mission of Jesus Christ. In later chaptersContinue Reading

Tom Wright on “What is the Gospel?”

If the video doesn’t play for you click here. I love Wright’s focus on Jesus. A couple of years ago there was a lot of discussion regarding where to start with people when sharing the Gospel. The point was made (at the Pepperdine lectures, online and elsewhere) that older generations tend to start with theContinue Reading

Taking Risks for the Kingdom

The New Testament is a continuous story of risk takers. John the Baptist is killed because he called out Herod on his sin. Jesus is crucified because the religious authorities thought he was a blasphemer. Paul was killed in Rome because of his preaching the Gospel. Stephen was stoned because of his testimony. Peter andContinue Reading

Kids, Play and the Power of Narrative

I have been reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, highly recommend it. This book is Miller’s reflection on working with producers on the movie version of Blue Like Jazz. Turns out, life isn’t like the movies…most of us wouldn’t make good movie characters. As Miller reflects on their take onContinue Reading

Do We Recognize Redemption When It Happens Right in Front of Us?

In Luke 7 Jesus is in the house of Simon the Pharisee. While they are reclining at the table a “sinful” woman comes in and anoints Jesus, first with her tears and then with some perfume she had brought with her. Luke tells us she had learned that Jesus was in the house and sheContinue Reading

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