If you have read any of my recent posts here, you know that I have been doing a study over the Gospel, called The Power of the Gospel, from the OBC. This course has 24 lessons, and as I read through them and read the Scriptures that related to each lesson, I quickly came to realize that I had stumbled upon something awesome. I have been a Christian for a while now, but as I studied through this course, I realized that I had been missing a LOT of what the Christian life was about – specifically, I had been missing what the Gospel truly was and how it related to my whole life. I finished up the course last week, but my wife just started it, so I have decided to go back and do it again with her. In doing so, I am going to try to grasp the concepts a little better and share them with you here. This means I will be writing about some things I already wrote about, but I don’t really mind – I think it’s just that important.
The best place to start is with a definition of the Gospel. If you’re like me, you always figured the Gospel is just the message that “Jesus saves.” We always hear that Gospel means “good news,” so this must mean that sharing the Gospel means telling others the good news that Jesus can save them from their sins. This is true – the Gospel does include that message, but as I found out in this course, it means a lot more, too.
Paul says in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” Paul says that the Gospel is the “power of God” – not just a tool for God to use to save people, but the actual power of God within itself. Vincent’s Word Studies comments that this means that the Gospel is “not merely a powerful means in God’s hands, but [is] in itself a divine energy.”** The lesson uses the illustration of a car as the Christian life - the Gospel is like the engine and the Holy Spirit is like the fuel. Instead of getting behind the car and pushing it everywhere (which would be trying to make the Christian life work under your own power), the Lord has designed it to work by using the Gospel’s power and the fuel of the Holy Spirit. In other words, “the Gospel is the power which energizes the Christian life.”**
The word Gospel comes from the Greek word evangelion, which was not a spiritual or religious term, but a military term. It meant that a battle had ended victoriously, and was used as a term to be shouted through the city to spread the message of that victory. In 2 Timothy 2:11, Paul says “And of this gospel I was appointed a herald…” A herald is a good description of someone who would come shouting “evangelion!” – a person who is spreading the good news of victory.
The lesson points out that this good news, of which we are heralds, is more than just the message that God has provided a means of salvation. It says that the Gospel “…is more than just the entry point to the Christian life…not just God’s method of salvation, but God’s method of life.”** This is where I sat in awe, realizing that I had spent years thinking that the Gospel had only to do with my conversion experience, and nothing to do with my life after the fact. I may have understood, at least on a shallow level, that God would work in my life to help me overcome sin and to live for Him, but after my conversion, I didn’t live like I believed that. I tried to “be good” on my own, and I failed every day. This course over the Gospel helped me realize that God truly has worked out all of the details – not just for the conversion, but for everything after that, too.
In Romans 1:17, it says “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…” (emphasis added) This is a good starting point for understand the whole Gospel – that it is “from God” – which designates the orientation of the Gospel (God-to-you); that it is “by faith” – believing and trusting God; and that it is “from first to last” (some translations, “start to finish”) – not only do we start the Christian life by faith, but we finish it by faith, and we live by faith all the time in between.
In the remainder of the lessons that I write about, you will see a distinct pattern as we talk about the Gospel. Although there is only one Gospel, it can be divided up into 2 distinct halves (and even further, as we will see). I talked about this division in my recent post, titled Gospel ÷ 2…that based on 2 Corinthians 5:17 (“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”), there is an Old Me and a New Me, and the Gospel deals directly with both of them. Each of the next several lessons will look at all or a portion of each half of the Gospel. I hope you’ll continue to meet me here as we look at what the Gospel truly is, and how it affects our entire lives (not just our conversions). If you’re like me, you’ll see that it truly is some very good news!
**Quoted from Lesson 1: What is the Gospel?, The Power of the Gospel, Online Bible College (link to the right)