There is some confusion about what exactly the Gospel message is. Some try to sum it up with doctrinal statements. Others argue that any Truth (whether found in the Old or New Testament) is Gospel. Both these approaches are inadequate. The Gospel has always been right in front of us. There are four Gospels that tell us the Gospel message – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Hence, author, historian, pastor, John Dickson, hits the nail on the head when he says, “the Gospel is the Gospels.”
The Gospel is the life, deeds, and teaching of Jesus found in the Gospels. To lean solely on a statement such as “justification by faith,” while a vital Gospel truth, is to miss the larger message of the Kingdom of God that Jesus ushered in and all that it entails. We need to know the whole story. Imagine if I tried to sum up who you are in a word or sentence. I couldn’t, not completely anyway. I need to know your story to know you.
The Gospel, or the “Grand Announcement” is the story of the Good News that God’s Kingdom has come. We find the Gospel message in the four Gospels detailing the life, deeds, and teachings of Jesus. In them, we begin to see the message and understand the story. Pronouncements are made. Prophecy is fulfilled. The blind see. The deaf hear. The crippled walk. Hearts are stirred. People turn from their wicked ways. Demons are cast out. New ways of thinking about women, children, and ourselves are introduced. The dead are raised. It’s kind of a big deal.
I’ve been reflecting on why it is that we can miss the Gospel. In part we read it as a distant story from the past. We might take out a passage or two that has particular meaning for us, but we would not consider embracing the whole Gospel message. In many cases, folks are simply not taught the complete message. That said, there is another reason as to why one might miss the Gospel – we fail to see our part in the Gospel story.
Any story is made up of characters. We identify with these characters. It’s a reason why television shows like the Brady Bunch or Friends are so popular – there are so many characters with which to identify. As the youngest boy in my family, I always identified with Bobby Brady. And I liked Chandler because of his humor and sarcasm. In the Gospel, however, we’re not sure where we fit in, or if we even want to – but fit in we do.
Stories are made up of things like settings. In the Bible it’s all nations, or the world. Then there’s a protagonist (Jesus). Then their are antagonists (the religious elite, demons, Satan). Then there are problems (sin, evil, death). And then there are resolutions (healing, miracles, renewal, resurrection).
The absolute beauty of the Gospel is that we’re involved in every part of this story. The world is indeed our stage. We can become like, and learn from, the protagonist. We can see our antagonism toward God and start on a new path. We can be a light in the midst of sin. We can participate in God’s Kingdom of renewal.
It really is Good News.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson