I was asked recently by one of our young people to explain the message of the gospel. They wanted to know how you might describe the good news of Jesus to someone in 30 seconds or so.
This is also something that has been coming up in group discussions lately. I mean, it’s certainly an important question. How do we explain the central message of our faith in a simple and quick way– a message which Paul considered ‘as of first importance’ (1 Corinthians 15:3)?
For starters, the term ‘gospel’ literally means good news. It is a translation of the original Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion), which means 'good' (εὐ) 'message or proclamation' (αγγέλιον).
So, what is this good news about? There is so much that can be said; so much about God’s love and grace to us as people who have, and sadly, still do rebel against him.How could one explain this incredible truth to someone in under a minute?
After some thought, I think I would respond something like this: We are broken, sinful people who constantly distance ourselves from God through sin. In fact, there is no way we could save ourselves. BUT God, because of his infinite mercy and love for us (a love which outweighs his hatred of sin and evil), came to earth as Jesus to pay for our sins. The good news is that God now offers us forgiveness, reconciliation and eternal life for free!We must simply accept his grace by putting our faith in Jesus and submitting to His good will instead of our own.
In pondering this, I think that we can easily put too much emphasis on either of the two big parts of that message–either oursinfulness orGod’s loving forgiveness.
We can focus too much on humanity’s sinfulness and become judgemental, doom-and-gloom Christians who forget about the awesome love of God.We can forget about the amazing, glorious, infinite love of God through Christ!
But we can also go too far in the other direction.It is easy to avoid ‘all that sin and repentance stuff’ because we don’t want to scare people away or offend them. But without an understanding of what Jesus saves us from, His great sacrifice and our salvation become a bit meaningless! The news doesn’t seem nearly as good!
Even the message Jesus preached himselfat the start of his ministry was to “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15b. Both parts of that are important, and without either we can easily lose sight of how truly great our salvation through Christ is.
Let me leave you with these verses from Romans, which tell this far better than I ever could!
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith...” – Romans 3:23-25
Have a great week and God bless you Church,