Core Value One – The Gospel
O.K. so I’ve spent a good part of the last week reading a lot of blog posts and articles focused on the question “What is the gospel?” Honestly, I didn’t realize there would be so many different perspectives and ideas on something that I thought was a pretty straight forward subject. This might be one of the reasons why only one in four regular churchgoers can clearly articulate the gospel – because many times we make it way too complex. Just a thought. Nevertheless, with something as significant as defining the gospel message I thought it was extremely important to look at a variety of leaders, both past and present, before landing on how we want to communicate the gospel at Renovate Church Austin. I encourage you to visit Trevon Wax’s site at http://bit.ly/1evl11r for a broad list of definitions.
As I went through the hundreds of definitions there were a few that really stood out to me and resonated with my own experience and what I believe God is calling us to do in Austin. Of all the definitions, here is the one I liked the best:
“The gospel is the amazingly good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that provides full and free deliverance from both the power and penalty of sin according to the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.”
Here’s why I absolutely love this definition:
- First and foremost the gospel is amazingly good news and there is no way for me to overstate this point!! Just for a moment let us look at what the word gospel actually means because the world has convinced us that the gospel is bad news. The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the NASB version of the Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion(occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, “messenger.” In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. Wow! So the gospel is this incredibly amazing news that this all-powerful God, this God who created the universe and created me, sent His son to take my place and die on the cross for me? So instead of my punishment I get acceptance? Instead of shame I get honor? Instead of rejection I get adoption into His family? Instead of hopelessness and despair I get peace? Instead of bondage I get freedom? And when I die I get to spend eternity with Him? There is nothing on this earth more valuable and more amazing than this reality! Friends, the gospel is good news and it is worth sharing.
- Jesus is the central focus of the gospel and he was absolutely different! Christianity is unique among the world religions and Jesus’ uniqueness is the centerpiece of Christianity. Jesus didn’t just claim to be a religious leader, he claimed to be God. He claimed the ability to forgive sins. He claimed to be the only way to God. He claimed to be able to give everlasting life – and he backed it up by rising from the dead. Jesus is absolutely unique in his conception, in his Messianic prophecies, in his life, in his message, in his sinlessness, in his death, in his resurrection, and in his ascension. There has never been anyone in history like him and all of Christianity hinges on him. As D.A. Carson says, “the gospel centers upon Jesus Christ and what God has done through him.” Scripture affirms this, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)
- The gospel is a radically different message! It doesn’t depend on our works but on Jesus’ finished work! Every other religion exhorts man to reach up to God through their own efforts. Christianity is what God did to bring us salvation. As pastor Tim Keller states, “The gospel is good news about what has been done to save you, not what you have to do to save yourself.” This is a radical message in a city and a country that prides itself on a “making your own way, you can save yourself, we don’t need God, rugged individualism.”
- The gospel has the power to change us and transform us! I love the part about “providing full and free deliverance from both the power and penalty of sin!” This is a big one for me because in my own life I needed both forgiveness and the ability to change. Let me explain. On the forgiveness side, by the time I was 23 years of age I had done some things that I wasn’t very proud of. Guilt was growing. What do you do with your past? What do you do with the stain of sin? It was like the credit card debt was out of control and growing rapidly and I couldn’t even pay the interest. I needed forgiveness. I needed a clean conscience and for my past to be wiped away. Thank God for his forgiveness. But I also needed the power to change. Like the apostle Paul says in Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” My cry was God change me, make me the person you want me to be, help me be the son you want me to be, help me be the husband you want me to be, help me be the father you want me to be. God, I can’t do it. I can’t do this in my own power. Change me. I need you. As the apostle Paul went on to say in Romans 7:24-25, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The gospel has the power to fully and freely deliver us from the power and the penalty of sin!
This is the gospel that we want to share with the people of Austin and which we will take our stand. So excited to see people meet this Jesus and hear this gospel! Thank you again for all you do to help make this possible.
Dave and April