If someone asked you to define “gospel”, what would you say?
Gospel is a term we throw around a great deal both in the church and outside. It’s something that rings hallow on many occasions as people use it for things it was never intended to describe, for example “the gospel of the second coming.” Defining it is not easy, that’s true. However, coming to an understanding of what the gospel is carries a good deal of weight when it comes to understanding faith and the message of the Bible (note, not the message of the gospel).
The gospel, as it’s used by Paul appaears to be decidedly different than the gospel as it might be defined by Jesus. For Christ, it appears the emphasis might be on the kingdom of God (Matt 5-7). For Paul, it seems more focused on the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom 4:25).
On one of the blogs I follow, Scot McKnight offers his “definition” of the gospel.
“The gospel is not a call to follow Christ’s example or his teachings. It is not a proclamation of his kingly reign. It is not an invitation to enter the Church. It does not include a promise of his return. These are all aspects of Christian teaching. But the Gospel, very specifically, is the starting point that prepares for the teaching. The gospel is the good news that Jesus came to save us from our sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead.”
I’m not certain it’s an accurate definition but it does cause one to wonder. Is there a difference that is definitive when it comes to “teaching” and “gospel” as good news? I suspect there is a decent argument for this description. After all, Jesus’ teaching is what brought people to an awareness of the gospel. Then again, as pointed out regarding Paul, until there was a death and resurrection, there may not have been a gospel. An incarnation for sure. A teaching of righteousness, a description of second birth, and a forth telling of death and resurrection. However, death and resurrection did not appear to be a part of the Christ’s gospel.
If you’re taking time to read this, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts about Scot’s “definition” and what you think the gospel is. If someone were to ask you, “what is the gospel.” How would you answer them?