What is the Gospel?

If you have been around any sort of American Evangelical circle in recent years, you know using the word “gospel” to describe nearly every aspect of the Christian life is in vogue. Gospel this, gospel that. Who knew you could make “gospel” an adjective or a verb? There are “gospel issues.” We claim to be “gospel centered.” There seems to be a new book with the word “gospel” in it coming out every week, but what does the word gospel even mean? When we use the word so often, it can lose its meaning. The literal meaning of the word means “good news”, but what is the “good news.” I have seen those who define it very narrowly limiting it to substitutionary atonement and individual salvation. I have also seen it defined too broadly in terms of cosmic redemption where it becomes almost abstract in nature and not distinctly Christian. So, how do we define the gospel in a way that avoids each of these errors? How do we define it in a way that Jesus remains at the center, while also accounting for its wide scope and implications of the story of redemption? Here is my humble attempt at defining the gospel as I understand it: The gospel is the good news that God the Father, the creator of the universe, knowing that man would rebel against Him, chose, according to His gracious character, to redeem all of creation to its original perfect state, by establishing a covenant with a people, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ, His Son, whose substitutionary death on the cross, declared righteous all those who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, would repent and put their faith in him, and whose resurrection conquered death, inaugurating His Kingdom, which will be brought into completion at the time of His return, when all of creation, including those people who have been transformed by the Spirit, will be brought into perfect communion with the Triune God for the rest of eternity.

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