Recently, someone who knew that I was concerned about the matter, sent me a book in which the word “Gospel” (undefined, but grossly overworked) was used in conjunction with practically everything possible. In it the author speaks of “gospel mission, the gospel message, gospel change, gospel dynamic, gospel intentionality, gospel territories, the mission of the gospel, gospel community, gospel life, gospel-driven interactions, gospel truths, gospel care, gospel realities, gospel confrontation, gospel opportunities, gospel relationships,” etc. My friend wrote on the title page “When everything is the gospel, then nothing is the gospel.” How right he is!
In the book the writer states that the “gospel interprets, directs, and changes our lives.”
He writes of “experiencing the gospel.”
And one of his repeated phrases is “live out the gospel,” whatever that means!
He believes “Everyone needs Jesus and His gospel every moment of every day.”
He says, in one paragraph, “We need to correct and instruct others with the gospel so that we might grow in Christ and equip others to do the same.”
This book is symptomatic of what is going on all over the Christian world— people are obsessed with what they call the “gospel,” and believe that reflecting on so-called effects of their “gospel” (as they understand–or misunderstand—it) will help them grow as believers. People (in such contexts) are rarely called to “good works.” The work of the Spirit in the heart to produce His fruit is neglected. The gospel has been greatly misunderstood in their confused thinking. Reflection upon it, and other strange ideas, are being set forth as the means of sanctification.
The gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15: 1ff as containing two points:
- Christ’s death in the place of guilty sinners (upper ton hamartion hemon)
- His bodily resurrection from the dead.
Paul says that believing these facts “saves.” While the Gospel must be proclaimed in clarity, it must not be misunderstood or misused. Otherwise, it no longer is the “good news.”