Yesterday I saw a “gospel tract” that someone had given a friend. It was very simple and straight to the point, and was written as a testimonial from someone who was a high-profile Christian athlete. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it went something like this:
I was once wandering through life with no meaning or purpose. I was living for myself and I was not living right. Then I discovered how to have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, and since that time, all my troubles have been taken care of…now there is meaning and purpose, and I’m not living the wrong way any more.
Is that the Gospel? Can we really call that a “gospel” tract? Does it tell the Gospel as outlined in Scripture?
Then this morning, I listened to a well respected pastor as he gave a short talk on the radio. He lamented that there are so many people living today in sin and throwing their lives away with “sorry living”. He used a popular day-time talk show as an example, where guests are encouraged to flaunt their sin and the crowd encourages them through raucous applause to air their dirty laundry and display how “sorry” they are. I see this tendency in our culture as well, and I share this pastor’s lament in this respect, but then he said something that greatly disheartened me. After lamenting the moral failures of these people, this pastor said, “that’s why God sent Jesus….to save us from our ‘sorryness’”. The implication was that if you want to rise from the mediocrity of “sorry living”, then just turn to Jesus, because He will help you improve how you live.
Is that the Gospel? Is that the “good news” that Paul tells us we should proclaim to a lost world?
I think this is what happens when we begin to assume the gospel, instead of clarifying it. When we assume the gospel (especially in a post-Christian culture like ours), then the gospel becomes a nebulous message of moral self-improvement, instead of the glorious hope of divine rescue from certain and eternal judgment because of sin.
But maybe I’m wrong. Am I off here? Do these examples accurately display the Biblical Gospel? If not, then what IS the Gospel?
If we’re told to proclaim it to a lost world, and share it with our friends, neighbors, and coworkers, then shouldn’t we know what it is we’re supposed to proclaim? And if (as we discuss so often), the gospel still has application to our daily lives, then shouldn’t we be clear about what the good news is?
What IS the gospel? Let’s discuss this here and in our personal conversations, so that we guard ourselves from “assuming” (and in so doing, marginalizing), the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.