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The Gospel: 4 Necessary Components

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The gospel is something that every Christian must understand in order to be a Christian. Yet, many people struggle to articulate the gospel. This is a problem, not only because all Christians have been mandated to share the gospel through making disciples (Matt 28:19-20), but also because one’s ability to communicate a subject exposes their depth of understanding with regard to that subject. This struggle means that we should put some time and effort into understanding the gospel in order to appreciate it and articulate it.


Greg Gilbert helps us do just that; he helps us understand the gospel so that we can receive it, appreciate it and explain it clearly. In his book, What Is the Gospel? Gilbert uses 4 words to help us think through the gospel—God, man, Christ, and response. These four words serve as a kind of outline and clearly lay out the 4 necessary components of the gospel.


Let’s look at the word God together. The word God is necessary because without a correct understanding of who God is, there can be no understanding of the gospel. This is to say, that one can believe God exists and still not be a Christian. This provokes the question, what is the correct understanding of God that we must know? Well, we must know His character and His work, namely His holy character and His creative work. When Scripture declares God’s holiness it is broadly speaking to His otherness and specifically referring to his majestic-purity. We often think of holiness as purity and rightly so (see Leviticus). However, holiness is more than purity because it also speaks to majesty to the ruling/authoritative nature of God. So, He is other, meaning incomparable to anything else; moreover, He is other in His separation from sin (Hab 1:13) and prerogative to be worshiped (Isa 6). All of this is supremely displayed in God’s work of creating heaven and earth (Gen 1; Rev 4), as well as destroying it (Rev 5, 20; cf. Matt 10:28). Therefore, God alone is distinct, for He alone can create and destroy—He alone is worthy of worship.


Next, the word man is necessary because without an accurate understanding of man’s condition, there can be no understanding of the gospel. You see here is the truth: God is worthy of our worship because He made us—God is our rightful authority. Furthermore, He made us in His image, which at least in part means that He delegated the care of creation to us (Gen 1:26-28). However, we have rejected God’s reign over us and have sought to live autonomously—we have sinned. This rejection of God’s authority is first seen in Genesis 3 when Adam ate of the fruit, an act that condemned all mankind (Rom 5). Lest we think we could have done better than Adam, remember we have not (Rom 3:9-20). Therefore, all of us, all of mankind stands condemned before a holy God who exercises His judgment over sin. The condemnation we receive is death (Rom 6:23). Friends, this sentence of death is bad news, which is why the gospel requires the third word.


Christ is necessary to the gospel because He addresses our problem of sin, our sentence of death—our separation from God. We understand that Jesus is the promised Christ (Messiah) of the Old Testament (Matt 1:20-25). Since Jesus is the promised King everything is subject to His authority (Heb 2:8-9; cf. Col 1). Moreover, we understand that Jesus was and is righteous (Heb 4:15) fully possessing the divine and human natures in one person (Phil 2; Heb 2:10-17). It is this unique personhood of Christ that enables Him to be the ultimate High Priest, meaning He both satisfies God’s wrath for sin (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17) and imputes His righteousness to those who are unrighteous (Rom 3:26; 2 Cor 5:21). Jesus is the High Priest who atones for sin, thereby redeeming sinners to declare them righteous which is certainly good news! Yet, we also know that many will still experience God’s wrath (Rev 20:12-15). So, who’s declared righteous by Jesus’ atonement and who is still going to experience God’s wrath? The answer is provided in the fourth word.


Finally, one’s response to the gospel is equally as important as understanding the contents of the gospel, because without the proper response a person remains under God’s impending wrath. The proper response is provided by Jesus Himself—repent and believe (Mark 1:15). Repentance and faith is a two-part process which describes the action of turning from sin and to God in faith (1 Thess 1:9) and it is through this response that one receives deliverance from the wrath of God—salvation (Eph 2:8-9).


Friends, if you struggle to know how to clearly explain, or even understand the gospel, then I first encourage you to spend some time contemplating the passages presented here. Second, I would also encourage you to get yourself a copy of Gilbert’s book—it is small, understandable and easy to read. Finally, I encourage you to come speak with one of your pastors who can help you understand the depths of what the gospel means for your life as well as how to articulate it more clearly to others.

Posted by Trey Meester with
Tags: gospel

What are you going to do about it?

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Pastor Wayne recently preached a sermon on the state of the union in which he said "What are you going to do about it? What is he talking about? A world that has expelled God and turned to themselves doing what is right in their own eyes; "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). The Bible describes man's condition as hopeless; spiritually dead men with no ability to save themselves. Colossians 3 says, "the wrath of God is coming" and our only hope is to be "hidden in Christ." 

So how can dead men be made alive? It takes a Divine act of Sovereign grace. It is the King's mercy that we must look to if we are to know peace with Him. Our standing or position before a holy, just God must not be grounded in our merit, but rooted in the merits of Christ. "It is because of what Christ did that we have been placed under God's hand of blessing and not under His hammer of justice" (Emilio Ramos). Romans 5:17 says, For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Like Adam, Christ represents His people; in Adam, all men have guilt and death, but those in Christ receive life, righteousness, and restoration. We must be born again! This is the glorious gospel of grace. Not something we earn but a free gift. 

But how will man hear if we don't proclaim it? Horatio Bonar said, "The soul and eternity of one man depends upon the voice of another!" Jesus commissioned his disciples, inviting them to take part in God's great work of taking the world of fallen man under Adam and converting them into a new humanity through union with Christ. 

So the challenge for believers is to respond to Christ's invitation, his commission, to "go and make disciples." How will you serve the kingdom this year? Get started by signing up to serve in one of the many ministries at Wellington. Click here to serve.

Posted by Kevin Cooper with