Although pages have been written throughout history on this topic, a simple and helpful way to tackle this topic is by relating the Gospel to the following four areas of thought.
But before we dive into these it may be helpful to clear up some modern misconceptions of what the Gospel is NOT about first.
A. I’m OK. You’re OK. We’re All OK
Some treat Christianity as a big religious therapy session where believers sit around attempting to make each other feel better. Everyone is fine with God and the biggest problem people face is learning how to navigate the ups and downs of life. The real task of living is to master all the psychological principals and principles for success in order to live life to the fullest. This understanding of the gospel errs in making man the center of theological thought. Certainly there is need for psychology and good psychologists, but psychology is not God’s good news to man.
B. Understanding The Gospel Simply As God Is Love
Read 1 John 4:8,16. These verses which speak of God’s character are no doubt 100% true. There is, however, a misunderstanding or perhaps, better yet, a misinterpretation of how this specific truth about God’s character applies to our lives. Some argue that since God loves me, he never wants His children to suffer. He desires His children to have the finest cars, the nicest houses, etc. As children of the King, Christians should have the best because it shows His great love for them. This view of the gospel becomes largely unbalanced when it is compared to the whole of scripture, the life of Christ, and the life of many who follow Him.
Consider these scriptures: Matt. 8:20; Mark 10:17-22; James 2:1-7; Matt. 6:19-21; Matt. 6:33
What does the Bible say concerning wealth, riches, and material possessions?
Read 2 Cor. 8:9. In the larger context of chapter 8, what is the heart of this verse? What is it teaching?
C. Understanding The Gospel Simply As Jesus Wants To Be Our Friend
This misconception is both subtle and very dangerous. Saying Jesus wants to be your friend is simply a way of saying that He wants a relationship with us. He wants to hang out with us all the time. He wants to help us through difficult times. He wants to be a shoulder we can cry on. He wants to be the one who takes care of us in our time of need. The problem with this view is one of omission. The problem is that it doesn’t say anything about what keeps Jesus from being our friend. It fails to adequately deal with sin.
Read: Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 5:10. Why is it important to have a firm understanding of the results and consequences of one’s personal sin?
Read: John 15:12-15. With a proper understanding of one’s sin, what makes this passage special to you?
D. We Should Live Rightly
A man was once asked, “What is the gospel?”. His response was, “The gospel is that Jesus came so that we could keep the 10 commandments.” In other words, Jesus came so that people could live good, moral, lives. Ironically, this is not why Jesus came. Jesus came because we couldn’t keep the 10 commandments! That’s what makes grace so amazing!
Read: Gal. 3:23-26. What does Paul say is the purpose of the law according to v. 24? For a better understanding of Paul’s relationship with the law read Rom. 7:7-25.
The law of God is perfect and good. The problem with the law lies not in its perfect standard, the problem lies within us and our inability to live according to it. Our inability to keep the law (sin) should cause us to run directly into the gracious and righteous arms of Jesus.
Therefore, right living is simply believers living out the new life they have in Christ. Living rightly apart from grace never saves anyone because we all have failed to live as rightly as God’s law demands.