what is the gospel?



It’s a good time to be a Christian.

Yes, I know they make fun of us on TV. And I know too that, in some sense, there is never a bad time to be a Christian.

But right now is a good time because you have to be serious about it. The Gospel is being clarified, distinguished more and more from simple moralism. The stakes are being raised. It is no longer sufficient or even desirable to be a “nominal” Christian. And being a Christian is less political. Thankfully. There is no political solution. There never was. Everyday we can see more clearly that it is better to trust in God than to put confidence in man.

So being a Christian—by which I mean one whose hope lies solely in Christ—is more challenging and more rewarding at the same time. His work, His glory, His grace: this is enough. Because of this we can get over ourselves and rest in His sovereign and gracious plan, even when we don’t know what it is. Nothing is more comforting. Or scarier.

I was recently at Together for the Gospel, along with 30 men from our church. This year the conference explored the solas of the Reformation. Only Scripture. Only faith. Only grace. Only Christ. These solas bring glory to God solely. This is simpler than what the American church has been teaching for decades. It is stronger. And more humbling.

That is not to say easier. A lot of pride has to die before we can cling solely to Christ. But “where else can we go?” Peter asked Jesus. “You have the words of eternal life.”


There is nothing politically correct about this: Christ died for our sins.  No one is above this.  No cause is greater than this.  No identity is more important than this.  It is sufficient and exclusive. No other way. That’s the Gospel. And it’s good news. It is the way forward. It is the way out. It is the Way.

At Together for the Gospel, 10,000 men, mostly pastors, gathered to think about this, to sing about it and to confess it. In India and Africa and around the world hundreds of thousands more are coming together around this uncomplicated truth. Many people believe this even though their churches teach something more complicated and burdensome.

Christ died for our sin. There is freedom in that. There is courage in that. There is joy in that. It is enough. It’s not true because a lot of people believe it, however. Lots more don’t believe it. Is is true because it is true, because it changes things and it changes us. We need to be changed. Just look around.

The Gospel raises questions, of course, many for which I don’t know the answer and many for which my answers are wrong. Many of these questions are not that important, or not as important as we think. And some of the questions are important, perhaps more important than we think. These are questions about justice and mercy, about the nature of God and the nature of man.  But once you get the Gospel right, the answers are clearer.

The Gospel itself is not very complicated. Christ died for our sin, was buried, and rose again. This frees us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin. It overthrows death and promises victory. It changes everything.  Everything needs to change.

Where else can we go?

4 thoughts on “what is the gospel?”

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