This week in church we will be talking about the Good News a.k.a. the gospel.
Wouldn't you know it, I have an evangelism assignment for class that has me define what the gospel is in 2-3 pages. I typed up a first draft last night. Here it is. I encourage you to engage in this conversation. What is the Good News?
The gospel message of the Christian faith can be summed up in three distinct, yet interdependent frameworks. The good news is eschatological, transformational and missional. Stated another way, the gospel is kingdom, new creation and empowered.
The Eschatological Framework
The message of Jesus is undeniably framed with a new kingdom mindset. In the gospel accounts, Jesus speaks more on ‘the kingdom’ than he does on any other topic, including love and prayer. Thus, our understanding of good news, must be developed in the context of kingdom. Jesus has ushered in a new movement in the metanarrative of God and at the heart of that movement is the reestablishment of God on the throne and his creation recognizing his reign. The good news is that God is sovereign.
The Transformational Framework
This new movement of God is a movement back to Eden. The redemptive act of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is good news. Humanity has now a new propensity toward redemption and reconciliation with the Most High God and while the cross is the catalyst of this new movement, it is the Spirit that was sent to the world that enables transformation, namely through new creation. The life yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit is one that is truly washed clean and made new. Perhaps an even more significant result of the cross than the atonement of one’s sin is the fruit of the atonement in creation of new and resurrected life. The gospel of Christ offers hope to the hopeless and redemption for the irredeemable. The good news is that God has set the captives free.
The Missional Framework
The gospel message has never been meant for individualistic consumption. It has always taken place in the context of ever expanding community. This is indicative in Jesus’ great commandment (Matt. 22:36-40) and great commission (Matt. 28:18-20). The aim for the people of God is to radically love their neighbor. The primary purpose for the people of God is to make disciples. In other words, the gospel is not designed to exist in a vacuum but is to be intentionally shared and lived out by the people of God so that more and more people can encounter the Most High God. The Holy Spirit empowers the people of God to share the message of hope and truly offer the love and grace that can be found in Jesus Christ. The good news is that God has empowered his people to proclaim Him.
It is in these three settings that one understands the gospel. While the eschatological notion of the kingdom of God is in some ways distinct from the redemptive new creation process guided by his Spirit and the mission God’s people have been called to, it is not separable from the other two aspects. God’s reign is necessarily linked to God’s redemptive work among individuals and communities and is enacted and proclaimed to the nations through the empowering of the people of God. Likewise, God’s redemptive work must be situated in the context of orienting one’s life around God’s supremacy and God’s call to preach good news to the captives. Lastly, the mission of the people of God (the Church) is ineffective unless it is set in the context of redemption and magnification (worship). Thus, the three aspects of the good news of Jesus Christ are individually significant but interdependent nonetheless.
Understanding the gospel in this context greatly informs the individual, as well as the community about how the good news should be articulated and relevant to them. As the person and people of God discover more deeply what it means to worship God in the highest as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, they come in contact with holy God and through their authentic relationship with God become a radiant witness to his majesty. Similarly, as a community yields themselves to the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit and become active participants in the New Creation process, the transformation that takes place can not help but be noticed by those desperate to be set free. Lastly, the people of God who are empowered and anointed by the Living God to proclaim in word and deed the good news of what Christ has done on the cross, are actively and purposefully rubbing shoulders with the people in dire need of a Savior. It is not so much that the people of God develop an effective or strategic plan to evangelize the lost people of the world, but instead, through God’s powerful, life-changing work, the community of Christ followers saturated with the Holy Spirit can not help but drip the hope of the gospel to all they encounter. That is the Good News.