Christians constantly reference and preach the gospel. The whole of Christian religion centers around the gospel. And yet, scholars and commentators still debate its essential content. Everyday churchgoers also conflate or confuse its meaning.
So what is the good news of the gospel? How might we boil down Christianity to its most core message?
The good news of the gospel is quite simple, beautiful, and profoundly significant. Put in its most irreducible form, Christians proclaim:
The forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
I make my case for this irreducible seed of the gospel from the following verses:
- Luke 1:77 “…to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.” To know salvation is to know forgiveness.
- Acts 2:38. Peter calls for repentance “for the forgiveness of your sins.”
- Colossians 1:14. Redemption is tantamount to the forgiveness of sins.
- Ephesians 1:7. Again, redemption equals the forgiveness of sins.
- Matthew 26:28. The blood of the covenant is poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
- Acts 5:31 “God exalted [Jesus] at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Again, the end to which God works in and through Jesus is forgiveness.
- Acts 10:43. What do we receive if we believe? The forgiveness of sins through his name.
- Acts 13:38. What did they proclaim? “through this man forgiveness of sins.”
I believe the knowledge of sin serves as an excellent introduction to this gospel message.
I believe repentance and belief, faith, trust, etc. is the proper response to this gospel message.
I believe justification, propitiation, etc. is the explanation of this gospel message.
I believe sanctification, adoption, receiving of the spirit, social justice, etc. is the flowering of this gospel message.
I believe glorification, resurrection, the new heavens and new earth are the consummation of this gospel message.
But the good news itself is the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
Would you agree? Is it too reduced? How would you tweak this irreducible core?