One might think that in a Christian context, a term like “Gospel” would not require a definition. History, however, has proven it to be one of the most contentious terms in the entire tradition. Even people who were converted by the Apostle Paul were prone to turn to other “gospels” (Gal 1:6). No doubt this is why Paul argues in the same book for the “truth of the Gospel” (2:5) to be preserved. Indeed, the severity with which he chastises his beloved congregation illustrates the necessity for getting this all-important concept right. So, with the Apostle Paul, we stand in the tradition that sees the Gospel as just what the word means: Good News. Specifically, the Good News that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save Sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15). “[Christ] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The Gospel is a proclamation, rather than an invitation or command, yet it always addresses sinners and sufferers directly, i.e. you and me. People have gone wrong throughout history when they have reduced this Good News to its effect on those who have heard it, e.g., peace, love and understanding. These are wonderful things, to be sure, but they should not be confused for the Gospel itself, lest it become a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

The Gospel

Do you remember the Pearl Jam song “Wishlist” from the album Yield? Well, it’s one of my personal faves, and in it Eddie Vedder sings a very profound line, I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good. I don’t know about you, but in the past I used to find myself in complete agreement with Eddie. I wished I had good news to share. Most of the time, I felt like what I had to say about Christianity was not very good news at all. I thought the Gospel was actually about exhorting people to improve and live better lives for Jesus, but I was very wrong.

The Gospel – is the second of the two types of Words from God.It is the answer to the accusation of the (previously defined) Law. In our context, it is always in reference to the “good news” of salvation as revealed in the Gospels in the Christian Bible. Namely, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross becoming our sin and took our punishment before God and rose again on the third day having conquered death on our behalf. As Dr. Steven Paulson puts it, “Christ died for our transgressions and raised for our justification.” (Romans 3:21-26, 5:6-11, 7:4-6, 8:1-4, Galatians 2:15-21, 3:10-14, 5:1, Ephesians 2:1-10, Colossians 2:11-15, etc.) The Gospel is all about what Christ has done as opposed to what we do. It is the news of His completed work for us. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

As a result of this Good News we can rest and know that we are free. Nothing depends on us.

This truth informs everything that we do here at Mockingbird. It is the song that was sung to us that changed our lives, and it is the song that we cannot help but sing again and again. We are messengers and all the news is indeed good!