What is the Gospel?


It seems a favorite pet project for Christians in the modern age is to define the Gospel. A well-balanced post points out that the Gospel Coalition (and other “reformed” views) attempt to make salvation all about what God has supplied for His elect to follow. Other views of “the Gospel” refer more to a Social Gospel, where Christ came for the oppressed. In short, there are multiple views of what “The Gospel” really is.

Of course, many learn from Sunday School that “Gospel” simply means “good news.” But what is this good news and who is it directed towards? Is it good news for the oppressed that Christ has come to strike down the oppressors (side note: anyone notice how the views of Messiah in 1st century Judea match those of liberation theologians)? Is the good news that God has come to call His elect (also a 1st century view)? Or is it something much simpler?

I think Paul’s summary of the Gospel is, in my opinion, the best view on exactly what the Gospel is; “Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul states that he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an opponent to Christ, yet through mercy he was able to turn away from these things. In other words, the Gospel is the good news for everyone who is a sinner. Via reduction, this means the Gospel is good news for everyone.

But what does it mean “to save sinners?” Does this mean that He came simply to save us from our sins, yet let us continue to wallow in oppression or starvation? Does this mean He came to save us from physical oppression, which would then create a pathway to spiritual salvation? The answer to this, of course, is “yes.”

Christ came to save sinners. When we say “save sinners,” we mean exactly that; He came to save us from our sins, from our oppression, from our torment, from our physical ails, and so on. The Gospel is not some Gnostic or Platonic fantasy where the soul is saved and all physical salvation is secondary. Nor is the Gospel materialistic where we are saved from oppressors with no promise of an afterlife. The Gospel is holistic, meaning that salvation is both spiritual and physical. The actions on the cross save us from our sins, but also save us from death; neither is more important than the other, both are equally important. The Gospel makes us whole again – it doesn’t make us imbalanced by saving our spirit, but neglecting our body or saving our body, but neglecting our spirit. The Gospel saves our spirit and body.

If your Gospel doesn’t include helping the unfortunate, you’ve missed the point. If your Gospel doesn’t include helping people repent of their sins, you’ve missed the point. If your Gospel feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and preaches redemption for sinners, then you’ve got it. You’ve found the good news. And the great thing is that good news is for everyone; they merely have to listen and follow.

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8 thoughts on “What is the Gospel?

  1. A great piece of work you have here My Friend. Thank you so very much for sharing it with all of us who care to study and gain knowledge from those who are willing to share what God has blessed them with. Continue to use the great gifts God as provided you with. Today, I leave you with my peace that we all may share in this great celebration that is unfolding right in front of our eyes.

  2. You start with the central premise of what it means to be Christian, e.i: Jesus comes to save us from our sins. But his act of salvation doesn’t avoid death, it conquers it. Even Jesus died.
    To accept Jesus’ action of salvation requires us to die to ourselves, die to sin, accept the consequences for our actions and willingly be nailed to the Cross.
    Suffering itself has redemptive qualities. We should, when possible, try to alleviate suffering but never assume God’s unwillingness to use it. Jesus suffered unjustly, saints chose lives of suffering, and while Jesus raised people from the dead, they all died again. Suffering and death have value and purpose in leading us to God.
    Jesus came into the world that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of THE TRUTH…not socio-political equality. That thinking diminishes and restricts God and is inherently un-Christian.

    1. What you said, however, contradicts the vast majority of Scripture where Jesus tells us to aid the poor. While God may use suffering, we should never allow it to occur assuming His motives. If we follow what you’re saying to its logical ends, then we should never work against suffering because we could be acting against God.

      1. Please read again what I wrote. I say clearly that we should relieve suffering where and when it is possible, only that suffering will always be with us and it has redemptive nature. That is the central teaching of the Passion, the natural end result of New Testiment scripture, and very core of Christianity. Nothing I said is aginst or outside Scripture.
        To say that Jesus came to create a new socio-political reality is anti-scripture. Judas betrayes Jesus precisely because he doesn’t usher in a new just society. He doesn’t overthrow injustice in the conventional sense, he abandoned himself to it and calls us to seek a transcendent reality. Doing good works, acts of Mercy and Charity, kindness and gentleness are part of the process, not the end result.
        As I said, Jesus raised the dead, but they died again. He cured the ill, but they got sick again and died. He cared for the downcast, but they too all died. What lasts if the transformation of the soul. Again…he came that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of THE TRUTH, not that all might find socio-economic and political justice and global equality….whatever that is supposed to mean.
        Follow Jesus, do what is Charitable and Merciful, work for justice however imperfect in this life, but accept the Jesus who IS, not the Jesus we WANT.

    1. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that the Gospel was solely about socio-political notions of justice or strictly a transcending approach to theology. I don’t believe that. I went back to read and reread my comment. I didn’t say “solely” anywhere I could see, and I’m not a reformist of any kind. I’m a Catholic theology student having studied at Notre Dame and a graduate of St. Joseph Seminary. Most recently I’ve studied at Loyola University, so if my positions seem novel in any way, please realize I am reflecting my Catholic theological training. I’m not trying to offend anyone and apologize if I have. I was only interested in jointing the conversation.

      1. I was asking where I said anything about the Gospel being a socio-economic theory of political justice. I was quite emphatic that the Gospel applies to both our spiritual condition and physical condition. Truth be told, what I said is taken from both Roman Catholic thinkers and Orthodox thinkers.

  3. You are correct. Catholic theology is concerned with both the physical and condition, but spiritual is the final and ultimate concern because the physical is transitory. The spiritual is eternal.
    Consider the worth of a person if you meet all their physical needs. Literally all physical needs. Then what? You’ve gained the whole world, but to what end? That’s the question.
    The historical, scripture, Christian answer to that question is that Jesus came into the world that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. So, as someone once asked Jesus, “what is Truth?” The Christian is compelled to ask that question and seek the answer. Everything else is ancillary.

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