No one theology can contain the enormity of this word. We find it most useful to articulate the Gospel as a statement and a story.
The Gospel Statement
The Gospel is the good news that God himself, the Creator, has come to rescue us from sin, and renew all things, in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, to establish his Kingdom, through his people, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This good news is initiated by God, in grace.
This good news is substitutionary: Christ has come, lived, died, and risen on our behalf.
This good news is participatory: we are involved in declaring and joining the work of God in redemptive history as his faithful, fruitful people.
This good news is news of a Kingdom, not just individual hearts. It is the Lordship of Jesus tangibly worked out across all of creation.
This good news is powerful. It wakes people from death to life, promises the presence and power of God in us, and enables us to be a preview community of the work God will do in all creation.
In Colossians 1:15-20, the scriptures say, The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Paul Marshall writes, “The gospel is for all things, and he makes a threefold statement about the Lordship of Christ. Everything was made by and for Jesus Christ. Everything holds together in Jesus Christ. Everything will be reconciled by Jesus Christ. The “everything” that is reconciled is the same everything that was made. The scope of redemption is the same as the scope of creation. The Creator and Redeemer are one and the same. Things in heaven, things in earth, things visible and invisible, dominions, and authorities will be reconciled by the cross of Jesus Christ.”
Theologian Abraham Kuyper writes, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
The Gospel Story
Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue writes, ”I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’”
Before there was anything, there was God. We have only hints and fragments of stories about what was happening in the corridors of eternity past before God chose to reveal himself in creation, so we begin there. God—who is one God yet exists in three persons as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—was always living in community with himself before the creation of anything else including our measurements for time.
The first scene of action God chose to record for us is his calling into existence the natural world brimming with vibrant and innocent beauty, variety and wonder, power, majesty and life. God made the world well, a reflection of his greatness and called it “good.”
At the apex of his creation project, God, the spiritual being, created human beings in his image. They bore the mark of their Creator in ways distinct from all other plants, animals, and created things. They were not just natural, but spiritual beings, like God. The first human beings initially enjoyed intimacy with God in his creation. They thrived in deep connection to God and each other. They also lived in inner wholeness without fear, in harmony with the earth God had given them to enjoy, cultivate, and rule over with him.
However, evil soon entered the story. An angel created by God had rebelled against God because of pride and his desire to be worshiped. For this rebellion he was cast out of Heaven. This fallen angel came to the first humans and tempted them to distrust what God had told
them, and to disobey God’s command. There was deception and they acted against God’s instruction. Just as God had warned them, something terrible happened.
Humanity’s rebellion against God brought death into the world, and humanity was tainted. Our disobedience caused separation from God, the source of all life, and the result was death beginning with the first people and passing from them on to all other humans since. Though they lived on physically, they died spiritually and lost their intimate connection to God. Their inner peace was flooded with insecurity and fear, and this bled into broken relationships with each other. Lying, blame-shifting, envy and murder soon followed. There also entered discord between humanity and creation as the ground was cursed. On every level of relationship, God’s original design was broken.
Yet, immediately God began a work of redemption that would carry history forward. He would not abandon humanity or the rest of his creation to the permeating effects of death and decay. In the initial stages of working for the redemption of this broken world, God chose a people for himself, forming them into a nation through whom he would bring a restorative and redemptive blessing to the entire world. The nation began with one family, Abraham and Sarah, and grew to their son Isaac, his son Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, who became the nation of Israel. God made great promises to Israel: that they would be deeply used to represent and express God’s heart and character and redemptive purposes in the world.
For a time Israel became enslaved in Egypt and in their oppression cried out to God. God was moved by the cry of his people and sent them a man whom he used to rescue them. Moses was given power by God to lead the people of Israel in an Exodus out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land where finally these people would be a nation with a home. On the way to their new home God gave his people a Law which represented his commands for their lives with him, with each other, with themselves, and with creation. This formed the culture for God’s people and carried the promise that if they kept the commands God would be intimate with them, would lead them, would speak to them, care for them, and use them in his redemptive work in the world. It also carried the warning that if they broke the commands it would be a break with God, a continuation of the separation and death that began in the first sin.
Once in the Promised Land, God greatly blessed the liberated and established Israel, but blessed them directly in connection to their obedience to represent and live out God’s character to the other nations. While God’s people certainly had moments of shining embodiment of their calling they often wandered, worshiped false gods, adopted corrupt practices, grew deeply selfish, ignored the poor, lacked justice, and forgot their role as God’s representatives. They broke God’s commands time and time again. God would firmly discipline his people, but he remained merciful and throughout their history sent prophets to remind them of their true identity as God’s people. Through the prophets, God ensured his people that in spite of their great rebellion he would still keep his promises. Even when the nation of Israel was broken up and sent into exile as a result of their abandoning God’s way there remained a hopeful and faithful few who remembered God’s promises and looked forward to their fulfillment when peace and justice and renewed intimacy with God would thrive again. One day God was going to establish a kingdom of deliverance, salvation, righteousness and justice, peace, joy, where God’s presence was revealed and enjoyed. It was going to be a kingdom of healing and return from exile, a kingdom without end.
The longings for God’s Kingdom and for his redemptive work to continue through Israel were fulfilled in the person of Jesus. Just when it seemed like the promises had failed, Jesus was born according to what was prophesied about the Messiah. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin, and in Jesus all the majesty of the God of Israel became a human. Unlike any expectations, Jesus came both fully God and fully man. A new Exodus of God’s people began in Jesus, but unlike the first Exodus, this new Exodus would move to every nation in the world. Jesus came announcing the arrival of the promised Kingdom of God, the reign of God being actively accomplished over any rival power or evil in the world. At the time Israel was occupied by the world’s most powerful military and political force, the Roman Empire. Though a few followers radically trusted and stayed close to Jesus to witness his miraculous life and message, there were even more who rejected him and sought to kill him because his message threatened physical, spiritual, political, and social powers. Jesus described his mission in terms of proclaiming good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and freedom for those who are oppressed, but he was seen as a threat to those in power.
Yet even as Jesus suffered, was rejected, and betrayed, he never sinned. He never for a moment in thought or action went against the way of God the Father or the Law God had given through Israel. Jesus, God the Son, lived the life that no other person had ever been able to live, a life of complete holiness, a life completely controlled by the Holy Spirit. It was a life that represented what God had desired for humanity from way back in the beginning.
Eventually the plots against Jesus led to his betrayal, arrest, false trial, fierce beating, and tortured death on the Cross. God’s great plan to rescue the world through Jesus seemed to have failed. It seemed that finally death and evil had prevailed. However, in the mysterious wisdom of God just the opposite had occurred.
“He did not have to die, but submitted himself to the will of God.”
Death is the result of sin because sin is separation from God who is life. Jesus had no sin and therefore owed no death. He did not have to die, but submitted himself to the will of God. His death was able then to stand as a substitute death, an atoning death. God dealt terribly harshly with Jesus allowing human sin to be put on Jesus as he was dying. Jesus took all of God’s anger and punishment for human sin so that all who would believe in him could be counted as clean and utterly forgiven. As he died, Jesus cried out, “My God My God why have You forsaken me,” and later, “It is finished.” He was abandoned on the Cross, for the first time being separated from his Holy Father, while paying the complete penalty for sin so that any one who trusts in him can have their full record of sins done away with. After Jesus died this death in our place, he was placed in the tomb of a wealthy man.
Three days after his death, Jesus miraculously rose from the grave. Because Jesus had no sin, and owed no death, death could not hold him. The power of God raised him from the dead and in that moment a new world began. Soon after Jesus appeared to all who had been following him before his death and announced that what he had taught them was now moving forward in action.
Jesus gave those first followers his Holy Spirit and every person since who trusts in his life, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and the creation of a new life within is given the same Spirit. He puts in those who believe in him the life of God. The Holy Spirit, who had previously exerted great influence yet not lived in anyone other than Jesus, began to fill those who believed in Jesus and called him Lord.
This is one of the great miracles of the Gospel of Jesus. There is nothing that any person could do on the strength of his or her own character to live the perfect life that would be required to maintain intimacy with God. There is also no way that a person can live in such a way to remove the effects and result of their sins which make us separated by nature from God and his Kingdom. So God changes our nature. He gives us a gift that no one could possibly earn or possibly deserve–this is God’s grace. We are freely given the grace of forgiveness and the grace of power to live like Jesus. God’s Holy Spirit awakens to faith and affirms all those who are God’s true children in faith. The Holy Spirit empowers us with gifts, convicts, guides, counsels, and leads us into all God inspired truth through a communal life of worship.
The Holy Spirit also forms those who believe in Jesus into the Church, a family of faith that embodies the life, thought, and action of Jesus in the world. It is the same Holy Spirit that propels us into a life of mission that reflects God’s character and desires for all of creation. When we trust fully in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, our relationship with God, each other, our inner self, and the world are healed and restored. We are given a mission to carry that redemption and renewal wherever we go, into all the world.
Those who reject Jesus have no hope of this renewed world. They will suffer an eternal separation from God and his Kingdom because apart from Jesus there is no way to attain God. In the face of this grave reality Jesus’ followers must engage in a mission of love. This is the mission of the promised Kingdom of deliverance, salvation, righteousness and justice, peace, and joy, where God’s presence is revealed and enjoyed and where there is healing and return from exile.
One day Jesus, who ascended to Heaven after giving his followers this mission of taking his Kingdom to the known world, is going to return. When Jesus returns he is going to judge the world, and bring an end to sin, misery, and injustice. God will reclaim this world, renew it, and rule over it forever. There will be no more war, no more death. Those who have trusted Jesus and been filled with God’s Spirit will live forever with God in the wholeness and peace of renewed creation. So we are working now to be a true reflection of Jesus and invite many to believe. We are working for the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated to be moved toward completion, and though God must fully bring that completion, we get to participate by our faith and obedience now.
We value the gospel of Jesus Christ and its transformational power. We believe he has commissioned his church to make disciples of all nations until his return. We believe bringing this message of the good news of Jesus to the world as his “salt and light” is imperative to the mission he called us to in Matthew 28. We adopt his cause to see lost people saved and to see the Kingdom come and his will to be done (John 3:16, Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:22-23).
Perhaps you have been around the church for a period of time and are still asking, “Am I a Christian?;” “How do I become a Christian?;” “How do I know if I am a Christian?” The good news is that Christianity not about doing/accomplishing anything to earn God’s favor. Becoming a Christian is a matter of trusting (faith) and believing that Jesus has done something on your behalf.
We believe the Gospel (“the good news”) of Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is the only hope for humankind. Solely by God’s grace are people transformed from skeptics who do not believe into believers both declared and made righteous. The message of the Gospel is that Christ has done what is necessary to bring us into relationship with God. We believe that the Gospel speaks to the whole person, and can transform anyone anywhere, bringing the healing and restoration needed to advance God’s Kingdom of Heaven on earth.