You’ve asked for a short gospel summary. How does this sound?
- The gospel is the good news that God’s anointed (Christ) is our global leader (Lord). The gospel is: Jesus Christ is Lord.
- This is God’s gospel. When those who claimed to be in power crucified the glorious Lord, God proclaimed Christ as Lord of all by raising him up from the dead, giving him all authority. The resurrection is God’s gospel proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
- God’s gospel proclamation calls us all to recognize Christ as Lord, to live as his kingdom.
- God’s gospel call has regenerative power. The God who raised Christ from the dead is raising us out of death into community in the resurrected Christ, forming us as a kingdom that embodies and echoes his gospel call to the whole world.
While terse statements cannot tell the whole story, they direct us to the key points. Why these points? Well, it’s like this.
1. Jesus Christ is Lord
The gospel of the kingdom was Jesus’ gospel (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16). But Jesus did not proclaim himself king. When someone finally realized who was king of this kingdom, Jesus said, How blessed you are, Simon son of Jonah. It was no flesh-and-blood person who revealed this to you; it was my Father in heaven (Matthew 16:17). Jesus is Lord by divine decree, not by demand. That was the servant-king’s gospel.
Jesus Christ as Lord: these phrases permeate the NT letters. They’re so prominent that some question whether Christ continued to mean anointed ruler (the equivalent of Messiah in the Old Testament). As Joshua Jipp showed, Messianic Theology is the heartbeat of New Testament Christology.
The good proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord is a declaration of reconciliation. Since God’s anointed (the Christ) is our Lord (the leader we trust), God’s gospel unites heaven and earth.
2. God’s gospel proclamation
The gospel of God (Mark 1:14; Romans 1:1; 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 8, 9; 1 Peter 4:17) is not merely a good statement we make about God. It’s the good decree God makes about who is in charge of the world.
Those who claimed to run the world crucified his anointed. God did not retaliate by condemning his enemies to death, the way people have typically responded throughout history. God responded with a life-giving declaration that raised Jesus out of death, giving him all authority in heaven and on earth. God’s gospel proclamation appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4).
That’s why the resurrection of God’s Christ was the central plank of the gospel proclamation by the apostles in Acts: God has made his Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36).
The life-giving breath of God that raised Jesus from the dead is now restoring the world to heaven’s governance in Christ. Our response to God’s gospel proclamation is to declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
3. God’s gospel call
Since God’s gospel proclamation raised Jesus from tomb to throne, earth is now under his authority. God’s gospel therefore calls us to recognize his Christ, to live as his kingdom.
Call is the key word in the NT describing how God’s gospel proclamation about his Christ applies to us. God is calling us into life under his anointed as our Lord.
Theologians have argued about the nature of God’s call and whether we find such a call irresistible. Perhaps we got side-tracked from the simplicity of the gospel. God’s proclamation of Christ as Lord really does call us to live under his authority — embodying his kingdom and echoing his call.
4. God’s regenerative gospel
The good proclamation from God that raised Jesus from the dead has regenerative power to raise humanity from the power of death to life in our God-appointed king (Ephesians 2:1-10).
In the beginning, God’s decrees established the heavens and earth in right relationship, and it was good (Genesis 1). In the end, the one who sits on the throne declares, Look! I make everything new! (Revelation 21:5). In the middle, his gospel proclamation has the regenerative power to achieve it.
Is this your understanding of the gospel? Or were you thinking about how we are saved, justified, forgiven through faith, repentance, baptism etc? These things are connected to the gospel and our responses to it, but the gospel is not a theology of how I receive salvation.
The gospel is God’s good proclamation that raised his Son from tomb to throne. God’s gospel calls us to life in Christ. God’s gospel proclamation calls us to respond by acknowledging his good decree: Jesus Christ is Lord.
This is the God-given revelation that saves his world.
What others are saying
K. Schenck, “Gospel: Good News,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 342
In the Synoptic Gospels the “gospel” (euangelion) refers primarily to the announcement of “good news” associated with the arrival of God’s kingdom, particularly in association with Jesus’ mission and identity as the Messiah (see Christ).
Michael F. Bird, Evangelical Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 52:
The gospel is the announcement that God’s kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of Israel’s Scriptures. The gospel evokes faith, repentance, and discipleship; its accompanying effects include salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, (London: SPCK, 2003), 242:
The ‘good news’ Paul has in mind [Romans 1:2] is the proclamation of Jesus, the Davidic Messiah of Israel, as the risen lord of the world.