the weblog of Alan Knox

When the Gospel is not the Gospel

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 in blog links | 4 comments

When the Gospel is not the Gospel

There is alot of discussion these days about the gospel – the good news. A few books have been written lately which seek to help explain what is and what is not included in “the gospel.” There have been blog posts and articles written about the gospel.

But could we still be missing “the gospel” for the most part? One blogger thinks so…

Arthur at “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” writes about this in his post “Are We Too Gospel Focused?” While he admits that this is a strange question to ask, Arthur explains what he means:

One can spend a lifetime reading about theology, digging deep into the ordo salutis, studying the great thinkers and preachers and writers of the church and miss the significance of the Gospel. It is spiritually unhealthy to spend all of our time talking about, thinking about and reading about the Gospel while not actually living as the Gospel commands us. We end up with spiritual bodies that have giant brains and bodies withered away from atrophy.

Think about that: Facts about Jesus Christ or about the gospel (even true facts) are NOT the gospel.

Or, as Arthur emphasizes later in his post, “We can get so caught up in studying the Gospel that we forget to live out the Gospel.

I like the way that Paul put it when he wrote a letter to the believers in Colossae: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6 ESV)

Apparently, “walking in Christ” was part of the gospel that Paul (and others) taught. I say “and others” because Paul had never been to Colossae. But he knew the gospel that Epaphras had brought to them.

This is something that I’ve been thinking about alot lately.

As you proclaim and teach the gospel, how are you including this “active” part of the gospel? How are you helping people understand that the gospel is not a set of facts, but a new way of life?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-2-2011

    FWIW, I’m *very* thankful for all the discussion about the gospel of late. Very.

    We need even more of it, frankly. I really don’t think we’re at the point we can say, “Okay! Okay! People ‘get’ it! Now, let’s move on…”

    There’s so much works-related baggage, so much steeped into church culture, it’s going to take longer than this to make the point. What’s more, the truth of the gospel IS “news”. That means the news, itself, has to be considered and digested.

    You (Alan) know me, I’m the last person to praise a cult-of-knowledge. I can’t stand it. But that very cult has done so much to undermine the actual “good news”, in my opinion, that we need a full-throated, sustained explanation and declaration of the real Gospel for a long, long time, strictly among church folk. As someone who engages people deep in church culture, but who are not theologically sophisticated or blog-readers, for that matter, trust me: They don’t get it, yet.

    I agree strongly with the sentiment here. But this is something which must be understood, and then it can be lived.

  2. 11-2-2011

    I think the more you study theology it should make you worship God more. It’s a cycle. The more you know; the more your praise. You see how great HE is and How needy you are.

  3. 11-2-2011


    I’m excited about the talk about the gospel also. I hope it doesn’t stop with talk.


    For some people who I have talked with, study is the highest form of praise. For me, if the gospel doesn’t affect someone’s life, then it isn’t the good news of Jesus Christ that the person is studying.


  4. 11-2-2011

    Apostle Paul presented The Gospel throughout his epistles, and to me, most clearly and concisely in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “[…] I declare unto you the gospel […]; By which also ye are saved, […], unless ye have believed in vain. […] that Christ died for our sins […]; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day […]:”

    Leviticus 17:11 gives us an indication of God’s requirement to receive atonement and this gives rise to the significance of Christ dying for our sins, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

    Hebrews 9:12 tells us that Jesus fully met God’s requirement, paid our sin debt in full with his own blood; He redeemed us who believe that He did this, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

    The blood of sacrificial animals provided only a temporary covering year to year, but Christ’s blood provided atonement, once and for all. It is done.

    Romans 3:23 let’s us know we all have a sin debt; we all need redemption, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” So no one can by-pass belief in Jesus’ act of dying for our sins. Believe to receive it, I say. Jesus is the only way to God the Father.

    There are so many gifts already in this transaction of faith in The Gospel – sin debt paid, cleansing of our sins, God’s unmerited grace, we’re imputed righteousness in God’s eyes, redemption, atonement … AND let’s not overlook the ending of The Gospel, “he rose again …” The gift and the power of the resurrection! Jesus also overcame physical death. Through the former acts, we receive eternal spiritual life; through belief in his resurrection, we also will be resurrected bodily (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:52).

    Paul emphasizes believing in our hearts – Romans 10:9 (NIV), “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    Romans 13:8-10 sum up our Christian walk beautifully, “… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

    Paul’s epistles provide such insight to the unimagineable gifts God has bestowed upon those who love Him.

    May God continue to bless many through you & yours,

    @castingcrumbs on Twitter