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The gospel as the message of God’s salvation

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in scripture | 6 comments

The gospel as the message of God’s salvation

In the first post of this series, I said that I was looking at the terms Scriptures, Bible, New Testament, Gospels, and gospel. In the next post, I looked at various uses of the term “Scriptures” in the New Testament. Then, I explained how I use the terms “Scriptures,” “Bible,” “New Testament,” and “Gospels” and explained why I use the terms that way. After that, I looked at the nature(s) of the “the gospel” and began wondering how it relates to the Scriptures (or the New Testament or the Gospels).

As I said in the previous post, the term “gospel” could have several different referents in Scripture, and each occurrence should be considered in context. However, for the most part, I think the term “gospel” refers to the message of God’s salvation. Obviously, there are many, many aspects of that message, but they all refer to same message.

One passage in particular in the New Testament (which actually refers back to the Old Testament) indicates that the gospel refers to the message of God salvation.

In Romans 10, Paul is writing about salvation and the gospel. At one point, he writes:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.(Romans 10:13-17 ESV)

In the quotation, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”, the phrase “preach/proclaim the good news” is from the Greek verb εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo – “to proclaim good news”), and it is a quotation from Isaiah. The following verse in Romans (“But they have not all obeyed the gospel”) indicates that Paul is talking about “the gospel,” and he believes that Isaiah’s statement relates to “the gospel.”

Here is the passage from Isaiah:

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10 ESV)

In the immediate context of this passage from Isaiah, it’s clear that the “good news” is about God’s deliverance of Jerusalem and Israel after the Jews are exiled. But, the end of the passage (and Paul’s application) indicates that it has a broader and more eternal meaning as well.

What is the point of Isaiah’s passage (a passage that Paul referred to)? It refers to a message delivered by the watchmen that God is bringing salvation to his people. That is the “good news”… the gospel.

Like I said, we see different descriptions and aspects of this message throughout the New Testament. But, the New Testament authors never identify their writings as “the gospel” themselves. (The closest is Mark, who begins his books with, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God…” and then quotes Isaiah again.)

So, there are many ways to proclaim this message, and many aspects of this message that can be described. It’s possible to focus on Jesus Christ as the one who actually bring salvation, or his death, burial, and resurrection as the means through which God’s salvation is realized. Similarly, we can talk about mystery (that has now been revealed) of how God planned to save the Gentiles. Each of these could be considered “the gospel” because they refer to the message of God’s salvation.

If the gospel is the message of God’s salvation, then it is by nature different from the Scriptures, the Bible, the New Testament, and the Gospels, all of which refer to specific writings. Those writings may contain descriptions and references to the gospel (as a message), but they are not the message themselves.


6 Comments

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  1. 8-23-2013

    I believe everything in the OT has a broader meaning, especially when we realize that everything in the Bible points to His Son…whether pointing forward or backward.

  2. 8-23-2013

    The N.T. mirrors the O.T. Faith comes by hearing the word (that God speaks now)God, reaches into the heart of man no matter his situation,the word is like a two edged sword these words bring joy to my heart,The good news the gospel.The scriptures tell the story of a wandering band of Gods people good and bad (short version).

  3. 8-23-2013

    Ron,

    Every writing in the Old Testament in some way deals with God’s plan of salvation – often in a temporal sense that points to the eternal sense of salvation. In that way, it always refers to Jesus, since God brought salvation (and continues to bring salvation) through him.

    Richard,

    I agree that in both the OT and the NT, salvation is by the grace of God and through faith (trusting in God). This is definitely a big part of the gospel.

    -Alan

  4. 8-26-2013

    The gospel is the message of God’s salvation. God’s salvation is only made possible through Jesus Christ. My default view, therefor, is that the gospel is Jesus Christ. It may refer to other things too in a given context, but at the very minimum it is Jesus. He is the good news. He is the subject and the core of the message of God’s salvation. You can preach him (the gospel), proclaim him, receive him, share him with unbelievers, hear him proclaimed, etc.

  5. 8-26-2013

    I like what Nick says – to further clarify: When Simeon takes Jesus in his arms he proclaims: “My eyes have seen your salvation”… (Luke 2:30) Jesus is God’s salvation. The “gospel” is the Good news of JESUS CHRIST!

    Paul went so far as to say – “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Co 2:1,2) Paul proclaimed Jesus – his letters are dripping with Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

    You diligently study the scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40) Scriptures in themselves can be quite lifeless unless they lead you to Christ. There are many churches that preach the Bible and hardly ever mention Jesus. I say this to their shame.

    Summary: Gospel – Good news of Jesus Christ
    Scriptures / Bible: Written testimony of Jesus Christ
    New Testament: Written testimony of Jesus Christ written after his birth.

  6. 8-26-2013

    Nick and Jerry,.

    Jesus is God’s salvation. No question about that. Salvation is by, through, and in Jesus Christ. Period.

    The gospel (“good news” – at least, God’s good news) is the message of how God has provided salvation through Jesus Christ.

    -Alan