Is the Gospel really that simple?

I’ve recently been having discussions with my boss about the nature of Christianity. As we’ve been discussing the Gospel, I’ve gone back to Scripture over and over again. Here’s what I’ve found…

In 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4 says, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”

2 Timothy 2: 8, 9, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.”

Romans 10:9, 10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Acts 17: Paul mentions repentance and faith on account of Jesus’ resurrection.

What am I asking? Is the Gospel far simpler that what modern evangelicalism holds to? Is the Gospel merely “Confessing and believing” that Jesus is Lord and God raised him bodily from the grave? Is the Gospel the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus? If so, why are we unable to put aside our differences concerning the ordo salutis, the substance of the lord’s supper, the timing of Jesus’ return, the gifts of the Spirit, the matters of drinking and eating, etc. aside and involve ourselves in the message of the Gospel, namely that Jesus has overcome sin, death, hell and the grave and we know this to be true because he is alive today.

Am I right, or have I open the door too widely?

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2 thoughts on “Is the Gospel really that simple?

  1. I like the way our boy Nicholas Thomas puts it. The good news is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and therefore the Lord of the world. That is much, much closer to the core of the gospel than “You are sinful and you can put faith in Christ so that you can know you’ll have a positive afterlife.” This is the way it is often articulated, and the damage that is done is the gospel becomes good news about us rather than Jesus. Any salvation is just one result of the gospel, but it is not the gospel itself. The gospel itself is about Jesus. A really good little book was released by Scot McKnight recently: The King Jesus Gospel.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Nathan. I think what Thomas and McKnight say about the gospel is quite right (and, you too, of course!). Piggy backing off what you’ve said here, I think we could see another area where the gospel you mentioned has had negative effects in the modern church. It seems that people assume that salvation not only includes a blissful afterlife, but also a pleasant present life. However, where is that evident in Scripture? From Acts to Revelation, the image seems to be quiet different. The good news that “Jesus is King so Caesar” isn’t had massive implications (thanks, NT Wright). It demanded a new allegiance to the true king and his massive kingdom expansion mission. This new mission included suffering, hardship, servitude, humiliation, and other trials for those who took up their cross. This man-centered gospel is no gospel at all.

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