“So what do you mean by gospel?”
My friend was taken aback by my question. She had just been talking about the importance of living a gospel-centered life, based on the transforming power of the gospel.
But I had been feeling some concern that gospel is becoming more and more of a buzzword in the church, and as such is beginning to lose its meaning, which is beautiful, and take on a meaning it was never intended to have.
Am I really supposed to be living a gospel-centered life? Does the gospel really have transforming power?
Gospel means “good news.” All Christians know the basics there: because of Christ’s death on the cross, my sins are forgiven. Yes, good news indeed.
But the Good News of Jesus Christ goes much higher and wider and deeper than that. Jesus Christ’s perfect life fulfilled all the law for me. His atoning death procured forgiveness for me. His powerful resurrection provided for me new freedom from sin. His glorious ascension provided gifts for me, primarily the Holy Spirit to empower me to be able to pour out a sweet fragrance before God. His victorious seating provided a seat for me, where I am now. Immeasurable riches of grace. Incomparable kindness through Christ Jesus.
All this is incredibly good news. Astounding news. Forgiveness and more, much more. But still, it has no more power to transform my life than wonderful news written up in a newspaper, like the end of World War II. A young wife whose husband has been away at war can’t continue to center her life around that news, or be truly transformed by it over the many long days to come.
The centering is around a Person. The transforming comes through the Person. Is it important to say that I live a Christ-centered life rather than a gospel-centered life? Is it a crucial distinction to urge people to remember that they are transformed by Jesus Christ Himself rather than His gospel?
Maybe we can ask the young war bride who holds a newspaper in one hand and her husband in the other.
But beyond all comparison with an earthly husband, when my life is centered around Jesus Christ, He transforms me—from the inside out—providing a sustaining joy. I find my life in Him and He lives His life in me.
This is the Good News. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We live it. We proclaim it. And we hold it in its rightful place.