Several months ago I took my children up to a waterfall near Genting. After an enjoyable swim, I accidentally knocked one of my shoes into the swift-moving current. I immediately called out to my kids to help me retrieve it, but our best efforts were in vain. My shoe was gone. I was dreading the thought of walking back down the mountain wearing only my sock, when suddenly my son cried out, “Dad, I have good news!” Hidden in between two rocks, several meters away, was my wayward shoe!
To get theological (as pastors like to do), my son could have just yelled out the word “gospel!” This term, that has such a preeminent place in our evangelical churches, can become such a cliché that we forget what is meant by it. In its most basic sense, “gospel” simply means “good news”. Jesus and Paul and other New Testament writers did not create a new Christian term when they used this word. Rather, they took the familiar concept of good news and infused it with the greatest announcement ever heard: sinful humanity can now be reconciled to our Creator because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!
This gospel is about truth—what God has done in Jesus. This truth can be understood in the four categories of (1) God, (2) man, (3) Christ, and (4) response. God is completely good and separate from all evil (He is holy). But we as humans have rebelled against His laws, bringing shame and separation from our Creator. Thus we deserve His judgment, both in this life and for all eternity. But the Son of God came as the answer to our sin problem. He lived an obedient life for us, fulfilling God’s requirements for mankind. And He died on the cross in our place, bearing God’s righteous wrath for our sin. As a result, to all who respond in repentance (turning from sin) and faith (trusting in the mercy of Christ alone), God gives forgiveness, reconciliation, and eternal life.
The gospel is also an announcement that needs to be made known—faith comes only by hearing this good news (Romans 10:17). This is why evangelical Christians, and a group like the Gospel City Network, is so committed to proclaiming the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for our salvation. It is news that is only good when one has heard it and responded appropriately. Thus it is at the heart of what every local church is called to be. GCN is passionate about equipping congregations to understand and faithfully proclaim this gospel in our city.
Returning to my family hike: it was truly a good thing that my son saw my lost shoe, stuck in the crevice on the opposite side of the stream. But if he had not made known this discovery, it would have made no difference for my bare foot on our return trip.
We have good news. While each of us, on our own, is completely lost, God has done everything necessary in Jesus that we might be found. There is truly no better news that could ever be heard. This is why we proclaim Christ. This is our gospel.