The Gospel is BIG Enough

Our Gospel is big enough. There is no hole in our Gospel. It doesn’t need to be expanded, filled in, or changed. If anything, our Gospel needs to be more fully understood, more fully accepted, more fully loved, and more fully treasured.

All claims, cries, and calls for a bigger Gospel fail to understand just how big our Gospel is. To borrow from the Apostle Paul, our Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation (Rom. 1:16). That’s pretty big. In fact, I would argue, you cannot get any bigger. You cannot find anything more perfect, more complete, more glorious than our Gospel.

The Gospel is good news. It is the declaration of the perfect life, substitutionary death, and powerful resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is an announcement that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is the proclamation that Jesus is the Savior of the world. It is the pronouncement of Jesus’ Lordship.[1]

We don’t need a bigger Gospel. We don’t need to fill in any holes. We don’t need a broader, more expansive or encompassing Gospel.

The Gospel cannot get any bigger than it already is.

But I do believe we need a bigger understanding of the implications of our Gospel. Here, in understanding how the good news of Jesus Christ affects all of life, we need to expand our vision, our thinking, and our understanding. The Gospel is an unchanging message. It is set in historical stone. But how we apply the Gospel to our present situation – that is moldable. Our theology is often too limited. We need to expand our definition of theology: theology is “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.”[2]

Our language is important. We need to be more careful when we talk about our Gospel. We need to be clear on the distinctions we make. We need to understand the difference between the Gospel and the “oughtness” of the Gospel. We need to be clear on what the Gospel is and is not. And we need clarity on how we are to apply the Gospel.

If Jesus died and rose again for our sins what are the personal and social implications? Another way of looking at it is this, “in what ways does the Gospel impact everyday life? Does the Gospel address the variety of issues we face in the world?” I hope we are able to answer these questions with a resounding YES. We believe Scripture (including the Gospel message) speaks to every area of life. Therefore, we must seek to apply Scripture to all areas of life.[3]

We may disagree on those implications, but I hope we agree that the Gospel has implications. The social justice act of seeking to eradicate abortion is a biblical and a worthy outworking of understanding the Gospel, being created in the image of God, and the entire thrust of Scripture. Most Christians agree with this. Yet, we tend to narrowly define the implications of the Gospel. We are selective.[4] We are good when it is applied to life-in-womb issues, but we are a bit more reticent to apply it to life-outside-womb issues. We need an expanded understanding of how the Gospel has implications for countless issues, such as the sanctity of life both in and outside of the womb.

We need to hold fast to the unchanging Big Gospel, while at the same time seeking to tease out the applications of the Gospel for the ordinary of everyday.

We need to address issues, as D. A. Carson argues, from the center. He writes, “in all our efforts to address painful and complex societal problems, we must do so from the centre, out of a profound passion for the gospel.”[5] In other words, the Gospel is big enough and powerful enough to address the issues of our world, but we must always address those issues founded upon and centered on the Gospel.

Our Gospel is so big it raises the dead to life. It re-creates dead, rebellious sinners into the image of Christ. It is transformative. It is powerful. It is magnificent. It doesn’t need to change. It cannot change. We need to celebrate it as it is – in all its beauty and glory.

We must also celebrate that this Gospel raises us to new life with purpose. We are created, re-created, for good works (Eph. 2:10). These good works are what we have been calling the implications of the Gospel. The Gospel enables us to love God and love others. These are the implications or “oughtness” of the Gospel message.

We don’t need a bigger Gospel. We need a bigger understanding the Gospel. And we need a wholistic understanding of how the Gospel affects every area of life.

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[1] D. A. Carson, “The Biblical Gospel” in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelism, Past, Present, and Future. Edited by Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996): 75-85,  defines the gospel in this way: “the gospel is the good news of the coming of Jesus – who he is, his mission, above all his death and resurrection, the inauguration of the final eschatological kingdom even now, and all that this means for how we live as individuals and as the church, the eschatological people of God, in fulfillment of all the promises God made in the Scriptures that led up to Jesus.”

[2] Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1987), 81. Emphasis mine.

[3] See John Frame’s critique of Michael Horton’s “Two-Kingdom” approach “Appendix E: In Defense of Christian Activism” in The Doctrine of the Christina Life (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008), 943-950.

[4] I appreciate Eric Mason’s pointing out the selective nature of our justice acts in Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in American to Confront Racism and Injustice (Chicago, IL: Moody, 2018). He calls it Selective Justice Syndrome. He writes, “We select comfortable forms of justice to address; even then we don’t view it as central to the mission of God.” 98.

[5] Carson, “The Biblical Gospel.” He further writes, “If we tackle these problems without tackling what is central, we are merely playing around with symptoms. This is no excuse for Christians not to get involved in these and many other issues. But it is to insist that where we get involved in such issues, many of which are explicitly laid upon us in scripture, we do so from the centre out, ie. Beginning with full-orbed gospel proclamation and witness and passion, and then, while acknowledging that no one can do everything, doing our ‘significant something’ to address the wretched entailments of sin in our world. The good news of Jesus Christ will never allow us to be smug and other-worldly in the face of suffering and evil.”

2 thoughts on “The Gospel is BIG Enough

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  1. I read this morning “our character and desires are gradually transformed and we increasingly integrate the gospel into all of life.” Have heard this also referred to as “gospel fluency” as we grow to see and speak in the nitty gritty of life, springing from the central truth of the gospel.

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