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The Gospel in All Its Forms

Like God, the gospel is both one and more than that.

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The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore. Indeed, even angels never tire of looking into it (1 Peter 1:12). Humans are by no means angels, however, so rather than contemplating it, we argue about it.

A generation ago evangelicals agreed on "the simple gospel": (1) God made you and wants to have a relationship with you, (2) but your sin separates you from God. (3) Jesus took the punishment your sins deserved, (4) so if you repent from sins and trust in him for your salvation, you will be forgiven, justified, and accepted freely by grace, and indwelt with his Spirit until you die and go to heaven.

There are today at least two major criticisms of this simple formulation. Many say that it is too individualistic, that Christ's salvation is not so much to bring individual happiness as to bring peace, justice, and a new creation. A second criticism ...

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Ed Humphries

November 10, 2008  8:40am

The Gospel in All its Forms Tim Keller makes a good point: our gospel presentations should be aimed at the audience we are addressing. That, of course, does not mean that there is more than one gospel! There is a tendancy in some quarters to confuse the "now - but not yet" principles of escatology: the gospel is very much aimed at saving men right now where they are. The working out of their sanctification (once their justification is accomplished) is what should be affecting the world around is day by day while we keep in mind the glorious sight of the world to come. But you can never reverse that order! Working to change the world without doing so in the context of the gospel is a fruitless exercise. Works without faith in dead. Ultimately, the form of the gospel presentation is less important than the CHALLENGE of the gospel: hear it, believe it, receive it - the gospel message is very much about people being changed. Intellectual nods and good works don't hack it.

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