Gospel Semantics

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Buzz word: gospel.

It seems like a lot of people have their own definition of what the gospel is.  I recently have heard many different ones: social gospel, your relationship with Jesus, prosperity gospel, family. 

Dr. Moore in his book, Adopted for Life, says this: “Adoption is, on the one hand, gospel.  In this, adoption tells us who we are as children of the father.  Adoption as gospel tells us about our identity, our inheritance, and our mission as sons of God.” (pg 17-18) I heard this quote as “the gospel is fundamentally about family”.  Hearing this quote in the context of where I was made perfect sense.  But, it led me to think that it may not be understood in a larger cultural context. 

I know both the speaker and Dr. Moore and I know that they fully believe the gospel is the cross of Jesus Christ and how he died to reconcile sinners to the perfect Father who is sovereign and creator of all things.  There is no doubt about that.

But, when we have one chance to explain the gospel to unbelievers: this may not be the best place to start.  If we are given one hearing, one audience,  I would start with the holiness of God, the sin of every human, the need for the cross, and salvation that comes only through Jesus.  I know these men would say this as well.

I love that adoption pictures the gospel in that we can see God’s heart for the unwanted, the outcast, the bringing people to Himself that aren’t just like Him.  It is amazing. 

But, in this world of universalism, synchritism, and plurality of what is actually truth – may we be cautious in how we explain the gospel.  I know people who have adopted children and aren’t believers (they may be a perfect audience for hearing what God did for them through Christ), but some people and different world religions place a lot of emphasis on family.  If I have family then I’m good to go.  Or I’m a good person and family is important to me – that’s all I need.  I don’t want to let anyone think that that is what I mean if I say “the gospel is fundamentally about family.”   Sometimes we don’t have time to go through a whole conversation – we are given one chance.

One book I would HIGHLY recommend if you are thinking about adoption or are wondering how this cultural hot topic applies to the gospel and the Christian life is Dr. Moore’s Adopted for Life.  Here are some other quotes that I love that talk about this topic:

“The gospel is good news because it announces to us that God has acted in Christ not just that we may have heaven, but so that we may have God.” – John Piper, God is the Gospel, pg 148

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is humbling because it tells us that we are broken and need fixing.  All false gospel, {including anything we can do to make ourselves feel better or be more culturally aware of significance} appeal to our human vanity because they tell us that we are less broken and can at least participate in fixing ourselves.” – Josh Moody, No Other Gospel, pg 37

“The pressure to find a bigger more relevant gospel seems to have taken hold of a great many people.” – Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, pg 103

The true gospel has been around for a long time (since before the foundations of the world) and we as humans can’t do anything for ourselves.  We must wholly believe that Jesus is our only hope.

“Christ  Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” – 1 Timothy 1:15

2 Responses

  1. Eric

    You know I was just thinking. There are some churches I have seen that are called the “_____ Family Church.” I think there is one maybe in Burlington going towards Greensboro. I vaguely remember seeing signs for it off the interstate. Makes you wonder which gospel they are preaching. No reason they can’t also be preaching Christ also and I hope they are; however, it is at least interesting that on their billboard it communicates more about the family unit than it does about God or the church.

    • Kimberly

      This, what you said, is what randy kinda talked against at the first rethink cong in 08 I think at providence.