What is With All this Gospel Talk?

“Almost everyone uses the word “gospel” in both a religious and a secular way. In the religious world it is used often without any real consensus as to what is meant by the term. Even when the word “gospel” is proposed as a biblically based term, there are some significant differences among, say, a Christadelphian, an evangelical, and a liberal view of gospel. Among evangelicals there are also differences in the way he word is used. It is a matter for some concern that some books and study courses on evangelism seen to assume that every Christian is absolutely clear about what the gospel is, and that what is needed most is help in the techniques of explaining the gospel to unbelievers. Experience suggests that this assumption is poorly based and that there is a great deal of confusion among believers about what the gospel is. Preachers may have a theoretical gospel and an operative gospel. Theoretically we will get into a theological mode and produce, as far as possible, a biblically based notion focusing on the person and work of Christ. But in pastoral practice it is easy to be pragmatic. Our operative gospel will be the thing that preoccupies us as the focus of our preaching and teaching. It may be a particular hobbyhorse or a denominational distinctive. Baptism, a particular view of the second coming, social action, creationism, spiritual gifts, and the like are all easily raised to the status of gospel by becoming the main focus of our preaching. This is especially deplorable when these spurious gospels are made the basis of our acceptance of other Christians.”

“The gospel is the message about Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection.”

Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, pp. 81-83.