The greek word euaggelion is translated in english translations of the Bible as the gospel or the good news. The word is used to describe the good news: of the kingdom (Mt 24:24), about Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1), of God's grace (Acts 20:24), of God (Ro 15:16), of the glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4), of your salvation (Eph 1:13), of peace (Acts 10:36), about the Lord (Acts 11:20), etc.
The Kingdom of God
"Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" Mk 1:14,15
Jesus' primary message was of the good news of the kingdom of God. For 40 days, before He ascended to heaven, Jesus taught on the kingdom (see Acts 1:3). Most of Jesus' parables were about the reality of the kingdom of God. His purpose in sharing the good news of the kingdom was that people would believe in the reality of God's kingdom and enter into it (see Jn 3:1-8).
The apostle Paul's primary message was the good news of Christ's death and resurrection. He writes, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). The purpose of Paul's message was to bring people into right standing with God through continuing dependence on Christ's righteousness (1 Cor 1:30).
The apostle John's primary message was of the good news of eternal life in Christ. He writes, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 Jn 5:11,12).
The purpose of the gospel
Clearly, the message or the gospel has different forms but its purpose is always the same. This is very important. Unless we understand the purpose of the gospel, we will seek to lead people to believ
Preaching the gospel is not the goal.
Leading people to complete and ongoing dependence upon Christ and devotion to Him is.
Aquaintance or disciple?
We are called to make disciples (Mt 28:18). A disciple is not an aquaintance of Christ. A disciple is married to Christ. Do sinners understand that we are leading them to be married to Christ when they say "I do" to Christ?
Whatever happened to unconditional commitment?
The sad truth is that the principle of unconditional commitment is leaving the gospel and consequently the church. Many preach a gospel that says, "Come to Jesus and receive everything you need. All you have to do is pray the sinner's prayer and you're in." There is a huge difference between receiving Jesus and surrendering one's life to Jesus. The first does not require any commitment, the second costs you your life. Unless people are led to commit their lives to Christ and to enter a covenant relationship with Him, they will also treat His Body, the Church, like an aquaintance rather than the Bride of Christ.
The fruit of the gospel
When I look at the book of Acts, I see a people who were cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit, who repented of their sinful, independent lives, who were baptised because they truly believed, who depended on Christ to be right with God and who devoted their lives to Christ and His bride (see Acts 2:42-47). That is and should always be the fruit of the gospel.Anything less and we're preaching an incomplete or at worst a different gospel!
The bride of Christ
Saying "I do" to Jesus is entering into a relationship with Him that ever depends on Him and is ever devoted to Him and His people. We leave our single status and enter into a covenant relationship with Him and His people. We live our lives as those who belong to Christ and belong to His Body. Paul says, we are not our own any longer. We belong to God and one another. Christian, does your life reflect that you belong to Jesus and His bride?
Jesus will return for His Bride - not an aquaintance. He will present those who depend on Him and who are devoted to Him to Himself, "as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Eph 5:27). Hallelujah!
Let us be sure to preach the true gospel in the Spirit's power to lead people to make a proper and considered decision for Christ. Let us not be hasty in getting people to pray a quick prayer (for our sake). Let us help others make a genuine, unconditional commitment to Christ that will lead them to live a life dependent on and devoted to Christ and to His people.