What is the Gospel?
Each week here at the Life and Ministry blog I try post a book review. I have just started reading The King Jesus Gospel (2011, Zondervan) by Scot McKnight. In the introduction he recounts the story of, along with a deacon from his church, visiting a prospect who had visited their church. They used a popular evangelism program to share the gospel with this man and he prayed to accept Christ. McKnight left with the impression he only prayed with them so they would leave his house. He was never seen at that church again. He writes:
Because of that singular event, I’ve looked ever since with a cynical eye at evangelistic strategies. Not because I’m not an evangelist but because I believe we are focused on the wrong thing. Most of evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples. Those two words—decision and disciples—are behind this entire book. evangelism that focuses on decisions short circuits and—yes, the word is appropriate—aborts the design of the gospel, while evangelism that aims at disciples slows down to offer the full gospel of Jesus and the apostles. (page 18, emphasis his)
On the second page of the first chapter (page 24), he suggests stopping and answering one question. What is the gospel? Reserving my right to change my answer at a later date, here is my attempt to answer the question:
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ that informs individuals of their need for a savior and leads them into a reconciled relationship with God through that savior, Jesus Christ. The gospel also informs the life of the individual to lead them to grow in that relationship with God and to become conformed to the image of Christ. This includes the capacity and desire to share the gospel with others.
I think McKnight may be right. The gospel of the evangelical church—the salvation message—may be accurate, but it is also incomplete. Perhaps this is why we have so many converts and so few disciples.
How would you answer the question: What is the gospel? Please share!