I love getting to preach the gospel on Jersey campuses! Recently I had the opportunity to teach about “7 Things the Gospel is Not” at the weekly meeting at Montclair State Univ. Here are my notes from that teaching. Enjoy!
There are lots of Christians on this planet, and all of them are born sinners, inclined to make mistakes and misrepresent Jesus’ central message to the world.
Here are 7 things the “Gospel” or “good news” is NOT.
1 – Moralism.
This is learning all the right behaviors/attitudes/words and mimicking them. It tends to make people self-righteous: with clean-looking suits on the outside but dirty hearts on the inside. It’s all about projecting a perfect image.
2 – Free license.
This is an abuse of grace. People who believe this claim to love God but hurt Him all the time by living offensive lives against their Creator. Many might even quote “only God could judge me” in their defense, not realizing that He is (and that’s not gonna work out in the end).
3 – Behavior control.
Unlike moralistic do-gooders, people in this category suffer with self-inflicted burdens to do right. They’re NOT good, know it and constantly war against their “badness.” They are like members of self-help groups, modifying their behaviors but constantly returning to them. They always try to outweigh the bad with good but get nowhere.
4 – Merely a Christian’s “biography.”
Many Christians tell non-believers about how great they are. And how great they’re doing. And how great life is now that they’re Christians. But this says nothing of God. The Gospel is more about God than it is about Christians, even though it involves us. (More on that later.)
5 – Being really nice.
Many Christians hope their “good actions” will speak the Gospel to others. While it is important to practice what we preach, our goodness is NOT what saves us. Buddhists are nice. Atheists and Muslims can be nice. The Gospel is not merely about what we can do for people but what God has done for them.
6 – World peace.
Tuesday was Election Day in the USA, and everyone whose official is in office feels a sense of peace. Many Christians mourn when things go politically bad in the world. And conversely they settle down and do nothing when things are going well. They feel the job is done. But world peace is not the Gospel in and of itself.
7 – Your (fill in blank) cause.
Everyone has a cause. “I’m gluten-free. Pro-this or that. I’m for ending this or starting that.” Getting everyone to believe that Italian food is the downright best is NOT the Gospel. It can be my cause, and I can have causes as a Christian. But it is not the central message of Jesus.
So, then, what is the Gospel?
The Gospel is God. It’s God, choosing us to know Him personally. It’s God, knowing that we are too sinful and too broken to make amends with His all-holy self. It’s God, paving a way for us to personally know Him by sending His son, Jesus, to live the perfect (sinless) life; die a brutal death that we deserved; and rise from death to give us the gift of salvation which we cannot earn.
Some Bible verses that drive it home!
- God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
- He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isa. 53:5).
- He gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14).
- Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures … he was buried. . . . The third day he rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures . . . and he appeared (1 Cor. 15:3-6).
In closing, check out this short video explaining the Gospel further: