So, as well as thinking about what our mission is, we need to think about what our message is. Previously, I said this:
These days its all too common for people to talk about the love of God. The gospel has become "God loves you and died for you", or sometimes just, "God loves you". But is that the gospel? Did Jesus incarnate, die, rise again, and ascend to heaven just to ensure he got his message through that God loved the world? Is the atonement just that God loves us?
Clearly not. Surely every good jew must have known already that Yahweh loved his covenant people dearly, as a husband loves his bride.
On other hand, proclaiming that God hates you, is mad at you because you a filthy sinner, and you will burn in hell unless you believe in Jesus, is not in any shape or form the gospel either.
I am asking my readers to chuck in their tuppence worth, and comment on how they understand the gospel message. To get the ball rolling, here's what various folks say the gospel is:
N T Wright: "the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world. And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you. You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work."
Loraine Boettner: "The Gospel is the good news about the great salvation purchased by Jesus Christ, by which He reconciled sinful men to a holy God."
Jeff Purswell: "The gospel is the good news of God's saving activity in the person and work of Christ. This includes his incarnation in which he took to himself full (yet sinless) human nature; his sinless life which fulfilled the perfect law of God; his substitutionary death which paid the penalty for man's sin and satisfied the righteous wrath of God; his resurrection demonstrating God's satisfaction with his sacrifice; and his glorification and ascension to the right hand of the Father where he now reigns and intercedes for the church."
Adam Walker Cleveland: "The gospel is the uncontrollable and uncontainable inbreaking of God's hopes and dreams for this world, and beyond. Through the gospel, God the Creator, God the Redeemer and God the Spirit, bring peace, love and hope into the world, while also presenting an alternative way of life, challenging the powers and principalities that be in the world today."
Brian McLaren: "The core gospel message is the kingdom of God and [it] contains all the dimensions of Jesus' mission: the social, the personal and the saving work of the cross."
What do you think? How would you put it? After a while I will post a sequel to this post, with some of my thoughts on the gospel.