Spend any time around Christians and you are bound to hear the word “Gospel” used. In the frequency of their use of the word “Gospel”, Christians of most denominational backgrounds, are remarkably consistent. The problem exists not in how frequently we use the word “Gospel”, but in how infrequently we explain what we mean when we do.
The word we translate as “Gospel” in English, is derived from the Greek word: Euangelion. The word can be broken up into 2 parts: The prefix “Eu” means “good or pleasant” and “angelion” means message. Put them together? Good-Message. Or good news. But what is the “news” that Christians say is so “good”?
Specifically, in the New Testament, the Gospel is the “good news” that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come and lived a perfect, sinless life that you and I have failed to live, died in the place of sinners, enduring God’s just-wrath against those sins on His cross and then three days later, was raised bodily from the grave, victoriously reigning over sin and death as the Resurrected King of all Things. Our King Jesus, then ascended to Heaven where He currently rules at the right hand of God the Father and one day will return in power and glory to judge the living and the dead.
Notice the content of that message.
The Gospel is a news report, not a self-improvement blog.
And it is this news that never changes, always enduring, no matter what may come. Living in a moment of darkness as we are, the true power and hope of this message shine brightly. Sitting in the darkroom of a global pandemic, bringing suffering and death to every corner of the globe, the light of the Gospel hurts our eyes at first. It is too bright. Too powerful. And our eyes have been conditioned for darkness. But it is precisely the forcefulness and uniqueness of the Gospel message, standing out while standing against every other religion in the world, that highlights its power.
Few men throughout church history have ever written as powerfully about the power of the Gospel as Martin Luther. Luther says, that the Gospel’s beauty in the midst of “evils and sins” should actually startle us.
“But the Christian says: I believe and cling to him who is in heaven as a Savior…. Thus the Christian faith differs from other religions in this, that the Christian hopes even in the midst of evils and sins. Without the Holy Spirit natural man can’t do this. He can only seek refuge in works. To say, ‘I am a child of God,’ is accordingly not to doubt even when good works are lacking, as they always are in all of us. This is so great a thing that one is startled by it.”
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One of the keys of Christian hope in hard times is to be more startled by the Gospel than you are shaken by the world.
This Holy Week, as you celebrate the Gospel, make a point to keep before your spiritual eyes, why the Good News is truly Good.
And allow yourself to be startled by its goodness.