Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


The Gospel of Grace

posted by xscot mcknight

In 1:1 of Romans Paul tells us he is devoted to, or set apart unto, the “gospel of God.” What is the gospel? It might be good today for us to look at this term in Romans. We’ll look at “gospel” (euaggelion) and “preaching the gospel” (euaggelizo).
Here are the references in Romans: 1:1, 9, 15, 16; 2:16; 10:15, 16; 11:28; 15:16, 19, 20; 16:25.
My summary: “gospel” can stand for Paul’s entire message (so all of Romans), and it is first and foremost a declaration about Jesus Christ and what God is doing in this world through Jesus Christ (1:9) to bring together both Jews and Gentiles into the Church by faith in Jesus Christ. This gospel Paul gets to preach is for everybody, Jew and Gentile (1:15).
Inherently the gospel is God’s power to create, to re-create, and to establish the new creation, or “salvation” (1:16). So committed is Paul to this gospel that he believes God will judge all humans on the basis of this gospel (2:16). For this reason, Paul believes more and more need to be sent to preach this wonderful good news about God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ (10:15-16). Israel’s relationship to this gospel perplexes Paul and he thinks, somehow, God’s covenant with Israel remains irrevocable but their unbelief permits Gentile belief (11:28). Paul is a priest on behalf of these Gentiles who respond to the gospel (15:16) — and his preaching involves powerful miracles through the power of the Spirit (15:19-20). Once again, to top it all off with a final statement that can summarize his gospel, in 16:25 Paul says his gospel is “about Jesus Christ”.
Tom Wright urges us all to consider the “gospel” is an announcement that Jesus, the Messiah, is the Lord. I do not dispute this, but I also think the gospel cannot be limited to a statement about Jesus Christ but also to the consequences of that declaration of Jesus Christ — and I see that as the saving power at work in Jesus and all those who are incorporated into him. The gospel is a declaration about Jesus as Lord, and that Lordship creates a new people who believe in him.
Now, if I’m asked what Paul means by gospel in Romans there are two words that sum it up the best: Jesus Christ. (And you can explain term each at length.) But, this must be learned by all of us: the only thing the Church has to offer to anyone, anywhere, and at any time is Jesus Christ. When I’m asked how I “evangelize,” especially in light of my book Embracing Grace, I simply say what for me is the only thing that needs to be known: talk about Jesus and try to get people to consider following Jesus.



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Chris Jones

posted May 17, 2006 at 5:58 am


Great post Scot. Your last line really hit home for me. It brought to mind a song by Scott Underwood called, “It’s All About Jesus”.
Blessings



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Anonymous

posted May 17, 2006 at 7:47 am


Mr. Aston.org » The Gospel of Grace – from Jesus Creed

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RJS

posted May 17, 2006 at 7:49 am


What is the distinction that you are trying to make in the last two paragraphs?
Wright says that the Gospel is “an announcement that Jesus, the Messiah, is Lord”. You say that what Paul means by Gospel is “Jesus Christ” and that “the only thing the Church has to offer to anyone, anywhere, and at any time is Jesus Christ”. I don’t see a distinction between these two statements of gospel. There has to be follow through and a consequence to the declaration – but the gospel is “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus Messiah” which implies “Jesus the Messiah is Lord”



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Scot McKnight

posted May 17, 2006 at 7:52 am


RJS,
Good question. I think the gospel is more than announcing that Jesus is Lord; I think the gospel is the saving power of God (Rom 1:16) in light of Jesus’ Lordship.



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Glenn

posted May 17, 2006 at 8:05 am


Scot,
You said “Israel’s relationship to this gospel perplexes Paul and he thinks, somehow, God’s covenant with Israel remains irrevocable but their unbelief permits Gentile belief (11:28). Paul is a priest on behalf of these Gentiles who respond to the gospel (15:16)”
Does Paul see himself as carrying out the gifts and call of Israel (a nation of priests) by bringing the Gentile nations to God through his mission? We know Judaism has feasts and prayers that contain strong elements of intercession for the Gentile nations (Yom Kippur, Feasts of Tabernacles, etc). Does Paul believe his mission and the grafting in of the Gentiles would break Israel’s unbelief? The new relationship of Jew and Gentile seems central to the NPP’s understanding of the gospel, how central was it to Paul’s understanding?



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Matt

posted May 17, 2006 at 8:08 am


Scot-
I like your perspective, because it seems to bring Paul’s gospel in line with the “gospel” of the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed. Paul simply adds additional, post-resurrection perspective: this God’s salvation is being accomplished because God has established Jesus as Lord.
Does that make sense?
– Matt



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Scot McKnight

posted May 17, 2006 at 8:11 am


Glenn,
Yes, Paul thinks Gentile faith will spur Israel through jealousy/envy.
Matt,
I do think Paul’s gospel is in line with Jesus’ gospel, though I think they use different rhetorics and settings.



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Andrew K.

posted May 17, 2006 at 9:03 am


Thanks, Scot. This has opened up my thinking of what “euaggelion” means to the NT writers.
Do you think there is any valid summary of the “gospel” that is something more than the words “Jesus Christ” and something less than “everything the Bible says about Jesus”? In popular usage, I think many people think of the 4 Spiritual Laws, John 3:16, or perhaps the beginning of 1 Co. 15. Do you think these understandings are wrong? Misleading? Harmful, helpful? Ok, but not great?



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Nancy H

posted May 17, 2006 at 9:31 am


Scot – What a fun series! I’ll look forward to enjoying your postings with my morning cup of joe.
With regards to your statement that the gospel is about what God is doing in the world through Christ, should we not also strongly emphasize what Christ has done (crucifixion & resurrection)? In Paul’s definition of the Gospel this is highlighted in 1:4
Also, would Paul say that the key is to follow Jesus? (per your last sentence) He specifically says that the gospel is the power for the salvation of all who believe, not all who follow. (However, faith or belief may me implicit in your term follow and I’m just not up on the lingo).
I’m going to mull over your ideas a bit more today (which is part of what will make this series so fun). Are the the consequences (Romans 12 et al) the result of hearing and believing the Gospel, or are they part of the Gospel itself, as you imply. I’m not sure, but you’ve given me something to think about – thx



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Anonymous

posted May 17, 2006 at 9:35 am


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Scot McKnight

posted May 17, 2006 at 9:41 am


Yes, Nancy, what God is doing still through what he has done once and for all in Christ.
I’d say “follow” and “believe” are describing the same relationship. Paul can call it the “obedience of faith.”



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Ted Gossard

posted May 17, 2006 at 11:12 am


Yes. Jesus’ Lordship and atoning work will become a part of our experience by trusting in him, in his person. I appreciate your point here, Scot.



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Jordan

posted May 17, 2006 at 2:41 pm


Scot, I like what you have to say, but based on my own experience(s), I don’t know what to do with it. When you simplify the gospel as “Jesus Christ”, and say that this is all the Church needs to offer, many other religious groups – most obviously Mormons – would agree with you. That seems problematic to me. I’m not saying the gospel needs to be a theological exposition of the nature and person of Jesus, his atonement, a historical defense of his resurrection etc… but your definition seems to allow other religious groups to be partakers of the gospel and still believe their own theologies (thus rejecting orthodoxy Christian beleifs). Am I missing something here?



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BeckyR

posted May 17, 2006 at 2:59 pm


Our church just got done going through Romans. When looking for clarification per what was meant by “the gospel,” I got the sunday school answer “the good news.” I asked what the good news was, “Jesus is Savior.” Perhaps it was evident to those Romans was written, but today, the question that comes to mind, is : and then what? What is the day to day life, the substance, the meat, that it means crossing the line and Jesus is Savior. Say if it was presented to me today, I would ask : if I cross this line, what kind of stuff in my life would be expected of me, that would be an agreement supposedly made when crossing the line. Beyond, living holy, or that kind of answer. Am I agreeing to a life of living by the rules ? In my better moments, I realize it’s about reveling in the love relationship with God. Anything that is to be in my life, comes from that.



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Nancy H

posted May 17, 2006 at 3:18 pm


Scot – I like the emphasis on “follow” for the believer, as our joy is in the relationship with our saviour, not just that we “got saved.”
However, to the unbelieving world, can an overemphasis on “follow” paint an incomplete picture leading some to think that just following Jesus’ moral teachings is suffient? (I think my question is related to Jordon’s comments)



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Scot McKnight

posted May 17, 2006 at 3:45 pm


Jordan,
Fair enough question, but then I’m not trying to explicate the gospel so much as simply state it: Paul says it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes in Christ. We can unpack the term in a variety of ways, that is why I wrote Embracing Grace.
I’d say you are not missing something. It needs to be explicated.
BeckyR,
Here’s my definition of the gospel: the work of the triune God to create a community in which cracked Eikons (fallen humans) are restored through the life, death, resurrection of Christ and Pentecost, so they will be in union with God and communion with one another for the good of others and the world.
Nancy H,
Yes, “follow” can be incomplete, as can “trust” and “believe.”
In each of these I sense that the apologetic of a genuine Christian in a community of faith is needed in order to demonstrate and make clear what the gospel is and what its summons is.



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Jordan

posted May 17, 2006 at 5:17 pm


Thanks for clarifying Scot. That makes a lot more sense.



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Nancy H

posted May 17, 2006 at 5:26 pm


Thanks for the clarification



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mike bird

posted May 18, 2006 at 2:52 am


Scot,
Thanks for that post. I think it more balanced than how Wright handles it (I think he privileges Rom 1.3-4 over 1 Cor. 15.1-8). Only thing I would ask is “what is the righteousness of God” and how does the rigtheousness of God relate to the gospel? Looking on Rom. 1.16-17, where “in it” (i.e. the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed.



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Makeesha

posted May 18, 2006 at 10:12 am


good stuff.
I think that any time “preaching the Gospel” is not followed by “making disciples”, there is a feeling of incompleteness. That’s when the questions bubble up, questions like “what Jesus are you preaching?” “what about the mormons?” etc. Those questions are valid but not a concern when there is the “making disciples” component. But that goes into the whole what is evangelism issue.



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