The other day I was at O’Hare airport sitting at my gate sipping away on a decent cup of coffee when I noticed a pastor I met at a conference a year or so. I was jotting down some notes for a lecture on the “gospel” when he asked me, “Working on a sermon?”
“No,” I answered, “Just jotting some notes on the meaning of the gospel.”
“That’s not hard,” he said firmly. “The gospel is that Jesus died for our sins. He took upon himself our penalty. The gospel is the cross. It ends God’s wrath.”
He was in a hurry as his flight was just starting to board. But I asked, “Is there any ‘resurrection’ in your gospel?”
What is your response to this conversation? To this pastor’s understanding of the gospel?
“Yes, of course. He was raised for our justification.”
“Any Holy Spirit? Any kingdom?,” I asked back.
“Nope. Those are about sanctification. The gospel is about God’s wrath and our guilt and our sin.”
“No teachings of Jesus?,” I asked back.
“Nope. Jesus’ teachings are discipleship. He teaches what pertains to sanctification.”
“No kingdom?,” I asked again.
“None. The kingdom is sanctification too.” He was in a hurry but I asked another one.
“So only Paul preaches the gospel?”
“Yes, first give the gospel of forgiveness and then, once they have received Christ and have their sins removed, you give them the teachings of Jesus.” He was pretty sure about this but I wasn’t so I squeezed one more in:
“Are you telling me that Jesus’ ‘gospel’ of the kingdom is not really gospel?” That was my question.
Getting up from his seat, heading toward his gate and his plane back home, he said, “Not really. You can’t have the gospel until after Pentecost and no one really got until Paul and Peter and Hebrews. But I’d need a good five minutes to explain that. See you next year at the conference.”
I’d heard this before, but never so clearly.