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The Power of the Gospel

  • February 2021 Issue
Practical Theology

“The New Testament term translated gospel is a Greek word literally meaning ‘good news.’”

A saying often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi advises, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” The problem is not only that Francis never said such a thing. This quote also misrepresents the gospel. Duane Litfin, president emeritus of Wheaton College, said, “It’s simply impossible to preach the gospel without words.”

The New Testament term translated gospel is a Greek word literally meaning “good news.” This gospel was the message Jesus commanded His disciples to preach (Mark 13:10). Paul used this same word in Romans to refer to the message about Jesus that he preached (Rom. 1:9). The gospel is a verbal message that reveals “the righteousness from God” (Rom. 1:17). It was something Paul passionately proclaimed (Col. 1:28).

However, there is more to the gospel than words. The reason Paul was not ashamed to proclaim the gospel was that “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel tells how God worked through Christ to make salvation possible. The heart of its message focuses on Christ’s death as the payment for our sin and His resurrection for our justification. “To preach the gospel in a penetrating way, then, you do not merely want to talk about an abstract concept of forgiveness and repentance,” Pastor and author, Timothy Keller observes, “You want to show listeners Jesus Himself and all that He came to do for us.”

How does behavior fit into our proclamation of the gospel? Changed lives provide concrete evidence of the power of God displayed in the gospel. This life transformation offers proof that Jesus can truly save us from sin. The daily evidence of purity and reverence in the life of a Christian causes its message to reverberate in a way that cannot be silenced. What does this mean for us? Preach the gospel everywhere. And prove it with your life!

For Further Study

To learn more, read The Heart of the Church: The Gospel’s History, Message, and Meaning by Joe Thorn (Moody Publishers).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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