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A Theology of the Gospel

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

When the enthronement of Jesus as king of kings is lost, or the good news is not royal good news, the gospel can become transactional and truncated to simply trusting in the atonement in exchange for a heaven receipt. We want to restore the ancient gospel, because the gospel you preach determines the disciples you make.


"We believe God created all things and made human beings in his image, so that we could enjoy a relationship with him and each other. But we lost our way, through the Satan’s influence. We are now spiritually dead, separated from God. Without his help, we gravitate toward sin and self-rule. The gospel is God’s good news of reconciliation. It was promised to Abraham and David and revealed in Jesus’ life, ministry, teaching, and sacrificial death on the cross. The gospel is the saving action of the triune God. The Father sent the Son into the world to take on human flesh and redeem us. Jesus came as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. He ushered in the kingdom of God, died for our sins according to Scripture, was buried, and was raised on the third day. He defeated sin and death and ascended to heaven. He is seated at the right hand of God as Lord and he is coming back for his disciples. Through the Spirit, we are transformed and sanctified. God will raise everyone for the final judgment. Those who trusted and followed Jesus by faith will not experience punishment for their sins and separation from God in hell. Instead, we will join together with God in the renewal of all things in the consummated kingdom. We will live together in the new heaven and new earth where we will glorify God and enjoy him forever. " - Renew network faith statement


Genesis 1–3; Romans 3:10–12, 7:8–25; Genesis 12:1–3 & Galatians 3:6–9; Isaiah 11:1–4; 2 Samuel 7:1–16; Micah 5:2–4; Daniel 2:44–45; Luke 1:33; John 1:1–3; Matthew 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:1–8; Acts 1:11; 2:36; 3:19–21; Colossians 3:1; Matthew 25:31–32; Revelation 21:1ff; Romans 3:21–26.


What Is the Gospel?

 Jesus is the saving king. He preexisted with God the Father. In accordance with God’s promises, Jesus became human in the line of David, died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected on the third day, was seen, was installed as king at God’s right hand, sent the Spirit, and will return to rule. 

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” — 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there anything that you would add or remove from the definition of the gospel presented? 

  2. What false gospel have you heard recently, either culturally or in the church? 

  3. Why is the simplicity of knowing the gospel and sharing it (“gospeling”) so important in the Bible and now?  

  4. When you discover that the gospel also proclaims the implications of the kingdom now, how does that apply today in political and social contexts? 

  5. The gospel is more than just Jesus’ work on the cross. How does that change your prior view of the gospel? 

  6. What does it mean to you to accept as gospel that Jesus is king? How does that (or can that) change your life?

Why Do We Need Royal Good News? 

God created humans in his image to rule. Sin distorts God’s glory in our image-bearing. Only a king who flawlessly bears God’s image can carry God’s full glory to creation, vanquishing the personal, social, and cosmic effects of sin. 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  — Romans 3:23

Discussion Questions:

  1. We've described sin as acts that distort God’s glory. Share your understanding of sin prior to hearing this. 

  2. How do you now view Jesus’ kingship with respect to your need for salvation and atonement for your sins? 

  3. What does it practically mean for us to rule as God originally intended—serving and safeguarding? 

  4. How have you experienced the glory of the living God through another disciple of Jesus? 

  5. Disciple making facilitates spiritual transformation. Have you been discipled? Share your experience being discipled thus far in life. Have you made yourself available to be discipled and then to disciple others?  

  6. What idols have you worshiped and what have been the ramifications in your life (spiritually, emotionally, physically)? How has God restored you in these areas to become his image-bearer again? What remains to be restored?

How Is Jesus’ Kingship Beneficial? 

King Jesus frees us from our misguided self-rule. Christians alone have the benefits of forgiveness of sins and everlasting life with God. But as the king’s glory radiates outward, non-Christians and the rest of creation profit too. 

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe what self-rule can look like in your life. 

  2. Describe the uniquely Christian, general human, and cosmic benefits of Jesus’ lordship.  

  3. Of the four benefits of the gospel to Christians (adoption, right-standing with God, Holy Spirit fruit, and eternal life), which is the most difficult for you to accept and live out? 

  4. As an authentic disciple of Jesus, how can you impact the general human population? 

  5. What does it look like to restore and refurbish God’s creation? How can you participate in that? 

  6. How is “image restoration” a helpful description for God’s plan for humans? What excites you about what image restoration could look like in your life?

How Do We Share the Gospel?

We share the gospel by testifying in word and deed that Jesus is the victorious, rescuing king. We encourage others to become loyal followers of the king through a faith response of trusting allegiance, repentance from sins, and baptism. 

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” — 2 Corinthians 5:20

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to “bear witness” to Jesus’ kingship in word and deed? 

  2. How comfortable are you in sharing the central historical truths in Scripture? Can you summarize them as a single story? 

  3. What is your three-minute personal faith story? Can you share it?

  4. As a disciple of Jesus, what are some specific ways that your walk matches your talk? In what areas do you struggle with this? Do you share your words and deeds?

  5. What has been your experience in sharing your story of faith, repentance, and baptism with others?  

  6. How would you share the gospel’s purpose, how it has touched your life, and the joy that it brings you?

Who Is the God of the Gospel?

God, who reveals himself through creation, showed himself specially to Abraham and his descendants. In the gospel, God revealed himself as three persons but one God: the Father sent his only Son, and they sent forth the Spirit. 

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” — John 1:14

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 4:4–5. What does this imply about how long God has been the Father and how long Jesus has been part of the Trinity? For more clarification, see John 1:1–3. 

  2. How does the fact that the Son came to earth with two natures (God and human) impact your relationship with him?  

  3. How do the two natures of Jesus work together to transform our lives? 

  4. We are image-bearers of God. The selflessness Jesus displayed in his dying on the cross is an example to us. How can you bear God’s image as a disciple of Jesus in a more cross-shaped manner? 

  5. Read 2 Timothy 2:11–13. What does it mean to die with Christ? To endure with him? How have you personally seen others do these things?

Resources



Book Recommendations for Further Study:  


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