[By Jack Nathan, guest posted from Theophilux.com]

“What is the gospel?” I asked her.

“Jesus died for our sins,”  she responded.

“What does that mean?”

“Uhhh… I’m not sure.”

The gospel is free to propagate here in the United States.  No law prohibits its spread.  Churches are in abundance, preachers buy air time on TV and radio.  Tracts are left in public.  So one would assume that the gospel has been clearly communicated to the majority of the country.  Surely, everyone understands what the gospel is.  Surely, even if they don’t believe, they have knowledge of it.  The gospel isn’t that complicated is it?

Well, as the snippet of a conversation I had with a professed believer shows, people know about Jesus dying for our sins.  But that is about the extent of it.  It is a phrase that has become the catch-phrase of Christianity.

“Jesus died for your sins!” the preacher declares.  “Jesus died for your sins!” the street corner evangelist exults.  “Jesus died for your sins!” the very well dressed televangelist proclaims with a tear in his eye.  “But what does that mean?” asks the wondering.  “How does that help me in this situation?” cries the hurting.  “What difference does that make?” ponders the weary.

For too long, this phrase has been brandished by the eager evangelist without clarification.  This culture knows that the Christian says Jesus died for our sins.  This culture does not know what that means.  They do not know what relevance that has for today.  They do not know what that death has accomplished.  But most importantly, they do not know that Jesus was risen and what that means.

The death of Christ has been seen as the center point of Christianity.  The cross is our symbol to which we look.  A symbol of death and derision has become our banner.  But without the resurrection of Christ, the death would simply be more bad news.  The sting of death would still await all and reign triumphant over all.  If Christ had not been raised, death itself would be sovereign.  We do not worship death.  Death has lost its sting.  Death itself has died.  So why do we assume the gospel is communicated when we tell that Jesus died.  His death is not the good news.  His death is not the gospel.  His death did not save anyone!

The resurrection must be our banner.  The gospel is not that Jesus died for our sins.  That has no meaning and no value outside of the resurrection.  Since he was raised, we will be raised.  His death took the penalty for our sins, but it is His life that gives us life.  We need both.

The gospel speaks hope into every circumstance, every situation.  The gospel needs to be clearly communicated in such a way that it speaks that hope.  It is the gospel that dispels fear, timidity, anxiety, hopelessness, despair, isolation, and every other rotten thing that the curse of sin has brought upon this world.

Tell the world that Jesus died for our sins, but please, don’t stop there.  Tell the world that Jesus lives, and so will his people.

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