Posted by: Brian Musser | June 11, 2012

What is “the Gospel?”

Work Through Your Definition of the Gospel

Last time that I posted on the topic of evangelism, How the Church Teaches the Gospel Wrong, I left us with the question, “What is the Gospel?”  Hopefully, you took a moment during the week to seriously think about that question.  What needs to be shared to be able to say, “I shared the Gospel?”  If you haven’t thought about that question take a moment right now and on an actual piece of paper to write down your answer to, “What is the Gospel?”  I’ve inserted a random Drexel clock picture here to help us pause and think before moving on to the next section.  Seriously, take the time and write it down.  Thinking about it for yourself before reading the answer will cause greater learning.  Writing it down engages several different parts of you so that learning is reinforced.

Picture of a Drexel clock that no longer exists by Brian Musser.

My Definition of the Gospel

So now that you have thought about it let me give you my answer.  I define the gospel as:  The action of God that through acknowledgement of Jesus’ death in our place we can have forgiveness for our sins and through believing in Jesus’ resurrection we can obtain eternal life.  Technically, that is all you need to share in order to have shared “The Gospel.” 

Do you agree with that definition?  Why or Why Not?  Please leave your comments in the the comments section. 

Did that definition come close to what you had already written?  Did you include anything else?  One of the benefits for having thought through “what is the Gospel” on your own before reading my definition is that if my definition was wrong in some way you would be more apt to notice it.  When it comes to the central article of our faith we need to be conscious of what we actually believe about it.  Did you learn anything about the Gospel by actually having to write it down?  Had you ever been asked to write it down in your own words before?  Every time I teach on evangelism I encourage myself to write the Gospel down fresh so that it becomes more and more ingrained in my mind on a deeper level than what rote memorization will ever do.

Adding Context to the Gospel

However, there is another important aspect of communicating the Gospel to others that needs to be addressed.  If you had a lot more in your definition of the Gospel than I did, you are probably already, preemptively addressing this issue.  Does the Gospel makes sense?  Does the person you are sharing the Gospel with know enough of the context around the Gospel for the Gospel to be meaningful.  As you look at my definition of the Gospel what are some key questions that need to be answered before that sentence makes sense?

Here’s my initial list:

  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is Sin?
  • Why do we need to be forgiven?
  • What do we mean by resurrection?
  • What is eternal life?

Can you think of any others?  If you do list them in the comment section.

In order to make the Gospel understandable, I typically add some context pieces when sharing.

  1. There’s a God who created us.
  2. Because God created us we are accountable to God.
  3. We have done things against the will of God this has damaged/destroyed our relationship with God.
  4. God has to decide to forgive us and restore our relationship.  There is nothing we can do to make or force God to forgive us.
  5. However; God has decided to make forgiveness available through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
  6. Through the acknowledgement of Jesus’ death in our place we can have forgiveness for our sins and through believing in Jesus’ resurrection we can obtain eternal life.
  7. This eternal life starts the moment you acknowledge and believe and continues through this life and into the afterlife.

Brian talking with students at an organizational fair.

Now, I don’t usually get to work through those entire seven points in such a logical procession.  Often I have to stop and discuss one or more of the points.  Sometimes I only get through a couple and the conversation ends.  Sometimes the person I’m sharing with gets stuck on one of the early points of the story and we stay there for awhile.  However; knowing exactly what I’m trying to share, being extremely comfortable with it, being very familiar with it allows me to be extremely flexible with how I share it and at what pace we move.  Knowing the Gospel this way helps me share it so much more often and so much more comfortably.  Next week we will look at our motivations for sharing the Gospel.

Please keep Drexel students in prayer this week as we work through Finals Week.  Here is a sample prayer of what I say for them:  Prayer for Finals.


  1. Really like what you are saying. The Gospel is more than just a set of words – its a changed life.

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