Many claim that Jesus was a great teacher who gave us incredible life principles to follow. They claim that he may have even been the best teacher ever. Others claim that Jesus was an extraordinary example to follow if we want to be good people, maybe even the best example ever.
Yes and yes. But this is not enough. It misses the point of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and mission entirely.
I knew a woman who attended a church every Sunday that taught the Gospel. Every time she heard the news that Jesus died for her sin, however, the filter in her mind changed it to mean, “since Jesus died on the cross, you too can follow his amazing example and be a good person.” So basically, in her mind, the Gospel gave her an example (in Jesus) and a series of life principles in order to be the best person she could be.
This is not the Gospel.
The Gospel is simple enough for a child to understand, and at the same time, unfathomably richer, deeper, and more magnificent than we can imagine. But regardless of its simplicity and richness, we miss it easily.
Tim Keller summarizes the Gospel in three magnificent movements: the manger, the cross, and the crown.As foretold by the prophets, God came to this earth in the person of Jesus, He lived the sinless life we are incapable of living, died the death we should have died, conquered sin, death, and our spiritual enemies through His resurrection, and was exalted to the right hand of the Father, acting as a mediator on the behalf of those who believe.
The difficult reality is this: prior to putting our faith in Christ, we were dead in our sins, God’s enemies, worthy of eternal judgment. I know this is hard to stomach, but its the reality of our sin, the hardness of our hearts, the level to which we are self-centered, rebels against the God who loves us.
God’s love compelled him to conquer the sin that we were enslaved to, the death we were sentenced to, and the spiritual enemies trying to destroy us.
Jesus was resurrected. God won!
This is not something that I have to do. This is something that already happened. This is news! This is the greatest news in the history of the universe!
“The Gospel is news of what God has done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history. It is not advice about what we must do to reach God. We do not achieve this salvation. We only accept it.”
Timothy Keller, “Dwelling in the Gospel,” (presented at the Dwell conference, Manhattan, NY, 2008), https://vimeo.com/8977644
Timothy Keller, “What is the Gospel?”, https://learn.redeemercitytocity.com/library/incubator-year-one/38127/path/step/20678637