Declaring His Gospel

This is the third in a series of three posts reflecting on the three phrases at the top of our church bulletins, “Delighting in God’s Glory. Demonstrating His Grace. Declaring His Gospel.” Read the first and second in the series.

Gospel simply means “good news.” As with all news, it can be articulated in different ways. The apostles offered many concise summaries of the gospel including: death in Adam but life in Christ (Romans 5:12-21); all the promises of God find their “Yes!” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20-21); the word of truth unites us with Christ and his benefits (Ephesians 1:3-14); and the historical reality that Christ died for our sin and was raised in accordance with Scripture (1 Corinthians  15:1-7). These are all ways of stating the good news. In 1 Corinthians 15, the four words, “in accordance with Scripture”, remind us that the gospel is ultimately drawn from all of Scripture. Reformed confessions affirm this. For example, the Heidelberg Catechism (HC) teaches there is only one way to come to know that Jesus is freely offered to us for redemption and righteousness: “from the holy gospel, which God himself revealed in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, afterward proclaimed through the holy patriarchs and prophets and foreshadowed through the sacrifices and other rites of the old covenant, and finally fulfilled through his own well-beloved Son” (HC 19).

All this makes clear that the gospel is part of a grand narrative, a story to be told, news to be declared. But declaring it often provokes opposition. That is because the gospel demands a response. Our delight in God can be casually dismissed by onlookers. Our demonstrations of God’s grace can also be passively received. But the gospel declared requires the hearer to accept or reject it. Nevertheless, God’s people can be confident that declaring his gospel to our neighbors and to the nations is the most important and loving thing we can do. That is because the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16-17). Salvation is not something to be hoarded, but something to be shared. Psalm 96:2 calls God’s people to “tell of his salvation from day to day.” What if we, Fourth Church, took the psalmist at his word and told others about God’s salvation daily? We have approximately 1,500 members; 1,500 X 365 days is 547,500 people in a year! That would mean that within two years, all of Montgomery County could hear good news about God’s salvation. Or what if we each brought someone to church just once a week to hear the gospel proclaimed? Then 78,000 people, more than Bethesda’s entire population, would hear the gospel proclaimed within a year!

Similar to delighting in God’s glory and demonstrating his grace, declaring his gospel is both a current reality at Fourth Church and a future aspiration. It calls us to deeper dependence on God, and to Spirit-empowered speech, as we declare his gospel to a world that desperately needs good news.