The word ‚ÄúGospel‚ÄĚ is bandied about a great deal, and I‚Äôm not sure that everybody knows what it means in a Christian context. Since the Gospel is the "good news," I think it is important that people know the essence of that good news!
In the broader sense of the word, the gospel is the Word of God revealed in Old and New Testaments (1 Pet. 1:25, Heb. 4:2). It is the fear of God, and man's obligation to live for His glory and worship. It is to proclaim the judgment of God on the nations (Rev. 14:6,7).
But in the more narrow and proximate sense, the gospel is defined by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1,2. 1 Cor. 15:1,2 I declared unto the gospel which I preached unto you, by which you are saved if you keep it in memory. [And here it is in the following verses. . .] how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. . .‚ÄĚ
So the Gospel is a real life story of a death and a resurrection - the death and resurrection of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of that death is also an important element of the Gospel and Paul tells us that ‚ÄúHe died for our sins.‚ÄĚ
So far so good.
But really as far as all of us are concerned, the Gospel requires a response in order for the Gospel to be good news for us.
This response is beautifully pictured in the story of the sinner woman who washed Jesus‚Äô feet with her tears (Luke 7:47). Our Lord explains the meaning of this scene in these words, ‚ÄúWherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.‚ÄĚ Here is a woman who has sinned much, she has been forgiven much, she loves much, and she serves much. She serves and obeys much because she loves much. Jesus completes the picture in these well-known words, ‚ÄúIf you love me, keep my commandments‚ÄĚ (John 14:15).
Who among us should not identify with this woman? Which of us has not sinned much or been forgiven much, if we have believed in God‚Äôs gracious forgiveness in Christ?
Now, a litany of problems begin to emerge when somebody takes a pair of scissors and cuts this picture in half, or even in thirds - and this is the way the Gospel is sometimes presented. How can one separate ‚ÄúSinned Much‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúForgiven Much‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúLoved Much‚ÄĚ in this picture without ruining the entire picture?
To bifurcate the story by clipping Sinned Much away from Forgiven Much while preaching Law of God will only make the law an intolerable burden.
To bifurcate this story by clipping Sinned Much from Forgiven Much while preaching Grace is to make forgiveness meaningless.
Or to bifurcate the story again by clipping Forgiven Much from Loved Much is to forget why you need to love, and the law again becomes burdensome in the life of the believer.
For some reason, many of us tend to bifurcate the story in our own mind and messages, and in so doing contort the Gospel. My suggestion is to take the whole picture as it is and leave off bifurcating these stories. For those who are aware of the three-fold use of the law, I say there is no need to separate the first and the third use of the law in this story. It is impossible to be forgiven much and not to love much, while hearing the Word of God preached under the shadow of the cross.
This is not to say we can‚Äôt talk about different sides of the issue, but at some point the story must stand as a complete story in our minds. This woman sinned much, she was forgiven much, she loved much and served much.
Wherever I teach the Word and attempt to disciple the nations, I do not want anybody walking away without them - 1) Knowing and Believing that they have Sinned Much and that they have been Forgiven Much, and, 2) Loving Much and Obeying His Commandments Much (which will most likely be the same commandments that they were breaking before they heard the Word taught.)
When the law is preached under the shadow of the cross, the same law that convicts a sinner of his sin will serve as the rule of obedience for that heart flowing with passionate love, upon hearing and believing the good news of Christ‚Äės forgiving grace.
And that good news is clearly stated in 1 Cor. 15:1-3.
‚ÄúChrist died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. . ."
He died for our sins. And He was raised again for our justification! Hallelujah! (Rom. 4:25).