I heard this amazing testimony by David Hogan. He was teaching at a service in Mexico when a woman came up to him, handed him a baby and kneeled down to hold onto his leg. This was an unusual expression since, among the Aztec tribes, a woman would not be allowed to touch a man from another tribe like she did. David called over his wife and asked her to rescue him so any inappropriate appearances could be avoided. The point is the woman was so overwhelmed with emotion she was willing to “break the rules” to express her joy.
David asked the woman about her story. She said “brother Hogan, thank you for the gospel.” He said “you’re welcome but what is your story.” It turns out she was from a tribe that had just recently learned about Jesus. She had been born-again only a few months. She was illiterate and couldn’t read or write. She only knew what they had told her about the gospel. Here is the best part… Her baby (that David was holding) had died. Yes, dead for two days. She did not know how to contact David or his people. They didn’t know “who to call” so to speak. They decided that they should “wait on the Lord” themselves. She layed her hands on her baby and guess what?… she came back to life! That is why she was saying to David, “thank you for the gospel.” She didn’t have a “rule book.” She didn’t have the 5 steps to healing. She didn’t have years of dedicated effort to sanctify herself or any of that religious hand waiving. All she had was “the gospel.”
So what is it she had?
She only had Jesus! She didn’t have “the five steps to salvation” or the “sinners prayer” or any other doctrines. Those religious paradigms don’t raise the dead. She didn’t have sacraments or rituals. She didn’t have special days or celebrations. She didn’t have a perfect record of following the law of Moses. She only had the “good news.” She only had Jesus!
No where does it say that “the gospel is the understanding that you are a miserable sinner and are in need of a savior since you can’t save yourself.” It doesn’t say that. I does say that the gospel (or good news) is Jesus and all things that are of Jesus. It is the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus. It is the nature of God towards us as expressed in Jesus. It is God’s favor or Grace towards us as demonstrated on the cross. It is the good news of our freedom in Jesus. It is the power behind or salvation as realized in Him being raised from the dead. It is really good news. Here are a few verses to chew on:
Mat 4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.(ESVST)
Mat 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (ESVST)
Mar 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (ESVST)
The gospel is not the “good news” of men’s ideas or doctrines or rules but is all about Jesus:
2Co 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus ‘sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (ESVST)
It doesn’t come from man but only comes by revelation from God (the Holy Spirit):
Gal 1:11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man ‘s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESVST)
The good news includes the power to “save” people and set them free from bondage. Remember salvation is way way more than a ticket to Heaven:
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (ESVST)
1Th 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.(ESVST)
“But Pastor Lance don’t we need to OBEY the gospel? Doesn’t that make it a “to do” list so we can get on the passenger manifest for Heaven?”
2Th 1:8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (ESVST)
1Pe 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (ESVST)
English and translators don’t help here. This is awesome! Check out what these words translated as “obey” actually mean in the Greek (presented in order):
In the context Paul is talking about those who don’t know God. They didn’t listen intently to the good news of Jesus. Here is the word: hypakoúō (“to hearken, obey”) suggests attentively listening, i.e. fully compliant (responsive). I would say the woman in this testimony was pretty attentive in listening and very responsive in believing her child could be brought back to life. Are we that responsive to the good news?
This second “obeying” is very clear. The ones listening don’t agree. They actually refuse to agree with the good news of Jesus. Here is the word: apeithéō – literally, refuse to be persuaded (by the Lord). I think this woman in the story was very much persuaded that Jesus could do anything. I think she actually believed that what Jesus said was true. I bet she actually agreed that “raising the dead” was not only a directive but a privilege in Jesus.
The Gospel isn’t “steps to salvation” or the “history of the Son of God born as a man from a virgin.” It is JESUS! It is supernatural. It is backed by the power of Heaven. It is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. It is the atmosphere of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is “Heaven comes to Earth.” It is Jesus is King, we win and we are free. It is the freedom from ourselves and the freedom from others’ opinions. It is the freedom to operate outside the rules of the possible and step into the realm of His possible (our impossible). It is “Jesus is for us and He is in us.” The gospel raises the dead and guess what?… some of them aren’t breathing. Thank you for the gospel!