When you hear the word gospel, what comes to mind? It is a word somewhat alien to our postmodern world as so many other biblical terms. Why is this? We are 2,000 years removed from the writers of the Gospels found in the Bible. We are also centuries removed from the origination of the word itself. Therefore, it would be helpful to trace the roots of the word, not only of its origination but also its original meaning found in the language of the original writers.
The word itself derives from early Anglo-Saxon “God-spell” or God’s story. The early Englishman, William Tyndale noted the gospel as “joyfull tydinge” or the good news. It is actually the English translation of euangelion from which we receive our English word “evangel” and its derivatives “evangelism” and “evangelist.” Later it became associated with the Gospels or the first four books of the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul took it up as he received it as the commission from Jesus Himself to preach to the entire world. Paul makes it clear that the gospel pointed to the death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. He also emphasized that not believing in the historical significance of Christ resurrection amounts to vanity. As historical reality, He was God incarnate piercing the created order, growing up from infancy, declaring Himself to the world, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead as promised (1 Timothy 3:16). Then Paul declared the fundamental basis for this gospel of which Christ is the center: the righteousness of God (Romans 1:16-17). In His letter to the Church in Rome, Paul employees this phrase as one of his favorites. At the beginning of this letter, Paul declares,
For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
Paul sets out that Jesus is the expression of God’s righteousness. As stated in the upcoming book, Nothing but the Gospel,
…God is righteous in all His works and judgments, because it surfaces from His very nature. Additionally, because He is righteous, His grace reaches into all humanity through the mediation of the Incarnation of Christ and provides redemption to those who by faith believe the proclaimed gospel” [Nothing but the Gospel by Floyd Talbot, Action Faith Books Press, 2014, 20 (to be released September 20140].
Elsewhere the book highlights the association of the righteousness of God with the specifics of the gospel,
The claim that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God carries the highest weight because it reveals the core character of God – His faithfulness to all generations. That righteousness, according to Paul finds its way to the cross as the righteous died for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18) that we might stand as righteous before God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). (p. 68).
Jesus is the center and complete revelation of God’s righteousness. No other message from any other source than the gospel reveals God’s righteousness. Pluralism (many ways to God) believes that a person can receive salvation through other means. However, these means have their source in the created order (for example, idols crafted from creation, human philosophy and wisdom, humanity itself, or some sort of self-oriented mystical experience). The gospel is the only revelation from God. It finds its source from God alone through Christ alone, and by faith alone in His sacrifice on the cross. Christ is the center of the gospel and the expression of God’s righteousness. By faith in the historical reality of the incarnation, we find the only source of our hope in being with God. Christ died for the sins that separate humanity from God and reconciles us to Him. Have you believed in Him?
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