I want to share a little bit more of what Dr. Don Carson shared about the gospel at the recent Gospel Coalition gathering at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Based on 1 Corinthians 15, he shared five sentences that he said clarify some things about the gospel.
First, the gospel is normally disseminated through proclamation. While we must engage in good works like caring for the poor and seekng the good of the city, this is not how the gospel is normally disseminated in the Bible. Instead it is through the ministry of proclamation. (The reason this insight is so important, is that it undermines movements within the evangelical church that are claiming the gospel is a journey to be lived rather than a message to be proclaimed. You cannot demonstrate this from Scripture.)
Second, the gospel is fruitfully received in authentic, persevering faith, and that faith is a gift from God. Thus, though we may seek to use communication media and such things to help us proclaim the gospel, we do not believe that marketing techniques will grow the Kingdom of God. They may well grow churches, but this is a far different matter from converting hearts.
Third, the gospel is properly disclosed in personal self-humiliation. Paul's own self-assessment in light of the gospel was that he was the least of the apostles, even though he had much about which he could boast in the flesh. This is a graphic demonstration that the revelation of the gospel brings about a disposition of contrition, not pride. So, gospel Christians are humble Christians.
Fourth, the gospel is rightly asserted to be the central confession of the whole church, not just Corinth. Here Dr. Carson went to great lengths to show that the gospel was the main issue for every church in the New Testament. This has tremendous implications for our times, for some are now asserting that Paul's gospel is distinct from Jesus' gospel, and they from John's, Peter's, James' gospels, and so on. This cannot be supported by the text of the Bible, but rather only by half-blind and biased assertions.
Fifth, the gospel is boldly advancing under a contested reign but the victory of Jesus the King is inevitable. "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet" (1 Cor. 15:25). This assumes that all of Jesus' enemies are not now under his feet, but surely the matter is a settled one.
Tomorrow I'll share some of what Tim Keller shared about the gospel. For now, my prayer is that you will along with me come to cherish the good news of Jesus Christ to the depth of your soul!