For several years now, I’ve been collecting definitions of “the gospel” on the blog. There are more than 60 definitions now. I’ve seen the collection referenced in multiple college and seminary classes.

From time to time, people have asked me to weigh in with my own definition. If you’ve read Counterfeit Gospels, this won’t be new to you. But here is my take on “the gospel” in a nutshell.

The Gospel Proper (The Announcement)

The gospel is the royal announcement that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life in our place, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins, rose triumphantly from the grave to launch God’s new creation, and is now exalted as King of the world. This announcement calls for a response: repentance (mourning over and turning from our sin, trading our agendas for the kingdom agenda of Jesus Christ) and faith (trusting in Christ alone for salvation).

The Gospel’s Context (The Story of Scripture)

The Bible tells us about God’s creation of a good world which was subjected to futility because of human sin. God gave the Law to reveal His holiness and our need for a perfect sacrifice, which is provided by the death of Jesus Christ. This same Jesus will one day return to this earth to judge the living and the dead and thus renew all things. The gospel story is the Scriptural narrative that takes us from creation to new creation, climaxing with the death and resurrection of Jesus at the center.

The Gospel’s Purpose (The Community)

The gospel births the church. We are shaped by the gospel into the kind of people who herald the grace of God and spread the news of Jesus Christ. God has commissioned the church to be the community that embodies the message of the gospel. Through our corporate life together, we “obey the gospel” by living according to the truth of the message that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord of the world.

All Together Now

Put these three things together and we have a gospel-focused summary of the entire Bible (which we used for The Gospel Project).

In the beginning, the all-powerful, personal God created the universe. This God created human beings in His image to live joyfully in His presence, in humble submission to His gracious authority. But all of us have rebelled against God and, in consequence, must suffer the punishment of our rebellion: physical death and the wrath of God.

Thankfully, God initiated a rescue plan, which began with His choosing the nation of Israel to display His glory in a fallen world. The Bible describes how God acted mightily on Israel’s behalf, rescuing His people from slavery and then giving them His holy law. But God’s people – like all of us – failed to rightly reflect the glory of God.

Then, in the fullness of time, in the Person of Jesus Christ, God Himself came to renew the world and restore His people. Jesus perfectly obeyed the law given to Israel. Though innocent, He suffered the consequences of human rebellion by His death on a cross. But three days later, God raised Him from the dead.

Now the church of Jesus Christ has been commissioned by God to take the news of Christ’s work to the world. Empowered by God’s Spirit, the church calls all people everywhere to repent of sin and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. Repentance and faith restores our relationship with God and results in a life of ongoing transformation.

The Bible promises that Jesus Christ will return to this earth as the conquering King. Only those who live in repentant faith in Christ will escape God’s judgment and live joyfully in God’s presence for all eternity. God’s message is the same to all of us: repent and believe, before it is too late. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.

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16 thoughts on “Gospel Definitions: Trevin Wax”

  1. michael white says:

    Trevin,

    As to this:
    “This announcement calls for a response: repentance (mourning over and turning from our sin, trading our agendas for the kingdom agenda of Jesus Christ) and faith (trusting in Christ alone for salvation}.”

    Faith is something you have. To believe is putting your faith into action by works like repentance and confession. You can’t repent, truly, if you do not have faith. Thus faith is a trust not a trusting. To believe is a trusting. Trusting can be done by works of faith like repentance, confession, trading agendas.

    Because we have faith we believe. In that believing we repent and confess.

    Or because we have faith we respond in repentance and confession.

    Faith isnt a choice.

    1. Wesley says:

      Faith to believe is God’s gift to us cf. Eph. 2:8

  2. michael white says:

    Trevin,

    as to this:
    “This announcement calls for a response:”

    I think you might mean that this announcement SHOULD call for a proper response. But unless one believes the announcement, no response except rejection will be forthcoming.

    Well that may not always be so. I guess it is a matter of perspective, the idea of unbelief prompting rejection. If someone has a false idea of Jesus, they might seem to accept the pronouncement but it may not ‘stick’, and eventually they will ‘lose’ faith and either stop coming to church or continue to come for the wrong reasons. It is a rejection of sorts since they do not hold Jesus in the proper esteem as His position warrants, i.e., they don’t believe, not really, and they never really did in the first place.

    1. Wesley says:

      Denial of the gospel announcement is still a response … isn’t it?

      1. Trevin Wax says:

        Yes. When I say the announcement calls for a response, my intention is to make clear that we have not properly presented the gospel unless we call people to repent and believe. I understand that some reject, but the call of us as evangelists is for people to repent and believe.

        1. Josh Niemi says:

          I agree with the way Trevin worded it. The gospel does call for a response because God commands all men everywhere to repent, whether they actually end up doing it or not.

  3. michael white says:

    Trevin,

    as to this:
    “In the beginning, the all-powerful, personal God created the universe. This God created human beings in His image to live joyfully in His presence, in humble submission to His gracious authority. But all of us have rebelled against God and, in consequence, must suffer the punishment of our rebellion: physical death and the wrath of God.”

    Physical death is the consequence of Adam’s rebellion that we inherit as his children. Though forgiven of all sin, we still die physically. Likewise, those who have never sinned and thus have never rebelled against God, like aborted babies, still die physically.

    So too do animals and plants die, whom of course do not rebel against God. Maybe it would be better to leave that phrase out of it. (-:
    maybe a better phrase would be everlasting death.

    1. Mark says:

      I would maybe drop the “physical” as the death that mankind is subject to as a result of sin involves much more. I think one can say that on the day Adam sin he did in fact die, although physically he lived on for a time. All unregenerate people are in fact dead and need to be made alive in Christ. People either walk according to the Holy Spirit (they are alive) are they walk according to the principles of the flesh (they are dead). There are only two ways of walking. (II Cor 15 I believe) I would think the “wrath” in the statement has to do more with judgement than the state of mankind so it seems incomplete to say “physical death and wrath of God.”

  4. Wesley says:

    Trevin -
    loved this post bro and loved your book even more! It was seriously helpful in both articulating those “three legs” of the gospel as well as recognizing the counterfeits in their various forms. The book was a real gift to the Bride. Many thanks!

  5. Adam O says:

    Perhaps it is assumed since we consistently use the term Christ. But do you think the Gospel proper ought to make clear that Jesus is Messiah of Israel. The Gospels seem to bring this out as do most of the sermons of Acts.

  6. Flyaway says:

    Thank you for this. Will pass it on to others.

  7. Jason says:

    Adam O already articulated this fairly well, but I want to add my request for a response as to why Israel and all that goes with it, Messiahship, and Lordship are not part of your definition.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you have nailed so many great points often missed at TGC (the gospel as distinct from the big story the need to challenge for response,the centrality of community of persons not persons making up a community, etc). It just bothers me that so much of the gospel is omitted. Biblically illiterate non-believers may understand this “easier”, but we need to integrate these other aspects at some point soon after if not before.

    Perhaps that’s a whole other blog post, but I’ve yet to see any TGC person give reason for why they limit the Scripture’s gospel message (eg: Rom 1:1-7, Peter’s acts 2 sermon, etc.).

  8. Femi says:

    Thanks for this Trevin, by the way I love your compilation of gospel definitions, truly I’ve not seen such anywhere else.
    Not to be nit-picking, but this phrase:

    “But three days later, God raised Him from the dead.”

    Should it not be on the ‘third’ day, rather than three days later? As in Friday evening to Sunday morning would not be three days later. It is a pet peeve of mine I confess. But since when I was a kid I was used to ‘after three days’, only to get confused later because Good Friday to Easter Sunday did not make up three days.
    Anyway, thanks again, love your blog!

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      Femi,

      Jesus uses the terminology of “three days later” (Mark 10:34) and also “on the third day.” To the Jewish mind, it’s saying the same thing.

      I don’t want to nitpick Jesus. ;)

      1. Femi says:

        I knew that Mark 10:34 would show up. I guess I can’t argue with not nit-picking Jesus.
        God bless.

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Trevin Wax


‚ÄčTrevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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