For a few years now, I’ve been collecting and posting Gospel Definitions from pastors, theologians, and scholars. It’s been interesting to see other authors and church leaders work through and comment on the various definitions of the good news.

Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper’s new book, Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey, includes a section called “The Whole Gospel,” in which they speak of the gospel in three aspects: kingdom, cross, and grace:

What is the gospel of the kingdom? It is the good news that life with God under the rule of God is available to all who would turn from their rebellion and trust in King Jesus. (43)

What is the gospel of the cross? It is the good news that through faith in Jesus’ perfect life, death for our sins, and victorious resurrection from the dead, we are justified and reconciled to God. (67)

What is the gospel of grace? The gospel of grace is the good news of God’s wonderful acceptance of us not because we have earned it or deserve it but because he gives it to us freely at Christ’s expense. (85)

Daniel and Mike encourage us to embrace and proclaim the “whole” gospel:

“The great temptation is to allow one aspect to overshadow or compete with the others… The case we’re making is that the gospel is not simply a kingdom message or a cross message or a grace message – it’s all three. Our tendency, for a variety of reasons, is to splinter the message, to exalt one aspect over the others, and to diminish the scope and impact of the others. By doing this, it is we who suffer, missing out on the totality of the message of the gospel.” (90)

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4 thoughts on “Gospel Definitions: Daniel Montgomery & Mike Cosper”

  1. Geoffrey Bullock says:

    I am not sure we can so split the good news of God’s grace towards us. Wouldn’t it be better to say that the gospel of the kingdom is the full message, but with many aspects, including Jesus’ death on the cross in which the barrier between man and God through sin is dealt with, an act stemming from the grace, justice, mercy and love of God. I would add another aspect: the reconciliation Christ brought is ongoing in the perfecting of the saints in the character and nature of God.

  2. Stephen Gonzalez says:

    Just a thought, is it possible that Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom using specifically the term kingdom so that people wouldn’t seek to crown him as the messiah king? I notice he often told people not to make his identity known too early when he did some like heal a leper knowing only God was one who healed lepers via the OT. I say that because after his ascension you never see the term gospel of the kingdom used even though it was so prominent in his preaching. I’m convinced it wasn’t because of unfaithfulness on their part. Moreso the term dominantly used was the gospel of Jesus or Christ (though different variations here and there), that is he is God’s promised rescuer and ruler who died for sin and who rose from the dead and now reigns over all redeeming all who trust in him and will judge all who rejects his gracious reign.

    I will say it’s quite amazing that even to this day us in america are still wrestling over “what is the gospel”, whether it’s a saving message or a message of Jesus being Lord with salvific implications (scot mcknight), or if justification by faith is central or if penal substitutionary atonement is central etc, and yet people are still being redeemed and discipled by Jesus even as we try to figure out what should be clear by now.

    Really gives me comfort that as we make what I think is clear difficult God is still fulfilling his eternal purposes in Christ.

  3. Hugh McCann says:

    But the gospel is NOT “that life with God under the rule of God is available to all who would turn from their rebellion and trust in King Jesus”! The gospel is not an offer.

    Nor is it “God’s wonderful acceptance of us not because we have earned it or deserve it but because he gives it to us freely at Christ’s expense.” God’s free acceptance of us is not the gospel. Close, but no.

    Neither is it “that through faith in Jesus’ perfect life, death for our sins, and victorious resurrection from the dead, we are justified and reconciled to God.” These are results of the gospel. Closest yet, but still no.

    Rather, …the Gospel is Good News of a particular sort. It is not good news about what Christians will enjoy in Heaven. It is not good news about what God can do in changing your life. It is not good news about the success, prosperity, health, money, and powerful living that God wants you to enjoy…

    Most of what are called “Evangelical” books, essays, television programs, and sermons consist of little more than stories about the wonderful things God is doing in this movie star’s life, or that football player’s life, or what he can do in your life. They do not contain even the least suggestion of the Gospel. It is impossible to over-emphasize this point. Virtually all of what is preached from the pulpits and television studios of America, in conservative as well as in liberal churches, is not the Gospel. It is a clever counterfeit, and millions of churchgoers and television viewers are being cheated.

    …the apostle Paul tells us what the Gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15: Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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.

    That is the Gospel, and that Gospel is preached in very few so-called Christian churches today: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, and he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

    The Gospel does not describe any present or future action that God or man might take. The Gospel is news about actions God in Christ took 2,000 years ago to save his people, actions that are wholly outside of our experience… From ‘What Is the Gospel?’*

    Also: The Gospel is information about Jesus Christ and no other person. The Gospel is information about a past, historical event. The event is past, not present or future. It is an historical event and not an existential experience, encounter, or a relationship. Unless we are preaching about a past, historical event, we are not preaching the Gospel.

    The Gospel is information about the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ alone on behalf of his people… from ‘What Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?’

    * Both found at trinityfoundation.org

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  4. On a practical level, I like to think of the gospel as based on five verdicts:

    1. I stand condemned before God as one guilty of sin and deserving of God’s judgment (Romans 3:10,23:6:23a; James 2:10)
    2. I cannot by any effort of my own improve my standing before God (Romans 4:5; 5:6; Galatians 2:16, 21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
    3. Apart from the mercy and grace of God, I remain forever under God’s just condemnation (Titus 3:5-7).
    4. What I cannot do, God did for me when Jesus Christ bore the judgment my sin deserved (Galatians 3:13;Romans 5:8; 8:3-4;II Corinthians 5:17,18,21).
    5. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1, 32-39;John 1:12; 3:16-18,36; 10:27-28).

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin 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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