The Gospels and the gospel

The Gospels clearly present Jesus’s life and teaching as focusing on the coming reign of God inaugurated and opened by his sin-forgiving sacrificial death and his death-defeating resurrection. As documents that present history as consummated in him, the Gospels help us see that to present the “good news” to people means providing an understanding of God’s whole in world in the world as completed in Jesus the Christ. “The gospel” is not just a message about the forgiveness of sins but rather a whole worldview. Thus, while it is certainly not wrong to think of the gospel in terms of God-man-Christ-response, it is better to conceptualize the present it in salvation-historical categories of creation-fall-redemption-consummation. The Gospels certainly help us see this broader perspective.

Reading the Gospels Wisely, JTP, p. 255. This seems to have implications for theodicy, too. Christians can’t really point to a “God-man-Christ-response” gospel to answer questions about the goodness of God in light of suffering and injustice in the world. It’s just too small. But a more robust gospel helps us understand that God is working through Jesus Christ to remake the world: proclaiming “liberty for the prisoners, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). God is dealing with sin on a cosmic level, not just sins on a personal level. It certainly includes that guilt/righteousness dynamic, but it goes further than that. It has more expansive effects. Or, perhaps it’s better to say the reverse: his cosmic plan to showcase Jesus by fixing the world includes personal effects (cf. Eph 1:11-14).

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