What is the Gospel?

May 24, 2007

Justin Buzzard has been blogging the Gospel Coalition Conference, and I’ve really appreciated his notes on the sessions. Reading over the notes on Tim Keller’s talk was typically refreshing. The points that especially struck home to me were point 1 – the Gospel is historical (“the gospel is good news, not good advice”) and point 6 – the Gospel is cultural (the idea that the good news is not just about my personal salvation, but has ongoing community implications).


I hope Justin doesn’t mind my quoting the rest of the notes in full.

Here’s my slim notes from Tim Keller’s session on Gospel-Centered Ministry in which Tim used 1 Peter 1&2 to answer the question, “What does ministry profoundly shaped by the gospel look like?”

Seven features of the Gospel we have to tease out in ministry & seven corresponding ministry implications:

#1 The Gospel is Historical. The gospel is good news, not good advice. Advice is council about something to do that hasn’t happened yet. News is a report about something that has already happened. The gospel is good news that calls for a joyful response. Every other religion sends advice that brings fear, but Christianity sends messengers of good news who bring joy

Ministry Implication: Declarative preaching is irreplaceable to Christian ministry.

#2 The Gospel is Doxological.
The purpose of the gospel is to bring people to glorious worship. Failure to worship God is the basis of all sin. The only way anyone ever gets changed is through worship. The gospel needs to be on “video” not merely “audio,” capturing the whole of our attention and appreciation.

Ministry Implication: The purpose of preaching isn’t just to make truth clear, but to make truth real. This was Jonathan Edwards’ practice.

#3 The Gospel is Christo-centrical. If you don’t get to Jesus in your sermons, you’ll simply be beating on people’s wills. The Bible isn’t chiefly about me and what I must do, but about Jesus and what he has done.

Ministry Implication: Our hermeneutics and preaching must be governed by the centrality of Christ in the Scriptures.

#4 The Gospel is Personal. The gospel transforms people by showing us the size of the debt we owe to God (our sin) and the magnitude of the payment God made to take care of our debt. The gospel doesn’t teach just that Jesus died the death we should’ve died or just that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live. No, the gospel teaches BOTH that Jesus lived the sinless life we couldn’t live and died the death we deserve to die.

Ministry Implication: Unless we proclaim both sides of Jesus’ substitution in our place, his perfect life and atoning death, people will not be transformed by the gospel because they won’t be hearing the full gospel.

#5 The Gospel is Cultural. The gospel creates a culture, a church. Those of us who are strong on the personal aspects of the gospel often miss the communal aspects of the gospel.

Ministry Implication: The gospel needs to impact everything we do.

#6 The Gospel is Massively Transformational. (no notes)

Ministry Implication: (no notes)

#7 The Gospel is Wonderful. 1 Peter says that angels long to look into the gospel, they never get tired of it. This is amazing, angels have been around forever and yet they’re never tired of the gospel.

Ministry Implication: Our adoration and implementation of the gospel ought to be forever interesting and creative.



  1. Hi,
    Just to let you know I can’t access the link on your toolbox “How’s Your Biblical Knowledge, Pastor?”, maybe there’s a mistake with the link.
    Have a good day.

  2. Unfortunately, this page seems to have disappeared since this morning. Perhaps I scored so badly the quiz went on self-destruct!

    I’ll remove the link till it re-appears.

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