E45: What is the gospel?
PODCAST: Here’s how we can really live the gospel!
Have you ever thought about what you would say if someone asked you the question “What is the gospel?” Would you have a ready answer? This is the question that Kathy and Milenko take up in this episode. How can we really say that we are “Living the gospel?” And what does it look like to live the gospel? What is the result of living this life? Paul talks about the gospel of God in Romans 1, so that’s where we start as we explore this question.
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 45: What is the gospel?
This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life
Milenko: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of “Living the Gospel.” I’m Milenko and I’m talking to Kathy today.
Kathy: Hi everyone!
Milenko: Today we’re going to talk about the name of this podcast. It’s called “Living the Gospel.” And we were just talking about this, what does that actually mean? And Kathy, you told me recently that you’d read an article about the gospel.
Kathy: Yes. So, it was interesting, I found this article online. This guy was writing about how he had talked to a group of 20-somethings, or he had this question that he liked to ask people. And he would just ask, you know, if he found out someone was a Christian, he would say to them, “OK, so what is the gospel?” And he said it was interesting because he’d get a lot of sort like, “Hmmm, um, well …” sort of stuttering answers. People didn’t really know what to say, actually. So, it got me thinking. Like, this is a good test that I can give myself. How would I answer that question: What is the gospel? And more importantly than that even, what does the gospel mean for me? What does it mean for my life? What does it lead to? And what is the result of, as we say, living the gospel?
Kathy: So, the gospel is “the good news.” That’s what the gospel means actually, right? Good news. And in Romans 1, Paul writes to the Romans there about the gospel of God, and he says, “This is the gospel concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” So, there’s kind of a lot in that.
Milenko: So, there’s two parts to the gospel. That first part, that is that He is descended from David according to the flesh. Which means, basically, that He was a human being, just like us. And why is that the gospel? What’s so important about that? And the thing, is that when you read about Jesus, that He – it’s written several places about Him, very clearly – that He was born like us, with a flesh like ours, that He was tempted in all points as we are, but it says, yet without sin. So that’s what’s so incredibly significant. He was a human being, descended from David. You know, David had all these weaknesses and that went down the line as everyone has this human nature, and there, Jesus was born from that line, yet He lived His life without sin. And when He then died on the cross He could say to God “In Your hands I deliver My Spirit.” Then He was finished with that without having sinned. That’s incredible.
Kathy: Yeah. But it’s interesting, because we also read about how He had to pray “Not My will, but Yours be done, God.” And that He had to pray with loud cries and tears, actually, because He did have His own will, right?
Milenko: Yes, He did.
Kathy: Like, it’s proof that He was born with a flesh just like us. He had His will, and He actually had to pray with loud cries and tears to overcome that will so that God’s will could be done.
Milenko: Right, and that’s part of this, is that He says those very words, “Not My will, but Yours, be done.” So, there was a struggle going on there. And what was His will? That was that which came from that human nature, that flesh which He had inherited from the line of David. But the other thing is, that He didn’t have a desire to sin, and that’s important. He had a will, that was that He felt that from His flesh, but His desire was to serve God. And that was because He was born of the Spirit and He had the Spirit with Him from birth. And that Spirit was that driving force in Him. He still had to make the choice, He still had to cry out with loud crying and tears, He had to pray, He had to go that way, but His will was to do the will of the Father. That was His desire. And that was what that struggle was that caused Him to come into that great anguish that He cried out, “If it’s possible let this pass, but not My will, but Yours, be done.” And that attitude of mind, that is what He left us as an example. And He says that Himself too in Luke 9, it says there in verse 23: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” So, to come after Jesus, to be His disciple, to follow Him, I have to take up my cross daily. I have to deny myself. And that’s really significant. That’s that first part of the gospel, is that Jesus Christ was born as a human being. He who gave up everything in heaven, it says in Philippians, He humbled Himself and became a servant. He became a human being. And He showed the way that you can do that, to come through this life without committing sin. That was by denying Himself and taking up His cross.
Kathy: So that means that anyone who is a human of flesh and blood, just as He was, can follow Him on the way that He opened.
Milenko: Exactly. And then you come to the second part of the gospel that Paul writes about, that He was declared the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. So, by overcoming that sin, He was able to overcome death; He was resurrected from the death and He was declared the Son of God, which is where He is today, at God’s right hand. He is interceding for us, He is praying for us, and He is there in heaven. And that is this mighty glorious victory, that He overcame sin and death as a human being and is there today. So, we’ll talk a bit more about that second part of it, but what’s important now is how can we follow Jesus?
And I was just thinking what Paul writes there in 1 Corinthians chapters 1 and 2. There he goes into this, the message of the cross which is foolishness for those who are perishing, those who don’t understand. But for us who are being saved, he writes, we preach Christ, the wisdom of God and the power of God. That’s the power unto salvation. And then he goes on in chapter 2 to say that he didn’t want to know anything among the Corinthians other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. So here we see the huge significance of these words, that Paul wanted to know nothing else but the message of the cross.
Kathy: So, we can see that’s just the absolute hub of everything right there.
Milenko: That is the way to go. What Jesus says, “Take up your cross daily and follow Me.” And the message of the cross … there we’re not talking there about the cross on Calvary where Jesus physically died, and where He took upon Himself the punishment for our sins so that we can get atonement. But what he’s talking about is that cross that Has to be borne daily, where sin that comes up as my will – same as Jesus felt – that my will that goes against God’s will, that there’s a clash there, that I deny that. That’s where I need that cross. Where my own will needs to be put on the cross.
Kathy: Right. And that is to live the gospel daily, is to do that day by day. Put my own will on the cross, so that God’s will can be done. Like it says that in the Lord’s Prayer, that we pray that “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And that’s what I’m doing, living the gospel day by day. Putting to death what I see of sin in my own flesh, so that God’s will can be done here on earth, right? And in that way, I am, as it’s written in Romans 8:29, being conformed to the image of the Son. And that’s the good news!
Milenko: That’s pretty incredible. That’s pretty incredible. Conformed to the image of Jesus Himself. That’s fantastic news!
Kathy: Yeah, like, it doesn’t get better than that.
Milenko: It doesn’t.
Kathy: So, then the question though is, how does that happen? How can I live that, day by day? How can I every day take up my cross and follow Jesus? Like, how do I actually do that, practically speaking?
Milenko: It starts with an attitude of mind. It starts with a decision that now I’m going to give up everything and I’m going to follow Jesus. That’s what He said to His disciples, you know, that they had to leave everything behind them and then start following him. So that’s the first step. And then I’ve got this mind that now I want to serve Christ.
Kathy: I thought about the incredible testimony that Paul actually gives in Galatians 2:20. And it’s actually the same testimony that I can have for my own life, which is that: “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” So that was a position of faith that Paul had. I have been crucified with Christ. That is my own will, my own desires, my own flesh. I have been crucified with Christ. So that’s all crucified, and now I have this position of faith when I’m tempted, that no, it’s not me who lives, Christ lives in me, right? So, you know, if you are tempted, for example, to look at things that you know you shouldn’t, then you have this in you already. No, I have been crucified with Christ, and therefore I cannot do this thing, right? Because it’s actually Christ who lives in me. And then I thought, it kind of brought me back too, to that testimony that Joseph has in Genesis, where he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, and his response was, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against my God?” So, you have this already before the temptation, you have this “I have been crucified with Christ” and it is Christ who lives within me, so I cannot do this thing, right?
Milenko: Yeah. And really to be alert when I’ve got that attitude of mind, I have been crucified with Christ, I’ve got that position of faith, then comes the following Christ, where I take up my cross and I actually hate this sin. I don’t give in to it. I deny myself. And in that way my own will gets put to death on that cross and instead of that comes forth something new. And we can see further in Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 4:10 where Paul writes that, “Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” – that’s the cross over my own will – “that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” Then something new comes out. Something starts to grow. There’s a transformation. That’s the really exciting part! That here I’m beginning to see there’s a change taking place. Where it looked impossible, where all I could see was my own nature and my own will making its demands, there’s a change taking place. And where I was impatient or full of demands, I become patient, I become mild, I become longsuffering. These things start happening in me.
Kathy: When we think about how Jesus lived, it was only for the others, right? And that’s what I can start to be too. That I have this spirit of blessing and love that comes from me, you know. And that’s what people taste; they taste this life of Christ in me.
Milenko: Yeah and this is one of the reasons it’s called the “good tidings” or the “glad tidings.” It’s really good news! You can be transformed! And that’s taking place in this life.
Kathy: That’s transformation. And something that we experience as we take up our cross and follow Jesus. We experience it to a greater and greater degree in our life, right? Like, there is more transformation, there’s more change, there’s more fruit of the Spirit that comes from my life.
Milenko: But you can have it like this, OK, it’s one thing to talk about this and be excited about it, but, OK, you get back to daily life and then you notice, it’s all there, the old nature is all there. And you keep getting tempted and it’s the same old, same old. And you can really get tempted to lose heart, to give up. But the thing is, that in all of this we have been given help. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit that Jesus has sent back to earth after He ascended and went back to His Father. He sent the Holy Spirit to be of help for us. We’ve received the word of God. We’ve received all that help that we need to be able to overcome. And the Spirit that works in us, the Spirit works in us a will to do God’s will. That’s what was the driving force in Jesus, right, that He had His own will, He had His will that He had to deny – not My will, but Yours be done – but what was driving Him that was the Spirit that was in Him. The Spirit of God that drove Him to want to do God’s will. That was His desire. And when we are born again, we get that desire. Maybe not as feelings, not as something that we feel, that this is what we want to do, but it’s in our spirit. Our spirit is, my attitude is, “I want to do God’s will.” And that comes with that “I have been crucified with Christ.” And that’s what the Holy Spirit strengthens in us, that will to do right. So, when I then get tempted, OK, my feelings say something else and the whole situation is the same old, but when I’ve taken that decision, then there is something new happening in me, and that is that I want to now do God’s will. I want to deny myself, my own will. I want to take up my cross and follow Him. I want to be a disciple. And that becomes my strength. And this is … We really have to pray for that, to receive the Holy Spirit and to receive this will to suffer as Jesus did so that I can overcome.
Kathy: Well, and to get these eyes that see to the future, right. Like, I don’t see just the situation that’s right in front of me, but I look forward to what comes from this situation, if I take it right. What comes is transformation. What comes is purity and righteousness in me. And what comes is that I’m conformed to the image of the Son, and the life of Christ becomes my life, right?
Milenko: And this is where I think the second part of the gospel that Paul mentioned in Romans 1 really starts to come forward. Because there it says that Jesus was also declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead. And this is what is so incredible. Jesus not only suffered here on earth, not only died and then, OK, we know He rose from the dead and is up in heaven now, but the reason He did that was that He should prepare a place for us. He said, OK, now you’re on earth, now you follow Me, be my disciple, go that way, deny yourself, take up your cross, but there’s going to be a result. And that result is that one day you shall see Me as I am, and you will be like Me, and we will be together in all eternity. This is what the incredible thing is. That it’s not just a life of denying yourself and, OK, what then? But that we shall be transformed to be like the image of His Son. It’s incredible. This is what we have to have with us in the daily life. You know, all those situations. You know the situations you are in. When you are tempted to thoughts of impatience or thoughts of discouragement or thoughts of envy, and everyone knows what this is: This is daily life. That’s where I have to follow Jesus. That means there I have to deny myself, there I have to take up my cross. When I’m being tempted, in that very moment that I’m being tempted to these awful things, that’s where I’m a disciple. I follow Him and when I follow Him on that way, I will come to where He is today.
Kathy: I have this verse as the background on my laptop from Psalm 117:5: “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” So, for me that is my only goal and that’s the only thing that’s going to satisfy me, actually. When I am conformed to His image. And as long as I’m still seeing my own flesh and my own will then I’m not satisfied. There is still something for me to reach forward to and fight for. And it’s not a discouraging thought; it’s a hopeful thought, because as long as I’m on this way, then that transformation is happening.
Milenko: Right. And it’s a guarantee that I will be see Him as He is and be with Him in eternity. It’s a guarantee. And that’s why living this life, it’s just the best life you can live. If we follow Him, each one of us, no matter who we are, no matter what our background is, no matter our situations or anything, we all have that same opportunity. Every human being on earth has that opportunity to follow Jesus, and that’s the glad tidings, the gospel.
Kathy: And when you talk about good news that is the absolute definition of good news, right? It doesn’t get better than that.
Milenko: And the thing is here, to make this my personal life. How am I using this? How do I follow Jesus? Am I a disciple, right now? Am I denying myself and taking up my cross? It doesn’t sound glamorous, but that’s what it means to follow Jesus. And what happens then is that transformation takes place. And that’s not glamorous, but it’s incredibly fantastic good news. That I am being transformed. It’s got nothing to do with an outward appearance. It’s got to do with transformation and being made ready for heaven. So, I think this is something that each one of us as Christians, as professing Christians, should be doing. You know. Looking at it, how is the gospel working for me? How can I live the gospel?
Kathy: Right. And do I have that goal really, to be conformed to the image of Christ? Is that my one desire in life.
Milenko: And we never need to be stumped for an answer if someone asks us to defend our faith or to explain what the gospel is or to tell what we believe in. We don’t need to search for answers. This is the answer. “I believe in transformation. I believe in taking up my cross and following Jesus. I believe that I will see Him as He is and I will be like Him, as John says. That’s the gospel!”
Kathy: So, if you want to read a little bit more about the gospel of God, we have actually an e-book on the website called “The Gospel of God.” So, we’ll put a link for that in the episode description for today.
Milenko: And that’s really good reading, I can really recommend it. It’s really worthwhile to download it and have a look.
Kathy: We also have a section on our website called “key teachings,” and in the key teachings one of them is “the message of the cross,” and there is a lot more about what we’ve been talking about the cross in there that’s really, really important and good reading, so we’ll put a link for that also in today’s episode description.
Milenko: So, we’ll round off here for this time. Thanks for listening and remember to tune in next week as well.
Kathy: See you next time.