On April 11, I began a message series at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well entitled, “Parting Words From Your Pastor”. In that I will be transitioning to St. Andrew’s Kirk in Nassau, Bahamas at the beginning of June, I wanted to leave my congregation here with what I regard to be the 5 messages most vital to their spiritual wellbeing.
Message number one is, “Understand The Gospel”.
I understand that much more is required than simply understanding the Gospel. We must also believe the Gospel, we need to be living out the Gospel, and we need to be passing the Gospel message on.
My thinking behind this particular emphasis is that if we have a thorough understanding of the Gospel there will inevitably be an overflow where we will have a growing inclination to live out the Gospel and to share the Gospel with others.
So where in Scripture do we turn to, if we want to understand the Gospel? My conviction is that studying a single passage of Scripture will not exhaust the depths of the glorious Gospel message. There is the sense in which every book of the Bible has a part to play in the Gospel orchestra. But if we have to choose one passage, where might we go? John 3:16 is undoubtedly the most popular summary verse for the Gospel. The Book of Romans is widely regarded as providing the most thorough treatment of the Gospel within a particular book. Looking for something shorter, however, I chose Ephesians 2 to provide the basis for my message, “Understand the Gospel”.
Within my message (the audio is available below) I outline what I discern to be the key components of the Gospel message. Rather than reproduce that outline here, I think it might be helpful instead to elaborate further on why I think understanding the Gospel is so vital for the follower of Christ.
If someone were to assert that believing the Gospel is more important than merely understanding the Gospel, there is a sense in which I would agree with them. 19th Century theologian, Charles Spurgeon, using the analogy of a starving man, notes that a hungry man does not wait until he understands the composition of his food before he eats. A starving man, once he discerns that the food before him will satisfy his hunger and not harm him, immediately indulges.
If the Gospel has the capacity to save and satisfy our souls apart from our fully comprehending it, why fuss over the fine theological details?
Staying with the analogy of food, my answer is that once we have tasted the Gospel our status changes. Having been fed by the Gospel, we take on a new responsibility to feed others with the message we have received (see 2Timothy 4:1-5). When we were starving we may not have needed to know the composition of the food that satisfied our hunger, but as a servant of Christ we do need to be able to recognize the authentic Gospel dish as it sits among a plethora of imitation dishes.
Thankfully, we’re not called to cook up this message. The Gospel has been perfectly prepared and is sufficiently conveyed within the Scriptures. Our task is simply to deliver what has already been prepared without making a mess on the way to the table.
Of course, serving the Gospel is far more important than serving a meal. But this is all the more reason to increase our familiarity with this soul transforming message.
If you have been fed by the Gospel message, I want to encourage you: Understand the Gospel so that you will be able to feed others.