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The Mere Gospel

The gospel is beautiful in its simple and complex expressions.

Martin Luther referred to John 3:16 as the gospel in a nutshell. A simple declaration of this verse can provide something that a thorough exposition of Romans cannot do. Conversely, one must consult the entire canon of Scripture to capture the breadth of God’s redemptive work.

The gospel is simple enough for a child to comprehend, yet complex enough to offer a life-long challenge for the serious student of theology. It is beautiful as a simple summary such as 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, or as a comprehensive study of the doctrines of grace.

Both are true and both are necessary.

The gospel is beautiful in its abstract and concrete expressions.

There is a reason John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress continues to be one of the best selling books of all time. This abstract representation of the gospel is truly powerful. I have been encouraged to treasure Christ through parables, poetry, hymns, and art. The gospel is beautiful in its abstract expressions.

One of my favorite required readings from seminary is Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. I have led college students through this book chapter by chapter, some of whom are now leading their own students through this wonderful resource. The gospel is beautiful in its concrete expressions.

The gospel is nothing less than the essential core expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. However, the expression of the gospel is varied and it can be communicated through simple, complex, abstract and concrete ways. When such expressions are based on an orthodox understanding of the faith once for all delivered to the saints they are truly beautiful.

Not only is the gospel beautiful, according to the promise of Scripture, it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe; Of this we need not be ashamed.