1 Cor. 15:3-8
So we talked about why we should the Good News about Jesus with others. But what should we share? What exactly is the Good News?
Before we get to that, perhaps I should explain some terminology I’ve been using. You’ll notice I don’t use the term gospel in referring to what we tell lost people in order to lead them to Christ, as in "We need to share the gospel of Jesus Christ." There’s a reason for that. The term gospel literally means “good news,” and so I thought it’d be clearer to use “good news” or “message.” When I do use the term “Gospel,” I use it to refer to the four inspired biographies of Jesus which we have: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I use the term “good news” or “message” about Jesus because that’s what it is: good news. It's telling people about a series of events and asking them to take part in it, to appropriate this news for themselves. Is this terminology something I’d fight and die for? Of course not. I just thought you might be wondering why I don’t use the same words that others use.
So what is the message that we should be proclaiming? I’d submit that today’s passage provides a good start for us. Paul told the Corinthians that the most important thing he proclaimed to them, what he considered “of first importance,” was pretty simple: Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. He was buried, and he rose again three days later, according to the Scriptures. I think if you don’t have these things down, you’ve missed it.
Of course, in order for us to appropriate the good news, we have to take in the bad news first. A doctor can’t prescribe a good treatment unless and until he’s come up with a good diagnosis. I’ve talked about this before: Paul spends the 1st three chapters of Romans telling us the bad news. In a nutshell, we’re sinners before a holy and righteous God. All of us. And he must punish sin. And ultimately there’s only one punishment he has available. You can put it in different ways, but we can’t sugarcoat the truth.
As to the solution, that’s listed in today’s passage, as we noted before. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
As to how exactly to appropriate this good news, I’ve spoken about that before as well. Simply put, you put your trust in Christ and submit to his leadership in your life.
Now, what about the fine particulars of theology? Does someone need to believe in, say, the Trinity? Well, John wrote a letter to Christians so that they could test themselves to see if they were truly saved. Among the tests he submitted was whether or not one believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who came in the flesh. Now, does someone need to really know and believe these things in order to be saved? Heck, I don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the Incarnation and the Trinity. So I wouldn’t say that someone necessarily needs to know about those things in order to come to Christ, to come in through “the front door,” so to speak. But over time, a true child of God will come to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the Savior who rescued them, and if they don’t, something’s wrong. John’s point seems to be that especially if someone denies these things, their salvation is suspect at best.
My overall point here is this. When Paul was talking about what was “of first importance,” he didn’t talk about the End Times or baptism or Gifts of the Spirit. In his mind, the main things were 1) Christ died for our sins, 2) was buried, and 3) rose again. That’s the main thing. When talking to someone who doesn’t know Christ, it’s best to stick to what’s essential. What will bring them into Heaven, and what will keep them out?
Father God, so often I let myself get distracted by things which are NOT important when it comes to the Good News. When I present the Message of Jesus, let it be simply that, not my opinions or thoughts or anything else. By your grace.