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The Pocket Gospel

Written by Ronald J. Gordon ~ Published February, 1996 ~ Last Updated, December, 2004 ©
This document may be reproduced for non-profit or educational purposes only, with the
provisions that the entire document remain intact and full acknowledgement be given to the author.

he word “gospel”” occurs 104 times in 98 verses of the New Testament (KJV) and 97 in 90 verses (ASV). The manuscript word euaggelion (Strong 2098) translated as gospel means “good news” and euaggelizo (Strong 2097) means to announce good news. When the Greek letter gamma appears twice in succession, the first one is phonetically inflected as our letter N. Our English word evangelize stems from this latter word, and the word gospel itself comes from the Middle English words “goode spel” or good story. This phrase Good News appears 108 times in the New Testament of the World English Bible. The gospel was the core activity of Jesus’ ministry and He instructed His disciples to deliver this message to the entire world. “And the gospel must first be published among all nations,” Mark 13:10. Other examples might be, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,” Matthew 4:23; or “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel,” Luke 4:18. Apostle Paul certified that he preached this same true gospel, “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ,” Galatians 1:11-12. Evangelism is a continuing process of telling this same Good News that Jesus and the Apostles were announcing in their day.

But what is the gospel or this good news? We could spend a lot of worthwhile time researching the teachings of Jesus as found in the first four books of the New Testament, or we could focus on what some have called “The Pocket Gospel.” In a nutshell we find the principal elements of the gospel message. Paul articulates, explains, and compresses much of the gospel in such a way as to provide us with a brief, yet easy way of understanding how God regards the human condition.

Verse 23 - All Have Sinned

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. All means every human being. Every man and woman has sinned and consequently is guilty. We’re all in the same boat. There are no exceptions. The present middle indicative of the manuscript text suggests a continued action, that is, we are “still falling short.” The International Standard Version captures this essence: “... and continue to fall short of God’s glory.” Thus, we are helpless to rectify our sinful condition. We initially fail to meet God’s supreme expectations and we continue to come up short no matter how we might try. Everyone is guilty. Although people differ greatly in the extent and seriousness of their sins, God esteems no difference between the best and the worst of us. No one is righteous. We are not only guilty of transgression against God but we continually fail to achieve the necessary requirements that would permit us to escape from this condition. It is a hopeless situation.

Verse 24 - Redemption Is Available

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. There is a remedy for our hopeless condition. God knew that we would forever be helpless and hopeless, so He established a plan whereby we could be justified, or found not guilty. Freely is a very expressive word and suggests that God wanted to expiate us from this situation without any remaining grudges. This was possible only because of grace. God loves us so much that He made the first move, even though we did not deserve it. Apostle John explains this love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. Through grace we have been declared guiltless. We have been redeemed from the bondage of sin. Redeem means to buy back or to reclaim something that was previously owned. Originally we belonged to God but lost that position when sin entered the world and separated us. Because we were helpless, and because God loved us so much, that special way of escape was provided. Without merit on our part, God furnished a way for us to escape our sinful condition through His matchless and indescribable love. Grace is a word that attempts to describe this unfathomable love. God loves us even though we do not deserve it. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9. This way of escape is a gift. A gift of love.

Verse 25 - Through God’s Substitute

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Ok then, a way has been provided but what is that way? In this verse the word “Whom” is that way and refers to Jesus of the previous verse. Christ is the one who is our propitiation. This infrequently used word means to conciliate or appease. Christ became a substitute for us in order to appease the righteous expectations of God. The righteousness that God expects is acquired by us through our “faith in his blood” (Christ). Forbearance is generally defined as “a refraining from the enforcement of something that is due.” Thus, during former periods of human iniquity, God was forgiving earnest pleas of repentance by patiently looking forward to Christ’s future redemptive work. Refraining from enforcement further exemplifies God’s true love and grace during Old Testament times, a period not usually identified with grace. This might suggest that there is more evidence of grace in the Old Testament than one might initially consider.

Jesus died for everyone so that they may experience the fullness of God’s redemptive love. “But we see him who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone,” Hebrews 2:9. Apostle Peter states it thus, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed,” 1 Peter 2:24. Now, instead of being guilty, we are free. We have been redeemed or purchased back by God. “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s,” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. One of many appropriate responses to this substitutionary grace is to exemplify our gratitude to God by telling others about this gospel or Good News.

t least three observations may reasonably be concluded from this passage of Scripture. (1) God has made a negative observation of the human condition, (2) God has therefore accomplished a means of redemption from that condition, and (3) we are informed that Jesus is the means whereby we are redeemed from that condition. He was and still is our propitiation for the appeasement of God, because of our faith in God’s redemptive work through Christ. This message of freedom from sin through faith is the “good news” that Jesus proclaimed during His earthly ministry, and further commanded believers to likewise announce to the rest of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus did not spend three years telling people that they were sinful (bad news which they knew), but rather telling them that God was preparing a means of escape from their sinful condition through faith (good news which they wanted to hear). Should not we also be likewise demonstrating our gratitude to God by spreading this Good News?



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