You may know that the word "gospel" comes from the Greek word euangelion, which means "good news." Yet if someone asked you, "What is the gospel?" how would you respond? How would you explain the good news of Jesus? For most of us, our explanation would likely include the forgiveness of sins and the hope of Heaven and we'd be right...for the most part.
I was 17 when I first heard and understood the gospel enough to respond in faith. I trusted that Jesus had forgiven my sins and that I would go to heaven when I died. Yet, I increasingly felt I was missing something. Growing in my faith expanded my understanding of the gospel. I learned that the gospel is the good news about Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3-8) AND it is the good news of Jesus (Luke 4:16-21), meaning it's the good news that Jesus, himself, preached. I discovered that Jesus' proclamation, "The Kingdom of God is now close at hand," opened up the vast terrain of the good news! The eternal life that Jesus is offering begins now. Jesus is proclaiming not only the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven, but the availability of a completely different kind of life. A life that changes us from the inside out. You've probably heard Richard Foster's quote, "The goal of the Christian life is not simply to get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us."
It wasn't that my teenage picture of the gospel was wrong, it was simply incomplete. My soul longed for a more expansive gospel which, it turns out, is exactly the one Jesus proclaimed. This Sunday, we'll explore the question, What is your picture of the gospel? Our picture of the gospel matters because we end up living out the gospel we believe. If you hold a narrow view of the gospel, you may miss out on the adventure of living life with God now!