At Sleat & Strath, we talk a lot about the The Gospel – so it’s probably worth taking the time to say what we mean.
The Gospel is Good News
The Greek word we translate as “Gospel” means, literally, good news. A purely secular example would be if news of victory in war came to a city – it would be “good news”. But good news always needs a context – not all news is good news, some things are just news because it doesn’t really affect you, and other things are bad news because it adversely affects you (what if the news was that your army had been defeated – the same news in different context quickly becomes bad news!). What makes the Gospel good news to us?
The Gospel is good news because every man, woman or child in this world was born with a fundamental imperfection. We are broken people – and that brokenness is seen typically in the way we wreak relationships. The Bible doesn’t give us a rose tinted view of humanity, it’s full of stories of how the noblest of people can become the vilest of villains.
At perhaps the most basic level, these flaws are like an identity crisis – where do we go to find our identity, our sense of purpose in life? The over-arching story of the Bible is about people who were meant to find that identity and purpose in relation to God, but lost that, are now spending their lives looking for, but failing to find it in other things.
The Bible calls that failure “sin”.
In that failure we find nothing but hurt and grief – which, coupled with the Bible’s teaching about human consciousness continuing beyond physical death, is a terrifying prospect. However bad that hurt or grief might be now, it is a mere foretaste of the crushing grief eternally before us, because of our sinning against an absolutely holy God.
The Gospel is good news because it tells us we are all the same in this, with no exceptions for good behaviour. We’re all messed up at three levels – personally or internally (we have a wrong view of self), socially (we relate wrongly to other people), but most fundamentally, we are messed up at the level of the divine (our relationship with God is totally wrong).
Part 2: Is there any hope?