Grappling with Gospel language

I’m all about the Gospel. I have the word “Gospel” literally tattooed to my right arm (I have “Law” on the left). But I’m just not sure that the average person on the street understands the word Gospel. If anything, they probably think I’m talking about one of the four accounts of Jesus’ life in the beginning of the New Testament. I wouldn’t blame them.

The word “Gospel” as we use it in a Lutheran way means the work and the effect of the work that Jesus Christ did by incarnating among us as a human, living with us as a healer-preacher-teacher, dying for us as a savior, and rising for us as a leader. It’s a pretty big concept if you think about it. And because it IS such a big concept, it can be hard to explain to our neighbors. Grappling with Gospel language

One of the things that I endeavor to do in my preaching is give you something that you can chunk down and give to your neighbors, as well as keep for yourself. Now that we’ve finished our series called “Justification”, which is all about one particular aspect, or entry point to understanding the Gospel, I’ll admit it was hard to do this. It was hard not to just use “Gospel” as short hand, to assume that everyone in the room knew what I was talking about, or that your neighbors knew what I was talking about.

In my reflections on this, I was reminded of a book called “Just Words” by Jacob Preus that goes through over 20 different senses or metaphors of what “Gospel” means. Hopefully you can take one to a neighbor or use it yourself:

  1. Birth – We arrive in a new world full of light and color because of the Gospel
  2. Life – We have animation and awareness because of the Gospel
  3. Salvation – We are rescued from evil by the Gospel
  4. Light – Things are revealed to us in the reflection of the Gospel bouncing off our world
  5. Bread&Water – The sacraments are Gospel in a mysterious and yet palpable way
  6. Ransom – We are bought back from a hostage situation by the Gospel
  7. Redemption – We are returned to our rightful owner by the Gospel
  8. Property – We belong to God because of the Gospel.
  9. Remission – Our debts are erased by the Gospel.
  10. Justification – (Sound familiar?) We are set in right order by the Gospel
  11. Intercession – We have a counselor, a friend, a patron in the work of the Gospel
  12. Adoption – We are invited into God’s family because of the Gospel
  13. Inheritance – We receive what we did not work for because of the Gospel
  14. Reconciliation – Our relationship is restored because of the Gospel
  15. Peace – We can relax because of the Gospel
  16. Forgiveness – Our pasts are wiped clean by the Gospel
  17. Marriage – We are intimately connected because of the Gospel
  18. Priestly Mediation – We don’t need to obsess for every little thing, Jesus does that for us in the Gospel
  19. Sacrifice – Jesus pays with Himself in the Gospel
  20. Cleansing – We are clean, fresh, because of the Gospel
  21. Healing – We are made well by the Gospel
  22. Liberation – We are set free by the Gospel
  23. Victory – We win because of the Gospel