TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Insights

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Chapter 35  Part II


This section provides insights on the gospel message itself and on why it is so critical that we tell others the gospel. It also teaches us that in all our efforts to do so, we must bear in mind that the effectiveness of the message comes from God – and that people’s responses to it are in his hands, not ours.

Insights on the Gospel Message

The gospel is not made up by men – it is true

Gal 1:11-12  [Paul:] Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.  NET

Acts 26:25-26  But Paul replied, “I have not lost my mind, most excellent Festus, but am speaking true and rational words. 26For the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely to him, because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.  NET

Verse 26 makes a very important point attesting to the truth of the gospel. The events it is based on were widely known, familiar to the king, as they did not take place in some obscure setting.

The gospel reveals God’s hidden mystery concerning Jesus Christ

Eph 3:8b-9  [Paul:] To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, …  ESV

The gospel is of God’s grace

Acts 20:24  [Paul:] But I don’t place any value on my life, if only I can finish my race and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  ISV

The gospel message about Jesus Christ is founded on and manifests God’s grace.

The gospel is good news

Acts 10:36a  God sent his word to the people of Israel and brought them the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ.  GW

Note that the Greek word which is often translated as “gospel” basically means “good news”.

The message of Jesus Christ is a stumbling block for many people

1Pet 2:7-8a  This stone is worth much to you who believe. But to the people who do not believe, “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” 8Also, he is “a stone that causes people to stumble, a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey what God says …  NCV™

Verse 7 speaks of Jesus Christ as the “stone” that was rejected but which has become the cornerstone of God’s kingdom. Verse 8 tells of how the gospel’s message of Jesus Christ – with his death and resurrection – is a stumbling block for many people. They do not believe and obey it. So, figuratively speaking, on the path to God’s salvation they stumble and fall over Christ – and so fail to obtain salvation and life.

Those who do not believe and respond to the gospel will be condemned

2Thes 2:12  The result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned.  GNT

 Questions for Section A

The Need to Spread the Gospel

We have been entrusted with the task of telling the gospel to others . . .

Gal 2:7  [Paul:] In fact, they saw that I had been entrusted with telling the Good News to people who are not circumcised as Peter had been entrusted to tell it to those who are circumcised.  GW

Paul had a special commission to preach the gospel (as did Peter). But the principle of being entrusted with telling others the gospel is applicable to all Christians.

. . . We are responsible for telling others

Rom 1:14-15  [Paul:] For I have an obligation to all peoples, to the civilized and to the savage, to the educated and to the ignorant. 15So then, I am eager to preach the Good News to you also who live in Rome.  GNT

Like Paul, believers have an obligation or responsibility to tell all people – people of all nations and levels of understanding.

Through believers spreading the gospel message others come to believe . . .

John 17:20  [Jesus:] I’m not praying only for them [the disciples]. I’m also praying for those who will believe in me through their message.  GW

Acts 4:4a  But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it.  CEV

. . . and there are many ready to respond to the gospel – but they need someone to tell them

Matt 9:36-38  When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”  NET

Rom 10:14  How are they [non-Christians] to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?  NET

The gospel brings salvation, saving those who respond to it

Eph 1:13a  [Paul, to the Ephesian believers:] And you also became God’s people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation.  GNT

Mark 16:15b-16  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.  NET

The gospel brings life to those who respond

Acts 5:20  [An angel, to the apostles:] “Go and stand in the temple and keep on telling the people the whole message about this life.”  ISV

The gospel message tells of the spiritual life that can be gained through Jesus Christ.

 Questions for Section B

God and the Gospel’s Effectiveness

See also:

The gospel is the power of God to save – though it may seem foolish to the world

Rom 1:16  [Paul:] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  NET

1Cor 1:18  [Paul:] For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  NET

The gospel is not dependent on us and our presentation of it – but on the Holy Spirit and God’s power

1Cor 2:4-5  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.  NET

2Cor 4:7  [Paul:] But we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us.  ISV

Believers are like jars of clay, holding the treasure of the gospel. The weakness of their humanity and their often unimpressive appearance serve to show that the “extraordinary power” accompanying the message – moving people to respond, at times through miracles – is from God and not of themselves.

The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus Christ to people, fostering belief

John 15:26-27  [Jesus, to his disciples:] When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me, 27and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.  NET

1Cor 12:3  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.  NET

No one can acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord except by the Holy Spirit, with his enlightenment and conviction about Jesus Christ.

God and Jesus Christ at times confirm the gospel message by miracles . . .

Acts 14:3  So they [Paul and Barnabas] stayed there for a considerable time, speaking out courageously for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands.  NET

. . . Miracles lead people to turn to God

Rom 15:18-19a  [Paul:] I will be bold and speak only about what Christ has done through me to lead the Gentiles to obey God. He has done this by means of words and deeds, 19by the power of miracles and wonders, and by the power of the Spirit of God.  GNT

 Questions for Section C

Further Insights regarding the Gospel

Believers are to be light for the world

Acts 13:47  [Paul and Barnabas:] For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have appointed you to be a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’  NET

Matt 5:14-16  You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 15People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.  NET

Christians are to be light for the world, showing the way of God by their character and actions – as well as by spreading the gospel (cf. Acts 13:47 ).

Insights regarding spreading the gospel

John 4:36-38  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Already, the one who harvests is being paid and is gathering crops for eternal life. So the one who plants and the one who harvests celebrate at the same time. 37Here the saying is true, ‘One person plants, and another harvests.’ 38I sent you to harvest a crop that you did not work on. Others did the work, and you get to finish up their work.  NCV™

Here Jesus refers to the disciples harvesting souls for eternal life. “Others” (v. 38) may refer to the prophets including John the Baptist and possibly Jesus himself. These others had done the preparatory work for the kingdom and the gospel, and the time was now right – and still is today – to harvest the benefits of their work. Jesus’ words may also enunciate a principle which is often seen with the spread of the gospel: some people sow or tell the message, often without any apparent response – while later others, following on from this previous work, lead many to respond.

Rom 10:15b  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”  ISV

Spreading the good news is a beautiful thing to do.

2Cor 4:13-14  [Paul, to believers:] The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of faith, we also speak because we believe. 14We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus to life, will also raise us up with Jesus and take us, together with you, into his presence.  GNT

Paul’s faith and belief in God – including his confidence that God would raise himself and others from death (v. 14) – motivated Paul to pursue his work of telling others the gospel.

Those who spread the gospel will be blessed

1Cor 9:23  [Paul:] I do all this for the sake of the gospel in order to have a share in its blessings.  ISV

The gospel has spread far and wide . . .

Acts 19:20  In that way the word of the Lord kept spreading and triumphing.  ISV

Col 1:6a  [Paul, to the Colossian believers:] This Good News is present with you now. It is producing results and spreading all over the world as it did among you from the first day you heard it.  GW

The phrase “all over the world” refers to how the gospel was spreading throughout the world Paul knew. However today, two thousand years later, the phrase is very much applicable in a literal sense.

. . . The gospel will be preached to all nations before the end

Matt 24:14  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.  NET

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians