The heart or essence of the Gospel refers to the core message of the Bible which is anchored on the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is a difference between preaching the good news which is the Gospel; and good advice which is anchored on human philosophy and human wisdom as we see in most of our churches today.
Paul, in his introduction to the church of Rome, states that he has been set apart to preach the Gospel (good news) of and from God. This good news is about His Son. (Romans 1: 1-3). There is no Gospel or good news without Christ. Anything we preach which is not good news and doesn’t include Jesus Christ is not Gospel.
It doesn’t matter what your favourite preacher says or how eloquent they may be, if their message doesn’t not include Christ, and His finished work, it is not Gospel. They may be preaching from the Bible, but they will not be preaching the Gospel.
Ministers of the Gospel may take a lot of things from the Bible, which may be good things or wise things. However, as long as the message is devoid of Christ, it is not the Gospel according to Romans 1: 1-3.
There are different kinds of definitions or interpretations of Gospel.
One definition refers to the heart of the Gospel as a revelation of God’s standard of holiness. Another school of thought says it is about how we can become better people. While a third group says it is God’s way to teach us a standard of morality.
While it is true that all of the above schools of thought can be interpreted and gleaned from the Gospel, that is not the essence of the Gospel. Did you know that the God we preach in some of our churches is not the same God we see in the Bible as preached by Paul?
There is lack of understanding concerning the essence of the Gospel not only in the world, but sadly also among many believers in the church today. This is worsened by some preaching whose focus is not on the good news or God’s love for His people but intimidation, sin and condemnation. It is the love of God that leads people to repentance not instilling fear or condemnation.
It is, therefore, not surprising to see a high number of believers who are living in constant torment, turmoil, condemnation, guilt and fear. This is magnified usually on Sundays after church. Instead of walking out of church feeling encouraged by the love of God and how He cares and loves you, people walk out feeling guilty, condemned and fearful. Whenever you feel this way, it means your favourite preacher, pastor, bishop, Papa or prophet was not preaching the Gospel. Good news will never make you feel condemned.
For many believers, guilt and fear seem to be the motivating factors that define their Christian lives because of the messages some of us preach in our churches.
Guilt, condemnation and fear among believers has been passed down from generation to generation because they have been ignorant of the essence of the Gospel and for generations, people have struggled to believe the truth of the “almost too good to be true Gospel”.
Consequently, this lack of understanding of the essence of the Gospel has resulted in very few people knowing God and relating with Him the way He is revealed in the New Testament.
The heart of the Gospel is all about God revealing His goodness, love, mercy, grace and forgiveness and true nature to a tired, worn out and hopeless world.
In the book of Job, we find a great example of why so many believers live defeated lives and have their inheritance stolen by the enemy (Job 42: 1- 6).
Job was an upright, holy man who loved God with all his heart, but because of ignorance and a lack of understanding, and listening to what others had said about God, he suffered tremendous defeat and loss. But from the moment that Job got a clear understanding and revelation of who God really was, his suffering ended and he had everything restored to him more than he had before (Job 42: 12-17). My heart bleeds when I see how the story of Job is abused by some of us preachers, especially at funerals. Preachers love to quote Job: “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken” and yet Job didn’t know the truth about God as we see through his confession, “I have uttered what I didn’t understand, things I didn’t know” (Job 42 :3).
Ignorance and a lack of understanding concerning the essence of the Gospel, causes people to teach and say things about God that are not true. God wants us to see Him with our own eyes, having a personal revelation of Him through the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God is the originator of all good opinions, estimations, honour and value for every person. God’s view, opinion and value for people is the only true reality there is. God loves you and His love is immeasurable.
When we see and understand the true value that God has for man, (God had to sacrifice His only begotten Son for the whole world) we can understand why Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 1: 17b, “that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation of the insight into the mysteries and secrets in the deep and intimate knowledge of Him”.
In Colossians 1: 9, he also states that “for this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
This word knowledge is only used by Paul and Peter and is not used in the Gospels at all. It means to recognise a thing to be what it really is. It denotes exact or full knowledge of intimacy that directly and positively influences the person who knows.
The knowledge of things which belong to God and the knowledge of God as revealed in the Gospel. According to Paul, the heart of the Gospel is about having people’s hearts filled with the knowledge of God’s Glory that will directly and positively influence the standard and quality of our lives.
In Ephesians 1: 18, Paul prays that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened”. He is saying that every time we hear or see the mysteries and secrets of the deep intimate knowledge of God, the essence of the Gospel, it should fill the recesses of our hearts with light, life and truth.
A person whose heart is established in the essence of the Gospel will constantly be aware of the power of God resident in them (Romans 8:11).
Furthermore, God’s unmerited favour, and empowering (grace) as well as our emotional stability (peace) is multiplied when we increase in the knowledge of God (2 Peter 1: 2). In 2 Peter 1: 3, the Bible states that “according as His divine power has given us all things that pertain unto us life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue.”
When we know and understand the heart of the Gospel, it will cause us to always be aware of the fact that God has already given us all things for life and godliness.
We are told in 2 Peter 1:4, that we are partakers of the divine nature. The view and opinion you have or hold of God and the Gospel will directly influence the quality of life that you will live as a Christian. Most believers are living way below where they are supposed to be. They are not experiencing what they believe.
This is why it is important to know who you are in Christ and what you are entitled to as a believer. You don’t need some of those gimmicks that are performed by some unscrupulous ministers of the Gospel which are aimed at sucking as much money as possible from unsuspecting congregants. The main reason why most of these congregants have become fodder for these pseudo-ministers is because they don’t know the Word. Some of us are very lazy to study the Bible for ourselves.
Let us avoid human philosophy laced with motivational speaking. Preach the Gospel.
Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura