Is the Gospel Only for the Unbeliever?
Normally, when we think about the gospel, we tend to think of preaching the gospel or evangelizing. But I think this is a wrong way to think about it. Gospel means good news, and if it’s really good news, then it should be good news for everyone, and that includes those of us who already believe in it.
Again, we tend to think about the gospel as the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but given that John the Baptist proclaimed that his followers should repent and believe in the gospel before Jesus came on the scene at all, then the gospel must be more or different than this. John was the first prophet that had come on the scene in hundreds of years in Israel. At least part of the gospel is that God was still involved with His people; John was proof of this. Jesus came to demonstrate this further and present yet more of the gospel – that what the Law could not accomplish, God could accomplish for us. (Interestingly, that was pretty much the same message God gave to people throughout history. For example, Abraham having an heir and progeny.)
Therefore, the gospel is (or at least includes) the truth that what we can’t do for ourselves, God can and is doing. And let’s face it, there’s plenty that we can’t do for ourselves. We can’t obliterate our sins. Our willpower is not sufficient; it’s been marred by the Fall and our own twisted desires. We can’t fulfill ourselves (what with this infinity set in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11) and living in a finite reality). We cannot heal ourselves from the damage within our souls (how does what’s broken repair itself?). All of these are beyond us, and we need someone else to do these things. This is where the gospel comes in.
We need God just as much as believers as we did before we came to believe. We need the Spirit of God to work in the deep places in our souls that we are not aware of and cannot touch. We need Christ to pay the price for the sins that we not only have committed in the past but continue to commit. We need the Father to love us completely and unconditionally and draw us into relationship with the Trinity and with one another. And the gospel is that our need is fulfilled – He brings these things about. What we were powerless to do, God does. And still is doing, even after being saved.