More on Gospel.
The word “gospel” is used in various ways:
Sometimes it is used to refer specifically to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the “narrow definition.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 explains the gospel in this sense: “I want to remind you of the gospel … Christ died for our sins … Christ was raised on the third day.” This narrow sense of the gospel is included in all of the six messages addressed to non-Christians recorded in the book of Acts, and in a seventh place, Paul’s speech in Athens, the resurrection is mentioned, which implies Paul would have mentioned the death as well (Acts 17:31). Paul makes clear that this sense of the gospel was central to his message when he writes “I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Of course, Paul did not limit himself to the Gospel message when he was teaching those who had already become Christians, as he says to the elders in Acts 20:27, “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” This division between the “death and resurrection” and the “entire will of God” is basic to the approach used on this website. By moving the “entire will of God” to the “post-evangelism” side of the ledger, then the prospect of sharing the salvation message is less daunting in that the content is limited to that shared in the six messages in Acts. This content of the salvation message is called the “kerygma” in some books: that word is Greek for “that which is proclaimed,”
The word gospel is used in a wider sense in the context of the phrase “one must learn to distinguish the two teachings of the Bible, Law and Gospel.” In this usage, “law” refers to all the threats and commands of God, and “gospel” refers to all the promises of God. See What the gospel is not.
This website’s approach is conditioned by this concept. First of all, in the sequence taught on this website (Problem — answer — invitation — benefits), the latter 3 are all gospel in a wide sense, just as the second term is gospel in a narrow sense. We include all these concepts because Peter and Paul included them all. The approach used on this website takes pains to assure that the third word, invitation, is heard as a promise of gospel and not as a command of law. In other words, be careful not to turn gospel into law, or to make gospel sound like law.
Only the first of the four terms, “problem,” is related to law: it is through God’s law that we realize that we have disobeyed God and need a savior. (The third use of the law, “guidance for Christian life,” is not included in the evangelism approach used on this website. However, when the four terms used in the sequence are used in teaching about the Christian life, then the third use comes into play as part of the third term).
In other books, the word “gospel” is sometimes used as a synonym for the entire Christian message, or in other cases as a synonym for the Christian life. In reading about the gospel, it is essential to know which definition of the gospel the author is using, in order to understand the points being made.