A definition of the Gospel in 3 words

I’ve ran into several groups of people have mini-debates about defining the Gospel. Some famous Bible scholar writes the gospel in 4 points. Lots of church people have heard of “roman’s road.” Some people use John 3:16 as the key verse. Others use a different verse. Some use several voices.

The Gospel in 3 words: Can’t Be Done

Think about this, when was the one time when Jesus really explained the gospel? Was it John 3:16? Was it the sermon on the mount? Great commission? Great commandment? The book of John? Which parable is most important? Which was the key parable?

It didn’t happen. Or maybe more accurately…..it was always happening. Christ never broke the Gospel down to an easy catch phrase (that we know of).

Lately, I’ve been reading Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. That book is some 700 pages long. If I were to sum it up to you, i’d say: “it’s all about the battle between ideals and mediocrity.”

Does that make you want to read it? Maybe. Does it explain the book? NO. I couldn’t give you a clear picture of the book in anything less than an hour. I’d have to give you tons of quotes from the book and others from Rand herself. I’d tell you my thoughts and interactions with the book. I’d tell you what I thought you would and wouldn’t like about it.

Now, isn’t the Gospel a far more intricate piece of beauty than any Ayn Rand novel? Isn’t it far more important and life changing? Doesn’t it have so much more history and depth? Obviously.

I would argue that there is NO way possible to summarize the gospel. Attempting to do so already limits what I can communicate. I would argue that the gospel can’t be summarized in a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, or an hour long sermon. The gospel can’t even be communicated via one person, for without community the gospel is non-existant.

The only language that can communicate the Gospel is life and love. The Gospel can only be fully communicated – in my opinion – by a life living out the love of Christ. It takes days, months, years, and lifetimes to communicate the gospel. Words alone can’t do it.

So go on. Keep having the debates, they help people get an entry point to the Gospel, but don’t argue and knit-pick at wordings. Don’t battle over words. Start living the Gospel. Be the living breathing embodiment of the Gospel. Be the whole gospel, not just one piece.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I have spent lots of time trying to either learn the hip new way to share the gospel or teach other people a short easy to memorize plan. Most of them are very logical and reason based. Working with teenagers I am finding fewer and fewer people who can be “reasoned” into believing.

    So I decided to come up with a long way of telling them about Jesus. It is a pain to memorize and it takes a long time to tell. The idea is that you tell it to someone that you are friends with so it is OK if you tell it over the course of a few days.

    You can check it out at



  2. Or you could say: got it done. As in Jesus got ‘er done. I like where you are going. We try to shorten it so much that we give a “single serving Jesus” Jesus can’t be given in a single serving.


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