To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe.
Our message comes right out of the Bible. We are not left to invent it; it has been entrusted to us as a precious deposit, which we, like faithful stewards, are both to guard and to dispense to God‘s household. On the other hand, it has not been given to us as a single, neat, mathematical formula, but rather in a rich diversity of formulations , in which different images or metaphors are used.
So there is only one gospel, on which all the apostles agreed and Paul could call down the curse of God upon anybody – including himself – who preached a different gospel from the original apostolic apostles expressed this one gospel in various ways – now sacrificial, now messianic, now legal, now personal, now salvific, now cosmic and this is only a selection.
The gospel is thus seen to be one, yet diverse. There is such a thing as a revealed or given gospel, which we have no liberty to falsify.
The opposite mistake could be called “total rigidity” Some evangelists lapse into the use of stale jargon, while others feel obliged on every occasion to mention “the blood of Christ‘ or “justification by faith” or “the kingdom of God” or some other image.
Between these two extremes there is a third and better way. It accepts that only the biblical formulations of the gospel are permanently normative, and the every attempt to proclaim the gospel in modern idiom must justify itself as an authentic expression of the biblical gospel.
But if it refuses to jettison the biblical formulations, it also refuses to recite them in a wooden and unimaginative way. Only then can we hope with faithfulness and relevance to relate the Word to the world, the gospel to the context, Scripture to culture.
- Preaching Gospel as Gospel: How Unconditional is Unconditional? (afkimel.wordpress.com)