If Everything is Gospel, then Nothing is Gospel

Jerry Ranking, former president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, once said, “In reality, if missions is everything, then it is nothing.”  

Is it possible to apply the same philosophy to source of mission?  Can we say of the gospel that “if everything is gospel, then nothing is gospel?  

Let’s assume that the message of the Gospel is but a part of all the data that the Bible contains.  When Paul said, ” for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27, he may have been referring to both Gospel and non-Gospel data.  

If, for argument sake we acknowledge that the Bible contains the complete written record of all that God wanted to be written for us, then we only have a few choices:

 

1.  All of the Bible’s contents are Gospel

2.  The Bible doesn’t contain the Gospel

3.  The Bible contains Gospel & “Other Stuff.”

If we can separate out from the pages of the Bible gospel and non-gospel data, then we’d have to acknowledge that the gospel data is for one purpose, and the other stuff has other purposes.

 

A few questions:

1.  In your viewpoint, does the Bible contain both gospel & non-gospel data?

2.  If you answered “yes” to the first question, then what is the purpose of  “Gospel Data” & “Non-Gospel Data?”

3.  If you answered “no” to the first question, explain why.


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    1. People often say, “I have some good news and some bad news, which would you like to hear first”

      It is most likely that we will want to hear all of the news.

      Bad news

      There is much in the Bible that speaks to our nature. It’s not pretty but if we are honest we have to recognize the ugly truth for what it is. It’s a stretch to think of this as “good news” but it’s true. We can be nasty and stupid both collectively and individually. We hardly need the bible to tell us that, but the whole truth must include it.

      Good news
      There is much in the Bible that speaks of the nature of God.
      God loves us in spite of our shortcomings and has provided redemption for contrite souls.


    2. Not quite sure I understand the premise here, but here goes my best answer to this as I DO understand it.

      The gospel, being the good news, is that Jesus died for our sins, and God still loves us, despite our failures of Him, and is willing, with our participation, to deliver us from evil and the consequences of it.

      Jesus dying on the cross, and the effect that has on our lives today is generally considered to be the gospel as far as I know. What happened before that, IMHO, may be presented to us partly for the purpose of letting us know what the human race went through to get us to that point.

      This is, of course, not the entire purpose, much modern spiritual and natural wisdom is to be gained from the OT, but the old gospel, or old covenant is presented (again partly) to give us a unique appreciation for just HOW much God loves us, and what LENGTHS He is willing to go to in order to save an unappreciative people.

      When we see how much good He has done for us after how much bad we have done Him, it surely gives us a greater appreciation for the magnitude of His love for us so that we, in turn, can have a greater love for Him, and for each other (these being, of course, the greatest commandments).

      So, in order to answer your questions directly, I’d say it’s not so much gospel and non-gospel as it is gospel and old gospel. There is history, there is instruction, there is an old way of reconciliation, and there is a new way of reconciliation. The history is for the purpose of giving us a clue as to why the reconciliation was needed. The instruction is for the purpose of pointing out what to DO with the gospel presented, and the presentation of the old and new gospels (covenants, testaments) are the announcement of the good news that is available for us to take hold of. All of these, collectively, point TO the gospel of Christ (The Word of the Lord, the Good News).

      BTW, in both the OT and the NT, the reconciliation came through the shedding of blood, and through “The Word” of God. In the OT, “The Word” manifested itself as the Scriptures. In the NT, it manifested itself through Jesus.


    3. I suppose it depends on how you define the gospel. I consider the gospel to be a person: Christ. I also consider both the Old and the New Testaments to be about Christ. So, to me, the entire Bible is the revelation of God’s gospel, to sum up all things in Christ.


      • Peter,

        The Gospel is both a message about Christ and Christ Himself. We can exclude neither.

        Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. Galatians 3:2


        • I didn’t think that I excluded “about Christ” when I said the gospel is Christ. The message about Christ is really just who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do.


          • Gotcha. There is a growing trend to say that the Gospel is “only” Christ and not also the message. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive to that.


            • It’s hard to separate a person from what the person does. I would be interested to hear what you think of the eternal gospel that an angel is to preach in Revelation14:6-7.

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