Last week we explored the definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. There are many other passages we could look to in order to understand the gospel, not the least of course, are Jesus’ first words in Mark’s Gospel narrative, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15). Do a word study sometime on the word “gospel” (Greek, euangelion). The word appears over seventy times and always refers to good news, joyful tidings, and “good report.”
What’s interesting, however, is that in the Roman context of the New Testament world the word in question was often used to refer to the good news that a new emperor was born, a savior who would bring peace to the world. Furthermore, this emperor was considered the “son of god” and as history shows, most of the emperors deified themselves hoping to be worshipped by mortal men.
When the Apostle Paul says that Jesus is Lord he’s directly attacking the commonly held notion that Caesar is lord. He’s saying, in effect, “Your god is no god at all. In fact, you believe Caesar is lord because he says so. I believe Jesus is Lord because Jesus, rather than conquering by violence, conquered all things, including that guy you worship, by dying and was vindicated (“justified,” validated and declared to be truthful) by his resurrection from the dead.” (See 1 Timothy 3:16).
The response called for last week was a repentant heart. The first implication of the gospel this week is on an earth-shattering scale. The implication is that the powers that be in the world are corrupt. They are cronies who are self-deceived and blinded by the evil one. The gospel is the only good news that provides the only hope for this world. This sounds offensive and is often purported to be so. But Paul says that the foolishness of preaching is what God has chosen to use to inject his message of salvation to a world that loves darkness (1 Corinthians 1:21). Paul goes on to say that God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
This seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? For the GodMan, Jesus, to enter our culture, die a gruesome death for our sins and rise again to kill death? Paul says, and we say, emphatically: “No!”
The good news changes things. It changes the corrupt governments and corrupt “power” that people think they have. It changes everything, including creation itself (Romans 8:18-30). The very first implication of the gospel is that God has chosen to intervene in the world, shaming the wise, destroying worldly power and ultimately freeing all of creation from bondage. The gospel is a game-changer.