Do we truly understand the [Whole] Gospel? Gospel Series Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Gospel series! Make sure to check out Part 1 to find out what this has to do with sharing the Gospel!

When I was young and even as I got older, I feared how to talk to others about the Gospel and how I could answer their questions. I have found that as I studied the over-arching story of the Bible that the standard salvation verses simply aren’t enough to equip us or adequately summarize the Gospel.

Isn’t the Gospel just the Good News of Jesus? Why do we need to make it more complicated than that? Well, let me give you this Scripture from Paul as he preached the Gospel to Gentiles (non-Jews) to help show you why…

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”” Galatians 3:7-8

God preached the gospel to Abraham? Anyone confused? After all, Abraham is WAY before Jesus. Don’t they call the first four books of the New Testament the Gospels? Well yes, but the Gospel is more than just some generic “good news” starting with Jesus’s ministry on Earth. The Gospel is an explanation about God’s plan to bring Jesus and why He needed to die. We cannot abbreviate the gospel into a few verses, though I will suggest a good place to incorporate them if you keep reading.

As any teacher would tell you, the context of any story you are seeking to learn is important. We need to understand much more of the context questions we apply when learning to the Gospel: Who? What? When? Where? Why?


We can instantly answer the first question and in fact, already have. It is the Good News about Jesus, but we cannot stop there! We need to recognize that Jesus is the same one promised throughout the Old Testament as a Messiah that God would send to rescue His people. The was actually a huge stumbling block for the religious leaders and many Jewish people long after. We cannot just say we believe in Jesus and think that we have completely answered the “Who?” question. It has to be combined with the recognition that Jesus is the promised Messiah!

So then is this answer complete yet? Not necessarily. Belief in Jesus is important, but just as important is what the details of the Gospel are that we follow. Back up from Galatians 3 (cited above) and take notice of the very beginning of that same letter from Paul.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”” Galatians 1:6-7

Paul is correcting their errors in understanding of the Gospel! Even though they had the “Who?” question answered correctly, there was more to it and many of the Galatians had been deceived by preachers distorting it! The Galatians were struggling with transitioning from the Jewish law, established by God, to the New Covenant, established with Christ. The Kingdom which Christ proclaimed had a new law, since Jesus had fulfilled the Old law! Many Jews were seeking to impose the Jewish laws on Christians (circumcision, abstaining from the eating of certain meats, etc). The Galatians were confused about this New Covenant and what was still expected of them, as were most of the churches who received letters recorded in the New Testament. As you can see, Paul was shocked that they had been deceived so quickly and insisted that they stick with exactly the Gospel they had been taught by the Apostles, whose message was proven by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Before we address the other context questions, I want to take a look at some examples of people hearing the Gospel message in the Scriptures.

“So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him….And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. Acts 8:30-31, 34-35

After Jesus’s resurrection, he appeared to two men walking and they were explaining all that had happened to Jesus, not recognizing him.

“And he [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:25-27

I’m going to guess that many reading this might be a bit fearful as I was when all this started adding up in my mind. They preached the Gospel starting with Abraham? Moses? The Prophets? I don’t know about you, but I don’t find Isaiah to be a particularly easy place to start. I struggle to understand it myself more than I care to admit!

God has given us the words in the Scriptures. In fact, He has given us The Word of Truth (John 1:1, 17:17) from The Spirit through the Bible for all things related to life (2 Peter 1:3 & 2 Timothy 3:16-17)...especially the Gospel itself! We will not have the words to speak the truth of the Bible until we have studied the Scriptures and can begin to comprehend the whole story of the Gospel for ourselves.


The question of “What?” the Messiah came to do was a huge stumbling block to many Jews. Many of the Jews expected a Messiah to come and conquer Rome who was ruling over them. They expected the Messiah to fight and to rule. Certainly not to talk of peace and yet be crucified by the hand of the Romans.

What is the Gospel that was preached to Abraham from above? How can that be? The Scripture explains that the Gospel message goes back to the promise given to Abraham that “all nations will be blessed”. Yet another stumbling block for the Jews was the realization that Jews were not the only nation chosen by God, but rather the Jews would bring the Messiah through their bloodline that would save all nations, as God had intended to do from the beginning.

There is so much more to unpack when addressing What the Good News of the Gospel was, but I’m going to simply reaffirm Paul’s words to summarize it:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,” Romans 1:1-6

We need to stick to the Gospel preached by the Apostle that aligns with the prophecies throughout the Bible. The New Testament is filled with explanations of fulfilled prophecies proving Jesus is the Messiah and explanations about what laws Christians are to follow. Jesus also raises the standard of faith to express the need for our hearts to be directing us, not just empty obedience. Not all of the distortions of the Gospel will put your salvation at risk, but some of the false beliefs will (see Hebrews 10:29, Galatians 2:21, 1 Corinthians 15:9 and more).


I hope that you are beginning to see that the “When?” context question is maybe different than you thought. It is not only when Jesus came and after if these examples include Abraham and Moses. In fact, it is even earlier than Adam and Eve and the Fall (Gen 3), even though God leaves a clue to His plan even at the start of humanity. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus was present with God before the foundation of the world and Ephesians 1:4 explains that the plan to save all mankind was set before the foundation of the world!


When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (in Samaria…), he said this:

” “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ” John 4:21-24

The Gospel is not in any one place anymore! Not Jerusalem! That city is no longer the place of worship now that the Gospel is here and Israel is also no longer protected by God’s blessings. The Gospel will go out everywhere, to everyone! And they can worship anywhere they are as long as it is in spirit and in truth (see the “How?” woven in there)!


The last question is valuable to look at also. Since the question of “When?” is before the foundation of the world, I think we need to start there.

“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. Ephesians 3:7-12

God had a point to prove in the spiritual places. Namely, to show His wisdom to them through Christ and the Church (Christians). This mystery was hidden for ages but it was God’s eternal purpose. God desired to create a people in his image and then save all who are faithful (Jews and Gentiles) from the death and sin that we brought on ourselves and through that, He proves his wisdom in the spiritual realm. This is wayyy bigger than us.

In my mind, this results in a natural follow on “Why?” question. Why give up your son to save people who don’t deserve it? That question is answered by the familiar verse in John 3:16: because He loves us.

The Gospel is often explained as a mystery. God’s mysterious plan has now been revealed in the New Testament. A beautiful plan indeed. In truth, the Gospel is the whole overarching story of the Bible. God has revealed His eternal purpose and we (the Church – Christians) prove His wisdom through our faith in Christ.

If you have realized that you may not have understood the fullness of the Gospel message, then I’d encourage you to dig in with someone as your guide! It is not too late and it will only help you to continue to grow. I love kid’s oriented learning tools, so below is a graphic that I hope illustrates the Gospel a bit more clearly as God’s big plan with many important parts.

In Part 3 of this blog series, we will look at how to share the response to the Gospel in light of this more full understanding of what the Gospel is.

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