I’ve seen the article below posted in a social networking site. it concludes that we cannot live or show the gospel which for me is misleading. I think the problem in this article is how it defines the word “gospel”. Can you help me define further the word “Gospel”? Its Greek definition, where it originates & how it was used in the biblical text? Is it right to say that the Bible, in its entirety, is the gospel?. Lastly can I have your view/comment/opinion about this article? Is there any fallacy in it? YOU ARE NOT JESUS (

Editor’s note: The following is the article in question.

The gospel is news. News has to be announced, communicated, written, and delivered with words. Think of any major news story or event: the reporter doesn’t seek to act it out, but he just delivers the news. This is why I find it so confusing when I hear people say: “We’re just trying to live the gospel” or “We’re trying to be the gospel.” There is of course the well-known quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” I’d argue that it’s always necessary to use words, because the gospel is news. The gospel is the good news that God sent his perfect Son Jesus Christ to live, die, and resurrect on behalf of sinners, to save their souls and reconcile them to God. As important as it is to do good works, care for the poor, nobody becomes a Christian and enters into eternal life because we gave somebody a sandwich; They get saved because they hear the preaching of the news of Jesus. In other words, good works without good news do no good. Good works that adorn good news do not only earthly good but also eternal good.


Paul told Titus that good works have their proper place when they adorn the gospel: “… but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10). But to be clear, neither Paul, Jesus, nor any of the apostles never tells us that good works are the gospel. The gospel is a message that must be preached, proclaimed, and told using words. I talk to so many people who go to the church where I pastor, and they tell me, “I’m just being really friendly and helpful. They know I am a Christian and when the want to know they will ask me.” I ask two questions “Did you get saved because someone was nice?” and “Did you conclude from their kindness that Jesus is God, you are a sinner, Jesus died for your sin and rose from the dead as King?” The answer of course is no. They will just think you are nice. And then continue to walk in darkness. You are not the gospel; Jesus Christ is the gospel. You are not Jesus; Jesus is God. Therefore you cannot live or show the gospel: you must proclaim it.


This is not a theological issue. It is really more a matter of semantics than a doctrinal question. I basically agree with what this author is saying, but you should be aware that his argument is more rhetorical (careful use of words to make an argument) and semantic (arguing based on a possibly debatable definition of a word) than theological, so you should not get too concerned if an apparent implication suggests something troubling.

Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” This is a rhetorical statement, intended to create a visceral reaction in the hearers. It is not a theological statement. He could just as well have said, “I am not ashamed to be a Christian.” The connotation would be identical, yet, if we got into the semantics (a mistake in this case), then to say that the two statements are equivalent is to say that “the gospel” is “a Christian.” Obviously, this is not true.

One person can say “I am the gospel.” Another could say that, “as a Christian, my life should demonstrate the gospel.” A third person could say “The gospel is the good news that Jesus saves us. My life is a reflection of the impact of the gospel.” Technically, the third statement is most “accurate” if we want to argue over words and the most careful way to say something. However, remember that we are talking rhetoric, not theology here. So the person, like Francis of Assisi, who says that our life should be the gospel is not expressing bad theology, he is making a rhetorical statement in order to stimulate his hearers to a deeper Christianity.

So, if you want to be really technical, this person is right, but I could, in an absolutely clear conscience, depending on the setting and the audience, upon carefully explaining myself, say that my life shows the gospel of Jesus. Let us not get too concerned about semantics. I say that this person is technically right, but I personally find the heart and impact of Francis of Assisi’s statement to be more compelling and helpful. If we take the spirit of the statement and do not argue over semantics, I really like his statement, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”

The argument in the article above is a rhetorical one. What the author is saying, in essence, is that our lives are not enough, on their own, to convert someone. In the end, a person my come to church based on our good example, but they must hear the gospel and respond in order to be saved. He seems to be pushing back against those who believe that by simply being a good they are sharing the gospel. There is a grain of truth in this, but please remember that this is a rhetorical argument, continue letting your light shine, and also getting people to read the scripture. Both showing your good life and getting people to actually read, hear and respond to the gospel are part of the process of bringing people to Christ.

As for the word gospel, the English word derives from Old English god-spell, which meant good news.  It is a translation of the Greek word evaggelion, from which we get the word evangelize.   It means, literally, good news.  What is the gospel?  Several passages in the New Testament define the gospel. I believe that we cannot restrict the word to one exact meaning and interpretation.   However, the basic gospel is the good news that, through the voluntary sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, we, as sinners can be forgiven of our sins and be made righteous in God’s sight if we put our faith in Jesus, repent of our sins and are baptized into Christ, at which point we come into contact with the saving blood of Jesus.   Obviously, we cannot literally be the good news.    If anyone is the good news, it is Jesus, but technically, even Jesus is not the good news.   It is something about Jesus which is the good news.   I still say that if we understand Francis of Assissi correctly, in context, then we can still appreciate his statment.

John Oakes

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