“The gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Mark 13:10
What do missionaries say to unreached people groups? What should you say to your neighbor in an American suburb? What is the “gospel”? The question is too important to hurry past. A general, vague answer will not suffice when the souls of men hang in the balance and a commission given directly by the Lord Jesus is at stake.
Gospel, of course, means good news. The word is so closely tied to the idea of proclaiming these glad tidings that it is usually found as a verb in the New Testament (euaggélion, euaggelízō), which is where the word “evangelize” comes from in English. Typically this news is loosely understood as an invitation for forgiveness and salvation through the cross. This is rather generic, but is it even on the right track?
The author of Hebrews says that ancient Israel heard the gospel (Heb. 4:2, 6). John the Baptist preached the gospel (Lk. 3:18). Jesus preached the gospel at the start of His public ministry, over two years before He would die on the cross (Mk 1:14). The angels proclaimed the gospel at the birth of Jesus (Lk. 2:10), and an angel will declare the gospel to the earth before Jesus returns (Rev. 14:6). God Himself declares the gospel (Acts 10:36, Rev. 10:7). Paul desired to preach the gospel to those who were in Rome, yet they were already Christians (Rom 1:15).
What is the gospel? Even this brief sampling of passages should cause us to realize we are in great need of clarity. Paul said that if anyone – even an angel - preached “a different gospel” that perverted the truth they were to be accursed (Gal 1:8-9). What is the gospel? We must answer this question will all earnestness as we desire it to go forth to the nations!