Sharing the Essential Elements of Jesus' Gospel
In The Discipleship Gospel, we fully unpack the seven elements of the gospel that Jesus preached, summarized here. There are four declarative statements: God’s kingdom is here, Jesus is the Christ, Jesus died for our sins, and Jesus was resurrected on the third day. These four statements form “the gospel proper.” There are also three imperative responses that are critically connected to the declarative statements: repent of sin, believe the gospel, and follow Jesus (Mark 1:14-17; Mark 8:27-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5). Each of the seven elements find their origin in Jesus himself, and each element comes from a passage expressly stating it’s a gospel passage.
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Knowing the seven elements of Jesus’ gospel is helpful in many ways. For instance, memorizing the seven elements provides a way to evaluate the gospel we share with people who aren’t following Jesus. As we share the gospel with others, we can ask ourselves questions to see if we have indeed truly shared the gospel:
Have I helped them understand that following Jesus means entering into a new realm of life called God’s kingdom?
Do they recognize Jesus as the Christ, God’s anointed king?
Do they believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins and was resurrected from the dead?
Have I called them to respond to this Good News in the way Jesus did—to repent of their sin, believe the gospel, and follow Jesus?
As such, the seven elements create a helpful checklist that ensures the gospel we believe and share with others is consistent with the gospel Jesus preached.
While it’s critical to identify these elements, it’s just as important to recognize that the elements are not a complete definition of the gospel. They merely provide the framework for a definition, like a skeleton. So far we’ve mentioned the seven elements. Now in Part 2, let’s dig deeper into their meaning and put meat on the bones of the gospel skeleton, which is formed by the seven elements. Additionally, we’ll also see that discipleship is embedded within each of these elements. It will help us glean what the late, great Dallas Willard meant when he wrote “discipleship to Jesus [is] the very heart of the gospel.”
8. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (New York: HarperCollins, 1998) xvii.