Did Jesus preach the Gospel?

Please watch this great talk given by Scot McKnight from the Q Gathering 2010 on the topic, Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?.

The most influential piece of literature in the twentieth century was the gospel tract. Why? Because it reduced the gospel to sound bytes and because it has framed how many Christians now understand the gospel message. What might surprise us is that the central idea of Jesus’ teaching–the coming kingdom of God–does not appear in any of the gospel tracts. Why is that? Have we only relied on Paul’s version of the gospel? Is it possible, many are asking, to combine the gospel of Paul with the gospel of Jesus? Which leads to this question: What is the gospel? And to this one: Did Jesus himself preach the gospel or not?

McKnight makes quite a bold statement. He says when the gospel means everything, it loses all meaning. And that is what has happened in American religious circles.

McKnight tells two stories that must be heard. One is John Piper’s question: Did Jesus preach Paul’s Gospel? Piper’s conclusion is fascinating. The other is from a chance encounter with a pastor McKnight recognized who said that Jesus did not preach the gospel. In fact, this man said, no one could understand the gospel, including Jesus, until after the cross, the resurrection, and Pentecost.

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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  • Jesus and Paul preached the same gospel. There is no “Paul’s Gospel” unless it is Jesus, even though Paul said, “my gospel.” I think that we create a false dichotomy when we say that Paul preached Justification by faith and Jesus preached the Kingdom. Paul himself said that he only preached Jesus crucified and, as McKnight says, Paul tells us what the gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15. It is Jesus.

    I very much like what McKnight says here and it is what I have found to be true simply from reading the Scriptures over the years, especially the Gospels, and not having a certain systematic theology guiding me with presuppositions. Jesus is the Gospel. Amen.

  • I’m going to be dwelling on this for a while. After watching it, I feel like all of the plugs of my beliefs were unplugged and now I have to rearrange them properly. Challenging, especially as someone in the Reformed camp and who highly respects Piper. Thanks for posting this, David. Always good to be challenged in our beliefs, especially in an edifying way. We can never seek too much clarity on the Gospel.

    • Freddy,

      First, thanks for visiting. And thanks for commenting! Truth be told I’m a functional calvinist. I have been a hard-core reformed guy who adored Piper & Driscoll & Grudem…

      However, several years ago I took every instance of the term gospel and looked at it’s context and what it was indicating. It was nothing really of how we would describe the gospel in relation to what is found in the neo-reform movement today. I then did a sermon series a few years ago on the gospel and salvation. I was pushed more toward what McKnight is describing.

      By defining the gospel as Piper, et. al, have done, it allows them to make it an all encompassing term which then allows them to frame things as gospel-centered, ie gospel-centered churches and gospel-centered lives. It sounds great, I mean who isn’t for the gospel? But whose definition of the gospel? Whose definition of atonement? For the hard-core reformed guys, it’s a substitutionary atonement, an intellectual concept of knowledge, and a particular view of justification. The danger in that is that it shifts our life to an ideology and away from the person of Jesus.

      But we are not told in the scriptures to be conformed to the image of the gospel. We are to be formed into the image of Jesus. We are to imitate Christ, not the gospel. So life needs to be framed by Jesus, not the gospel. And since the church is the body of Christ, the physical presence of Jesus in the world today, it needs to be framed by Jesus, not the gospel.

      Christ is the gospel, Jesus is the gospel. To focus on the gospel is to be more concerned with the content of intellectual belief than to be in a relationship with Jesus, the one who leads us to all truth. Salvation thus becomes propositional and intellectual, rather than stemming from an encounter with Jesus.

      I’m sure that’s not how they would describe it. However, It’s how the message is framed by the use of the language, and by doing that, they are assigning that meaning to it.

      Thanks again for dropping by. I would love to dialogue with you further about this and other issues! Have a great weekend…


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