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Tell me the Gospel in 60 seconds

I happen to challenge my fellow Christians, asking them “How would you summarize the Gospel to a complete newbie?” Or more precisely: Imagine that a colleague (or a classmate or another guest on a wedding) asks you “Oh, you are Christian. I always wanted to ask a real Christian: What is this Gospel, this message that you teach in your church?” You have 60 seconds to answer. What do you say?

Answers from friends

Here are some results I received from friends.

(1) One friend answered with the following compilation of two Bible verses 1 (based on N.T. Wright in his book “How God became King”):

Born is the Saviour King. He redeems/frees/saves/heals you, because he loves you. Repent and believe in this good news (i.e. witness God as King)!

Sündinud on Päästja kuningas. Ta lunastab/vabastab, päästab, tervendab sinu, sest ta armastab sind. Sellele järgneb ülsekutse: paranda meelt ja usu evangeeliumisse (st tunnista Jumal kuningaks)

(2) Another friend answered quite spontaneously:

See on rõõmusõnum. Headus võidab, kurjus kaotab. Jumal armastab inimkonda. Ja “armastab” tähendab, et ta soovib head. Jeesuse kaudu ta näitas, et heateod on õiged. Ja vägivald ja vihkamine ei ole õige. Kui sa tõesti seda usud, siis oledki juba taevas (jumalriigis). Muidugi me näeme et kahjuks meil ei õnnestu olla head kogu aeg. Kristlased julgevad eksimustest rääkida, sest me usume et need on meile andeks antud (Jumala poolt, mitte tigimata enda või teiste inimeste poolt).

(3) Yet another summary:

Evangeelium õpetab, et on olemas kõrgem jõud, kes on loonud kogu Universumi ja keda kristlased nimetavad Jumalaks. Ning see Jumal hoolib inimestest nii nagu vanemad hoolivad oma lastest.

(4) Here is a summary from a Catholic friend:

Love others like you love yourself. Go to church and learn the catechism. Keep practising and you are on a good path!

(5) And another one:

You are children of God. There is much space in my father’s house. Of course you need to “tune” your life towards God. Otherwise you don’t notice.

(6) And another one:

The best moment of your life is here and now. God is Love and He loves you here and now with all the attention of a God to his eternal child. He only needs your Big unconditional YES. Fruit: Because Love loves me I become myself Love.

(7) And another one, from a German pastor who was preaching about Romans 1:14-17:

Gott hätte sagen können “Was soll ich mit diesen Menschen? Die interessieren mich nicht. Ich sitze in meiner Ewigkeit, habe meinen Spaß an Wurmlöchern, Spektralnebeln, Galaxien, den großartigen Regeln der Schwerkraft, die sich ganz emotionsfrei und ewig vollziehen – was soll ich mit dem Menschen, dieser verzwirbelten Kreatur, die für alles offen ist nur nicht für mich?”

Aber stattdessen besteht die Gerechtigkeit Gottes darin, dass er sie teilt mit uns. Dass er uns Jesus schickt und uns durch Jesus, in Jesus, für gerecht erklärt. Dass er uns ansieht, als hätten wir alles richtig gemacht. Uns ansieht als seine Kinder. Auch wenn wir das nicht durch unsere Werke zu erwarten hätten, aber uns so betrachtet, dass wir seine Kinder sind, der uns liebt genau so, wie gute Eltern ihre Kinder lieben. So handelt Gott an uns. Gott möchte uns retten. Und alles, was wir dazu tun können, selber, ist, diese Rettung anzunehmen. Diesem Wort zu glauben.

(8) Here is a summary written by Olga Krasnikova:

It is very difficult for us to keep at least for some time the memory of God’s presence in our lives. It demands internal work, effort, spiritual search, personal growth – showing the task to be really complicated. We are trying to follow the path that seems easy for us. We are dreaming to find a person who will make us happy and fill our internal emptiness. But this is the wrong way. The real core of our inner life is the connection to God.

It may be revealed in a feeling that God is loving me, accepting me, that I owe my life to Him, that I am responsible for the way of my living, as life is God-given, but also is subject to His judgement. Even if we can hardly trace our feeling of communion with God, this is the very vector that we are moving along. It is important to see the perspective and start moving in the right direction.

The main thing is to keep faith that when I am so scared, bad and lonely, when life seems to be a burden – at this moment God is holding me in his arms.

(9) Here is my own answer (the current one… it may change at any moment):

We humans are almost constantly busy with asking ourselves: Am I good enough? Am I loved? Does my life make sense? Will I survive this humiliation?

The Gospel says: yes, you are good enough, you are loved, your life makes sense, you will survive this humiliation. God made the world such that the good always wins over the evil in the end. God loves every single human unconditionally, like parents love their children regardless of whether they deserve this love. Your mistakes and weaknesses are no obstacle to his love. (Though of course they can harm yourself or others.) Nothing is impossible for him, he is always listening to you, he is always helping you, though of course you do not always grasp every detail of his plan.

That’s enough. Just believe it.

It’s not easy to believe. Nobody can claim to fully understand it. Our faith is a life-long learning process.

We need to cultivate our faith so that the Gospel is the first answer of our heart when something unpleasant happens.

If you manage to believe in the Gospel, you will be sustainably happy every day of your life even beyond your own death.

Don’t laugh at our religious exercises. See them as a kind of deliberate brainwashing: you “clean” your heart from any “dirty” beliefs that try to make us believe something else than the Gospel.

Conclusions

So what? My summary so far: It seems that there is no official summary of the Gospel because the Gospel is a divine message. Its translation to human language depends on the recipient and the situation. It takes more than 60 seconds to explain the Gospel. There is more to say about it. See What’s so good about the Good News?.

Footnotes

1

There are two places in the Bible that seem to formulate the Gospel directly:

  • Luke 2:11: - For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (ESV, KJV) - Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (NIV) - Un Sauveur vous est né aujourd’hui dans la ville de David; c’est lui le Messie, le Seigneur. (BDS) - c’est qu’aujourd’hui, dans la ville de David, il vous est né un Sauveur, qui est le Christ, le Seigneur. (LSG) - aujourd’hui, dans la ville de David, il vous est né un Sauveur qui est le Messie[1], le Seigneur. (S21)

  • Mark 1:14-15: - and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (ESV) - And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (KJV) - ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (NIV) - Il disait: Le temps est accompli. Le royaume de Dieu est proche. Changez et croyez à l’Evangile., (BDS) - Il disait: Le temps est accompli, et le royaume de Dieu est proche. Repentez-vous, et croyez à la bonne nouvelle. (BDS) - et disait: «Le moment est arrivé et le royaume de Dieu est proche. Changez d’attitude et croyez à la bonne nouvelle!» (S21)

    Note that the reader’s version of NIV replaces “Repent” by “Turn away from your sins”

The dogmatic constitution “on divine revelation” Dei Verbum (Latin for Word of God) does not mention neither Luke 2:11 nor Mark 1:14-15.