The Simple Gospel

Perhaps the most important truth that Jenni and I have especially internalized in the last couple of years is that the gospel is central to our Christian life—not simply step one. We immediately identified with the following paragraph when we read it recently:

For complex reasons many in the Western church came to speak of ‘the simple gospel’, by which they at one time meant the gospel summarized in convenient and simple form, usually for evangelistic purposes. The result is that for many today ‘the gospel’ or ‘gospel preaching’ refers not to the glorious, comprehensive good news disclosed in scripture but to a very simple (some would say simplistic) reduction of it. Some churches distinguished between ‘worship services’ and ‘gospel services’: one wonders which term, ‘worship’ or ‘gospel’, has been more seriously abused. Doubtless the motives behind these developments were often excellent. But the fact remains that a variety of serious problems were thereby introduced. For many, evangelistic preaching became identified with simplistic preaching. Worse, ‘the gospel’ came to be associated in their minds exclusively with the initial steps of faith rather than with God’s comprehensive good news that not only initiates salvation but orders all our life in this world and the next.

–D. A. Carson, “The Biblical Gospel,” in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future (ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon; London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996), 82.

Related: My review of Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love (Themelios 33:1 [2008]: 102–3).


  1. says

    There is a common misconception that the gospel is useful only for getting a person saved, after which it takes a backseat. There is nothing further from the truth. As Jerry Bridges pointed out, we must preach the gospel to ourselves constantly, for the sake of righteousness, peace, and joy.

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