What exactly is the gospel anyway?
Well that's a massive question, but for me, and certainly when I worked in Youth for Christ and tried to help younger people work out quite what the gospel is, we'd work in a simple funnel.
You'd look at John 3:16, "For God so loved the world he gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Or you'll see a quote from St John Chrysostom, you know, "The Son of God became the Son of Man, that the sons and daughters of men might become the sons and daughters of God."
The Gospel we can complicate it but in its essence Jesus came from highest heaven to lowest earth and he came as a baby that's incredible.
That baby became a man and that man walked the earth, he started ministry in the Jordan Valley.
You know Jordan Valley is the lowest place on earth physically? It's literally the lowest place on earth.
Jesus went from highest heaven to lowest earth. He went from the highest to the lowest, to get the lowest and take them to the highest.
And he walked the earth giving food to the hungry, health to the sick, life to the dead.
Then he died upon a cross taking every wrong thing upon himself you've ever done, ever would do, ever could do and they put him in a tomb.
And I've been to the tomb and you know what? There's no body in the tomb, because three days later Jesus rose again. He defeated death!
You know often we feel like we lose the battle here and there, you can't lose the war: Jesus has beaten the grave!
They went to find him, he was gone, he is risen and wants a personal relationship with you today.
You know too often as Christians also we talk about the gospel as in life after death.
Actually yeah that's true, he came that we might have eternal life, but he also came as John 10:10 tells us, that we might have life in all its fullness today.
So coming to faith is not just about what happens when you die; it's about knowing life now.
Because we're sheep, right?
That's not a compliment.
Sheep are stupid.
Now don't get me wrong, the average shape spends the whole time following another sheep's bottom.
That's what they do.
If that sheep in front goes over a cliff, they all go over a cliff and they all die.
Sheep are stupid.
We need a shepherd. I can't imagine what life is like without a shepherd. Life is hard enough with Jesus, imagine not having that shepherd in your life.
Imagine not knowing life in all its fullness today and tomorrow.
And you know, the gospel is for me, the gospel is this promise from God, the most common promise in the Bible that He is with us.
Not that life will be perfect.
But that He is with us.
That's why, my Grandma had Alzheimer's disease, she had it as bad you can have it.
She lost her memory, she lost the ability to speak, she sat in the corner of a nursing home for the last eight years of her life dribbling on a teddy bear.
She didn't recognize my Dad, her only child, she didn't recognize me or any of my other siblings, her grandchildren, she didn't recognise anyone.
Where was Jesus?
She'd been a Christian for 60 years.
One day, my Mum went in on my Grandma's birthday.
She went in for my Mum's benefit, not my Grandma's, because my grandma didn't know who my Mum was, what a birthday was, let alone presents.
My Mum sits in my Grandma's room and says to her, "Can I pray with you?"
Now my Grandma can't talk, so being a good evangelical Christian, my Mum takes the silence as a yes.
And then my Mum begins to pray that this dear old lady, who lives in mental torture, might know a moment's peace in the presence of the good shepherd that she'd followed her whole life.
When my Mum finishes praying she's amazed my Grandma's eyes are shut.
She's like, "that's wonderful."
But then something incredible happens.
For the only time in her last eight years of life, my Grandma speaks and she prays.
She says, "I don't know who I am, and I don't know what I am, and I don't know where I am, but Lord Jesus please love me."
The gospel for me is the king of the world who threw the stars into space, walking the earth and giving his life that we might live today and forever, and that whatever happens to you in this life the good shepherd is still with you.
Thank you, Gavin.
Dave, I wanted to come to you now and just ask in some senses this is such a simple question: what is the gospel anyway?
One you would assume most Christians who have made that decision understand, yet sometimes we do move away from the essence of what the gospel is.
Why is it so important, as a starting point for evangelism, that we do get our heads around exactly what the gospel is and also in a nutshell without all the complications that are just going to confuse somebody.
The gospel, as Gavin said, it's a message, isn't it?
It's a message from God, it's God reaching in and saving the lost. It's the message of Jesus Christ as the risen Son of the Living God in whom there is salvation.
Salvation means safe.
We use that all the time, don't we, in modern parlance, 'safe'.
We're safe with God.
And the gospel, it is good news, it literally means 'good news'.
God has spoken into creation to save the lost.
It's as simple as that.
The gospel has two facets in society, which make it really important.
Two facets in our lives.
One is a proclamation element where we communicate it to someone in some way and that's really really important.
The other is a living out element, we live out that gospel, we live out the implications of that new life.
It's about new life, its about regeneration and sometimes I think we forget that in our society.
This is a whole new ball game here.
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance."
We come into the full life of God, the gospel is the message of God inviting us in to His plan and His plan is perfect and good and He can be trusted with it.
So our lifestyle should then adapt to that message in terms of our beliefs, our behaviours and our transmission of them beliefs to others, through family, through friends, through society, through nations, through history and that's been the story of the gospel in mankind.
And it goes on today and you know, praise God, people are being saved in the UK today, this very day and the kingdom of God is being received in greater measure today.
The gospel is as relevant now as it's ever been and it will continue to be relevant tomorrow and in the decades ahead.