The Gospel in One Word, Two Words…

I don’t know who said this first, but “the gospel is simple and it takes theologians to complicate it.”

Recently I gave myself the challenge of presenting a comprehensive and jargon-free gospel in less than 400 words. That exercise got me thinking. What if we limited the gospel to just one word, or two words, or ten? Could it be done? Can you do it?

Throughout the Bible you will find short declarations of the Good News. Below I have listed short gospels from Paul, Peter, James, John and Jesus. I also have one each from Spurgeon and Calvin. But what I would really like to hear is yours. What is your short version of the gospel? Everyone should have one for those small windows of opportunity.

If you want to send in your short gospel (use the comment form below), remember three things: (1) The gospel is news – it’s an announcement, not an appeal. (2) The gospel is good news. There’s no bad news in the good news. Hell and judgment are real, but they’re not good news. (3) For maximum appeal, a good gospel should be simple. One famous theologian once summarized the gospel as adoption through propitiation. It’s a good summary but it has limited appeal. It won’t make much sense to the man in the street.

As we will see in below, the best short gospels use simple language and are self-explanatory:

1 word: Jesus! You cannot improve upon perfection and there’s no other name by which we’re saved (Acts 4:12). Grace and truth are found in Jesus. Jesus saves sinners and keeps Christians. Whatever your need, the answer is Jesus. Are you struggling with sin? Jesus is your victory. Are you suffering with illness? Jesus is your healing. Are you bound up with depression? Jesus is your freedom.

2 words: Christ alone! If we must add one word to the name “Jesus” or His proper title “Christ,” let it be the qualifier “alone.” He alone saves us. He doesn’t need our help, just our trust.

3 words: None but Jesus! If this was good enough for Spurgeon

4 words: “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” ~ James 2:13. And just so you have no doubt as to where mercy comes from, James tells us: “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (Jas 5:11).

5 words: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” That’s all Paul needed to know (1 Cor 2:1-5).

6 words: Saved by Christ; kept by Christ. Many Christians believe only the first part of that statement. They believe that Jesus gave them a fresh start, but not a new life. Instead of confessing their sonship, they are still confessing their sins. Instead of resting in the gift of his righteousness, they are striving to make themselves righteous through their good works, their self-denial, or their observance of traditions, rules and regulations. The good news is better than they think!

7 words: “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” ~ John 1:17. Think of a firefighter smashing through a concrete wall to save trapped orphans. That’s what Jesus did for us. When all hope was lost, He came. Now that’s good news!

8 words: “Christ died, was buried, then rose. He reigns!” ~ Paul (1 Cor 15:3-4,25). Everyone quotes the first 3 bits of Paul’s gospel and misses the punch-line. Read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 15. The good news is not just about what He’s done, but what He’s doing (He’s reigning!) and yet to do (until all His enemies have been put under His feet).

9 words: “I want to come in and be with you.” ~ Jesus (Rev 3:20). Religion offers carrots and sticks, but Jesus offers invitations.

10 words: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” ~ Jesus (Jn 14:6). As the song says, without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing, and without the life, there is no living.

11 words: “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train.” ~ David (Ps 68:19). Ever seen those movies where the good guy beats the bad guy but then foolishly forgets to check whether the villain’s really been neutralized? Jesus is not like that! He has enslaved slavery, bound bondage, and captured captivity. Where are Jesus’ foes? They’re in His train – shackled and disarmed!

12 words: “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” ~ Peter (Acts 2:36). The Messiah whom the Jews looked for, has been exalted, made supreme, so that our sins might be forgiven and the Holy Spirit given (see Acts 2:38)

20 words: “The Son of God became the Son of Man that the Sons of Men might become the Sons of God.” John Calvin may or may not have said this – I can’t verify the source – but it’s true and it’s good news.

E2R_logo_3_smAnd that’s it! What do you think? Can you convey the joy of the good news in just a few words? I would love to hear your short gospel.

Comments

  1. “Jesus loves you and God is not mad at you!!!” (10 words)

  2. James Goss says:

    Hi Paul…yes we do get carried away and removed from the simplicity we have in Christ

    One word for me ‘Freedom’…from sin, sickness, curse, death.
    Longer ‘Restored to eternal fellowship with God’

  3. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (11 Words) 1 John 1:5

  4. “Come! The sin barrier is down! I love you!” (9 words)

  5. ‘chillitisdone!!!’ I know, I know … I am cheating. Good one Paul, you are now cutting to the ‘bone’. We need to keep it simple and by limiting to a few words, what is in the heart becomes vivid! My short word(s) actually popped into my head a few weeks ago when I wanted to respond anonymously on a article in the newspaper. PS I just finished ‘Me, myself and Bob’ – excellent stuff! Very relevant in my own life and also very freeing.
    Blessings, Muller

  6. jeremypenwarden says:

    What is heaven like? You can have it now because of Jesus.
    What is hell like? You can stop experiencing it now because of Jesus.

  7. It is finished

  8. you are forgiven

  9. Michael D says:

    (Extra Extra) read all about it-GRACE-LOVE-JOY-free today.
    (SEE JESUS)

  10. “God, in Christ, has forgiven you!” (6 words)

  11. Three words: “It is finished!”

  12. “Good LORD, this post just saved my life!” (8 words)

  13. In the Gospel, Jesus is the main character but truly the GOSPEL is about the LOVE of God (John 3:16) and the POWER of God to salvation (Rom 1:16). Its about GOD – simple.

  14. “In Jesus, I am forgiven forever for everything!” (8 words) I know it’s not a verse, but it’s the greatest news for me. ^_^

  15. The gospel of the finished and perfect work of Jesus that has taken away the sin of the world, breaks the power and dominion of sin, making us identical to Jesus, purging our conscience from dead works of self-righteousness, so that we may dwell in the secret place of the most High (Christ) and enjoy our union with Father in spirit and truth, being fully blessed, healed, and thoroughly prepared for every good work.

  16. I love the Corrie Ten Boom quote: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

  17. Jesus loves me/you, this covers everything.

  18. Because of the cross, God looks, thinks, feels, perceives, and surprises exactly like you…unceasingly. This is the Good News!

  19. Steve Scrim says:

    Receive Christ and you will be as clean as He is, as free as He is as and as close as He is to Father God. And that is clooooooooooooooooose. Right in there.

  20. Rudy Rodriguez says:

    If its not grace, its not Jesus!

  21. Thanks to Jesus its a whole new world! (The happy gospel, by Benjamin Dunn)

  22. “I will love them freely.” (Hosea 14:4)

  23. In God’s family forever by His work and power.

  24. Gregg Scheibel says:

    I proclaim the supremecy of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God for all time and for all peoples in all places over all enemies and all circumstances; being well able to abundantly meet every need!!!

  25. Wouldn’t it be John 3:16? For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  26. Paul, I left a comment on this thread but it never got accepted or you rejected it without a response/feedback. Can you please comment on that?
    Carl

    • Hi Carl. Most of your comments were violating my comment policy (“Keep it ad free”). Since you were new here, I turned a blind eye. But eventually I had to draw the line. WordPress allows you to put your website in your identifier. That should be sufficient.

  27. Mary Priscilla says:

    Jesus loves All Always…

  28. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Karl Barth (1962)

  29. “God loves you”

  30. GOD looks at you as JESUS.we are given new name JESUS

  31. I love this site and here in Michigan 1000’s of Christians were wearing 2word story badges last year. It was amazing how many people asked me what mine meant. Rest? Rest We were supposed to have a short testimony to answer people who asked. My answer was I can rest because God did the rest for me. It lead to some good discussions. It is worth a google to check it out. World wide it would be awsum

  32. Beena Paul says:

    Christ in me – the hope of glory .

  33. Joe Ntibi says:

    God is love! He loved us thro Christ while we were yet sinners!

  34. Mike Vosburg says:

    “Wholeness and Freedom”

  35. The Blood of the Lamb, washes all and forgives, just believe.

  36. 2 words: Amazing Promise (Jesus is the complete fulfillment of God’s amazing promise (covenant) to us of God’s unconditional, forever-love…amazing (promise of) grace! Jeremiah 33:14,16b). Amazing Promise How Sweet The Sound ~ This is a play-on-words of the song lyrics Amazing Grace How Sweet The Sound (Rom 10:17).

  37. 7 words: He is good; His love endures forever ~ There is right at 100 verses in the Old Testament that associate LORD (YHWH) with God’s unfailing love, God’s faithful love, and His love endures forever. If He’s told us once what His Name means, He’s told us 100 times! Jesus is LORD!

    • Jesus is YHWH!
      :)
      i actually just “got” this revelation recently in my word studies… and now understand why confessing “Jesus is LORD” is – and was – such a proclamation of faith! (especially for new Jewish believers!) when we make this connection – we are actually saying that we believe Jesus is the eternal YHWH come to earth as man!

      • Amen. John 1 – the Word, the Promise of God, became flesh. Allowing God to repeat His Promise of love for you over and over with your own mouth will cause more than intellectual belief in Jesus. It’s the Gospel and when you hear His love over and over, it will cause your heart to trust God’s heart of love, Jesus! Only the Gospel and only Jesus’ Name of LORD have the Power to save you…because they are both one and the same!

  38. Included in Christ.

    Many thanks for this post, Paul, and for your “The Gospel in Ten Words” book. I’ve been asking myself this same question for about the last year. In light of the Finished Work of the Cross how would I express the Gospel to a new friend, aka, former stranger. Or if somebody asked me what I believe on a 30 second elevator ride. It’s always encouraging to find others are thinking along the same lines.

    BTW, I think the basic idea behind “The Son of God became the Son of Man that the Sons of Men might become the Sons of God.” originated with Irenaeus and was repeated by Athanasius as “God became man, that man might become God” or variants thereof because of the translation from Greek to English. It’s a basic idea pretty much foreign to Western church thinking until recently, but well-known as deification or theosis in the Eastern Orthodox thinking and practice.

  39. “Jesus Christ gave His life FOR you, so that He could give His life TO you, so that He could live His life THROUGH you.” – Major Ian Thomas
    :)

  40. Jactone Oluoch says:

    Amen, simple gospel

  41. Ineke van der Zwaag says:

    You’re loved and accepted

  42. Jeremiah (Kenya) says:

    Amen. “Christ is All in All”. Thanks brother paul. You are indeed a Blessing to Me and to Many.

  43. Karen Robbins-Arias says:

    God is closer than your breath!

  44. ClayD.Marcum says:

    First time poster here. I’ve been browsing this site all day, and what a refreshing find! I really enjoy these minimalist posts on the gospel. It reminds me of movie loglines. The so called ‘elevator pitch.’ So, I’ve been inspired to write a few movie loglines that contain the gospel in the pitch.
    First, a legal thriller: “A lawyer works 24/7 to defend himself, only to find his case is the same as his accuser’s!” — The AntiNomian
    Next, a drama: “Guilty, suffering, and near death, a man looks not to redeem his past, but to secure his future.” — Remember Me

    God Bless and Grace to us all!

  45. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but eternal life starting now

  46. stevescansen says:

    Here is my gospel in 11 words:) He takes our place in order to give us His place!

  47. Rachelle says:

    Through Jesus, God fixed everything.

Tell us what you think (<250 words)...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s