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.

And 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.

23 Comments on The Gospel in One Word, Two Words…

  1. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me less

  2. Jesus: Virgin birth, Perfect life, Supreme sacrifice, He arose, He ascended and He dwells in me!

  3. The only work God requires is to believe in the he sent. JESUS.
    Then he promises to complete the good work he started.

  4. Christ in you, the hope of glory (7 words) (Collossians 2)
    I in you and you in Me (7 words) (John 15)

  5. Welcome!
    – Jesus

  6. Jesus shows us;
    That God is
    EXACTLY who God is
    Who God made us to be
    Jesus HAS Enabled us to live as God made us to be.
    IT IS FINISHED -ONLY BELIEVE!

  7. Awaji-ikacheilom Utiezeh // May 30, 2015 at 7:31 am // Reply

    Jesus’ obedience made you righteous before God. And not your good deeds or works.
    Roms 5:17

  8. You don’t have to die! (5)
    People all know 10/10 people will die. They think heaven is a place for the dead and need to be warned that it is a place for the living! The dead are like useless dead sticks that will be thrown into the fire! The only solution to our death problem is life thru Jesus Christ!

  9. 1 Word: Jesus or Love
    2 Words: Jesus saved or Love saved
    3 Words: Jesus saved all or Love saved all

  10. Aaron castellino // July 19, 2015 at 4:57 am // Reply

    The good news is that Nothing can separate you from the love of God that is revelead in Christ Jesus : Romans 8:39

  11. WIN is the word for me.l won over sin and the devil through the grace that comes through Jesus.

  12. “I love and accept you just as you are; not as you ought to be. For you will never be as you ought to be.” (thank you Brennan Manning)

  13. He who knew no sin, became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God I’m Christ Jesus!!!!!

  14. Leonie Bartlett // March 5, 2016 at 9:13 am // Reply

    And the Truth will set you free!

  15. People chose sin.
    Judgement was inevitable.
    God loved anyway.
    He sent Jesus.
    Jesus was sacraficed,
    Taking our place.
    We took his.
    He rose again.
    Condemnation has vanished.
    Death is dead.
    We are saved,
    If we believe.

  16. Lyle Geck // May 9, 2016 at 3:57 am // Reply

    God’s neither dead nor mad. He’s alive and he loves you!

  17. Through grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone.

  18. dare abidoye // December 9, 2016 at 1:40 am // Reply

    JESUS SAVES…..

  19. rikkibayliss // July 12, 2017 at 9:06 am // Reply

    God has come as Jesus to all. (6 words)

  20. James Sidney M. Baguio // July 15, 2017 at 4:58 pm // Reply

    “Finished Work therefore Rest” It doesn’t make any sense to “work, work, work” or “struggle” for something when Jesus said “It is Finished.” Let us therefore accept the invitation to enter into His rest.

  21. Even if you sin all you want I (Jesus) still accept you.

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