When asked "What is the Gospel?"
I have heard people express what the Gospel is in many different ways.
Most people have a basic summation and that is that Jesus died on the cross to save us. And although that is true, it is only partly true, or to be more precise, it is only a percentage of what the Gospel is. The Gospel is the center of the Bible, and the beginning, and the end of the Bible.
If for example, the Gospel is more like a paragraph, than a sentence, then there is a danger in only including part of that paragraph or a single sentence. It leaves it as an incomplete sentence and leaves an open interpretation of... Saved “From” what, and Saved “to” what?
I have also heard a popular Christian Cliche`, of... “The Gospel in a Nutshell, is John 3:16". This is a terrible cliché. It shortchanges all of John 3, let alone the whole book of John, and yet let alone the entire Bible. It focuses on a narrow part of John 3, that centers on man.
For a quick example, (John 3:16 ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Arminians (many but not all) use this verse to try and show all people their worth...
Yet (John 3:18 ESV) “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Arminians (many but not all) use the first part of John 3:18 to also tell people that they are not condemned in the eyes of the Lord.
But read in it's whole context, that is not what it is saying, and in addition, it is saying that those who do not believe, “are condemned already”, but “are condemned already” does not fit within their interpretation of all people having worth in Gods eyes.
Now someone may take that last sentence wrong, but when used to counter the way Arminian evangelizing uses John 3:16, it is correct. When people are hearing that God just loves them and that they have worth, they hear that God loves them just the way they are and that they are a good person. They hear this because man is prideful, and already considers himself a good person and now they are being promised that Jesus died for them, when in fact they may be one of those already condemned, and if that is the case they are giving them a false sense of security.
So with this little sidetrack, we can see just one aspect of just how wrong it is to preach only part of a message leaving both the beginning and the end open for self interpretation.
To be continued...