I recently attended a gathering of ministries in Dallas, Texas where we discussed utilizing digital channels effectively for the Kingdom. Part of our time was spent listening to Bob Lepine share from the scriptures. In one of these sessions he shared five essential components of the Gospel from a John Piper message at 'Together for the Gospel' in 2006. This particular sermon from Piper is quite good in its entirety, but what really stands out is his detailed explanation of the Gospel towards the end. In particular, his last statement includes a question everyone who calls themselves a Christian should ask of themselves and to those they communicate with concerning Christ.
Allow me to summarize and paraphrase Piper's first four points to provide some context and then I'll focus on his final thought-provoking statement and question.
"5 Essential Components of the Gospel"
1. The Gospel is about historical events ― In this statement, 'events' is the key word. If we set out to communicate the gospel to a friend or a neighbor, this must be understood. This message of good news isn't some abstract idea but it is rooted in actual events by Jesus Christ that took place in space and time. These real events are part of the Gospel.
2. The Gospel is a message about what those events achieved ― In this statement, 'achieved' is the key word. The actual events that occurred achieved many things for us before we even existed! This would include payment for sin, removal of wrath, and destruction of death and much more. These real achievements are part of the Gospel.
3. The Gospel is a message about the transfer of these achievements to particular persons ― In this statement, 'transfer' is the key word. The Gospel message includes the astounding truth that by faith alone, a man can be grafted into Christ, and his righteousness being transferred to that man. This real transfer is part of the Gospel.
4. The Gospel is the message about the good things are now true about us because of this transfer ― In this statement, 'good things' is the key phrase. The Gospel message entails the incredible gifts and realities now true of the believer such as the fact that God is now merciful to him, that he is now counted righteous, freed from sin, made positionally holy, and sanctified. These great gifts are part of the Gospel.
It is here, listening to the next and final component, where Piper's message really got me thinking. In fact, it got under my skin. I physically sat up and listened to this segment a couple times more to ensure I really heard him rightly. Essentially, Piper suggests that many of us get the first four components of the gospel message right, but stop there―never moving on to the fifth. And he boldly declares that without it, this fifth point, our message simply doesn't "fly".
As I listen to this last point again and consider my past experiences, life, ministry, and most importantly, scripture, I must say I think Piper is right. I've been personally guilty of communicating a Gospel that has missed the ultimate mark at times ― both to myself and to others.
The Fifth Component of the Gospel: "Treasure"
5. The Gospel is a message about the glorious God himself as our final, eternal, all-satisfying treasure ― The key word here is 'treasure'. Isn't this the whole point? Indeed it is. Knowing God himself―what a blessing, what a find, what a treasure! If our message of good news does not lead to worship and longing for this majestic, holy and loving God, it is no good news at all. The gospel is not a therapeutic in its aim and designs. Yes, it will deliver men and heal people and provide all manner of good things to people. It does these things and more, but that is not the end. HE is the end. The LORD himself is our aim. It is ALL about Him, His glory, His presence, His Kingdom, His plan and His Son who redeems a people unto Himself.
I must say however, that the truth of this fifth point didn't quite sink in until Piper asked this question:
"If you could have heaven,
all the friends you've ever wanted,
all the pure pleasure that you've ever wanted,
and God is not there...
Is that ok?"
Provocative. Revealing. Devastating. How many of us in America would answer, "Yes"? Too many.
Watch the full message from John Piper below starting at 45:20. Get somewhere alone in your heart and thoughts and ask yourself an all-important question: "Is God truly my treasure?"
Your destiny depends upon the answer.