CAN YOU EXPOUND THE essential meaning of the gospel in a single (and preferably short) sentence? How about "Yeshua the Messiah came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim 1:15), or perhaps, "For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21)? Of course "unpacking" the meaning of these sentences is where things get more difficult, but a succinct expression of faith can often provide us with a starting point...
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed" (וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא־לָנוּ). "For in him all the fullness (πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα) of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the message (εὐαγγέλιον) that you heard" (Col 1:19-23).
"For the Messiah also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous (δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων), that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Pet. 3:18). "And God is so rich in mercy (מָלֵא רַחֲמִים) and who loves us with such intense love (בְּרב אַהֲבָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר אָהַב אתָנוּ), even when we were dead because of our acts of disobedience, he brought us to life along with the Messiah- it is by grace that you have been delivered (בַּחֶסֶד נוֹשַׁעְתֶּם). That is, God raised us up with the Messiah Yeshua and seated us with him in heaven, in order to exhibit in the ages to come how infinitely rich is his grace, how great is his kindness toward us who are united with the Messiah Yeshua. For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God's gift" (Eph. 2:4-8).
And of course there is always the old "stand by" verse of John 3:16:
כִּי־כֵן אהֵב אֱלהִים אֶת־הָעוֹלָם
עַד־אֲשֶׁר נָתַן בַּעֲדוֹ אֶת־בְּנוֹ אֶת־יְחִידוֹ
וְכָל־הַמַּאֲמִין בּוֹ לא־יאבַד
כִּי בוֹ יִמְצָא חַיֵּי עוֹלָם׃
ki-khen o·hev E·lo·him et-ha·o·lam,
ad-a·sher na·tan ba·a·do et-be·no et-ye·chi·do,
ve·khol-ha·ma·a·min bo, lo-yo·vad
ki vo yim·tza cha·yei o·lam
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son,
so that whoever trusts in Him should not be destroyed, but have eternal life"
Hebrew Study Card
Here are a few other simplified expressions of our faith (I am sure you can come up with some others, chaverim): "He has freed us from our sins by his blood" (Rev. 1:5); "he that has the Son has life" (1 John 5:12); "Yeshua died for our sins, was buried, rose again on the third day, and forever reigns" (1 Cor. 15:3-4,25).
Let's push this approach a bit further. How about just four words?
Can we find two words?
- "Messiah Crucified" (המָּשִׁיחַ הַנִּצְלָב);
- "Jesus Saves"
- "My help" (בְּעֶזְרָתִי)
Or how about just one word:
- Chesed / love (חֶסֶד)
- Abba (Father)
- Spirit (הָרוּחַ)
- Truth (הָאֱמֶת)
- Hope (תִקוָה)
- Messiah (הַמָּשִׁיחַ)
- Moshia - Savior (מוֹשִׁיעַ)
- King (הַמֶּלֶךְ)
- Jesus / Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ) - because whatever your need, the answer is found in Him.
Finally - dare I suggest it? - how about no words at all? To paraphrase Francis of Assisi, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel - and sometimes use words." Of course words are important, but by themselves they are never enough, and very often they are unnecessary (James 2:18)... There is a language of love ("the works of love") that goes beyond any diction the tongue may express. This is why the Name of the LORD always is something more than a mere word, concept, or idea... The Name of the LORD is God's love and power and glory and grace and kindness and mercy and passion as He Himself knows it to be real, true, and utterly invincible in all things...
צֶדֶק וְשָׁלוֹם נָשָׁקוּ
che·sed ve·e·met nif·ga·shu,
tzedek ve·sha·lom na·sha·ku
"Love and truth have met,
justice and peace have kissed." (Psalm 85:10)
Hebrew Study Card