Who Needs the Gospel?


Who needs the Gospel? This seems like a straightforward question, and if you have been in the church for a little while, this is a question to which you could probably provide an easy answer from Scripture. You might point to texts like Mark 2:17, where Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” So you might answer, “The Gospel is for sinners!” And you would be absolutely right. 

The Gospel is for unbelievers, those who do not yet know Jesus and are instead far from Him. It’s for those who need to come to a place in their life where they repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus for the first time. In fact, the word evangelism stems from a Greek word that translates to “Gospeling”. So saying the Gospel is for the unbelievers is a good answer, but it is not an exhaustive answer.

The Gospel is also for those of us who already follow Jesus. The Gospel is even for those of us who have followed Jesus for a long time. The Gospel is for someone like me. I can honestly say that I do not remember a time when I did not know Jesus. I can’t recall a time when I did not know that I was a sinner in need of God’s grace. I don’t know when I first believed that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for my sins, rose again to conquer death, and that his sacrifice has been accepted on my behalf. Maybe that is your story as well, and I am here to say to you that you also need the Gospel! It is not just the door by which you entered the church, but the very walls of the church that keep you inside.

Romans 12:1 is a familiar verse. It says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Many times when Christians study this passage, the focus is on what it means to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. However, I want to focus on why God has called us to do this. The answer can be found in the first half of the verse: “by the mercies of God”. This means that the truth of God’s mercy contained in the Gospel compels us to offer our lives back to him.

So, who needs the Gospel? It is good news for the unbeliever, yes, but it is also good news for the believer. It is what motivates us to move toward God and our neighbors. It is the grounds for our growth in godliness. It is the substance behind our sanctification. The Gospel is for the Christian just as much as the non-Christian. WE all need the Gospel.

In his book The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges outlines the role of the Gospel in the life of the believer. He says, “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”[1]  That is a great summary of why the Gospel is for us long-timers as well.

I try to convey this dual need of the Gospel often in my job. For those of you who do not know me, I am the Director of ROAR Sports, which is an outreach ministry of this church. ROAR’s mission statement is this: to glorify God by faithfully sharing and applying the Gospel through and in sports. The Gospel is central to what we do. Do we want to reach unbelievers by sharing the Gospel over the bridge of sports? Yes we do, and may God bless our efforts! But we also want to use sports as an arena in which believers can apply the Gospel to their lives.

On their worst day, when not only have they lost the game, but they have acted sinfully toward their opponents, I want believers to be reminded of the Gospel. That Jesus still died for them, and that their eternal hope rests not in whether they win or lose, or even how they played the game, but in what Jesus has done for them on the cross. And from there, I want them to be reminded that the Gospel is not just for the unbeliever, but that the Gospel is for them too. As they saturate their mind with the mercies of God, I trust that the Spirit will transform them, and that they will grow in grace as a result of preaching the Gospel to themselves regularly.

Likewise, on their best day, when they win the game, score all the goals, and play the game with integrity and character, I want them to be reminded that they will never be beyond the need of the Gospel. That though they have grown so much in spiritual maturity, the moment they start to take credit for this growth is the moment that they have become haughty and prideful. And the good news there: the Gospel is for them too.

One of my favorite hymns is Isaac Watts’s When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. The first verse is a great reminder of how believers ought to respond when they regularly return to the foot of Jesus’s cross:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.[2]

The Gospel is for the unbeliever, yes, but we as believers never outgrow our need for the Gospel. Christian, cast your mind often on Jesus’s sacrifice for you, and be transformed as it sets ever deeper into your heart.


[1] Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), 19. I cannot recommend this work highly enough. Also excellent is The Pursuit of Holiness by the same author.

[2] The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, 185.

1 Comment

So true! A great reminder for all of us.

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