The gospel encompasses a wide-range of ideas and images and we should not limit ourselves to thinking about it in a one-dimensional way. The gospel is gloriously multidimensional and we give God the glory when we contemplate on the gospel as such.
When it comes to theology, we tend to take a doctrine and strip it down to its basic form, leaving out all the intricacies and complicating details. We zero in on a particular verse or repeated theme in Scripture and then we say “That’s what it is all about.” We do this so that we can fit the doctrine neatly in our minds, keep it there, and pass it on to others.
One manifestation of this tendency is seen with respect to how we define the gospel. We ask: What is the gospel? We answer: It is the forgiveness of sins. We might add that the good news is being saved from the wrath of God through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ – sin condemns us to death, Jesus takes our sin away and satisfies the justice of God. That, we could say, is the essence of the gospel. However, while the gospel is nothing less, it is more. Forgiveness of sins is one dimension of the gospel, but not the only one.
If we insist on restricting the gospel to one-dimension, we rob it of its multifaceted glory. We see its multifaceted glory in a passage such as Colossians 1:12-14. Paul has begun his letter to the church in Colossae by giving thanks for the faith of the Christians there and for their reception of the gospel. Paul explains how he and others are praying for the Colossians, specifically for their growth in the gospel. As he then shows them how the gospel itself is the source of sanctification in the Christian life, Paul uses several different ideas to describe the gospel.
“the Father, who has qualified you”
God qualifies the believer by justifying the believer. God declares the believer to be free of sin and in right standing before him.