What is the Gospel? #7: Following

Here’s a reminder of the seven-fold summary –

1: the announcement of good news concerning the glory of God in King Jesus

2: bringing to conclusion the story of Israel in his

3: life, death, resurrection, & return (which)

4: brings victory over sin, Satan and death, (which)

5: brings salvation by grace to all who 

6: repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, 

7: following Him unashamedly with hope through suffering and life.


Following Him…

Many gospel responses will stop at ‘repent and believe’. However, the ‘gospel’ isn’t about a one-time response, but a life-time of discipleship. Repenting and believing in Jesus makes us disciples of Jesus who follow him for life.

The idea of ‘following’ is captured several times in the Gospels. We read in Matthew 4:18-22:

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he [Jesus] saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

In Luke we read in a parallel passage, ‘And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him’.[1]

Following is a process but ultimately finds it’s starting point for every believer when we are transformed through the Holy Spirit’s power. One great Gospel event is Acts 2 and Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. This indwelling is the power behind gospel change and mission.

Paul reminded the church in Thessalonica of this when he said, ‘our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction’.[2] There is no gospel change without the power of the Holy Spirit and no ability to follow unashamedly.


The word ‘unashamedly’ conveys the idea that we need to stay loyal to Christ and his gospel. Paul mentions this twice in close context to the gospel. He says in Romans 1:16: ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’. And again in 2 Timothy 1:8 he writes, ‘Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God’.

Jesus also shows us this need for loyalty because of the gospel. He says in Mark 10:29-30: ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life’.

Loyalty to Jesus takes priority over even family and it comes with a reward – eternal life. In life we have many split-loyalties, but Jesus has to be our number one priority. Discipleship demands no less.

…With Hope Through Suffering and Life.

All these references also suggest one other thing. A life committed to following Jesus is a hard life. In many respects it’s a harder life than the one we left behind because with it comes a spiritual war fought on many fronts – in the flesh, in the world, and in the spiritual realms.[3]

The second battlefront is highlighted in many of the references above. The world will bring with it persecution and marginalisation. The Christian life is not a rosy life, living in the clouds. It’s a hard life living in the trenches of sin and suffering. As part of our discipling, as part of a presentation of the full gospel, we cannot shy away from the fact that serving Jesus is hard – there will be suffering.

And serving Jesus is for life. Jesus says, ‘If you abide [remain] in my word, you are truly my disciples’.[4] And, ‘you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved’.[5] This is just a taster of what the NT says about the cost of following Jesus.

These themes of ‘loyalty’ and ‘suffering for the sake of the gospel’ are brought together at the end of Mark 8. Jesus in talking to the crowd and his disciples says:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels’.[6]

…With Hope…

But as much as following Jesus is hard and requires loyalty to Him, let’s not forget the gospel is also a gospel of hope. Paul writes to the church in Colossae:

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 gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister’.[7]

This reconciling gospel is a gospel of hope! It really is good news that brings victory, peace, happiness and salvation! (See Isaiah 52:7 ESV).

A few verses later Paul writes, ‘To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’! (Colossians 1:27)

Our hope in the gospel is linked to the salvation we know and experience in Christ. We have the hope of glory in us because we are united to Christ! And so like Paul, ‘Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ’. (Colossians 1:28)

This wonderful hope in Christ is what helps us grow. Maturity is found in looking at our wonderful Saviour and savouring him.

The gospel of hope is crucial to the storyline of Scripture and our ability to endure through suffering. Anyone who reads Revelation 21:1-22:5 sees this marvellous vision of hope. A vision of life with Christ in the new Jerusalem and the new and better Eden where there is no more evil, sin or tears. Christ sees us as a beautiful bride, justice is done, and we are loved for eternity, experiencing salvation to the max. This is our ‘happy hope’ – which will begin at ‘the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’![8]

Following Jesus is hard and it’s for life – but what a life we have to come! Sharing eternal life with Jesus forever.


This is the gospel:

“It is the announcement of good news concerning the glory of God in King Jesus, bringing to conclusion the story of Israel in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and return; which brings victory over sin, Satan and death; which brings salvation by grace to all who repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, following him unashamedly with hope through suffering and life!”

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen’.[9]

[1] Luke 5:11; See also Luke 5:27-28.

[2] 1 Thessalonians 1:5

[3] See Ephesians 2:1-3 for this three-front war.

[4] John 8:31

[5] Mark 13:13

[6] Mark 8:34-38. Thanks again to my friend Toby, who pointed me to the theme of loyalty in connection with the Gospel.

[7] Colossians 1:21-23.

[8] Titus 2:13

[9] Jude 1:24-25

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