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Out loud with words…the power of the “propositional” Gospel

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

There are a growing number of voices in the Christian community that are marginalizing, even mocking, “the propositional Gospel.” Over the last several years I have had more and more conversations about this from philosophizing seminary students to grinding youth leaders to well-seasoned Bible professors to disillusioned pastors. 

Those who believe in the power of the Gospel message to save the lost can sometimes be looked down upon as simplistic, even foolish. In a conversation about this not too long ago I was even asked, “Which Gospel are you talking about, the propositional Gospel or the Gospel of real equality and racial unity and systemic transformation?”


This is an important question that must be answered. This is an important conversation that must be explored. 

According to the dictionary the word proposition means…

a statement of the subject of an argument or a discourse, or of the course of action or   essential idea to be advocated.”

And the New Testament, again and again, presents the Gospel as a set of divinely empowered propositions. Romans 1:16 puts it this way, For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes….”  Romans 1:16

How can there be power in an “argument” or a “discourse” or an “idea“? How can a simple set of propositons be strong enough bring about the salvation of everyone who believes in them?

I have no idea.

But what I do know is that, time and time again throughout his earthly ministry,  Jesus preached the Gospel out loud with words. He shared it with the religous and the rebels. He declared it to the Jews and the Gentiles. And lives were forever changed as a result.

He was crucified, not for the radical life that he lived, but for the radical message that he preached.

After Jesus ascended and the Spirit descended, Peter stood up and preached these same propositions in front of thousands of his fellow Jews (Acts 2:14-41.) And later on he preached this message, out loud with words, to a house filled with God-fearing Gentiles (Acts 10.)

The Apostle Paul preached the message of the Gospel again and again in synagogues (Acts 13:5) and marketplaces (Acts 17:17), by rivers (Acts 16:13-15) and in jails (Philippians 1:12-14), one on one (Acts 16:19-31) and in large crowds (Acts 21:40.)

His three famous missionary journeys were really just one big “out loud with words” Gospelfest.

For 2,000 years Jesus has built his Church through everyday missionaries who were unashamed to verbally declare these propositions as truth. 

Way back in Exodus chapter 4, a mission-resisting Moses asked God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A staff,’ he replied. The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.”  

In the Old Testament God took an ordinary stick and infused it with divine power. Moses used that empowered stick to deliver the Israelites from the tyranny of Egypt and the hatred of Pharoah.

In the New Testament God took a simple set of propositions, the Gospel, and infused it with divine power. For two millenia he has used this empowered message to deliver millions upon millions from the tyranny of sin and hatred of Satan.

Too many, like Moses, run from the thought that God can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. But he can and he does. 

He did it with Moses’ staff and he does it with the Gospel’message.

1 Corinthians 1:18 makes a powerful statement, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The word “foolishness” in the Greek is “moria.” It is where we get our English word “moronic.”

To the world, the propositional message of the Gospel is “moronic.” It is too simple. It is too narrow. But, according to God’s Word, it is simple faith in this simplistic message that saves us (2 Thessalonians 2:13.)

What’s exciting about this “out loud with words” set of propositions is that it can and should lead to real equality (Galatians 3:28), racial unity (Ephesians 2:14-18) and radical generosity (Acts 4:31-33.) This is exactly what unfolded in the early church.

And, yes, we need some real work in this area. We need to give some serious attention to living out the powerful implications of this message in our lives, our churches and our communities.

So let’s live out the implications of the Gospel in our lives and let’s share the message of the Gospel with our lips. For help in sharing this message (out loud with words) download our Dare 2 Share apps!

Together, let’s live it and let’s give it!

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