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“At its core, the gospel is Jesus as the substitute for sinners. We could summarize the whole by saying that in his life Jesus lives in perfect submission to the will of God and he fulfills his righteous standard (the law). In his death on the cross he quenches God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection he is victorious over sin and death. All of this is done on behalf of sinners in need of redemption and offered to all who believe. This is therefore very ‘good news.’

Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us. While we as sinners fail to keep the law, Jesus was perfectly faithful. Jesus’ death is good news because his death was a payment for our sin, and by it we are cleansed from our guilt and released from condemnation. Jesus’ resurrection is good news because his victory over death is ours and through it we look forward to a resurrection of our own.”

– Joe Thorn, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself


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3 thoughts on “Gospel Definitions: Joe Thorn”

  1. Cindy says:

    I’ve appreciated reading posts at your blog and recently finished Counterfeit Gospels. I write book reviews and included a review of this book:

    I also posted an excerpt from it at my other blog:

    Keep speaking truth!

  2. Greg Gibson says:

    Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us.

    Yes, Jesus’ life is good news, especially His birth, miracles, teaching, and obedience. But Scripture never once includes substitutionary obedience as part of the gospel. Here are 3 reasons why it’s not part of the gospel…

    1. If the imputation of Christ’s active obedience (IAO) is part of the gospel, then the gospel was not fully defined until the 16th century. IAO was not taught explicitly in church history until then.

    2. If IAO is part of the gospel, then part of the gospel is implicit instead of explicit in Scripture. There is no explicit verse (or implicit logic) that teaches IAO.

    3. And if IAO is part of the gospel, then many if not most Christians around the world have never heard the whole gospel.

    IAO is a doctrinal distinctive, not a fundamental gospel truth.

    God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based on His substitutionary death alone.

  3. Steve Martin says:

    Good comments!

    I think you are spot on.

    Here’s a short version (the gospel) from Luther:

    “To be a Christian is to be declared righteous for Jesus’ sake.”


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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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