You Can’t “Live” the Gospel

You have probably been encouraged to “live the gospel” by a pastor or teacher or another Christian. The truth is, you can’t live the gospel, because it’s already been lived for you. Graeme Goldsworthy states:

If something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus two thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot ‘live the gospel’, as they are often exhorted to do. They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it. Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel. It is a once-for-all finished and perfect event done for us by another (Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics, 59).

Perhaps one of the best places to go in Scripture to see what Goldsworthy refers to is in Galatians 2:14. Paul writes about Peter’s hypocrisy, saying, “I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” Paul didn’t say, “Peter and the brothers were not living the gospel,” but that their conduct was not in step with it. It would be better for us to say this or, as Goldsworthy wrote, to seek to “live consistently with” the gospel. I often pray that I and others would live a “gospel-shaped life.”

You might think this is semantics or some kind of linguistic snobbery, but it’s not. If we want to be a “good news” people (and we all can be, no matter what tradition or denominational allegiance), then we must be absolutely clear about what the good news is and what it is not.