I've found that to most Christians the Gospel is something that is told to unbelievers to get them to believe in Jesus Christ, so that they can be saved from Hell and go to Heaven.
If someone is more theology oriented, they may get into more details about how that unbeliever is saved, how God chose them before the foundation of the world, how Jesus died to pay the penalty for their sins, how Jesus imputed His righteousness to them in order to justify them, or declare them righteous, how He regenerates them so they're born again, how He seals them with His Holy Spirit, and how He keeps them in His hand until they die, so they can tell other unbelievers how to be saved from Hell and go to Heaven.
But whether a simple untrained Christian, or the most trained Theologian with several Theological Seminary degrees, there is a tendency to see the Gospel as related pretty much only to initial salvation. In fact the field of study is called Soteriology, the study of salvation.
But I want to call attention to what may be called "The Rest of the Gospel", or the Gospel for the Christian, or the Gospel for the Already Saved.
Now the phrase "the rest of the gospel" is kind of a play on words. It's the "rest" of the gospel, like there's more to come, or more to be understood, like the rest of the story. And then there's the "rest" of the gospel, like "resting", like we rest our heads on a pillow.
1. First, "rest" (as in pillow).
Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I find most Christians I meet either have no rest or rest on the wrong thing.
Hebrews 4:9 says, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. And Hebrews 4:10 says, "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."
Have you entered that rest, where your relationship to Jesus Christ is based on His works, not yours? I'm not asking are you born again, are you saved? I'm talking about that "rest" where we don't have to earn God's love or favor anymore. That's the "rest" of the Gospel.
2. Second, "rest" as in the rest of the story.
Unbelievers are described in the Bible like this:
Enslaved to sin
Confidence in myself (flesh)
A citizen of earth
Unfortunately, too many Christians think they are still that same person, only they've been forgiven. The bumper sticker that says, "Christians Are Not Perfect, Just Forgiven" is misleading.
Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
2 Cor 5:21 says, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Christians are not JUST forgiven. A couple of things happened there that go way beyond just being saved from Hell and eventually going to Heaven, as wonderful as that is:
1. God fulfilled the long-promised New Covenant in which He would actually come to live inside His children and His life would be entwined with our life. 1 Cor. 6:17 says, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." And so He is living His life through us. He is actually causing us to walk in His ways, as the promise of the New Covenant declared. He is actually working in us both to will and to do His good pleasure, Paul tells the Philippians.
2. While we're living this Christ life, we can be aware that there is nothing in the way of unrighteousness putting a wall between us. We have become the righteousness of Christ. He has made us a New Creation, and He has declared us to be righteous, or in right standing with Him. No barriers, no veils, no Wizard of Oz curtain to keep us from Him.
Remember that list of things about unbelievers, that some believers sometimes think are still true of them? It's now replaced with a new list:
Free in Christ
Full confidence in Christ
A citizen of heaven
The more we have close fellowship with Him, the more we can see beyond the veil into the invisible Kingdom of God, and see the wonders that He is doing in our lives. We don't need to be conformed to the world, but transformed as our minds are renewed. We truly see things with wisdom. I don't mean we see with our eyes, we see with faith.
- We walk by faith, and not by sight.
- We see how to really live, and we walk by the Spirit.
- When we walk by the Spirit, we are filled with His Spirit, and we have the fruit of the Spirit, and now we can love and be loved.
- We can have joy in our lives, the joy of the Lord, and we know that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
- We can live our lives with peace in our hearts.
- We can have patience with the circumstances in our lives, and with the people in our lives.
- We can walk in kindness, and everyone around us will know the difference.
- Our goodness will be real, not put on to impress anybody.
- We reflect the faithfulness of God with our own faithfulness.
- We won't have to PROVE ourselves, but can have true biblical meekness, that doesn't have to have our rights always enforced.
- We will have true self-control, not the pull-up-your-bootstraps willpower, but the peaceable strength of "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
This is the rest of the gospel. This is the life in Christ, who is our life. This is the walk of the New Creation, the walk by faith in the unseen eternal things that have already been accomplished in us by our wonderful Lord and Savior. We're not just forgiven, friends. There is the rest of the Gospel to be proclaimed to the believer.