The gospel, says Paul, is the dynamo of God. The English word dynamite obviously comes from this root. It has the power to blow things up, to level existing structures, to cover up deep, dark holes that need to be abandoned forever.

The first generation of gospel preachers understood this about the gospel. They turned the world upside down with their preaching. And the core of their preaching was Jesus. The gospel is about Jesus. It is about what He has done, what He accomplished, what He established.

As the Apostles went everywhere “preaching the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 11:20) they did not offer “a five-step procedure for how you can go to heaven when you die.” They proclaimed the present, powerful, final Lordship of Jesus Christ over all creation. They also proclaimed His present Kingship. They demanded that He is now controlling the history of the world and directing it to its predetermined conclusion. They called for all people everywhere to repent and to join Lord Jesus in His Kingdom.

Of course, such a view of the gospel is pretty radical—and demanding. A study of the history of the church is a study in how each generation of disciples reduces, or tries to reduce, the power of the gospel and its implications for human life down to something more manageable. Instead of releasing a divine blast that changes the cultural landscape, nowadays the gospel is limited to a quiet, private, isolated inquiry into how one can obtain personal salvation without offending too many neighbors.

Such a “gospel” leaves the church theologically impoverished and spiritually short-sighted. It also feeds the narcissism of our age. It allows us to pick those parts of the gospel we want and to discard the rest. We get the benefits of the gospel without ever having to embrace the mission of our Lord and King.

We may have succeeded in reducing the gospel to something more manageable but, tragically, we also never get to see the power of God unleashed on the earth. I wonder what a gospel explosion would look like in our city. I’ll bet it would level some existing structures. It might even forever cover up a few deep, dark holes in our lives and in our culture that need to be abandoned forever.