There are two primary perspectives on the Gospel.
Those who are more near-sighted have a “gospel on the ground” perspective. They view the gospel in relation to the life, death, resurrection and future return of Jesus Christ. This perspective is necessary and helpful as it properly orients around the person and work of Jesus Christ for us and our salvation. However, if viewed alone, it neglects the cosmic context of the gospel in which the work of Christ is centered. Along with this neglect can come a subsequent disregard for the social dimensions of the gospel, such as social justice and community.
Those who are more far-sighted have a “gospel in the air” perspective. They view the gospel on a cosmic scale in highlighting an overarching narrative of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. This perspective is necessary and helpful as it properly situates man and his salvation in the global work of God to reconcile all things to Himself. However, if viewed alone, it neglects central realities demonstrated specifically in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Along with this neglect can come a subsequent disregard for the personal dimensions of the gospel, such as personal confession and evangelism.
Neither of these perspectives is wrong. In fact, both are right. At times, the Bible gives an overarching narrative of God’s redemptive work (see in particular the apostolic sermons in Acts), while at other times, the Bible narrowly focuses upon the specific content of Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Though neither is incorrect, the danger comes in emphasizing one perspective over the other.
We must find a way to combine both of these perspectives. The “gospel on the ground” makes little sense without the overarching narrative of God’s creative and redemptive work. The “gospel in the air” makes little sense without describing the means of redemption – a substitute Savior who has incarnated into the story as Redeemer. We must see both perspectives without neglecting one or the other.
The analogy of 3-D glasses might be helpful. In theory, 3-D glasses have two lenses which capture and communicate two different views of the same image. The effect of combining these two perspectives provides, theoretically, a more crisp, clear and lifelike expression of the story on the screen. In the same way, a fusion of far-sighted and near-sighted perspectives on the gospel leads to a more rich and robust expression of the “good news” that we call “the gospel.”
In combining these two perspectives into one comprehensive statement, we might say the following:
The gospel is the historical narrative of the triune God orchestrating the reconciliation and redemption of a broken creation and fallen creatures from Satan, sin and its effects to the Father and each other thru the life, death, resurrection and future return of the substitutionary Son by the power of the Spirit for God’s glory and the Church’s joy.