Michael Bird defines the Gospel

According to Michael F. Bird,

The gospel is the announcement that God’s kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of Israel’s Scriptures. The gospel evokes faith, repentance, and discipleship; its accompanying effects include salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [1]

I believe it’s clear that Mike Bird has taken his cue from the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:1-4 and 16-17 in this concise definition of the gospel.

Neither is Mike Bird attempting anything new or revolutionary here (I don’t think he intended it to be).  Rather, I believe he simply wants to offer a clear and concise definition of the gospel, and thereby not confusing what the gospel is with what it evokes.  In other words, justification by faith is not the gospel but what the gospel evokes.


[1] Michael F. Bird’s, Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, p. 52.

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5 Responses to Michael Bird defines the Gospel

  1. Simon says:

    It’s interesting that in Reformed circles there defining “the Gospel” seems to be an issue worth discussing. I mean, the definition given by Bird is correct, but we have known this for centuries. What is there left to define. I suspect what is at play here is a correction of a “Gospel” definition given by many Reformed folk, such as RC Sproul, which includes sola fide and penal substitution as the centrepiece of their Gospel definition. What ever your theory of the atonement and whatever the particulars of your soteriology, we shouldn’t confuse this with “the Gospel” as Sproul and others have done. I believe it was NT Wright who has brought back the conventional Gospel meaning to conservative evangelical circles. He was exactly right.

    • TC says:

      Simon, this is exactly what is happening, and believe me, we need this clarity. I’m grateful for the likes of Wright and the much younger Bird. This is good news. 🙂

  2. Simon says:

    Just thought I’d share this blog post by an Orthodox priest. In it he talks about how the Church recognizes the true Gospel that it has received from the beginning.


  3. Jon Hughesj says:


    Yes, good old N.T Wright! (Has he influenced Bird?)

    As Simon’s link shows, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 is also a central passage concerning what the gospel is.

    I much prefer the approach of a Scot McKinght to a Greg Gilbert. The old guard, e.g. R.C Sproul, are on their way out. Even the likes of Darrell Bock (“Recovering the Real Lost Gospel”) acknowledge that the gospel is more than transaction and dying for sin.

  4. TC says:

    Simon: Thanks for the link. While I agree with much of what is said in that post, I find it a bit muddled, esp. with the use of 1Thess. 1:5. What the gospel is and how it came are two different things. This was not made clear in the post.

    However, great stuff on the formation of the canon and the role of “communion.” It’s functionally on target.

    Jon: Yes, Bird has been influenced by the likes of Wright. Yes, with the fading of the “old guard”, so to speak, I’m hopeful in what I’m seeing in these younger guys, though we have some ways to go. We’ll see.

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