I’m reading John Piper’s God is the Gospel, where he asks: “Why is the gospel good news?”
The reason this must be asked is that there are seemingly biblical answers that totally ignore the gift of God himself. A person may answer, “Being forgiven is good news because I don’t want to go to hell.” Or a person may answer, “Being forgiven is good news because a guilty conscience is a horrible thing, and I get great relief when I believe my sins are forgiven.” Or a person may answer, “I want to go to heaven.” …
… So what’s wrong with these answers? What’s wrong with them is that they do not treat God as the final and highest good of the gospel. They do not express a supreme desire to be with God. God was not even mentioned. Only his gifts were mentioned. These gifts are precious. But they are not God. And they are not the gospel if God himself is not cherished as the supreme gift of the gospel. That is, if God is not treasured as the ultimate gift of the gospel, none of his gifts will be gospel, good news.
An implication: if God is the highest good of the gospel, then we should reconsider how we communicate the gospel. Christians often ask non-Christians something like this: “Do you know whether you would go to heaven if you died today?” That question focuses on the destination. But the gospel is ultimately not about a place, but a Person. So it may be more helpful to ask: “If you were to stand before God today, would he receive you to live with him?” Or: “Because the Bible says God is holy and just, do you think he will simply ignore the wrong things you have done?”
By framing your questions around God, you focus more directly on unregenerate man’s greatest need—not his distance from heaven, but his distance from his Maker. We should certainly promote forgiveness and freedom through Christ, while recognizing that these are not ends in themselves. The gospel is God’s way of restoring people to worship and enjoy him forever.