In the National 5 or Higher Exam you could be asked about Living according to the gospels. You may be asked to describe what this means, explain why the gospels are important, the challenges or benefits of living according to the gospels amongst other things. So it is important to know what the Gospels are and be able to explain and evaluate their importance.
What are the Gospels?
The word gospel literally translates to meaning “Good News”. In the Bible this refers to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament. This is the section of the Bible where you would read about the life and teachings of Jesus.
What do they say?
The Gospels are stories and teachings of Jesus. His central theme was to teach about the Kingdom of God and how to obey God’s Law
God’s Law – Love One Another
25 A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to receive eternal life?’
26 Jesus answered him, ‘What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?’
27 The man answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’
28 ‘You are right,’ Jesus replied; ‘do this and you will live.’
29 But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbour?’
30 Jesus answered, ‘There was once a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. 31 It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by, on the other side. 32 In the same way a Levite also came along, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by, on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. 34 He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’
36 And Jesus concluded, ‘In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbour towards the man attacked by the robbers?’
37 The teacher of the Law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘You go then and do the same.’
Source: Luke 10: 25–37
In both the Old and New Testament, love, along with ideas of kindness, grace, mercy, forgiveness and fidelity, shows God’s commitment to his people. God demands love not just for him but also for other people. It was God’s love for the world, that led him to send Jesus into the world. This love requires a dramatic human response. Human love should reflect the divine love.
The love God demands from humanity is a love that brings everyone together. All human divisions (racial, social, sexual and personal) are overcome by this love. The deeds of love for God and neighbour are the aims of the Christian. Because of this Aquinas called love ‘the root and form of all virtues’. Augustine even said ‘love and do what you will’. He meant that if you make all your ethical decisions from the basis of Christian love you will not go far wrong.
How does Jesus show love?
Jesus expresses love for God and others in a number of ways throughout his ministry. He eats with tax collectors and sinners and touches social outcasts who, because of sin or uncleanness, everyone else avoids. Despite the harsh criticisms that these actions cause, Jesus never stops showing his open love for everyone. The gospels tell us that his final sacrifice, death, was also an act of love for others: ‘The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them’ (John 15: 13). Everyone must take up their cross and show love to neighbours, no matter what the cost to the self.
Jesus shows Christians how to live through telling parables or stories that people can apply to their own life.
The Kingdom of God
“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1: 14-15
Christians believe that it is their duty to create a “Kingdom of God” – This means a land where God would be happy to live. A Land full of love, peace and harmony. Jesus taught this love will start small but it has to grow and start somewhere.
How to Live According to the Gospels.
Love Thy Neighbour
The Righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you? The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!’
(Matthew 25: 37–40)
It is easy to love the neighbour that is near, that you know personally and like. It is harder to love someone that you have never met, many miles away, or someone that you do not like. Actions could include
- Helping someone in need
- Donating to charity
- Pray for someone.
- Volunteer with a charity.
Why are the Gospels so important?
The Gospels are so important as they are inspired by God and therefore a trustworthy source. They reveal the true nature of God and Jesus and contain his teachings. The Gospels reveal the Kingdom of God.
Christians feel that as they are a biographical account of Jesus by reading them they become closer to God and Jesus.
For Christians, the Gospels (and the Bible as a whole) are a source of guidance. They may use this to help them make decisions or understand what they should believe about the world. By studying the Bible Christians can enhance their own faith and get guidance on how to worship.