“A gospel is an announcement of something that has happened in history, something that’s been done for you that changes your status forever. Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion.
The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news. Other religions say, ‘This is what you have to do in order to connect to God forever; this is how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.’
But the gospel says, ‘This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you.’ Christianity is completely different. It’s joyful news.
How do you feel when you’re given good advice on how to live? Someone says, ‘Here’s the love you ought to have, or the integrity you ought to have,’ and maybe they illustrate high moral standards by telling a story of some great hero.
But when you hear it, how does it make you feel? Inspired, sure. But do you feel the way the listeners who heard those heralds felt when the victory was announced? Do you feel your burdens have fallen off? Do you feel as if something great has been done for you and you’re not a slave anymore?
Of course you don’t. It weighs you down: This is how I have to live. It’s not a gospel. The gospel is that God connects you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you.
And that makes it absolutely different from every other religion or philosophy.”
–Timothy Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (New York: Dutton, 2011), 16-17.