In his talk "Preaching the Gospel" (audio, video) at the 2006 Reform & Resurge Conference, Tim Keller drew upon Martyn Lloyd Jones's observation that there were "thirty or forty gospel nutshells" in the Bible to develop a "gospel nutshell" of his own. On that occasion, Keller's "gospel-in-a-nutshell" was this: "The gospel is that God himself has come to rescue and renew creation through the work and in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf."
Now "nutshells" can be a bit dangerous -- somewhat like slogans, I suppose, and so they need to be treated with care. But, again like slogans, they can also capture something powerful. I ran across a statement of the "church in a nutshell" recently that resonated with me. I have been reading Paul Tripp's book, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands (P & R Publishing, 2002). You need to know that this "nutshell" was hatched in the context of a frustrating experience in a seminary class that he was conducting:
The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and sanctification center, where flawed people place their trust in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he has designed. The church is messy and inefficient, but it is God's wonderful mess -- the place where he radically transforms hearts and lives. (p. 116)Yes, there are other ways of describing the church. But that is one that I will be pondering today.