What is the gospel?
The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” So what is this good news? Before we can understand the good news, we need to understand who God is, who we are and what the bad news is. The Bible being God’s Word explains all of this and we can summarize what it says about the gospel in four categories: 1) God the Holy Creator, 2) Man the Sinner, 3) Jesus Christ the Savior and 4) Our Response – Repentance and Faith. Let’s see what the Bible has to say regarding these things.
1. God the Holy Creator
We must first start with knowing God. The gospel begins with a right understanding of God.
One of the questions every man asks at one point is: Where did I come from? The Bible gives us the answer: God created everything.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
God created the world and God created mankind. He is our CREATOR. He created you and me. None of us are independent or autonomous. We were all made and God is our Maker.
We must also understand that God is HOLY. Holiness can also be explained as righteousness or perfection. Just as a newly washed white sheet is clean and without blemish, so God is holy and perfect, absolutely pure. The Bible explains this metaphorically when it says, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
Because God is holy, he cannot allow wickedness and unrighteousness to remain. “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and you can not look on wickedness with favor” (Habakkuk 1:13). His purity demands holiness for all His creation. That brings us to the bad news.
2. Man the Sinner
When God created man, His intention for them was to live in joy and fellowship with Him under His holy rule. Adam and Eve, the first human beings, however, disobeyed God’s holy command and by their disobedience, they separated themselves from God.
“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6)
The Bible calls this disobedience to God, “SIN.” Adam and Eve sinned against God and their original sin represented the continual disobedience of all mankind. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous no not one”, explain that not just Adam and Eve, but you and I are also guilty of sin against God.
Man’s sin cannot be taken lightly because God’s holiness demands justice and punishment for the wrongdoing. The Bible explains that God’s punishment for sin is death, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and that sin results in a separation from God, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2).
Man in his sin is not simply imperfect or flawed; rather man in his sin opposes God. The holy God must then take action against such wickedness and must judge sinful man. That is the bad news, but thankfully, the story does not stop there.
3. Jesus the Savior
Out of this desperate situation comes the good news. God in His grace and mercy has not left us with the problem of sin. He has provided a SAVIOR, one who can save us from our sins.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the world. He was fully God and He was fully man.
And just how did Jesus save sinners like us? He became our substitute. Instead of punishment coming down on sinful man, Jesus, as our representative, took the punishment on our behalf.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).
Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for our sins. He, being God, was completely pure and righteous and did not deserve to die a sinner’s death, but instead took our place and died for sins that we have committed. This was done for the purpose of bringing us back to God.
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
Death, however, could not hold Jesus. Being fully God, he rose again from the grave. He revealed the glory of God by miraculously rising from the dead! He lives!
“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen” (Luke 24:5-6).
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:33-34).
The question then remains: How can I be saved? What must I do to receive this good news?
4. Our Response – Repentance and Faith
The Bible is clear. The proper response to the gospel is REPENTANCE and FAITH.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Repentance can be defined as a “turning away from sin.” It is a permanent change that brings forth a difference lifestyle. Formerly in my sin, I was living for myself. Now as a repentant sinner, I resolve, by His grace, to live for God.
Acts 26:20 explains that those who believe the gospel “should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” and 2 Corinthians 5:15 declares that “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
So the first response to the good news is to turn from sin and turn to God, REPENT.
Repentance goes hand and hand with FAITH. Unlike the world’s definition of faith, the Bible defines faith as trust. Trust in the finished work of Christ. Trust in the promises of God. Trust in Him who saves.
Abraham had faith in God that he would provide him a son even when his wife Sarah was barren. “With respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Roman 4:20-21).
Faith is in Jesus Christ. “A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus . . .” (Galatians 2:16). Where we once put our faith in ourselves, now God’s grace allows us to put our faith in Jesus Christ and to live for Him.
Grace is “unmerited favor”. It is a free gift given without any conditions. So salvation in Jesus Christ is a gift of grace through faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So our proper response to the gospel is turning to God and trusting in Jesus Christ. This is God’s good news for us all.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Might you now turn to Jesus Christ and trust Him as your Lord and Savior?
If this is your response, it is important for you to find a good church and speak with a pastor regarding this.