The word “gospel” is so common in Christian circles that we rarely stop to think about what it means. Two Christians can talk about the gospel and yet be talking about two different things. Is it a set of teachings? A history lesson? Anything that elicits a “spiritual” feeling?
To be clear, we must first define our terms. We get the word gospel from the Greek euangelion, which means glad tidings or good/joyful news. A similar word (euangelizomai) is also used in Luke 2 when angels appear to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. In its definition of this word, StepBible.com notes, “In the [New Testament] it always refers to the death, burial, resurrection, and witness about Jesus Christ, including its implications for humankind’s relationship to God.”
The gospel is the good news of who Jesus Christ is and what he has done, specifically to redeem fallen humanity. The New Testament writers tell us that this good news is to be proclaimed to the whole world (Matthew 24:14, Mark 16:15). It is to be believed (Mark 1:15, Acts 15:7) and defended (Philippians 1:16). Scripture also tells us that there are consequences for those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:18, 1 Peter 4:17).
What Is the Gospel Message of Jesus?Scripture tells us that when the first man and woman sinned, humanity and the rest of creation were plunged into darkness as sin entered the world (Genesis 3:7-19; Romans 5:12, 8:20-22). Every human being is born with a sinful nature that separates them from God, because God is holy and cannot allow sin. The rightful punishment for sin is death and eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23, John 5:29, Revelation 21:8). The worst part is that there is nothing we can do to fix our situation. We cannot work our way out of the debt we’ve accumulated. In its natural state, humanity is doomed.
But God is gracious. From eternity past, God had a plan to rescue fallen humanity. Just as one man sinned and brought judgment upon all who came after him, one man would pay the sin debt and offer salvation to anyone who would turn away from their sin. But how could this be done if all humans are inherently sinful? Only God is sinless, so only God could pay the penalty for sin. And that’s exactly what he did.
God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, left his place in heaven and took on human flesh. Born to the virgin Mary, Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth and died an atoning death. As Jesus hung on a Roman cross, God poured out his judgment for sin on Jesus, satisfying God’s justice. He died there and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Three days later, God raised Jesus from the dead, proving that his death was a sufficient sacrifice for sin. After appearing to his followers, Jesus was taken up into heaven, where he now sits at the right hand of the Father until he returns to judge the world.
This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news is that Jesus atoned for our sins, and we have the opportunity to be forgiven and adopted into the family of God. As sons and daughters, we have become heirs to glory with Jesus Christ. One day, Jesus will return to earth to judge the righteous and the wicked. The wicked will be sent away into eternal punishment, while the righteous will be gathered together to live with God in the new heavens and new earth. There will be no suffering, no sin, and no pain. We will spend eternity enjoying God and one another in a peace that we cannot even imagine.
But this future is only for those who repent—meaning turn away—from their lives of sin and trust only in the substitutionary death of Jesus to make them right with God. Those who reject God’s offer of salvation will not inherit eternal life. Those who ride the fence and try to play it neutral will bear the wrath of God for sin. Though some may call such a punishment harsh, it is the only appropriate judgment for sin against a holy God.
God’s wrath is great, but so is his love. Though he had every right to leave us to destroy ourselves, God chose to sacrifice his only Son for the very people who hated him. We can’t miss the incredible grace of this act. He chose to make enemies into children, rebels into friends, sinners into saints by pouring out his wrath on his beloved Son.
Why Is the Gospel Message Important for Us?Quite simply, what we do with the gospel determines our eternity. Whether we accept the truth or not, it is still the truth, and it will be the truth at the end of our lives when we stand before a holy God. The only way to escape the wrath of God and live in peace and joy with him forever is to believe that the blood of Christ is the only thing that can take away our sins.
Atonement through the blood of Jesus is the key to salvation. The New Testament makes clear that it is the blood of Jesus that justifies us and reconciles us to God (Romans 5:9-10). God’s wrath for sin must be satisfied. To be saved, there has to be a substitute. That substitute is Jesus. By dying on the cross and taking the wrath of God upon himself, he satisfied God’s justice so that sinners could go free. That’s why Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is why the gospel message is critical. If there is no atonement, there is no salvation.
This is why we must proclaim the whole gospel, bad news and all. If we tell people just to accept a few facts about Jesus, or to choose a relationship with him without getting to the deeper issue of repentance and trust in his finished work, then we have not done them any good. A person who “has a relationship with Jesus” but has never surrendered to Him as Savior and Lord is still lost. We must tell people the whole truth.
And we must remind ourselves of the whole truth as well. Though we may be tempted to think that we don’t need the gospel after we come to faith, we need the gospel every day. The Apostle Peter urges us in 1 Peter 1:17-25 to grow up in holiness because of the gospel and the great price Jesus paid to redeem us.
The more we think about the grace of God, how costly our atonement was, and how loving and kind Jesus is, the more God will shape us into the likeness of Jesus. The more our hearts overflow with gratitude for the gift of the gospel, the more we will want to be like our Savior. The gospel never loses its relevance in our lives. We must be diligent to always keep it in our minds and hearts.
How Do We Come Back to the Gospel?For many Christians, it is easy to overcomplicate our salvation. We try to learn enough. We try to produce enough fruit. Eventually, we end up exhausting ourselves by trying to live without the power of the gospel. How do we get back to the heart of God? How do we change course and return to the gospel?
First, we need to remember the power of the gospel. Paul reminds us that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). There is no self-help book, no firey preaching, no amount of human effort that can change us into the image of Jesus. All over the New Testament, the good news of Jesus Christ changed people’s lives. The Lord will transform us by the power of the same gospel he used to justify us.
And only by that gospel will we be changed. Since the beginning of the church, Christians have fallen into the trap of thinking that they need Jesus plus something else to be saved and grow in righteousness. In Paul’s day, it was Jews thinking they still had to observe Old Testament laws. In our day, it might be thinking that we need to give a certain amount of our wealth to charity. Other traps could be thinking that we must act a certain way, dress a certain way, or talk a certain way. We may get so focused on doing enough and being good enough for God that we make it necessary for our salvation. Although the Bible speaks to all of these things, none of them can make us right with God.
To come back to the gospel, we must recognize its sufficiency. Anytime we make our salvation about Jesus plus fill-in-the-blank, we are believing a different gospel than the one God has given humanity (Gal 1:6-9). The Apostle Paul calls out the “Jesus plus works” gospel that Christians in Galatia had bought into. In Galatians 3:1-6, he basically asks the question: If God saved you by faith, why do you think you can finish that work by your own effort? How are you going to complete by works what God started in you by his Spirit? The same question applies to us today.
Remembering the sufficiency and power of the gospel is critical to our lives. To do this, we would do well to take two practical steps: prayer and saturation.
What do we pray for? We pray that the Lord would refocus our minds and hearts on the truth of the gospel. The most important thing we can do in our walk with God is to ask him to help us remember him and the things he has done. We have a gracious heavenly Father who delights in answering the prayers of his people (Luke 11:9-13, John 14:13, Psalm 145:18-19). We can be confident that God will be faithful to help us when we ask him.
But what does saturation mean? It means we should fill our lives with the gospel. As we learn to pray for God’s help in remembering the gospel, we must also learn to work with him by constantly finding ways to have the gospel in front of us. We can do this in simple ways. We can choose to listen to worship music instead of other music that is not necessarily bad but is not spiritually engaging. We can choose to read our Bibles instead of scrolling on our phones. Though there is nothing wrong with music or social media, it would be more profitable for us to spend time taking in things that remind us of the gospel. On a deeper level, a huge part of saturating our lives with the gospel is building relationships with other believers. God uses other believers in our lives to teach us, challenge us, and bring to mind old truths that we may have forgotten.
The gospel is by far the most important news we will ever hear and the most important call we will ever answer. Now that we know what it is and why it’s important, only one question remains: Will we obey it?
What Is the Gospel and Why Is it Good News?
11 Reasons to Share the Gospel
Have you ever wondered how often you should share the gospel as you teach? The Gospel is the message we need to hear to be saved. It is also the message we need to hear in order to live out the confession of our faith. Let’s think about the amazing truth of the Gospel message.
What is the Gospel?
- GOD’S POWER– Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes…
- A DEMONSTARTION OF GOD’S LOVE– Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved. 1 John 4:19 We love because he loved us first.
- A GIFT– Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 10:9-10 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 1 John 4:10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
IT IS THE MESSAGE WE NEED TO HEAR IN ORDER TO KEEP ON KEEPING ON IN OUR WALK WITH THE LORD.Colossians 1:22-23; 26-29 but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him—if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard… The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
The Gospel message is the power of God to save and keep us. It is the hope that helps us to bear up under the burden of trials that we face in this life. It is the power that leads us to conviction when we fall into sinful lifestyles. It is the message of peace that guards our hearts and minds when the world bombards us with its messages to make life about us and not about God. In all the truth, as we teach, the Gospel should be the heart of our message. It is the confession of our faith which we should strive to live out daily.
- Why do I seek to turn from sin? Because Christ died to set me free from it.
- Why do I love others? Because Christ loved me before I loved Him.
- Why do I forgive others? Because God has forgiven me.
Our Christian life is empowered and motivated by the Gospel. As I teach God’s Word I long to include the Gospel message at the core of every lesson.