What is the Gospel?

As we venture into 2021, we thought it was important for us as an organization to make sure we knew what we’re talking about when it comes to the Gospel. It’s important for a couple of reasons: First, as we create resources and deliver training enabling every Christian to reach their world, the Gospel should form a baseline for all we do. How better to form that baseline than to define the Gospel in simple terms! Secondly, it’s important because as Christians ourselves, we want everything our personal lives are about to have Gospel implications.

We often times here this word ‘Gospel,’ in our churches, but it’s important to understand what it really is. The word literally means ‘good news’ and we see it 93 times in the New Testament. The Greek word is εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelion) and it’s the good news of what God has done through Christ and the way of salvation.

The key to understanding why the Gospel is good news is to start with the bad news. In the beginning, God made humans in His image and wanted us to have an intimate relationship with Him. (Genesis 1:26-28). But we sinned and cut ourselves off from Him, creating a huge chasm between us and God. We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23) and the punishment for that sin is death and eternal separation from God. Throughout the Old Testament, we see time and time again man trying on his own to bridge this divide. But a perfect God cannot have an intimate relationship with the sin that so pervades us. There was a law in those days that was given by God in the time of Moses that established that cleansing from sin can only happen through the bloody sacrifice of an innocent life (Hebrews 9:22). Throughout the Old Testament, we see people sacrificing animals as a way to appease God, which worked for a time, but was not a lasting sacrifice.

This is where Jesus comes in the story of the Gospel. Having lived a perfect life, He was the lasting sacrifice we needed as He took on Himself the punishment of our sins. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17) God sent His son to be a sacrifice for our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled the Law’s righteous requirement (Rom 8:3-4, Hebrews 10:5-10). Many of us think that maybe if we’re ‘good enough’ we can earn our way to heaven, but the Bible is clear that there’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. It is a free gift, given to us by God, not a result of our own work. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Peter states this well in 1 Peter 3:18, ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.’ (see also Romans 5:6-8) Jesus’ sacrifice paid in full the penalty of our sin, and through Christ, we are now fully ‘justified’ to God and can have a right relationship with God through Christ.

So how do we receive this gift that God has given us through Christ? We must recognize our sin and our need for Christ and repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness (Acts 17:30, John 1:12). If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God (John 3:16). Our only requirement is that we must accept this gift and believe that Jesus is our Savior, ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’ (John 1:12) This is why the Gospel is such good news! For those who believe in the name of Jesus, the Bible assures us that we will be with God for eternity. 1 John 5:13 says, ‘I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.’ Jesus Himself gives us a great assurance of our salvation as we believe in Him and surrender our lives to Him: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.’ (John 5:24)

mike

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