What is the Gospel?

Bible Issues

Evangelism Explosion (a program founded by the late Dr. James Kennedy) asks two crucial questions.
1) Do you know for sure (100%) that if you died today, you would spend eternity with God in heaven?
2) Suppose you died, and God asked you, "Why should I let you spend eternity with me?", how would you respond?

Most people would answer "not sure" for the first question, and they would give some kind of "good works" answer to the second. These people need to understand what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.

Definition of Gospel

The Greek word for gospel (euaggelion) means good news, good message, or glad tidings. There are different points of emphasis in the gospel. The gospel writers, especially Matthew, spoke of the "gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23). Paul spoke of the "gospel of God" (Romans 1:1), the "gospel of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:16), the "gospel of the Son" (Romans 1:9), and many times, just the "gospel". They all mean the same thing.

When Jesus came to earth, he went around preaching the gospel of the kingdom – the good news that the kingdom of God had finally come. This is what the Jews were waiting for with so high expectation. What they did not realize however, is that Jesus was not going to set up a literal earthly kingdom at that point. Instead the kingdom of God would be in the hearts of those who follow him (Luke 17:21). It was a spiritual kingdom – at least at this point.

After Jesus' resurrection, Paul spoke of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is now referring to a past event – the good news that Jesus Christ came, died for our sins, and rose again as a guarantee that we will rise with him also.

A good definition of the gospel is in Romans 1:16:

The gospel of Christ is the good news about Christ. And this good news is the power of God unto salvation. So we clearly see a link between the gospel and our salvation. There is a large fraction of people in church today who consider themselves to be saved, but know very little about the gospel. Then it delineates who salvation is for – everyone who believes.

Description of the Gospel

So here is a summary of what the gospel is:

Jesus Christ came to earth.

Why? Because man had sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). Because of God's holiness, there was nothing mankind could do to reverse the curse of sin. So God sent his only Son (John 3:16).

He came to present himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He accomplished this through his death on Calvary.

Why did he have to die? It is because in God's law, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). He required that there be a sacrifice for sins.

Through his death, all the sins of mankind were paid for in full. Unlike Old Testament sacrifices which had to be repeated every year, Jesus offered one sacrifice which was sufficient (Hebrews 10:12). This was sufficient to provide remission of all sins.

He provided salvation.

When Christ died, he bore the punishment for all our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6,10-11). The same punishment we were supposed to face because of our sin, He bore it in our place.

This is how He provided salvation. Without his sacrifice, we were doomed to spend an eternity in hell, separated from God.

But he bore our sins in our place, and in exchange offered us his perfect righteousness (Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21). So we are righteous not because of any good we have done or any good we could do. We are righteous because he imputed his righteousness to us. Romans 5:17 speaks of the gift of righteousness. It's the only way we could ever be righteous in the eyes of God – through the gift that Christ gave us.

Now when God sees us, he no longer sees our sin, but he sees the perfect record of Christ's righteousness. And this is all free of charge – it is a gift (Romans 6:23). Now we have eternal life (also a gift) and can spend eternity with God.

To all who believe.

So does that mean the whole world is saved just because Christ died? NO, it does not. The benefits of salvation are only to those who believe. ALL who believe.

We must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17). We must believe in the resurrected Christ and declare his Lordship. God will convict us of our sins (John 16:8). Then we can either respond by believing or rejecting. There is no in-between. Regarding the gospel, ignoring and rejecting are the same thing. Paul complained that the Jews did not believe their report, which is the same thing are disobeying or rejecting the gospel (Romans 10:16).

We exercise our belief or faith by confessing the risen Lord Jesus Christ and accept him as our personal savior (Romans 10:9).

What next?

There are many Christians who have attended church for years and have never heard that particular message. Perhaps they prayed a "sinner's prayer" but never actually understood the message. That message is hardly preached on TBN or Daystar. Most of those guys preach self-help messages that quote a lot of Bible verses, but are not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul referred to false doctrines as a different gospel (Galatians 1:8).

In Philippians 1:5, Paul talked about the fellowship of the gospel. All those who heard the gospel and are saved are part of a fellowship. This is what we call the church. This has nothing to do with church membership.

If you just heard the gospel for the first time by reading this article, and you would like to receive the gift of eternal life that Christ has provided for you, then you can just pray to him and ask him to save you and give you his gift. Your prayer should simply acknowledge that you heard the good news of what Christ did on the cross, you believe the message, and you would like to receive his gift of eternal life. If you need a sample prayer, you can use the one below.

Now find a church that actually preaches this gospel. If you've been going to a church for a long time and you never heard this message, then that is not a good church. Go to a different one where you can enjoy true fellowship with others who have also believed the gospel.

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