Many Christians define the gospel in many ways. If you are to ask 10 different Evangelical Christians they will each give you different answers and some might even contradict each other. This ought not to be the case, especially if we are all in agreement that the gospel is the good news from God. I assume God did not give different messages. Well then, what is the gospel? Well I will seek to answer that question as I best know biblically. Firstly, I will give a short and simple definition of the gospel. Secondly, I will labour to show the bad news that makes the gospel, good news. Thirdly I will talk about the content of the gospel. Fourthly, I will talk about the appropriate response to the gospel. Finally, I will challenge my readers to reflect on the gospel under the topic two ways to live.
The word gospel means “good news”. And so the gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, God became man and lived a perfect life, died on the Cross for our sins and rose again from the dead. So that whoever believes in him will have forgiveness of sins, eternal life and be reconciled to God.
The bad news
In order for the gospel to be good news there should be a bad news to make the good news good. What is the bad news or backdrop that leads to this good news. Well let us go back to Genesis, in the beginning God created everything and it was good. He also created man in his own image and gave them dominion over all creation (Genesis 1:26-27). But he also gave them a command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they will surely die (Genesis 2:16-17). Now the word “die” here is primarily talking about a separation in the relationship between God and man, but eventually physical death also. And when they were tempted by the serpent in chapter 3 they both disobeyed God’s command and they were immediately cast out of God’s loving presence, meaning the separation that God promised happened.
The cause for that separation was man’s disobedience, which is sin, man sinned against God. The word sin basically means choosing to do the opposite of what God commands. So sin came into the world through Adam because he disobeyed God (Romans 5:12). Because Adam was a representative of every human being, we are all born in sin (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23). Every human being is naturally in a state of being dead in their sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1). I want to say here that this is true of every human being, whether you were born in a Christian home, whether you are a good person, whether your father is a pastor, whether you go to church every Sunday or you are part of the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Pentecostal or Baptist Church. The moment you are conceived you are already a sinner before God.
God is holy (meaning he is set apart from his creation, set apart from sin, he is morally pure) and Because of our sin God is angry with us (Romans 1:18 ff, Ephesians 2:3). Because of his wrath (his righteous anger against sin) he is going to punish sinners in hell for eternity (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). And so as human beings we are in danger bearing the punishment of the coming wrath of God. We are in despair, we are in a hopeless state, we are lost in utter darkness. I just want to say here that, this is real, this is not to be taken lightly. if you die in this state you are going to hell, to face God’s wrath for eternity (John 3: 17-18, 36, Romans 6:23).
But is there any hope at all??? Yes there is much hope! That is where the gospel comes in. You can be saved from your sin, you can be delivered from the coming wrath of God, through the good news of Jesus Christ.
The good news
Jesus Christ is God, he is the second person of the Trinity. He is eternal, meaning he always existed (John 1:1-18). He came into this world (John 1:14), through the virgin birth, conceived of the Holy Spirit. God become man, fully God and fully man. He lived a perfect life before God, he was righteous (meaning he perfectly kept the law of God, Romans 5:17-19), he fully obeyed God the father and he never sinned (Hebrews 4:14-15).
Not only did he live a perfect life, he also died for the sins of all those who will believe in him. He is the perfect lamb of God who takes away our sins. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22), and so Jesus as he died on that Cross he paid the price for our sins once and for all (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 10:10). On the cross he satisfied God’s wrath against sin, he paid the price that would free us from the bondage of sin (Romans 3:24-25). Through his death we can have eternal life (John 3:15-16). He also rose again from the dead, meaning he defeated death, he proved that he is indeed the son of God (he is God, John 5:18) as he was raised by God’s power (Acts 2:23-24, 10:40).
And that is the good news, the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, God became man and lived a perfect life, died on the Cross for our sins and rose again from the dead. So that we may have forgiveness of sins, eternal life and be reconciled to God (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
Peharps you are wondering, but how can I have access to this wonderful news? How can I experience forgiveness of my sins? how can I have eternal life and be reconciled to God? This brings us to our next point.
The appropriate response
The only way to have access to this good news is by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Those are the only two responses that the Bible demands from people in order to experience the gospel (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21).
Repentance is a change of mind and attitude against sin, it is a denouncing of sin, a turning away from sin. It is a U-turn from sin toward God, when you have repented you no longer respond the same way to sin, you are deeply hurt by it and you are sorrowful about it. The Bible commands us to repent in response to the Gospel (Matt 3:2, Acts 2:37-38).
The other response is to believe, which means to trust, to put your faith in or entrust yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is when you completely let go of yourself and put all your weight on Christ expecting that he will save you,and he will. When it comes to faith, it is important to note that, what matters is not the quality of your faith (how strong your faith is, for it is not primarily about your ability) but the object of your faith. The object of your faith should be Jesus Christ, he is the only one who can save you from your sins and grant you eternal life. Your faith should be grounded on who he is and what he has done. Again the Bible commands us to believe in Christ in response to the Gospel (Romans 3:25, John 3:16).
Repentance and faith come together, they happen together, one cannot repent without believing. As you turn away in repentance from your sin in the same event you also turn towards Jesus in faith. Have you done this? Have you you repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Two ways to live
My friend as you consider the gospel it is important for you to have a serious reflection on your relationship with God. There are only two ways in this. It is either you remain in your sin and you ignore it, you die and go to hell and spend your whole eternity facing the wrath of God. Or you believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and eternal life. Friend this message is the most powerful message in the whole universe and your response to it has eternal consequences. Ponder on it and make your decision and make it now (John 3:36, Romans 6:23).
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)