What is the Gospel?
The message of the Gospel is the single most important message of the Church. Unfortunately there are both massive distortions and over-simplifications used to define the term. The Gospel is the central theme of our faith and when it is defined biblically Jesus is ultimately glorified. The purpose of all preaching is to glorify Jesus and this is only accomplished through the presentation of the Gospel.
Jesus and the apostles describe this message by highlighting specific details. First, God is holy and righteous and there is nothing or no one equal to Him. Man is fallen and depraved. We are born sinners that are naturally wicked and at war with God. Because God is merciful He does not immediately destroy us but rather He has provided a way that we can be reconciled with Him. God will not just ignore our sinful nature and forgive us because His attribute of justice requires all men to be punished. God became a man and His name is Jesus. He lived a perfect and sinless life with no reason to deserve death. However, he laid down His life for us and became sin for us on the cross. That action on the cross was God satisfying His wrath which we deserved. Instead of us suffering He suffered in our place by becoming our substitute. His resurrection from the grave testifies to His eternal nature and anyone who believes in Him will never die. We are saved not by our works or merit, but rather completely on the merit and works of Jesus Christ. Our forgiveness of sins is possible because of the blood Jesus shed for us. Our salvation is accomplished simply by the goodness and grace of God.
The following summary illustrates the story of the Gospel in scripture. If you want to know more about the Gospel or how to be saved please (click here.)
When God created all things Adam and Eve lived in paradise. The world that Adam and Eve knew was absent of sickness, hurt, pain, suffering, and death. The only thing they knew was peace and paradise and the only thing that could change the world they knew was their disobedience. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they violated the only command God had given them. (Gen 2:17) The transgression of the commandments of God is defined in the scripture as sin. (1 John 3:4)
God’s warning to them was that if they ate of the tree of knowledge they would die. Therefore all mankind has inherited from Adam a sinful nature and the reward is death. (Rom 3:23, 5:12, 6:23) Adam and Eve were not the only ones to receive a curse. According to the scriptures God pronounced a curse on the serpent. (Gen 3:14-15) This is the foreshadowing of the coming judgment on Satan. (Heb 2:14-15)
As soon as Adam and Eve sinned their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. Out of the natural embarrassment of their own nudity being revealed to them because they had ate of this fruit they sewed fig leaves to make themselves a covering. (Gen 3:7) However, their covering was not even sufficient in their own conscience so they hid themselves from God in the Garden. (Gen 3:8-10) The first bloodshed ever recorded followed this when God took the skin of an animal to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. (Gen 3:21) By all right God could have slain Adam and Eve because their sin was worthy of death, but even in the garden we see God’s character of mercy being demonstrated. We also see grace, God’s riches at Christ's expense, because the skin that covered them required death so they would not be naked. It is a shadow of the perfect act of God to come when Jesus dies on the cross.
In Exodus 20 God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. It is the law of God that gives us the understanding of what opposes the character of God. (Romans 7:7-8) It was never intended by God that we would honor these commandments to prove our worth and earn salvation. Instead, the law clearly identifies our unrighteousness. (1 Cor 6:9-11) The violation of just one law condemns us as lost sinners separated from God. (James 2:10) The law of God is good and is perpetually in place to bring us to repentance. (Psalms 19:7) God will judge all men according to His law and there will be no man found innocent by his own merit and work. (Romans 3:10)
The Old Testament is filled with the order of sacrifices that Israel carried out to provide an atonement with God. All of the sacrifices that are carried out according to God’s instructions are another foreshadow of Christ. The issue with atonement is that it could only be a substitute for man’s sin, but the blood of animals does not bring God pleasure. (Isa 1:11) God in His character of patience and longsuffering is slow to execute judgment, but because He is holy and just He demands a righteous judgment. (Num 14:18)
God’s promise in scripture is to provide salvation. By this work of God He alone is presented as savior. The reason we can have complete assurance in God’s promise of deliverance is because through His plan of salvation He alone is glorified. (Isa 45:21-22) At the same time God pronounced a curse on man and the serpent in the garden He also made a promise to deliver us. (Gen 3:16) This promise is repeated over and over in scripture as the coming Messiah. His promise is not just for Israel but this Messiah is for all nations. (Hos 2:23, Gal 3:28)
Jesus is the revelation of God. (Col 1:15) He alone is God and because God became a man (Jesus) all believers in Him have an advocate. All scripture points to Jesus and the purpose of all orders God created were to present Himself in full glory. This is first accomplished by the active obedience of Jesus. He lived a perfect and sinless life by fulfilling all precepts of the law. We have every reason to believe based on scripture that Jesus not only was tempted, but He was tempted unlike any man. However He overcame temptations and actively obeyed to please the Father. Secondly there is the passive obedience of Christ. This refers to the fact that although He was completely God He humbled Himself and made for Himself no reputation. He did nothing to steal honor or to be made equal with God even to the point of His death. (Phil 2:5-8) These two types of obedience were performed simultaneously and they demonstrate His perfect attributes.
God in His perfect knowledge chose the cross to reveal to creation His glory. (John 13:31-32) The cross was a reproach to men and only the worst of criminals suffered this type of execution. However God chose this death to reveal His attributes and by doing that His glorification is achieved. When Jesus suffered on the cross He was our propitiator. (Hebrews 2:17) Just as in the Old Testament system the sins of the people were imputed onto the sacrifice, but Jesus is supreme an perfect therefore He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we would become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21) Anyone who believes Jesus is Lord He will save and impute His righteousness onto them. (Rom 4:24-25)
The event of Jesus raising from the dead is so significant that the early Churches repeatedly in creed recited that He had arose. They met on Sunday to testify they believed Jesus rose from the grave on Easter Sunday morning. His resurrection not only testifies of His deity and authority over all things, but it assures us of our fellowship with Him. Just as Jesus died on the cross all those who believe in him also die within. That death is to our flesh and we are no longer slaves to sin. (Rom 6:14) We also are no longer under the bondage of the evil one and the power of death. (Heb 2:14-15) We now can have assurance that not only have we died to sin but also we now live in resurrection like Jesus. (Rom 6:6-8)
Because God is just He exercises justice and He requires men to be just in His presence. If any man could live a perfect life by his own work or merit then he would be just by his own actions. His earnings would then be based on his own work and not grace. However when a man comes to the understanding that there is nothing he can do on his own to earn fellowship with God he knows his destiny is dependent on God. Anyone who believes in Jesus who justifies the ungodliness of men by faith he is credited righteousness. Therefore our justification is a product not of earnings but only by God’s amazing grace. (Romans 4:2-5)