What Is the Gospel?
The word gospel literally means "good news," and it refers to the central message of the Christian faith. The gospel message teaches us something about God, something about humankind, something about Jesus, and something about the response that we should have to the gospel message itself.
God. The gospel tells us that God is the Creator of everyone and everything. He is the source of all that exists. He created the universe, and he created it good. He created mankind, both male and female, in his own image to glorify him. As the author of all life, God is worthy of the whole-hearted worship and adoration of all his creatures.
Man. The gospel tells us that though the first man and woman were created good, they chose not to trust God as the giver of all life. Instead, they went their own way and rebelled against their good and loving Creator. This rebellion against God is called Sin. Sin now exists as a chasm between mankind and God.
As a result of their rebellion the first man and woman came under the just penalty of God, which is physical and spiritual death. As the children of the first man and woman, all of us are born under Sin. This sad reality is confirmed by our sinful thoughts, words and deeds. We are all guilty before God. We have become so twisted by sin that it is now natural for us to make ourselves the center of our own adoration rather than worship God.
Jesus Christ. The very heart of the gospel is about Jesus Christ. Though all of mankind has rebelled against God and is deserving of his just and eternal punishment, God determined to save a people for himself through his eternal Son. The eternal Son of God became fully man. His name is Jesus. Jesus walked among sinners and lived a perfect life of obedience before the Father. He was unjustly crucified on the cross, where he not only suffered one of the most painful human deaths imaginable, but he also suffered the wrath of God in the place of everyone who trusts him to be their King and Rescuer. Moreover, Jesus conquered sin and death by raising from the dead as the conquering King of all creation. Jesus now reigns at the right hand of the Father and will come back to make his authority known to all, judging both the living and the dead.
The Necessary Response. Finally, the gospel tells us that everyone who hears this message and turns from their life of sin to put their trust in Jesus has been given a new heart. The stain of sin is removed from their account and the perfect life that Jesus lived is counted as their righteousness before God. Though God's people still sin, they agree with God about their sin and look to God for help to overcome it. These Christians do not have any reason to fear the coming judgement, rather, they anxiously await the return of their King.
Their following of Jesus as King is especially marked by....
(1) Identifying with Christ and his people in Baptism
(2) Celebrating the preaching of God's word in fellowship and accountability with other believers
(3) Remembering Christ's death in the regular practice of the Lord's Supper, and thereby being spiritually nourished
(4) Calling others to this same faith in Christ
For a booklet length treatment on this topic, ask Pastor Jeff for a free copy of What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert after a Sunday morning worship service.