What is the Gospel?
Everybody likes to hear good news. Whether it is a pay raise, a positive medical report, or a favorite food for dinner – good news is always welcome. And when Scripture uses the word gospel it is talking about good news. In fact, the news is so good that God wants everyone to hear about it.
But what, exactly, is this good news? Well, God gives us two passages in the Bible that help explain this good news. And in both places the good news is about Jesus Christ. You could say that Jesus Christ is the good news.
Who is the gospel?
The first passage is found in Romans 1:1-4. These verses focus on who Jesus is. Paul says that as an apostle he was “set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ the Lord” (ESV).
While these verses explain that the gospel was something that God had promised in the Old Testament scriptures, the focus of these verses is who Jesus is. These verses tell us six things about who Jesus is.
1. Jesus is God’s Son.
The passage says that the gospel “concerns his Son.” This phrase means that Jesus has a unique relationship to God. In other words, Jesus is not a son among many different sons. Jesus is uniquely God’s Son. Even John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”
2. Jesus is Human.
The passage says that Jesus “descended from David according to the flesh.” This phrase means that at a point in history Jesus as God’s Son was born into the human race as a descendent of David. Of course, the Bible elsewhere tells that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and became a man (Luke 2, Phil. 2).
Therefore, Jesus has a physical body and a human nature. He experienced all the limitations and difficulties that you and I face today. Jesus grew weary, became hungry, experienced pain, faced disappointments, and even died. In other words, Jesus identifies with you because He became like you. He knows the challenges of life, discouragements of life, and the heartaches of life.
3. Jesus is God.
The passage continues by saying that Jesus “was declared the Son of God in power according to the resurrection from the dead.” This statement reveals to us that even though Jesus became a man, He did not cease to be God. Throughout His earthly life, Jesus continually taught that He is God. He exercised powers that belong to God, and He did miracles that only God could do (Mark 2:1-12; 4:35-41). He even taught others that He is God (John 5:22-47; 8:58).
However, the definitive proof that marked Jesus as God is when He rose from the humiliation of death and took the exalted position of power as both God and man. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven became the crowning event where He overcame all the frailties of humanity – even death. Now as God and man, Jesus possesses an exalted status of power over all things.
4. Jesus is Savior.
Romans 1:1-4 also tells us that God’s Son is known as Jesus. The word Jesus literally means Savior. So the truth that this verse presents is that Jesus, who is God and Man, is also the Savior.
In fact, I Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And in Acts 4:10-12 Peter is talking about the name of Jesus Christ and he says, “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
5. Jesus is Christ.
This passage also explains that God’s Son is the Christ. The word Christ literally means Messiah. In the Old Testament, the Messiah was the person that God said He would anoint to come and fulfill the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. The Messiah’s work was crucial in bringing salvation (Psalm 2).
As the Messiah, Jesus is the perfect prophet. He always gives the word of God faithfully with the grace to bring repentance and obedience to God’s message. As the Messiah, Jesus is the perfect priest. He offered the perfect sacrifice that takes away sin and makes those that worship God holy. As the Messiah, Jesus is the perfect king. He never fails to secure the submission and loyalty of His followers, and his kingdom is unconquerable and without end.
6. Jesus is Lord.
This passage finishes by telling us that Jesus Christ is Lord. The word Lord means Master, Owner. As Lord, Jesus possesses all power and authority over everything. In Acts 10, Peter explains that Jesus is Lord of all. In other words, Jesus’ authority covers every aspect of this universe including your individual life.
So the good news of the gospel is about this Person who is God’s Son. He became a man. He is God. He is Jesus the Savior, Christ the Messiah, and Lord of all. This is Who the gospel is.
What did the gospel do?
While Romans 1:1-4 told us who the gospel is, I Corinthians 15:1-4 describes what Jesus did. In this passage Paul says, “Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the gospel…for I delivered first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
In these verses Paul gives us three things that Jesus did.
1. Jesus died.
According to the Scriptures, Jesus came to this earth as a baby born of a virgin named Mary (Luke 2). Because He was born as a man, He identified with all your struggles and weaknesses. Hebrews 4:15 explains that Jesus as a high priest is able to sympathize with your weakness. He was even tempted like you are. However, Hebrews 4:15 also says that Jesus was “without sin.” In I Peter 2:22 the Scriptures state that Jesus committed no sin. And in II Corinthians 5:21 Paul says that Jesus “knew no sin.”
One of the basic teachings of Scripture is that the soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). Romans 6:23 explains to us that the wages of sin is death. So Jesus, who did not sin, should not have died. And yet, John 19:17-37 describes the horrific death of Jesus on the cross.
2. Jesus was buried.
The burial of the body of Jesus was proof of His actual death. The Roman soldiers who oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus were experts in death. They gave testimony that Jesus was dead when they took Him off the cross and allowed him to be buried in a tomb.
3. Jesus rose again.
According to the Scriptures, Jesus rose again three days after his crucifixion. The books of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John record the events surrounding his resurrection. The early church in the book of Acts constantly talked about the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. And Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15 that many people saw Jesus alive after he died on the cross.
So the good news of the gospel is about God’s Son – Who He is and what He has done. God Son is both God and man. He is Savior, Messiah and Lord. And he lived a perfect life, died on the cross, was buried and he rose again.
The big question after reading what Paul says about God’s Son is why? Why did Jesus do all this? Why was it necessary for God to send His perfect Son to die? Well, Paul answers the question in I Corinthians 15:3 as well. He says that “Christ died for our sins.”
In other words, each of us is a sinner who has broken God’s law. It does not matter if you think you are not that bad or are better than the next guy. It is impossible to get to God by trying to be a good person. Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
The standard of a good, sinless life comes from God and His Word. God created you to bring glory to Him as you willingly obey him. But just a quick review of some of the Ten Commandments should convince us that we all fall short of God’s standard and are all sinners. If you have ever disobeyed your parents – you are a sinner who has broken God’s law. If you have ever had sexually impure thoughts – you are a sinner who has broken God’s law. If you have ever stolen anything – you are a sinner who has broken God’s law. If you have ever lied – you are a sinner who has broken God’s law. If you have ever coveted another person’s things – you are a sinner who has broken God’s law.
Remember God tells us in His word that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). And that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). So, your sin has earned you the death penalty in the judgment of God because God created you to bring glory to Him, and you have chosen to disobey and sin against Him.
However, John 3:16-17 explains that God loved you and the rest of the world so much that He sent His Son into the world not to condemn you, but to save you from having to experience eternal death when God carries out His just penalty on your sin.
This is what makes the gospel the best news anyone could ever hear. God himself gave you the gift of Jesus Christ, His Son, to suffer the penalty of your sin. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth (demonstrated) his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And I Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also hath suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit.”
So the gospel is about God’s Son who is both God and man. He is the Savior, Messiah, and Lord who died for your sins, was buried, and he rose again. Because of who He is and what He did, you do not have to suffer the penalty of your sin. Instead, you can experience the joy of having your sins forgiven and everlasting life.
What do you have to do to experience the gospel?
Since Jesus is the Savior and Lord who died and rose again for you, He has the right to tell you how to respond to the gospel. In Mark 1:15 Jesus says “to repent and believe the gospel.”
Everyone today places their faith in something they think will be their Savior and they follow it as their Lord. Some trust their good works or church attendance. Others trust their baptism or a prayer they prayed.
However, Jesus says to repent. Change your mind about your sin and Jesus and turn to place your faith in who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. In John 14:6, Jesus says that He is the only right object of faith when He tells his disciples, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Since Jesus is the only Savior and the only Lord, you must live in repentance and faith in Jesus alone.
Today, will you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
In order to receive this gift of salvation and experience the good news of the gospel you must …
- Agree with God that you are a sinner deserving the penalty of death and repent (turn) from your sin.
- Believe that God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (who is both God and man), into the world to die for your sins on the cross, be buried, and rise again.
- Call upon Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior.
You can do that today. Call out to God and admit that you are a sinner who is turning from his own way and putting his faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Lord.
If you have decided to trust Jesus Christ, we would love to hear from you. God does not expect you to live your new Christian life on your own. He has designed the church to be a fellowship of believers that will help you take the next step in your Christian life. At Hurst Baptist Church, we want to help you to continue following Jesus Christ as you live in repentance and faith in the gospel. If you have done this please let us know via the Contact Us page.