What is the “Gospel”?

What follows is a brief summary of the gospel. We offer this here for two reasons. First, it is a refreshing reminder for Christians of that which is “of first importance” for our faith (1Cor.15:3). Second, for those who are not yet followers of Jesus, this is a trustworthy and Biblical summary of how to come to Jesus by grace through faith. So, at CrossWay, we say along with the Apostle Paul…

”I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of     everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16).

The gospel is the good news of salvation. By responding to the gospel we are saved from sin and death and saved for holiness and life in Christ’s eternal family. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Eph.1:13). The Bible also describes it as the gospel of hope (Col.1:23), peace (Eph.6:15), life and immortality (2 Tim. 1:10), and God’s grace (Acts 20:24).

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy,

“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:8-10).

This subject of the gospel can lead us into the breadth and depth of much of the Bible’s teaching. For the sake of brevity here, we will highlight a few key points:

1. The Gospel is centered on Jesus Christ.

As the Apostle Paul wrote above, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David” (2 Tim. 2:8). The gospel is the message of God’s love revealed through his one and only Son who died and rose for our salvation.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

Near the end of his Gospel, John tells us why he wrote:

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

This gospel is the good news of God’s love, for it is the message that God has made available forgiveness of sins for those who will repent and trust in his Son.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

God has given us a testimony about his Son. As John adds,

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”         (1 John 5:11-12).

As you can see, the message of the gospel is a message of hope and life, and it is all centered in the love of God as revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ who lived, suffered and died for our sins, and who rose again according to the Scriptures.

2. The Gospel is the message of salvation which must be received by faith, not earned or achieved.

As the Apostle Paul wrote,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2:8-9).

Notice three key words in that verse:

1) Grace – This is the unmerited favor of God. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is be grace you have been saved” (Eph.2:4-5). Salvation is not in any sense earned or achieved by good works. Rather, our good works are part of our response to the gospel, arising from gratitude and love for God. Salvation is “not by works, so that no one can boast” (v.9). The realization that God saves us from sin and death through the cross of Christ and not through our own attempts to be good, righteous or holy, is good news. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is no one righteous, not even one…” (Romans 3:10). We are all sinners who are unable to save ourselves apart from the mercy and grace of God. This leads to the next key word from Ephesians 2:8-9.

2) Gift – A gift is not something one earns. It comes from the kind benevolence of the giver. With respect to salvation, the Scriptures are clear; because we are not saved by our own good works, but only by the grace of God, our salvation is a gift:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The Apostle Paul also spoke of God’s “surpassing grace” and exclaimed, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” We, too, would need endless exclamation points to adequately convey the joyful wonder of the grace of God! Imagine – all your sins forgiven, death overcome and eternal life given – all as a gift! And all that God commands is that we repent and believe in Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son. That leads us to the third key word from Ephesians2:8-9.

3) Faith – Jesus once said, “The time has come…The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). The Gospel involves both Biblical information and personal invitation. The information is about the Son of God, the kingdom of God, the grace of God, salvation, redemption, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, etc. But here is wonderful news: the gospel information also bears an invitation to all men and women to respond with repentance and faith.

To “repent” means to turn away from sin and one’s former manner of life and to turn toward God. It is a complete “turning around”, changing the direction and motivation of one’s life. When we truly repent we confess not only that we have sinned, but also that we are sinners by nature. We feel remorse for transgressing the holy will of our loving God. Having turned from our former life in sin, we also turn to God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  We trust in him to forgive us and to give us new life. In faith we confess him as our Savior and follow him as our Lord and Master.

Perhaps one of the clearest Scriptures in the New Testament, along with John 3:16, comes from the inspired words of the Apostle Paul:

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’…for ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:8-13).

Dear friend, if you are reading this summary of the gospel, “the word is near you” as well. The “word of faith we are proclaiming” is the one testimony of the Apostles, the saints of the ages, and all Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches.  “If you will confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It is one thing to agree in your head that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” It is another thing altogether to believe that God loves you and that Jesus died on the cross for your sins so that your sins can be forgiven and you can receive eternal life! Can you believe that? That is what faith is all about. As Ephesians 1:13 says,

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”

Yes, this gospel comes with a guarantee! When we believe we are “included in Christ” and “marked in him with a seal” who is the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit guarantees our inheritance! We receive eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, and adoption into Christ’s eternal family. There is no better news anywhere on Earth than this! The gospel is indeed good news to all who will believe. Will you? “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” “Anyone” includes you. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” “Everyone” can include you, if you will call on the name of Jesus Christ. And if you have never done so before, you can do it right now if, by faith, you will sincerely pray the following words:

Dear God, I admit that I am a sinner in need of your mercy and grace. In the name of Jesus, I ask you to forgive my sins. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins. I believe that God raised him from the dead. I trust him now as my Savior. I confess him as my Lord. Save me, O God, and guide me in the way of faith, hope and love, that I may faithfully follow Jesus and walk in his way, to the glory of God. Amen.

 

If you have just responded to this gospel message, don’t keep it to yourself. Reach out to others who can pray for you. Find a gospel-teaching church that can nurture your soul with Biblical truth, caring fellowship and pastoral integrity.

We ask you to consider one more thing; the gospel is not just for “becoming a Christian” or “getting into heaven”. The gospel continues to be good news for believers! In our purpose statement we stress responding to the gospel, not only for our initial salvation, but also for the continual outworking of our salvation once we become believers. When followers of Jesus continue to respond to the gospel in faith, God in his grace helps us to bear fruit (1Cor.1:18; 15:1-10; Col.1:5-10). At CrossWay, we believe that we will learn together, by grace through faith, to go deeper and deeper into the implications and applications of the gospel.

Let us know if there is anything the people and pastors of CrossWay Community can do to help you in following Jesus and walking his way! God bless you.