What is the Gospel?
A word you hear over and over again in church circles is the word, “gospel.” We hear about gospel tracts or pamphlets, gospel services, gospel missions, gospel ministers etc!
When we turn to the Bible we are told to, “repent … and believe the gospel”'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Mark 1:15 and the Apostle Paul was “separated unto the gospel”'Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God' Romans 1:1 and he was not “ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.' Romans 1:16
There are also some very descriptive terms used in the Bible to illustrate the nature of the gospel. There is:
“the gospel of peace”
“the glorious gospel”
“the everlasting gospel”
“the gospel of … salvation”
The word gospel therefore is very much part of the Christian vocabulary. And it is also a word you may have heard – perhaps through a preacher or friend talking to you.
So what does it mean? And why is it so important?
In the New Testament the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον means the good news, the gospel means “good news” or “glad tidings.” So we know instantly that this is an extremely positive word! The Apostle Paul, writing to a group of believers in Corinth said, “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you…”'Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;' 1 Corinthians 15:1 It is interesting to note that the word “preached” here means to have “declared good news.” By this double usage, Paul is at pains to emphasise the importance of the good news that the people are to hear. You see, the gospel is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion.
The events that make up the gospel really happened, but of course they are also accompanied with vitally important spiritual application.
If we continue on with what was said to these believers in Corinth, we can see what the gospel consisted of: in Paul’s first letter to these believers in Corinth, chapter 15 verse 3 we learn, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … He was buried, and … He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”'For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:' 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
So Jesus died and He rose again. These are not matters of interpretation, rather they are matters of fact – accompanied with tremendous implications.
Paul goes on to tell us that after Jesus’ resurrection He, “was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James then of all the apostles.”'And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.' 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul is at pains to reinforce to the church that what they believe is true and not some fabrication. This was important because those who believed in Jesus were being told that what they did believe was false!
If we take Paul’s phrase “… Christ died for our sins …,” we can begin to understand the purpose behind it. This means that Jesus did not die as some kind of martyr, but He died on account of our sins.
He died in our place
He died that we may live
He willingly took the punishment that was due to us because of our sin!
Remember that, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;' Romans 3:23 But Jesus who is “holy, harmless, undefiled”'For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;' Hebrews 7:26 was the only One who could satisfy God’s divine justice and His offering was acceptable in God’s sight as payment for sin because He only was perfectly sinless. His sacrifice was complete and did not need to be repeated.
He rose again from the dead, and even now is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father, “making intercession”'Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.' Hebrews 7:25 [or praying] for those who have asked Him to forgive their sins. His rising again shows that God the Father was satisfied that the penalty of sin had been paid. This teaching was foundational not only for those believers in this specific place at that specific time – but for all people in every place and age!
Can you now appreciate why the word “gospel” is so important? Do you know the gospel – not only in an intellectual way?
But have you accepted the meaning of this message? You must confess your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you. The glad tidings and the good news of the gospel tell us, “him that cometh to Me [that is the Lord Jesus Christ], I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.' John 6:37