What is the Gospel?

You may have heard Christians speak of the Gospel (which comes from the Greek word for “good news”) of Jesus before, but wondered what they were talking about.
 
If you are learning about what this good news is for the first time, we are glad you are here. Or if you have been around this block a time or two but would like more clarity, welcome.
 
As some have contended before, not everything the Bible teaches is “the gospel,” but without everything the Bible teaches, it is difficult to see how truly good news “the gospel” is.
 
 
Tim Keller, in his book Center Church, says it well, that at its core “the gospel is a message about how we have been rescued from peril.”
 
And what is this peril? The Bible tells us from the very beginning, humanity was created in God’s image (for more, watch this awesome video created by The Bible Project), to be in intimate relationship with our creator and steward his creation, causing it to flourish and pointing all creation back to God.
 
But, as the Bible also tells us, the first representatives of all humanity decided to take matters in their own hands, turning their backs on God, breaking loyalty with him and seeking to define “good and evil” in their own eyes through an act of disobedience.
 

 

This disobedience, which the Bible calls sin, broke the relationship (see video to learn more about the biblical relationship between God and humanity) between God and humanity, creating the dilemma: How does a sinful humanity relate to a perfect and holy God?
 
At times humanity has tried to make their own way back to God, seeking to prove their worthiness before God. At other times, humanity has sought to define their own reality, continuing in the same sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Yet, apart from God’s own intervention, no good deed or self-righteousness could ever reconcile the debt owed for sin, which by God’s standard is death (see Romans 6:23), which is physical death and separation from him eternally.
 
Yet even as Adam and Eve were cast out of God’s presence and from Eden, God provided a way for humanity to come and meet with him and relate to him. Through a set of covenant agreements or relationships, God instructed and made promises to his people that he would continue to make provision for intimacy with him, which ultimately pointed forward to Jesus.
 
Yet, despite God’s gracious provision, our propensity to sin lived on and our sin problem continued. Under one of these covenant agreements, the Mosaic Covenant, God made provision for a substitute (to learn more about this sacrifice, see the video) to be offered in an individual’s place, to bear the penalty that the person deserved.
 
Although these substitutionary sacrifices allowed for God’s people to draw near to God, because the sacrifices themselves were finite they only served as a temporary fix, what some have even called God’s divine band-aid. As the people continued to offer these sacrifices as a substitute year after year, they continued to look forward to the one God had promised would come to deal with the sin problem and make all things right.
 

 

This figure, who we now know is Jesus, was promised even as God banished Adam and Eve from Eden. As time continued to pass, as the Bible tells us, and as God progressively over time continued to unveil his plan for humanity and the world, the details surrounding this figure would became more clear.
 
Particularly, during some of the darkest years for God’s people, when many had completely abandoned God and his ways, God raised up individuals called the prophets to point the people back to God and rebuke the religious leaders for their disloyalty. It was through their writings that most clearly revealed who this “Messiah” (which means anointed one) would be and what he would accomplish, including that he would die on behalf of God’s people, establish a New Covenant for relating to God, that he would rise from the dead, and rule the entire world. 
Finally, after centuries and even millennia of waiting, Jesus comes onto the scene. Born of a virgin, as was foretold, Jesus lived in perfect obedience to God’s ways (the life we should have lived) and proclaimed the rule of God that was coming through him. 
 
Among the many realizations of his followers was that he was not only the predicted Messiah but also God come in the flesh, performing miracles in his own power that only God was known to do. These included forgiving sins, raising the dead, controlling nature, and healing the lame.
 
It was these claims of divine authority, along with misplaced messianic expectations and the spiritual blindness of the religious leadership of the day that led to Jesus’ crucifixion on a Roman cross.
 

 

But what was meant for evil by humanity, God had already planned for good. In dying on the cross Jesus became the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for humanity’s forgiveness. Being fully human, he was qualified to stand in their place (see especially Hebrews 2); being fully God, his sacrifice was of infinite value and sufficient for all who would accept it on their behalf (see especially Hebrews 9-10).
 
Jesus not only died in the place of all of us sinners on the cross, but God raised him from the dead. In resurrecting Jesus, God validated his claims, declared him the only righteous one, and conferred upon him the right to rule all of creation.
 
Being both Messiah (Christ in Greek) and Lord, God calls all to come to Jesus and live under his just rule, in so doing being reconciled to God and welcomed into God’s family.

THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL

We were created to live in relationship with God and care for the earth as his stewards. But humanity fell into sin by rebelling against God and was separated from God, his holiness, and life. We all owe God a debt we cannot pay, the penalty of which is death (Romans 6:23).
 
And this is where THE GOSPEL enters. God in his love and mercy sent Jesus into the world to live the life we should have lived and died the death we deserved, as a substitute for our sin (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18). Having been raised from the dead, Jesus offers new life and reconciliation with God to all who would simply receive this free gift by faith (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9).
 
Wherever you are at on your journey in life, God is calling you to turn to Jesus and follow by faith, giving your allegiance to him as Lord and Messiah. If you have questions, want more information, or desire someone to walk beside you in following Jesus, we would love to hear from you!