What is the Gospel?
Understand the Good News of Jesus Christ
What exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the “gospel of Jesus Christ?"
Since the word “gospel” means “good news,” when Christians talk about the gospel, they’re simply telling the good news about Jesus! But it’s not just any good news; it demands a response! It’s a message from God saying, “Good news! Here is how you can be saved from my judgment!” That’s an announcement you can’t afford to ignore. So, what is the good news about Jesus Christ? Since the earliest Christians announced the good news about Jesus, it has been organized around these questions . . .
- Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
- What is our problem?
- What is God’s solution to our problem?
- How can I be included in his solution?
Christians through the centuries since Christ have answered those questions with the same truth from the Bible.
- We are accountable to God.
- Our problem is our sin against him.
- God’s solution is salvation through Jesus Christ.
- We come to be included in that salvation by faith and repentance.
Let’s summarize those points like this: God, Mankind, Jesus Christ, and Our Response.
The first thing to know about the good news of Jesus is that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Everything starts from that point, so if you get that point wrong then everything else that follows will be wrong. Because God created everything―including us―he has the right to tell us how to live. You have to understand that in order to understand the good news about Jesus. How would you describe God’s character? Loving and good? Compassionate and forgiving? All true. God describes himself as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness . . . forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Then God adds, “but who will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6–7). That explodes about 90 percent of what people today think they know about God. This loving God does not leave the guilty unpunished. To understand just how glorious and life-giving the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we have to understand that God is also holy and righteous. He is determined never to ignore or tolerate sin. Including ours!
When God created the first human beings―Adam and Eve, he intended for them to live under his righteous rule in perfect joy―obeying him and living in fellowship with him. When Adam disobeyed God and ate the one fruit that God had told him not to eat, that fellowship with God was broken. Moreover, Adam and Eve had declared rebellion against God. They were denying his authority over their lives. It’s not just Adam and Eve who are guilty of sin. The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . none is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:23,10). Yet, we often think of our sins as not much more than violations of some heavenly traffic law. So we wonder why God gets so upset about them. But sin is much more than that. It’s the rejection of God himself and his right to exercise authority over those to whom he gives life. Once you understand sin in that light, you begin to understand why “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That’s not just physical death, but spiritual death, a forceful separating of our sinful, rebellious selves from the presence of God forever. The Bible teaches that the final destiny for unbelieving sinners is eternal, active judgment in a place called “hell.” This is the Bible’s sobering verdict: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Every one of us will be held accountable to God. The Bible warns that “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). But . . .