What is the gospel?
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What is the Gospel?
Gospel means good news. The message of salvation by faith in Jesus is God's good news for all people.
In the Bible, the clearest definition of the gospel is given in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, the first four verses. The Apostle Paul writes:
Verse 1: "I remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand." Note: Paul says that he is going to spell out the gospel (what it is). We are going to see and hear it in a few moments.
Also note: Paul says that the believers in Corinth did two things (two things that every true believer must do):
- they received the message ... they believed it, and
- they stood on the message ... they held on to it
Verse 2: "By this gospel you are saved, if ..." IF is a conditional word. There is something that you have to do to qualify for the promise.
Verse 2: "... if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain."
"You have believed in vain." Note that word "believed" ... past tense.
It is possible to believe temporarily. It is possible to have believed in Jesus, but then not to hold on to that belief. Paul doesn't say that it means that they "were never saved". He says that they believed and were marked down for salvation, but they didn't hang on to their belief and they lost what they had gained.
"Otherwise you have believed in vain." These words are correctly translated into English from the original Greek text. You can't read them any other way.
Verse 3: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance ..."
Paul heard the message and believed. He passes it on, so you too can believe. It's the most important aspect of the gospel. By believing, and holding on to what he is now going to spell out, you will be saved.
Verse 3: "... that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (4) that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures."
The gospel is not some vague philosophy. The gospel is three historial facts:
- Jesus died for our sins
- He was buried
- He rose from the dead on the third day
And twice Paul says that this was what was foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures (in passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, and in other places).
Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah:
- He was sacrificed on the cross to pay for the sins of all who believe in Him.
- He died and was buried
- But God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day
Three facts that anyone can understand.
A simple gospel. It's a message that translates easily to anyone, of any language or culture, anywhere in the world.
And it's a message that makes you think ... that a Father would give His Son for me. What a sacrifice! God must love me to do that! And He does!
This is the message of the cross. You don't deserve mercy, but God offers it to you. Jesus paid your debt. And He did it because He loves you. He cares for you. But the simple gospel message leaves you to ponder this wonderful truth for yourself.
The gospel is simply declared as Jesus' death, burial and resurrection ... to pay for your sins. Anyone can describe these facts. Anyone can easily understand these facts.
And if you do accept them, if you do believe them, and if you do go on believing them ... "you will be saved".
In the next session, we'll see how Jesus described what would happen when this message is broadcast.
The next session is: "Jesus' most important parable"