Session 3

What is the Gospel?

Gospel means good news. How do we define the good news of the Gospel?

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Session 3 ... transcript

What is the Gospel?

Gospel means good news. The message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ is God's good news for all people.

The message of salvation is focused on Jesus … on what He has done. It's a message that people either accept or don't. They either believe it, or they don't.

In the Bible, the book of Acts follows the four Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus and what He did for us. The book of Acts describes what the disciples did, after Jesus' death and resurrection. They were men who had been witnesses of the events in Jesus' life … men who were called to spread the message of salvation … men who were empowered by the Holy Spirit, to impart this vital message simply.

In the book of Acts there are nearly 20 accounts of individuals, or groups of people, who heard the gospel message, and who believed what they heard, and who, the Bible says, came in to salvation. (See Acts 2:14-41; 3:13-4:4; 6:7; 8:4-12; 8:29-35; 9:32-35; 10:34-48; 11:20-21; 13:5-12; 13:44-48; 14:1; 14:21-23; 16:14-15; 16:25-33; 17:1-4; 17:10-12; 17:22-33; 18:7-8; 28:23-24).

It's worth examining what message was presented. In other words, how did the first disciples of Jesus present the Gospel? In no cases were people confronted with their sinfulness. In no cases were people told that they had failed to obey the Law. In no cases were people warned that they were in danger of hell.

Maybe, if the disciples had thought it would be more effective they might have tried to generate fear. But, they didn't. It seems they trusted the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and to open the hearts of hearers. They kept the focus … a very sharp focus … on Jesus, and on what He did for us. It seems they wanted, or rather, what the Holy Spirit wanted, was not an inward gaze, but an outward, upward, spiritual gaze.

It’s clear, if you go by the New Testament record, that the Gospel is all about Jesus, and the cross, and an empty grave.

The clearest definition of the Gospel is given in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, the first four verses. The apostle Paul writes: “I remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand …“ Paul says that he is going to spell out the Gospel … what it is. Note: Paul says that the believers in Corinth did two things … two things that every believer must do. Number 1: they received the message … they believed it, and Number 2: they stood on the message … they kept on believing.

Verse 2: “By this Gospel you are saved, if …“ ("If" is a conditional word. There is something to be done to qualify for the promise.) (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 the word "believed" is in the past tense. It is possible to believe temporarily. It is possible to have believed in Jesus, but then to not hold on to that belief.

Paul doesn't say that such people were “never saved”. He says that some individuals believe, and they are marked down for salvation, but if they don't hold on to that belief then they lose what they had gained. "Otherwise you have believed in vain." These words are correctly translated into English from the original Greek. 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 may 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.

(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 historical facts: 1 … Jesus died for our sins. 2 … He was buried. 3 … He rose from the dead on the third day.

And twice Paul says that this is what was foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures … in passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, and in other places in the Bible.

Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah:

  1. He was sacrificed on the cross to pay for the sins of all those believing in Him.
  2. He died and was buried.
  3. But God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day.

Three facts that anyone can understand. The 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 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 accept them, if you believe them, and if you go on believing them … "you will be saved".

In the next session, we'll see how Jesus described what happens when this message is broadcast. The next session is: "Jesus' most important parable"