What is the Gospel?
God: It all begins with God. The Bible in its first verse (Genesis 1:1) says that "In the beginning, God created. . ." Therefore, God is the author of life and creator of everything we see. He is not only creator, but also owner of everything. Job 41:11b states that, "Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." Because God is creator and owner, He gets to determine the purpose of everything and everyone. God is also Holy and commands us to be Holy as well (Leviticus 19:2); God created us to be Holy and to live in relationship with Him. The word “Holy” is packed with significance and essentially means that we are to be pure and free from evil. This leads us to the second of the four words.
People: We were created to bring God glory by ruling over the earth as His representatives, faithfully obeying his commandments. God has given to us the law we are to live by in His revealed word — the Bible. God’s commands can be summarized in two commands: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. Beginning with Adam and Eve people have denied God’s ownership, authority, and commands. Instead, we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Sin is rebellious disobedience to God and it separates us from Him. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Since God is the source of life and all that is good, separation from him leads to destruction and evil. The Bible says what we earn with our sin is death (Romans 6:23). If you look around at the world, or watch the news, you can see the effects of sin everywhere. Our rebellion against God leads to injustice and tyranny as people seek to rule over their neighbors with their own authority. However, the effects of this rebellion do not only affect our life in this world, but sin also will be judged by God. Just as everyone will die, we will also be judged after death (Hebrews 9:27). Everyone has sinned and has lived in rebellion against God. This punishment is a terrifying thing because God is just and holy. He cannot, and will not, allow sin to go unpunished. However, God also loves, which leads us to the next of the four words.
Jesus: God loves the world that He has created so much that He decided to make a way to punish sin, and forgive us and restore creation to the way He intended it. God did this by sending His Son, Jesus, to live and die on the cross in our place (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). Jesus was born, God in the flesh. He obeyed God’s law and lived a Holy life free from sin. Yet, He chose to take our sin and punishment upon himself and die. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states that “God made Jesus to be sin even though he did not sin, so that we might become righteous.” He did this as 1 Peter 3:18 says by “suffering in our place so that we might be forgiven by God.” The prophet Isaiah prophesied that this would take place years before Jesus would come. Isaiah said, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus not only died, but also defeated death by rising from dead, showing to all that He has all authority on heaven and earth (Matthew 28-18-20). Jesus ascended to the right hand of God the Father where He reigns as King. As King, Jesus is restoring the world by calling sinners to enter the Kingdom of God.
Response: Our response to the good news of the Kingdom is to turn from our sins and to put our faith in Jesus. Romans 10:9 states it this way, “If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” We must confess the evil in our hearts and the rebellion that we have against God’s commands. We must quit this rebellion against God by throwing ourselves at His mercy to receive the gift of salvation that is only found in Jesus. We cannot hold onto our rebellion while hoping to buy God off through our prayers, church attendance, and good deeds. Although those are all good things, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God by doing good things. Salvation from sin and judgment is by the grace of God alone. It is by His work that we are saved. Our response to the Gospel must be by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is not just a belief that Jesus existed, but is a complete trust in Him. It is putting all of our eggs in one basket. It is a complete and total reliance upon Jesus in which we acknowledge Him as King and Lord. When we trust in Jesus, God places on us the righteousness that Jesus earned, and removes the guilt and shame of our rebellion in sin. One of Jesus’ followers, Paul wrote that when someone trusts in Jesus, they become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In becoming a new creation, God through the Holy Spirit begins transforming us. The sinful things we once desired, we no longer want to do. God empowers us to obey Him. Our broken lives destroyed by our own rebellion can be restored. This transformation will impact our families, how we do our jobs, and how we treat our neighbor. Finally, this good news ends with those who have believed in Jesus receiving eternal life. Jesus said in John 5:24, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”