WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
Simply put, the word ‘Gospel’ means Good News.
In fact, it is the greatest news in all of history and it centers around what God has done to save people through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
While there are many different ways you can explain the Gospel and grow in the depth of your understanding of its implications and significance, its basic message is very simple.
We’ve summarized the Gospel message here into four main points:
GOD | MAN | CHRIST | RESPONSE
Let’s take a look at each of these below.
Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
WHO MADE US AND WHAT WERE WE CREATED FOR?
The God of the Bible is the only God and Creator of the Universe. God is a Trinity – one infinite being eternally existing in three Persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were created to trust, serve and love God totally.
Here is what the Bible says of God:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
GOD IS HOLY
The Bible says many things about God, but one of the primary ways the Bible describes God to us is that He is Holy.
Holy simply means, “set apart.” God is totally “set apart” from everything and everyone else in all creation. He is unique. He is different to us and everything else that is created. He is transcendent and infinite – beyond our limitations and comprehension. Because God is totally wise, all-powerful, all-knowing, righteous and perfect, He is the only rightful Judge of all the Universe.
“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”
GOD’S LAW SHOWS US HIS HOLINESS
God’s Law shows us His holiness because the Law is based in the character of God Himself.
The 10 Commandments (God’s Law), found in Exodus 20 lay out for us God’s commandments to in about (i) our relationship to God (Commandments 1-4) and (ii) our relationship to others (Commandments 5-10). They are God’s perfect moral standards to us which we must obey. Below is a brief summary of the 10 Commandments and what they mean:
Commandments 1—4: Our Relationship to God
Commandments 1 & 2 – You shall have no other gods and you shall not make and worship idols (Exodus 20:3-4).
Because God is the Creator of all things, it means that all of creation has a purpose. That purpose is that all created things would glorify Him. Because we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), we are not autonomous, but rather it means that we are accountable to God. We were created to bring God glory in all that we say, do, and think.
Commandment 3 – You shall not take the Lord’s Name in vain (Exodus 20:7).
As the sole Creator and Sovereign Ruler over all, God is the only One deserving of worship and total allegiance, therefore we should not take His Name—which represents and stands for all of Who He is—in vain, or to think less of it, or dishonour it. We “take the Lord’s Name in vain” when we think, believe, talk or act in ways which do not honour all of who God is in perfect holiness.
Commandment 4 – You shall remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).
The purpose of the Sabbath was for people to rest from their work in order to remind them of God’s gracious provision and salvation, and worship Him. Sabbath rest was to show us that we are dependent on God for all things, and life itself. Sabbath rest reminds us that we cannot give ourselves all we need to flourish, and we must stop to worship and thank God as the only One who can.
Commandments 5—10: Our Relationship to Others
Commandment 5 – Honour your father and mother (Exodus 20:12).
The second table of the Law shows us that God’s moral perfections must be also expressed with regards to our relationship to others. It starts off with honouring the people closest to us and in positions of authority over us—our parents—as God is our Father and Sovereign authority.
Commandment 6 – You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).
Because God is the only author and giver of life, we must not take life nor hate those made in His image (cf. Matthew 5:21:22).
Commandment 7 – You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
Because God is ever faithful to His covenant, we must not be adulterous – either in thought/lust or action (cf. Matthew 5:27).
Commandment 8 – You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15).
Because God owns all things, we must not steal – no matter how small the value of the thing stolen.
Commandment 9 – You shall not lie (Exodus 20:16).
Because God is truth, we must not lie or omit the truth.
Commandment 10 – You shall not covet (Exodus 20:17).
Because we don’t actually own anything and it is God who choses to distribute things as He wills, we should not covet or be envious of things which are not ours. God is not merely after our external keeping of the Law, but after our hearts and inner intentions and desires.
In light of all of this, a right vision of God gives us a right view of ourselves.
What is our problem? Are we in trouble and why?
THE BAD NEWS: ALL HAVE SINNED
“…for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
What is sin?
Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world He created, not being or doing what He requires in His Law. Sin is fundamentally a distorted view of God, resulting in a lack of trust in His character (Gen 3:4-6, Rom 1:21-23). Sin is the reason for humanity’s brokenness.
Sin is a lot more than just merely breaking of a rule—it’s the breaking of a relationship—and the rejection of God himself! As we saw above, the Law reveals the character of God. Sin, the breaking of the Law, is a rebellion against God’s rule, care, and authority over those to whom He gave life. Sin is more than merely “missing the mark”—more than just a mistake, it is intentionally shooting in the opposite direction!
Jesus said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander…” (Matthew 15:19) It is not that we do bad things and therefore we’re sinful, rather, the truth is that we’re sinful, therefore we do bad things. No matter how hard we try, we cannot perfectly keep God’s Law, our hearts lead us to think and act in ways that are wrong.
Sin and evil come ‘out of the heart’ and shows that there is something deeply wrong with us which we cannot fix for ourselves.
All sin is against God
If people are honest they have broken most (if not all) of God’s commandments. How have you done?
God’s requirement is perfection; if someone breaks one of the commandments they are guilty of breaking all. Why? Because the Law is based on the character of God—and breaking the commandments therefore is a direct assault on the very character and nature of God. Just as you cannot separate attacking one particular character of a person without at the same time attacking the whole person, so too we cannot break one Law without in essence, breaking them all—offending the whole character of God. Because God is infinite and eternal, an offense against Him is one deserving infinite and eternal punishment.
This is why when David realized his own sin with Bathsheba, although he had wronged Uriah – killing him and taking his wife – David confessed, “Against You [God], and You alone, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:4)
All sin is ultimately committed against a holy and righteous God. Sin brings condemnation (Romans 6:23) and Spiritual Bondage (Romans 6:16).
What is our problem?
Because God is absolutely good and just, He must judge and punish sin. A good and perfect Judge cannot let wrongdoing go unpunished or else He would be unjust. The final end for all those who remain in their rebellion and never repent of their sins is a place called Hell (Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 20:10). Hell is a place of God’s active judgment against sin – it is God’s justice and wrath justly poured out against sin.
So, that leaves us with the problem: How can sinful, fallen people possibly stand before a perfectly Holy, Just and Righteous God?
What is the solution to our problem? What has God done to save us?
THE GOOD NEWS: “BUT GOD…”
To those who understand the Bad News, the two words—“but God”—are some of the sweetest words we could ever hear!
Once we have a big view of who God is in all of His holiness, and an accurate view of ourselves, knowing how sinful we truly are, those two Words are the sweetest sound. They are a glorious hope in the midst of a sea of despair, that God knew we could not save ourselves, so He sent Jesus Christ to save us! This is the Gospel – this is truly Good News!
God’s salvation isn’t a matter of trying harder, or doing better, but rather in trusting what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is taking your eyes off yourself or anything else to save you and fixing them wholly and solely on Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-9 says:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Romans 5:6-11 says:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— BUT GOD shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.“
Our sin brings about two main issues: on the one hand we have failed to keep the law—we are imperfect and guilty. And on the other hand, we have earned God’s wrath.
Why did Jesus come to earth to live and die?
The beauty of what Christ has done is seen in his fulfillment of both of these problems. In the place of sinners, Jesus Christ obeyed God’s Law perfectly and also satisfied the penalty due to us for breaking the Law. Out of His great love towards sinners, God sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and die to save sinners.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
1 Timothy 1:15
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
What does Jesus’s life and death mean for me?
Jesus’s death on the cross is “for” us. That is, his suffering and dying is in the place of rebels like us. He is our substitute. When we say, Jesus died for us—we mean, it should have been us on that cross! It should have been on us that God the Father’s full wrath against sin was poured out. It was our sins that he bore on the Cross. I should have been forsaken by God, but instead, Christ took my place. On the cross all of our sin was placed on Christ. Jesus never sinned but he was treated like he sinned because he was suffering in the place of sinners like us.
Why did God do this? So that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. In other words, in order that sinners might receive the blessings earned by Christ’s obedience to God through faith, Jesus suffered what we deserve that so that we would receive what Jesus earned. On the cross, the righteous requirement of God’s justice against sin was satisfied and through Jesus’s perfect life, God’s perfect standard of righteousness was fulfilled.
This is the Good News of the great exchange! Our sins were laid on Christ, and his righteousness was credited to those who, by faith, trust in him alone for their salvation.
UNITED WITH CHRIST
Because Jesus died and rose again, those who trust in him are assured of our salvation. The Bible says that those who put their faith in Jesus for salvation are “in Christ”—united with Him in a profound way. They are united in His death to sin, and also united with Him in His resurrection!
Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Because Jesus rose again, those who are united with him through faith will rise again on the Last Day—death no longer has the final say, the grave has lost its power and death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, nothing can condemn or separate those who trust in him from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39). Because his death for sin is our death, we are freed from the power of sin. Because his resurrection is ours, we will one day too be raised to resurrection life – freed from the curse of sin together with him for eternity when Jesus brings the final and complete restoration of all the brokenness in this world (Romans 8:19-21; Revelation 21:3-5).
What do I need to do to be saved?
1. COUNT THE COST
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Although salvation is offered as a free gift, Jesus Christ’s call to follow him comes at a cost. It means denying yourself and following him as your Lord and Master. It may involve losing many things for the sake of following Christ. Some have lost jobs, money, relationships or respect from others as a result of their faith in Christ. So, Jesus tells us to ‘count the cost’ of being his disciple and following him. By doing so, we are saying that our very life is no longer our own, we instead belong to Christ.
The apostle Paul said it this way:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are all in, or they’re not in at all. The cost to following Christ in this world may be very high, but the reward for those who do in the life to come will be worth it. Jesus himself promises that those who follow him and lose in this life for his sake will be repaid both in this life (Mark 10:30) at the resurrection of the just in the life to come (Luke 14:4; 18:30).
The apostle Paul, who suffered greatly for the sake of following Christ, says it this way:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Following Jesus may cost you everything, but you will gain Christ – and thus gain everything in the end.
2. REPENT & BELIEVE
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The Bible sums up what our response to the Gospel should be in two words: “repentance” and “faith” in the Lord Jesus.
Repentance, at it’s most basic level means to change your mind. But repentance involves not just the change of mind, but the change of the heart—and as a result, the direction of our lives.
First, repentance involves seeing the penalty and tyranny of sin, and turning away from trusting them to save us and give us life. Second, repentance involves acknowledging that we cannot lift a finger to solve our sin problem (condemnation and spiritual bondage), thereby, it causes us to stop trusting in our good works to save us.
We turn away from going our own way and we now go his way—because Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master.
In the same way, faith is not some vague feeling we have—it is putting our trust in what Jesus has done on the cross to save us from the judgement of God. Before, you may have thought that your own morality could make you right with God—or that God would overlook your sin. But now you see the truth of the Gospel, and you know that the death of Christ is your only hope for forgiveness. You know that the resurrection of Christ is the only hope for life beyond the grave. And so, you place your trust in his promise that he will not turn away anyone who comes to him (John 6:37).
Faith is biblically defined as ‘reliance’ or trust which is grounded on the rock-solid truths of God’s promises to us. It is being fully convinced that God is able and willing to do what He has promised (Romans 4:18-21).
This is the primary difference between Christianity and other religions: every other religion puts their faith/trust in what they can do to reach God and earn their salvation. Christianity puts its trust in what God has done to reach us and give us our salvation.
To have faith in Christ means to renounce all hopes in anything else—we either trust in Christ alone, or not at all.
I’ve believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, what now?
RISE AND BE BAPTIZED!
Jesus commands those who repent of their sins and put their trust in him to be baptized as an outward symbol and witness of their faith in him (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Baptism is also a sign of the reality that we are not only saved individually, but also into the corporate body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). It is an outward sign of obedience and of the reality of the Gospel – going under the water to represent being united to Christ’s death to sin, and coming back up to represent our union with his resurrection to new life!
GROWING IN FAITH IN COMMUNITY
Our Christian journey can be filled with many difficulties and struggles. Jesus said that the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14), but we don’t want you to walk it alone. When you were saved, you were adopted into God’s family – into His Church. As a result, the Christian life is meant to be lived in community – helping to encourage each other, to love one another, to keep one another accountable and minister to one another. This is why it is important for you to find a good local church where you can grow and be encouraged in your new walk of faith.
Depending on where you are in your journey of faith, here are a few options for your next steps.
If you have recently repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ, we would love to hear from you and see how we could help you along in your new life! Please contact us to talk to a pastor or leader who would be thrilled to hear your story, pray with you and talk about your next steps.
If you are interested in hearing more about the Gospel, we have a sermon series on the Gospel that we pray God would use to bless you. You can also find links here to the rest of our sermon archives.
Click here to listen!
It is important as believers that we are plugged-in to a local church where we can learn from the preaching of God’s Word, worship together with other believers, and grow together as a community in love and good works. We would love for you to come visit one of our services or help you find a good local church in your area!
Christianity is a lifelong journey, and there are many things to learn and explore. We would love to help you along in this.
Click here for some links to helpful books and resources to help you grow in your new faith and learn more about the Bible, Jesus and Christianty.