What is the Gospel?


Kind of an important question, right? What is the Good News? The main message of the Bible? The point of God’s interaction with, and designing of, human history?

Well, at least 4 things according to 1 Corinthians 15. Paul tells the Christians in Corinth, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”

Then he reminds them of several points that make up the Good News. The Gospel that he and all Christians are to preach and speak and sing and live out:

1) That Jesus was crucified for our sins, according to the Old Testament.

Jesus was not a victim, at least not in the unwilling sense. Jesus gave Himself up as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of those who would trust in Him. In a way that made the sacrifices of the Old Testament clear, Jesus the Son of God poured out His blood to absorb the wrath of God for our wickedness, for the wickedness of every person who would have faith in Him. That’s what the offerings and sacrifices God had demanded from His people for over a thousand years were all shadows of: what the Father had predestined for Jesus to do.

The Old Testament sacrifices were hints and pictures of Jesus’ work of atonement. That means His making us clean and right with God by paying the bill for our sins.

He willingly went to a Roman cross to take human cruelty and humiliation and the wrath of God. The perfect Jesus who never sinned Himself did it all, and did it for those of us who don’t deserve it but just believe.

Good, good news.

2) God raised Him from the dead.

Just as Jesus had said He would, about 15 times in the 4 Gospels, God raised Him from the dead, putting His stamp of approval on Him.

Jesus was exactly who He had said. Exactly who He claimed to be.

He had told His disciple Phillip that to see Him was to see the Father. Had said that He Himself could forgive sins. Had said that He had been sent to the world for its salvation.

And God vindicated it by resurrecting Him.

Jesus wasn’t raised to life again by good luck, or by magic, or through natural causes. Life was restored to His body, His Spirit and soul were rejoined to His bones and skin and brain, by the Father who created all things.

Jesus, both God and the Son of God, was raised to life by His Father.

To deny that is to deny Him. And deny the Gospel. We preach a living and risen Savior.

3) He appeared to Peter, the Apostles, His brother James, and about 500 others before ascending to the Father.

He didn’t just vanish after His resurrection. Our Jesus preached and had breakfast at the Sea of Galilee with His disciples and walked to the town of Emmaus.

His brother James, who hadn’t believed in Him, put his trust in his older brother as Savior after seeing Him alive again after the torture and murder at the cross. Jesus Christ made clear to witnesses that He was raised from the dead, so that we can be confident that His tomb is empty. We can be sure that He is our Helper, Messiah, Rescuer and Intercessor in the present tense.

In history and in a real place, Jesus Christ rose again and appeared to many.

4) He saves by grace through faith.

Paul tells the Corinthian Christians in the church he planted that he himself was a lousy sinner. One who persecuted God’s people, His church. He says he was the least of all the apostles, but by the grace of God he was something different now. And by the grace of God He preached and worked for God.

By grace through faith, Paul the sinner, spiritually dead and separated from God, was given eternal life, the promise of his own resurrection (which all believers will receive), and peace with God.

That Jesus was crucified for the sins of those who trust in Him, was resurrected, made His resurrection clear, and saves bad people by grace through faith.

That is the wonderful news of our God. That is the great message. That is the only true and worthy Gospel.


2 thoughts on “What is the Gospel?

  1. Quite liked Tim Keller’s statement about never moving past but deeper into the gospel. One of the elders at the church where I used to play bass on Sunday mornings remarked after hearing a sermon on the crucifixion, ‘ why are we still talking about something that happened 2000 years ago’. Why you ask dear sir, because your life and mine depend on it.

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