What is the Gospel to you? What does it mean or stand for? We hear the term used all the time, in reference to going to church, reading, sharing, preaching, but what is it? If someone were to walk up to you on the street and asked you to define it, could you? It seems like we hear this word a lot, but I fear few truly understand it and likely even fewer know the completeness of it. It’s probably fair to start our understanding by looking at the old English definition of the word Gospel and that is, “good news” or to “bring good news.” Luke 2:10 ESV reads, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” There is our word “gospel” as we read in the passage of “good news” or the Greek word euaggelizo that the angel is speaking of in pronouncing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. We find the same root word, euaggelion, in Mark 16:15 as we see Jesus this time speaking of the “good news”, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'”
The New Testament is littered with usage of this word and we’ve seen how it means “good news”, but what is this good news that we are speaking of. The Apostle Paul provides a comprehensive definition for the Gospel of which he preaches, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. 3For delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” I Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV There’s our treasure, our fullness, our “good news”, that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised again on the third day. There can be no clearer definition for what the Gospel is, but when we say that it’s good news for us that Jesus died for our sins, what does that mean? We know that Jesus, God’s only Son, gave up His life to die on the cross for our sins, but why? As Paul says in verse 2 above, this gospel is by which we are saved. Saved from what? It’s definitely good news that we’re saved, but do you know what you’re saved from? Or if you haven’t yet accepted Christ as Savior, do you know what he’s offering salvation from? Our logic might conclude that since Jesus died for our sins, was buried and raised from the dead, and that this is the gospel by which we are saved, then it must mean we are saved from our sins because of what Jesus did. Now that is good news!
Unfortunately I think this is where the message stops a lot of times in today’s churches. Don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely 100% truth that we’ve established so far, but it’s not yet a complete picture. In order for us to realize just what a sacrifice Jesus’ death was we have to fully understand what He saved us from. Yes it’s our sins, but why would anyone need saving from those? In fact, one might argue a lot of times “sin” is fun, exciting, glamorous, or satisfies our desires. I mean after all a top vacation destination is “Sin City” right? So why save people from that? Because we MUST understand that the wages, the cost, the punishment of these sins is DEATH and not just a physical death, here today gone tomorrow death, its ETERNAL DEATH and we can’t run from that, can’t escape it. Romans 3:23 ESV solidifies that for us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse provides the full picture we’re talking about. Our sin leads to death and it is eternal, but Christ paid that price with his own life that we might have eternal life in Him if we only believe. Without Jesus we are destined to face the full wrath of God and it is perfectly justified because of our sin. “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:5 ESV God is perfect in His sovereign wrath just as He is perfect in His sovereign love. He expressed the power of His love for us by sending Jesus to die for our sins, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV If we don’t accept the gift of salvation, then it is most definitely not good news, in fact it’s grave news indeed, because God will not hold back His wrath from those who don’t believe. In Revelation the author John is describing the full force of God’s wrath by stating that when it is poured out in full strength, all those who have not followed God will be literally tormented with fire, meaning Hell, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” Revelation 14:10-11 ESV The full fury and force of His wrath is to be feared because, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7 ESV But the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins is that we are truly saved from this wrath because Christ has provided the atonement for us and our sins will be forgiven if we trust Him as Savior. That’s the Gospel and it expresses the full power of God’s love.
If you’re reading this and you’ve not yet accepted Jesus as your Savior, you will face the wrath of God the day you die. It’s a blunt, sobering message that is 100% true. There’s no watering that fact down, no amount of feel good message is going to save you from that, only the blood of Jesus Christ dying on the cross can save you. The choice is yours, the full wrath of God or the full power of God’s love in the assurance and salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. “Choose you this day, whom you will serve.”
Great mixture of Grace and Truth!!! So many times we leave one out, but Jesus shows both always. The key here is that those who SIN, but don’t think it’s sin. They don’t know, because they don’t know the law. Romans 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” So it’s crucial that they recieve the Gospel, but in my opinion, recieve it with Grace and Truth.
Great stuff John!!!
Amen and great comment Hutch! I’m so glad you pointed out the grace and truth. Just like you say, we often hear one without the other and its critical to hear both. John 1:14 tells us Jesus came full of grace and truth, so anything other than that is simply incomplete.