What is the Gospel?

There are still a few additional statements to make regarding the discernment series that ran here last week, but given the conclusion of the Desiring God Conference this weekend, there are some important things that have come to mind.  Yesterday, while listening to a few of the conference sessions for blog worthy discussions, I heard something interesting that made me think.  It was something so simple, that we often overlook it.  Like them or not, gathered at this conference were some of the great theological minds of today in Albert Mohler and John Piper to name a few.  At the beginning of a panel discussion involving these two men along with authors and pastors Francis Chan and Thabiti Anyabwile, which complex doctrines do you think they discussed?  What controversial, oft misunderstood passage of Scripture do you think they debated?  None of that.  The moderator asked Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile to walk the crowd through the Gospel.  Here are thousands of people gathered at a conference entitled Think and it all comes back to the centrality of the cross, exactly where it should.  What I also found interesting is that Pastor Anyabwile asked for a show of hands of those who had accepted the Gospel and were believers in Christ and then he proceeded to explain the Gospel to this crowd of thinkers, no doubt some of who were not saved.

Which brings us to the topic of this post, what is the Gospel?  Because if there are unsaved people in attendance of a national conference which exhorted people to think biblically, then I know there are those of you who visit this site who are unsaved.  The Gospel literally means “Good News” and it tells us that there is a God, one God, and the only true God.  He is holy, righteous, the all-knowing Creator of the universe.  In Exodus 34:6-7 as the Lord was preparing the tablets of the 10 Commandments for Moses, He passed before him and declared, “6…”The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” which gives us greater insight into the character of God and who He is.  When we hear that the Gospel is “good news” it begs the question why did we need good news?  Isn’t it just good news that we’re alive?  That we’ve made it this far in life?  That we may have had ups and downs, good times and bad, but we’ve survived and continued on in life?  Isn’t that good news?  Maybe you think it’s good news when you get a new job, car, house, baby, isn’t all of that good news?  Why then would we need something called the Gospel which declares it’s good news in and of itself?  The answer can be found in the passage from Exodus from above when God says he “will by no means clear the guilty.”

This creates an additional question, “Who are the guilty?”  Well that’s the bad news because every single one of us, man, woman, and child are guilty.  Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  All of us stand guilty because of our sin, before that same Holy God that we mentioned earlier.  Sin can best be described as any act, attitude, or thought that is contrary to God’s moral law.  This means that even to the level of our thoughts we are guilty.  Ever hated someone?  Matthew 5:21-26 says it’s the same as murder.  Ever had a lustful thought about someone?  Matthew 5:27-28 says it’s the same as adultery.  Every single one of us has violated the law of God and we stand condemned before Him because of that.  Romans 3:10 affirms that “none is righteous, no not one.”  As guilty sinners we just read that God will by no means “clear the guilty” so we are therefore heading for punishment.  Romans 6:23 describes that punishment as death, “For the wages of sin is death” and this is just not a physical death; it’s a spiritual one as well, meaning death and separation from God, forever residing in hell.  Before God we stand, guilty, sinners, hopelessly condemned with no chance of anything but death and hell.  But remember, the Gospel means “good news” and what good news it is.

As God is holy, righteous, just and is wrathful towards sin, He is equally “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” as we read earlier.  And because of that He has given us really, really good news, namely His Son Jesus Christ, whom God sent to die for the sins of all those who believe (John 3:16), so that God’s holiness would be upheld and that He could be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).  God is able to be just because His wrath that He had stored up for us sinners (Romans 2:5) was poured out on His Son Jesus at Calvary on the cross (Romans 5:9-11; Isaiah 53:5,10) .  All those who repent (Acts 3:19, 2 Corinthians 7:10) and trust in Jesus (John 3:36) are able to now stand justified (Romans 8:1) before God because of Christ’s death on the cross and in doing so He satisfied God’s wrath.  Our sins were literally credited to His account, while His righteousness was credited to ours.

This truly is good news.  Without it, without repenting and turning from your sins and without trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of sins there is no hope (Luke 13:5).  The Bible says those who trust in Christ are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), having been raised with Him from the grave (Romans 6:4), never again to walk in the slavery of sin (Romans 6:18), but now walking in righteousness and following after Christ as Lord and Savior.  Our hope rests in Him that we will one day be joined together with Jesus forever, for “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” to all who repent and believe.

That’s the Gospel.  What is your response to it? 

To listen to the panel discussion referenced above, see the link below:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/speaker-panel-with-piper-anyabwile-chan-and-mohler

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