What is the Gospel?
The word ‘gospel’ is one we have all heard many times during our lives as Christians. If you ask almost any Christian, they will tell you that the gospel is the “good news”. If you go further to ask that person what this good news entails, the variety of answers you get might surprise you! New Testament scholar, David Seccombe, put it this way, “The gospel matters for humankind because it alone gives life.”
To break it down, the word ‘gospel’ comes from the Greek work euangelion, which lays out to us that the good news centred on Jesus Christ, his death, resurrection, ascension and second coming. This is contained in but not restricted to the four historical Gospels: Matthew Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ commissioned his original disciples, along with all those who would follow throughout history, to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). And this has continued to this day.
According to Paul, the “gospel” is the tool that God uses to save mankind (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:17-25). In short, the gospel is good news of great joy for all people, because of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:10). There is no more important news or message any human will ever hear or have the privilege of sharing.
It brings faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of God” The gospel is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in bringing salvation to the world. This gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes…”
The gospel strengthens our faith, and by faith we receive Christ and all the benefits in being washed and made clean. The gospel should be preached to all people – and not just to unbelievers but also to professing believers too. “So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15). The gospel humbles us and exalts our God. In the church there is nothing more glorious than work of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel must be the emphasis and it should be preached freely and earnestly.
The good news is not only the truth that God saves sinners but the means by which he does it. Sin separates us from God, leaving us without any hope of reconciliation. But God has made a means of redemption for mankind through the death and resurrection of his Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The fall of man in the Garden of Eden means every fibre of our being – thoughts, affections, feelings and whole body – is ruined by sin. Because of man’s sinful state we cannot seek God and have no desire to come to him, “for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7).
God in His mercy has provided a substitute for us, Jesus Christ, who came to pay the penalty for our sins by his sacrifice on the cross. So at the core of the gospel is the death of Christ, his burial, his resurrection and ascension (1 Corinthians 15:2-4). We must hold fast to the true gospel and oppose all others. Paul said that the true gospel is “the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.” This means that salvation is not attained by the efforts of man, but by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Therefore we should never be ashamed to tell others the gospel, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). If you are a Christian it is because you heard God’s effective plan of salvation for all mankind—for all tribes, tongues and nations. There is no greater news to share.