What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is the power of God to bring salvation to all who believe. It is our mission as Christians to proclaim it set by Jesus to go and make disciples to make followers of him.
Our role is to proclaim it and proclaim it in a way that is accessible to the hearers, like Paul said
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 1 Corinthians 9
Definition of “the Gospel”
Oxford Dictionary would describe it as
- The teaching or revelation of Christ.
- The record of Christ’s life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament
Both are correct ways of defining that word because they are created using similar Greek. The word means to “herald a message of great victory”. The four Gospels do that within the context of the first readers who would have understood their intention.
We are not however explaining the four Gospels, we are looking at “the Gospel”
“The herald of the message of the great victory”
That summary would only be the tip of the ice berg of what the Gospel is. The Gospel is simple and easy to understand but also layered to magnificent proportions.
“The 4 Points” Gospel unpacked
Most people’s attempts of explaining the Gospel to someone will often find themselves using this very helpful model of the Gospel, there are many different models of the Gospel, this one is great because it is extremely easy to remember. It isn’t without its limitations, but I will use it simply as guideposts to get into the meat of the gospel.
What is the Heart of God.
- He is all powerful – Job 42:2
- He is all knowing – Psalm 147:5
- He is above time – Psalm 90:1-2
- He Hates Evil – Psalm 5:4
These are important character elements of God to be known. The Christian God isn’t weak and isn’t soft, he is all powerful and all knowing.
He Loves us, he loves you, personally and intimately and all of us corporately. Vs such as Psalm 139 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” And Romans 8 “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God”
This is very different from other religions. This is a uniqueness to the Gospel. In the other monotheistic faiths such as Islam, Allah or God has many names to describe him none of which point towards to a God that is close, instead distant and one you must please.
We have sinned –
Sin often gets confused in our minds. We often equate sin to being naughty, asking ourselves the question how many times have I sinned today?
But Paul in his letter to the romans exposes this not to be the case
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.
Sin then, is not breaking of the law. The Law exposes the sinful nature within us.
Sin is effectively this
Shove off God, I’m in Charge, Not you.
Before I carry on with this, it is important to note that this section in a Gospel outline is all about putting a microscope over the person. The heart section is looking at God, this section is looking at us.
That is a good chance to look at what God created us for. Gen 1:26 – 31 tells us that God created us to be like him
(He chose us to rule over everything and he is very proud of us. Sometimes we focus so much on sin that we can forget that we are set apart from the rest of creation.
That is a very unique thing with the gospel and again very different from other religions, we are given this position straight away we do not have to earn it.
So, going back to sin
Gen 3 1 – 16, we learn about the immediate impact of Sin on creation. The curse on the woman in child bearing and brokenness separation in the created land. separated in relationship (we see this through the curse, man and woman’s relationship has been extremely affected by sin.)
But most importantly this is all a sign that, we are separated from God. We have said shove off God and he has replied ok, you want to I’m not going to stop you. You want to do it on your own you can do it. But here is what separation looks like.
This so useful when dealing with the subject of suffering in the world. How can God allow suffering the answer we created it when we sinned. Sin creates suffering because it separates from the perfect created land causing creation to bring about suffering and separation from each other, meaning we turn on each other
And we all do this. Roman 3 10 –
Sin is not like karma and the Good we do would never be good enough to outweigh the fact we have rejected God.
What is the result of sin? I alluded to it earlier, the creation still has much good in it. We are having a taste of both sides of the coin.
But 2 Thessalonians 1 7 – 9 puts it best
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
Paul in his letter is saying, you reject God, he has to reject you, he must punish you
That’s the knowledge, but the gospel is a living a breathing message that should invoke an emotional response. Listening to this section should make you feel like you are drowning in your sin. Unable to save yourself. It brings the proudest on their knees in trembling before God. As Christians this still give us an emotional response. As well towards ourselves but also towards others around us who do not know this truth.
But there is a solution
Christ Died for us
Now I want to address this point in two sub points.
Who is Jesus?
Why did he have to die?
Who is Jesus?
We know from the scriptures that Jesus was Fully God and Fully man. But where do we see this and how does that work.
Jesus was fully man, born of a fully human mother. Jesus had the physical limitations that we all share in. he had a human soul and emotions. He was fully human as people around him, had close contact with him saw him as a human man.
The historical placement of a Jesus of Nazareth, outside the bible is undeniable. There was a man who lived and died on and is recorded in many different historical texts. According to my sources he is more historically viable than Julius Caesar. But the bible tells us even more about him
1 Peter 2:22 where the apostle peter is found quoting Isaiah 53 saying this “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.
We know that Jesus committed no sin. He claimed it himself. Now this going to play into why did Jesus have to die but it is important to note when understanding the gospel that Jesus lived a life of 33 years without once sinning. That is incredible! We know from what the bible says that no-one else in history before or after has been able to do it.
What is also important to note. Is that Jesus relied fully on his human nature to commit no sin. He wasn’t cheating. He had to obey using his human strength. We see this clearly put to the test in the wilderness where he pushes his body to its limits relying on the father to sustain him. Where he was also directly tempted he used the words of the father to bring forth his obedience, even when tempted by using his Godly nature. These are important things to consider in understanding the Gospel. Jesus was Human like us.
This helps us in knowing that God knows suffering, he knows temptation he understands full what they are like for us as the son experienced both. This has an amazing distinction from other religions.
It is the only religion in which God comes down to us and goes through the same things as us. Therefore, can sympathize with us.
Jesus Fully God
- Mark 1: 27 – Jesus has Godly power over spirits
- Mark 4:41 – He has Godly power over nature
- Mark 7:37 – He has Godly power to heal people
- Colossians 1 17 – 19 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.
This is important to understand because it shows that the solution to the problem, the means of salvation comes from God alone. It will also help in understanding how him dying and resurrecting achieves this.
Jesus both Fully human and Fully God
Why did he have to die?
Simply he had to die as a sacrificial sin offering to atone (pay for) the sins of the world, able to cover all peoples for all eternity. God did this out of his immense love for us but equally out of his perfect justice to deal with the sin and evil in the world.
Christ as stated before, lived the perfect human life, he did this on behalf of all of us. This is important because if Christ only earned forgiveness of our sins, we would be back in the place of Adam and Eve, one bite of a fruit away to square one. Jesus earned righteousness for us.
Romans 5:19 confirms this
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous”
The key passage that sums this up Isaiah is great because not only does is describe what happened it, you can use the fact this was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
Surely, he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
But Jesus didn’t just die he rose again, essentially confirming everything he said about himself and what he would do but also some others
- The Resurrection proved that Christ was divine.
- The Resurrection proved Christ’s power to forgive sin.
- The Resurrection revealed Christ’s power over death.
- The Resurrection defeated God’s enemy
I need to decide to live for God
God has done His part. Jesus gave His own life as a punishment for OUR sin. We didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t ‘fair’ but that’s how much God loves us. Remember it does all come back to how much God loves us.
And you thought I was going to do a Gospel presentation without this verse but this summarizes everything
John 3:16 – 20
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
What this passage add to what has already been said is plainly the choice element, the choice to believe.
That whoever believes
Whoever believes in him
Whoever lives by the truth
With every choice there is a consequence and the Gospel never hides this. Jesus in fact is very blunt about it. Here is an example of Jesus doing just that
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
He is saying the cost of following me is to give your whole life to me, even to the point of death (and we see this is countries around the world). Following Jesus means living in a way that gives him all the glory, the glory he deserves not yours. If we are ashamed of our faith, it possibly means we don’t really have it in the first place.
This is a cost, but you will notice that Jesus explains how that cost stacks up to everything he has done for us, everything God, out of his love has done.
If you live for yourself, you will lose yourself. You can gain everything material wealth a happy family. But at the end you will lose everything.
the cost of following Jesus, is nothing compared to the Cost that God himself went through, out of his love to save us. Not just to save us so we are back to being sinless before we sin again, but made it so we can be with him in relationship with him for all eternity, instead of separated from him. We are also told that God’s spirit and word will empower us and enable us to live out now, strengthening us to deal with whatever the world throws at us. I wish I had time to go into that but frankly every Sunday should help us unpack that!
Our role is to proclaim it and proclaim it in a way that is accessible to the hearers.
Jesus says this Matthew 7
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Through our knowledge of the gospel laid out in the bible, we have this role
To show as many people we can the small gate and to trust that God will do the rest.