We so easily get used to the word “gospel” and yet are we really sure what is meant by the word? We know that “gospel” is a key Bible word. We know that it tells us of a great message. We may even know that a loose translation is “good news”. But what is the message and why is it good news? So let us engage with this word “gospel” and see what we can discover from the Bible.
Paul asserts the importance of the gospel to himself when he says that I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16a). Let us use this statement as a means of unpacking the meaning of “the gospel” to our own hearts.
Power of God
Paul speaks in another place of the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11b). Thus we establish immediately that the gospel is God’s message. It is not a message contrived by men, but it is a message given by God. God as the blessed God is ever to be praised and He has given this glorious message.
But not only is the message from God it is also a message full of power from God. When Paul speaks of this power in Rom. 1:16 he is using the word which in English has been used for “dynamite”. The gospel is an explosive message and that power is from the eternal Lord God. God is so interested in this message that he has implanted within it all the power needed to transform lives.
The mention of transforming lives brings us to the heart of what the gospel does. The critical problem which afflicts the whole of mankind is that of sin. Sin is so serious that God has declared it to be a capital offense. Sin leads to death. The pay back for sin is always death (see Rom 6:23). The plight of the whole of mankind is therefore desperate. Romans 1:18-3:20 gives a detailed portrayal of this terrible situation.
The gospel though tells of a rescuer. Paul declares that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). John says of the mission of our Saviour, when he first came, that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17). Further, Peter tells us that He is the only one who can rescue us from the terrible experience of eternal death. He said to the rulers, elders and teachers of the law Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
So actually how does Jesus Christ rescue us. Peter again instructs us here when He says that He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24a). The cross of Calvary is the place where the pivotal act of salvation took place. At the cross the the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Is. 53:6b). At the cross the LORD took the place of all His people. He took their sins. And He had the full judgment of God poured out on Him. We deserved it, He took it for us. The wrath of God which should have been ours forever was born by him in totality at the cross. This is what John means when he says He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2 ). Sins must be punished with the wrath of God. But, most wonderfully our LORD Jesus at Calvary took our place and bore that full judgment. That is propitiation. He gave His life that we might live. Peter puts it like this: Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (1 Pet 3:18)
How wonderful is this gospel message. Notice that it is a message which focuses on neither sickness / illness nor poverty. The focus is on the problem of sin. This is mankind’s key problem; all other problems are derived from it. Sin is about failing to meet God’s perfect righteous standards. It is not loving him with all our heart, mind and soul and our neighbour as ourselves.
To all who believe
The gospel is a beautiful message. It is written in blood; the blood of Jesus. The victory of the cross of our Lord Jesus is seen to be all-prevailing by His resurrection from the dead. Salvation comes to us at the moment when we die to ourselves and receive fullness of life through believing in Christ who is alive forevermore. Paul’s summary of his ministry at Ephesus gives us the gist of what we have to do. He says of this ministry that I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21). We must repent of our sins and believe in Christ.
However, we must stress that salvation does not automatically come. The gospel message is a message that has to be received. We must acknowledge that it is true and then fully give ourselves, in trusting obedience, to the one who is the essence of the message Jesus Christ the LORD.
So that is the gospel. It is a message of rescue. It is a message of life. It is The message beyond all messages Let us believe it; to not believe has the most terrible consequences. Paul says in this context to the Thessalonians: 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 (2 Thess. 1:8-9). Oh trust now in the once crucified Saviour, salvation He offers to you. Remember now is the day of salvation. If we die without Christ there is no hope of salvation. In Hebrews 9:27 we read: people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. But Paul could say there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1)
What a beautiful message this is. The whole of eternity will be spent for the Christian contemplating what Christ has done for us in Christ (see Rev 5:9-14). Alleluia what a Saviour; that is the gospel. He is the gospel.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of May 2008)