I know what you are probably thinking right now. Why are you asking this? Doesn’t everyone know what the Gospel is? Or doesn’t every professed Christian know what the Gospel is? Well unfortunately, that’s not case for many. If one is an unbeliever, it makes sense that they wouldn’t know what it is, because they have never heard it before. If however, you are a professing Christian, you are in trouble if you don’t know what it is. This is obviously not the case for all Christians. Christians throughout the world not only know the Gospel, they are being killed for it. In a prosperous nation like the United States, where Christians are not killed for sharing the Gospel, it becomes Satan’s playground. It is unfortunately easy for the Gospel to get distorted, which leads to folks learning a gospel, but not The Gospel. In the modern American Church, people often have their own definition of the Gospel. It is often defined by people’s own experience and feelings. Now, everyone has their own story about how they came to faith, how God used the Gospel to draw them to Him. However, your feelings and experiences don’t define what the Gospel is. The Gospel has One objective definition, One objective meaning. John MacArthur in his book Fool’s Gold said this.
Experience and feelings–no matter how powerful–do not determine what is true. Rather, those things themselves must be subjected to the test.
Feelings and experience can be helpful, but they also fluctuate. Relying on them to define truth is a mistake. One place you can look to define it is the Word of God.
So what exactly is The Gospel? Well for starters, let’s look at what the word “gospel” means. According to Ligonier ministries, the word gospel comes from the word euangelion, which means “good news”, or “good message”. So the Gospel is good news. But good news of what? What is the good news? To understand the good news, you have to know the bad news. Now you ask, what is the bad news? Well the bad news for us is that we are stained by sin. We were dead in our sin. When God created everything, including us, He called it “very good”. But after Adam and Eve committed the first sin, humanity was doomed. All of mankind was dead, was wicked, depraved by sin.
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. – Ecclesiastes 7:20
as it is written, “There is none righteous , not even one ; There is none who understands , There is none who seeks for God ; All have turned aside , together they have become useless ; There is none who does good , There is not even one .”
– Romans 3:10-12
For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God- Romans 3:23
R.C Sproul Jr, son of the late Reformed theologian R.C Sproul, once made this statement.
Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once and He volunteered.
Obviously, apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ, we are not good, we are not righteous. Yes, on a pure human standard, there are plenty of decent, kind people. But based on God’s standard, none of us fall into it. We cannot enter His kingdom on our own, no matter how hard we try. It is impossible. Thankfully, God was not taken by surprise due to this. “Wait Shawn, are you saying that God causes people to sin?” Absolutely Not! God is Perfectly Good, Perfectly Righteous, Perfectly Just, therefore He can do no evil. He causes no one to do evil. It is not His nature. Be even so, He was not surprised by this. Before the foundation of the earth, He knew mankind would fall, He knows who will face His righteous judgment, He knows who His elect will be, and He knew He would have to become flesh as Jesus and come down here for our sins.
“But wait Shawn, what is the good news? All that you have said is that we are depraved sinners who cannot enter enter the kingdom of God, no matter what we do”. You would correct, but be sure to focus on that key phrase, “no matter what we do”. Again, we cannot earn our way into the Kingdom, but thankfully God made a way through Jesus Christ. And this is where The Good News comes in. In the Old Testament, whenever the Jewish people would atone for their sins, they have to bring a spotless lamb for sacrifice before God. This was done so that their sins may be forgiven.
‘Now if anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and becomes guilty, if his sin which he has committed is made known to him, then he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without defect, for his sin which he has committed. He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. The priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. Then he shall remove all its fat, just as the fat was removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar for a soothing aroma to the Lord. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven.
Now obviously, this was not enough due to our sin nature. But God already had that covered, and was preparing to send the final sacrifice, The Lamb of God. Jesus Christ, who is God in flesh (the Son of God), was sent to die a sinners death and take on the full wrath and judgement of God in our place. But on the third day, He was raised from the dead. So what does all of this mean? It means that those who believe in Jesus Christ (His elect) will have their sins fully forgiven due to the death of Jesus, and will be raised from death in sin to a new life due to the resurrection of Jesus. Upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, believers, while still sinners, are made righteous in the sight of God. In order for this to happen, Jesus Himself had to live a sinless life, a spotless lamb.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
– 2 Corinthians 5:21
Since He lived a righteous life, upon His death, His righteousness was imputed onto us.
Amazing right? The Creator of the Universe, made way for us who believe to access the Kingdom of God, simply because He loves us.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
– John 3:16
And now matter how hard you try, you won’t find this anywhere else, because Jesus is the only way.
Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
– John 14:6
Another reason why this is absolutely amazing is because we didn’t deserve it. We deserved to die on that cross, not Jesus, but He took our place anyways.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
Not only did we not deserve it, we also had nothing to do with it. As I said before, because of our depraved sin nature, it is impossible for us to earn our salvation. While in most religions, people have to do good works to achieve salvation, Christianity teaches that we are saved by Grace through faith alone.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
– Ephesians 2:8-9
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
– Galatians 2:16
Scripture is clear, we had nothing to do with our salvation. It wasn’t even our choice. The Doctrine of Election teaches that God chose His elect before the foundation of the earth, and draws them, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to Himself.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
– Romans 8:28-30
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
– John 6:44
This Doctrine, in Calvinism and Reformed Theology, is known as the TULIP.
Perseverance of the saints
Now, it is fine if you don’t necessarily believe in this Doctrine as it has no bearing on your salvation, but it is Biblical. For me personally, it gives me comfort to know that I had nothing to do with it in any way. It brings about assurance of salvation meaning that once the elect have been drawn, you don’t become undrawn.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
– John 10:27-30
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 8:38-39
In other words, since you cannot do anything to earn your salvation, you cannot do anything to lose it either.
In conclusion, The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the story of a creation dead in sin and the Creator becoming flesh and becoming a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins so that we are seen as righteous in the sight of God. This is the Good News we have, the hope we have. This is why believers must also be vigilant when someone presents a gospel that is completely antithetical to The Gospel of Jesus Christ.