THE GOSPEL (EXPANDED)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16
What is the Gospel?
The Gospel (Good News) is the gift of salvation for the world through Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Good News is that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures (God’s Holy Word), that he was buried, [and] that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4, italics added). God did this through Christ Jesus “in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).
To realize and appreciate the good news, one must first recognize and understand the bad news—the sinful and condemned state of mankind. God is the maker of heaven and earth and all things: an eternal, infinitely powerful and loving God. He is the only God that ever was and the only God that will ever be (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6). He created the first man Adam from the dust of the earth and placed him in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:4-25). But there Adam sinned against God and was removed from His presence (Genesis 3:1-24). Through the transgression of the first man on earth, Adam—sin, death, and condemnation entered the world (Romans 5:12, 18).
We are all under sin
Mankind, the seed of Adam, is born into sin (Psalm 51:5). It is in our very nature to sin against God. In fact, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We are all under sin: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Jesus said that “no one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19), and in Jeremiah we learn that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus also taught this about our hearts, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20). He taught that not only wicked actions, but wicked thoughts defile us. To lust after a woman is to commit adultery (Matthew 5:28); to be angry with another is to be a murderer (1 John 3:15).
As sinners we all deserve God's eternal judgement
The wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23), and by our own merit none can escape the judgment of God (Romans 2:3), because “[we] are storing up wrath for [ourselves]on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). Jesus taught and warned about the reality of hell, referring to it as the unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43) and a place of eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46).
Our good deeds cannot save us from this condemnation
Whoever doesn’t believe in Jesus “is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). Outside of faith in Jesus, nothing we do can absolve the debt of sin we have incurred: this includes good works. We are not saved by works done by us in righteousness (Titus 3:5), in fact, even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Speaking of those who attempt to merit God’s favor, forgiveness, and salvation through good deeds the Holy Spirit teaches us: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due” (Romans 4:4). As previously mentioned, however, the wages of sin is death. To seek justification and forgiveness from God by our works will only convict us as sinners and lead to death: For “by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal. 2:16). “And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:12). Because “no one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19), the following describes what all mankind deserves as their wages: “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
How do we find peace with God?
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). We find peace with God through faith in the name of Jesus: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1), and if we are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the Only Son of God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-20; 1 John 4:9, 5:5). He came to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He is called Immanuel, which means God with us (Matthew 1:23). He is also called among other names the Mighty God and the Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6). God was manifested to the world in the flesh through Jesus (1 Tim. 3:16), who is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), and the power of God and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24).
How has Jesus ransomed us from death and hell?
As a man, Jesus was the living human fulfillment of God’s Law, Prophetic Word, and His Righteousness. For “the Word was God” (John 1:1) and “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He lived a perfect, sinless life—doing what we, weakened by the flesh, could never do—condemning sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3). At the appropriate time, like a “Lamb without blemish or spot,” Jesus ransomed us by His own shed blood (1 Peter 1:19). He bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). It was there that He who knew no sin became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and drank the cup of God’s wrath that we deserved so that we could live. “He was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). It was this one act of righteousness on the cross of Calvary that leads to justification and life for all who believe in the name of Jesus (Romans 5:18; 10:11-12). It was there that He once and for all canceled the record of debt that stood against us and nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14).
God's reason for saving us
God chose to save us because of his deep and intimate love for each one of us. Desiring to reconcile fallen mankind, He sent Jesus to die for our sins, thus making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus loved us so much that he laid down his life for us (John 15:13); He who was in the form of God made himself nothing by becoming human and then offering up his life for our sake (Phil. 2:6-8). There is no greater love than that. Jesus’ love for us is so personal and intimate that “when his soul [made] an offering for sin, he [saw] his offspring” (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus saw us when he was dying on the cross. He, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). That is a powerful demonstration of love, knowing “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The gospel is that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures (God’s Holy Word), that he was buried, [and] that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4, italics added). God did this through Christ Jesus “in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
Salvation is a gift to be received by faith
God offers us the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). In Romans 6:23 we learn that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”, and Jesus said “Whoever believes in [me] is not condemned” (John 3:18).
What is repentance?
Repentance is realizing and confessing your state as a sinner before God in humility; it is turning your heart toward Jesus and asking him for mercy and forgiveness (Luke 18:10-14; 1 John 1:9; Acts 3:19). Repentance is to believe that Jesus has already paid the price for your sins and to accept the free gift of grace and forgiveness offered through Him. It is to understand that Jesus is the only remedy for our sin problem (John 14:6), and that salvation is in and through the name of Jesus alone and in no one else (Acts 4:12). Repentance is the moment when sinful man approaches Jesus in humility and with belief and confession (Romans 10:9) finds eternal comfort (2 Thess. 2:16) and everlasting forgiveness (Psalm 103:12) through grace. Then, throughout his life, even when he still sins, the blood of Jesus covers all his sins, past, present, and future—because the single offering of Jesus has already perfected him for all time (Hebrews 10:14). Therefore, repentance that leads to eternal life and God’s forgiveness only happens once: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?...You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19). For those in Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Our sins will never condemn us, but are covered forever by the blood of Jesus: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
What is justification?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). Justification means that we are declared righteous before God through our faith in Jesus—that His righteousness is imputed toward us. “And to the one who does not work (for his salvation) but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5, italics added). It was prophesied in Isaiah 53:11 that Jesus would “make many to be accounted righteous” through His sin offering, and Heb. 10:14 confirms that.
The assurance of salvation is directly related to the knowledge and assurance of the forgiveness of sins: “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). And David “speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘blessed are those whose lawless deeds are covered, and whose sins are covered’” (Romans 4:6-7).
Gift of the Holy Spirit
To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit is to have God’s Spirit dwelling in you. Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is directly related to having the assurance of salvation: one must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5). Through the Word of God we know how we can have assurance that we have been born of the Spirit: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1). And no works are required to receive the Holy Spirit: “…Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” Paul asked (See Gal. 3:1-6). It is through hearing the Word of God and in turn believing in Jesus that one receives the Holy Spirit. That is how the Gentiles first received this gift: “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles” (Acts 10:44-45). Peter also accounted later that the way the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit was also how they (the Apostles) received the Holy Spirit—through hearing with faith: “If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way” (Acts 11:17)? Paul attests to those in Ephesus that “In [Jesus] you also, when you heard the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14). We receive the Holy Spirit through hearing with faith.
Sanctification and Christian fruit
When we believe in Jesus and become saved, we start the process of sanctification. The old has passed away, and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). We grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), developing an intimate and personal relationship with Him. We are called to abide in His Word (John 8:31) and to love one another (John 13:34). Though we are no longer under condemnation as saved believers (Romans 8:1), we do not use our freedom in Christ to live for sin (Gal. 5:13); for those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24) and are called to look to the needs of others (Phil 2:3-4). We have become children of God through adoption by our faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12), and as such, we are chastened and disciplined by the Lord for our good (Heb. 12:9-10). Sanctification is the natural result of having been born again by the Spirit of God (John 10:27). It’s allowing God, who now abides in us (1 John 4:15) and has already saved us, to transform us step by step into his own image (Romans 8:29). “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
We are called as Christians to bear fruit for God. Jesus commands: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). As Christians, that becomes our primary focus—to demonstrate our love to God and others by sharing the marvelous news of the gift of salvation with the world: so that through the grace of God many can come to the saving knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Rom. 1:16).
When we believe in Jesus, we have the assurance and promise of eternal life: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). The Apostle John says: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Jesus said about those who are His: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Though we who believe in Jesus may die in this world, yet we will still live. For Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). And the Apostle Paul taught: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor. 15:49). Jesus has indeed “been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). And we who believe shall follow at His coming (1 Cor. 15:23), now eagerly awaiting the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23)—to be raised a spiritual and imperishable body (1 Cor.15:44, 52). The Apostle John taught: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared: but we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Jesus prayed to God on our behalf saying: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). To be able to be with Jesus forever— eternally abiding in the love of God— is indeed Good News!