The gospel can be summed up in one verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).
God has always desired intimate relationship with us as the masterpiece of His creation. However, sin presented an impenetrable obstacle that was only effectively removed when “Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again” – victorious over all the negative and destructive forces that opposed us and held us trapped, as the wages or consequences of our sin is eternal separation from God and punishment in hell (Ezek 18:4,20; Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:1-4; 1 Jn 3:8). However, Jesus stepped into our predicament and died, taking on Himself the sin of humanity, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (Jn 1:12; Rom 5:8; 1 Pet 3:18).
“For God so loved me…”
beneficial changes (Rom 1:16, 8:1-4). Without personally having a relationship with Christ as Saviour each human is doomed to a Christ-less eternity in hell (Jn 3:18). This passing from death to life is typically called conversion, being saved, giving my life to Christ or becoming a Christian.
Receiving pardon for our sin is just the start of the many blessings inherent in the gospel that brings increasing relationship with God, personal release from the bondage of sin and the potential of an eternally enriching ministry to others. As we grow in grace and knowledge of Christ we can avail ourselves of more of what is our inheritance (2 Pet 3:18). Those who respond in faith and obedience receive eternal life while those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus will be punished with everlasting destruction (Jn 3:36; 2 Thes 1:8,9; Heb 5:9).
The OT spoke prophetically of the future ministry of Jesus, who when He came declared, “Today the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing…“I must preach the good news for this is why I was sent” (Isa 61:1-3; Lk 4:18,19,21,43). Jesus began to preach the good news of God calling on the people to “repent and believe” as it is only of value when acted on (Mt 7:21-27; Mk 1:14,15; Heb 4:2). There must be genuine (and ongoing) repentance. Jesus and the salvation He offers is not just another add-on to our lives, rather He is to be the central focus of our lives as Lord of all (Ex 20:3; Mk 12:30).
Paul declared that the full extent and significance of the gospel is not the invention of man as it was received by revelation from Jesus Christ, there being only one true genuine gospel. If anyone preaches another gospel, they are under God’s curse (Gal 1:6-12).
All the world’s religions are based on human effort and adhering to lifeless rituals or ceremony, only Biblical Christianity is based on divine accomplishment – Christ’s sacrifice on the cross on our behalf is the only way of salvation (Jn 10:9, 14:6; Act 4:12; 1 Cor 15:20; Eph 2:8,9). In the place of our efforts, that are useless like ‘filthy rags’, we are given the righteousness of Christ (Isa 64:6; Rom 3:21-24, 5:21).
The first four books of the NT (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are accounts, written by four men, of the one gospel concerning God’s son, Jesus Christ, and what He taught and did while on earth (Lk 1:1; Act 1:1, 10:37,38). These records, “The gospel according to...”, were written so that all Christ’s teaching and instruction would be faithfully documented and the facts not distorted or seen as fables (Lk 1:2-4; Jn 19:35, 21:24; 2 Pet 1:16; 1 Jn 1:1-3). Matthew, Mark and Luke have similar content – these are commonly called the synoptic gospels and, when considered along with John, they give a reasonable understanding of the life of Christ, although He did many other things as well (Jn 21:25).
Provided we faithfully present the gospel (both in lifestyle and word) in a palatable way that non-believers can understand we are not responsible if they reject the offer of salvation as we have discharged our responsibility – the choice is theirs (Ezek 33:7-9). Although God would like all people to be saved many will reject Him (Jn 12:47,48; 1 Tim 2:4). Because Satan has blinded people’s spiritual eyes the gospel seems foolish to many people (1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:4).
Good news is for sharing
radiate out to our immediate family and friends spreading to all those we encounter (Act 1:8, 6:7). We should be winsome advertisements for Christ, praying the Holy Spirit will convict the unbelievers of their need of a Saviour and they will ask, “What must I do to be saved?” (Act 16:30,31). Like Paul we should proclaim the gospel with boldness even though opposition and persecution might occur; this purifies the believers and causes Christianity to spread and grow (Act 8:1-8; 1 Cor 9:16; Eph 6:19,20; 1 Thes 2:2).
The gospel has the power to radically transform our lives, if we actively co-operate and really take its message to heart – as we realise what He has done, is doing and is yet to be outworked there should arise an emphasis on intentional discipleship – to study the Word and live out what it says, with explicit and complete obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
It starts with a heart change, but should not stop there
(whosoever will) and exclusive (not all will accept the offer, and therefore exempt themselves). People of different cultural, social and economic groups who otherwise have no other bonding are linked by a common faith in Jesus as brothers and sisters in the heavenly family (Jn 1:12; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11; Heb 3:1).
The gospel is a call to repentance, a total change of direction and lifestyle, from going our way to hell to going His way to heaven (Lk 5:32, 14:33; Act 3:19). Have I really embracing Christ’s radical call to discipleship?
The term ‘full gospel’ embraces the truth that Christ not only died to free us from sin’s eternal penalty but also provides healing from sickness and deliverance from demonic bondage and continues to perform miracles as He did when on earth (Heb 13:8).