What is the Gospel?
The gospel is a piece of astounding news of an event that God has brought about in time and space, and that has changed the destiny of the universe and every soul in it. The gospel is the announcement that Jesus Christ is the risen and gracious Lord, Master, King and Savior of both the material and spirit dimensions of the cosmos. It is the factual news that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, God in the flesh, who has died for our sins, been physically raised from the dead, and currently rules human history as a resurrected human King. God has done this to offer forgiveness and his own eternal quality of life to fallen, evil, and dying humanity by bringing his kingdom into this fallen material world (Mtt.6: 9-10; 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-47; Rom.10:9-10; 1 Cor.15:20-28). His kingdom is already here in an invisible form and will be brought into the visible material realm in the future when He judges the present order and brings about an entirely new creation, a new spirit/material universe (Mtt.19:28; 24:27-30; Acts1:11;17:30-31; 1 Cor.15:20-28; Rev.20-22).
Jesus is Lord. “Preaching the gospel” then, is essentially proclaiming Jesus Christ as the new, reigning and gracious Savior/King, and explaining and applying this reality (Mtt.28:18-10; Luke 24:44-48). Of course, implied in the proclamation is the command to respond in faith to the gospel by turning from evil to God, believing this news about God in Christ and to submitting to Jesus Christ as Savior, Master, and King in God’s kingdom (Mk 1:15). This is what it means to repent and be converted. (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 26:18; Col.1:13-14).
The gospel good news contains at least the following six elements:
1. The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.
a. Jn. 1:1-18; Luke. 1:26-38; Col. 2:8-9
b. This is the entry of God permanently into his created, material universe to redeem and renovate it.
2. The perfect life of Jesus Christ under the God’s Law.
a. Mtt 5:17; Gal 4:4-5; Heb. 4:15
b. This is the life we should have lived and that he has lived on our behalf. 2 Cor.5:21
3. The atoning death of Jesus Christ under the God’s Law.
a. Rom 3:21-28; Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21
b. This is the death we should have died and that he died on our behalf. Gal.3:13.
4. The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion.
a. Mtt. 28; Mk 16; Luke 24; Jn 20; 1 Cor.15:1-9; Acts 17:31
b. This is the beginning of the new reality, the new creation into which we enter when we come to Christ the King. 2 Cor. 5:17-21
5. The risen lordship of Jesus Christ as the king in God’s kingdom. Mtt. 28:18-20
a. The physical ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father. Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor.15:25; Eph 1:20-21; Heb 1:3; 12:1-2; 1 Peter 3:22
b. This means that Christ is the Commander in Chief of God’s army (Lord of Hosts), the king in God’s kingdom here and now and forever.
c. When we come to the King, we become his apprentices in kingdom life. Mtt.11:28-30; 28:20.
6. The physical return of Jesus Christ from the heavenly realm to renovate the material realm.
a. This is for the purpose of judging and renovating the universe and establishing God’s eternal kingdom among humans on earth forever. Jn 14:1-6; Mtt 24; Mk 13; Luke 21; Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Cor.15; 1 Thess.4:16-5:11; 2 Thess.2; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev 20-22.
b. This tangible, material, future hope is the focal point for the Jesus-apprentice that gives perspective to the present suffering. John 14:1-6; 2 Cor.4:16-18; Rom.8:18-28.
It is crucial for people to understand that they are saved now and forever by God’s personal grace in Christ, the grace of the King of the universe, not by any religious or moral activities in which they might be called to engage. This is not simply an abstract doctrine, but a dynamic personal relationship that involves covenant loyalty, love and God’s unmerited favor given to abject and evil sinners who never could deserve it even if they had the good sense to (Rom.5:8-10; 8:1-9). When people put simple, radical, personal, faith in Christ as the Saving Lord by repenting and believing the gospel, God freely and by shear grace makes them members of his eternal kingdom here and now by putting his own Spirit, his Mind and Life into them, birthing them from above so to speak (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7; Eph 2:1-10; 1 Pet.1:3, 23). Christ’s perfect and lawful life and his atoning death are both permanently put to the Christian’s personal account, replacing the former identity of evil, rebellion and punishment (Eph 2:1-10; Gal 3:13; 2 Cor.5:21). In this way the Lord eternally and legally forgives all their sins, making them his children forever. (Titus 3:3-7; Rom 8:1-38; Gal 4:4-7). Almost all of the letters of the NT are expansions and applications of one of these central themes of the gospel, or the practical ramifications of them. It is important that we proclaim the whole gospel consistently and clearly because false spiritual messages and misstatements of the gospel proliferate in this age (Gal 1:6-10).