What is the Gospel?
Before “in the beginning,” all was the holiness and the light of God: God the Father, the Son of God, and the Spirit of God.
And the Father said to the Son, Those who will believe in me (Romans 1:16) with the faith that I give them (Ephesians 2:8) will be given to You so that You may give them eternal life (John 17:2). They will know Me and they will know You whom I have sent (John 17:3). And You will glorify Me. And I will glorify You (John 17:4-5). And they will have Your joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13). Then all the world will know that I have sent you and that I love You and that I love them as I love You (John 17:23).
God said “let Us make them in our image” (Genesis 1:26). His creation (that’s us) could love and obey Him, but this meant we could also not love and obey Him. We could make other poor choices and in fact, were more likely to do so (Romans 5:12). It would be in our nature to do so (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). God knew this, but He loved us anyway (1 John 4:19; Romans 5:8) even though He hadn’t created us yet.
In The Beginning
So God created humanity (Genesis 1:27) . Then, as God knew would be the case, sin soon followed. And God’s plan was in motion. It is important to remember this part; God’s plan wasn’t ruined. God’s plan wasn’t thwarted or even delayed. God’s plan had begun.
Humanity moved forward. But sin went with it. Even though sin had reached its maturity in the days of Noah, God continued with His plan and allowed Noah’s family to continue forward while passing judgment on the rest of the earth (Genesis 6:7-8). Humanity again went forward. And again sin went with it. And God’s plan was still in motion.
After some time (Genesis 11:10-12:4) and some repopulation, sin was again maturing and the people got together to try and be equal with God by building a tower. God said, “let Us confuse their language.” Like God knew they would, humanity proved that they would make the wrong choices. So God confused their languages and dispersed them across the earth (Genesis 11:4-11:9).
I will be their God
From these scattered people, God appointed one man named Abram. God changed his name to Abraham and from this one person, God rose up an entire nation.
Through Moses, God told His nation what would be necessary in order for them to be righteous or holy enough to be His (Leviticus 20:26). These necessary things were called the Law.
God knew that the people, even His people, couldn’t possibly be righteous enough themselves because of their nature. Using the Law, God proved it to them. Don’t forget here that God still loved His creation and this was also an important part of His plan.
God provided them with a sacrificial system through which people’s ongoing sins could repeatedly be forgiven–atoned for or repaid. Due to the severity of sin, something had to die to atone for it (Romans 6:23).
Depending on the sin, a person could sacrifice a perfect animal like a dove or a bull or a goat to satisfy God’s wrath over these sins. But God’s wrath would only be sated a short time and if only in his heart, almost immediately, that person would sin again, and another sacrifice would be necessary.
A Child is born
So the second member of the Godhead, the Son of God, came to the earth in the form of a human Child (John 1:14; Luke 2:16). He was named Jesus. With His Father’s help, His mother raised and protected Him until His time to enact God’s plan had come.
Jesus was tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-13). By denying Satan’s temptations, Jesus established Himself as the New Man in creation; a replacement for the first man who failed to deny Satan’s temptation (Romans 5:12, 15).
Jesus continued His sinless life. He also preached and taught of the coming kingdom of God while He performed miracles to establish His authority.
The religious leaders of the time did not want their power and authority to be challenged, so they had Jesus killed by crucifixion. And this too was part of God’s plan; the most important part in fact. They killed Him with the same sin in their hearts that Jesus had come to forgive them of. And He begged the Father to forgive them while He hung there on the cross (Luke 23:34).
It is finished
Jesus came to earth to be the final sacrifice. This sacrifice would be the only sacrifice capable of atoning for all sin, everywhere, once and for all.
How did it work? Jesus, who was perfect and perfectly innocent, voluntarily died a sinner’s death anyway and God’s wrath and condemnation were poured out onto Him for all of the sins of those who believed in Jesus (John 3:16-18). God’s wrath was satisfied.
Jesus was buried on the first day of His death. On the third day, Jesus was resurrected. He appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6) before ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19). Then He sent the third member of the Godhead–the Spirit of God to indwell and remain with His followers (John 14:15-17, 15:26). Sin was defeated. Death was defeated. Satan was defeated (Hebrews 2:14).
Now mankind no longer has to sacrifice bulls and goats to atone for their sins. Instead, we have to repent of the sin in our lives, accept that we cannot atone for it ourselves, and accept Jesus’ atoning sacrifice as the only sufficient sacrifice for our sins. If we believe that in our hearts and make Jesus the Lord of our lives, then we are made right with God (Acts 3:19; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 John 1:19).
Now those who have faith in Christ are no longer dispersed across the earth. Now there’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, no male and female for the faithful are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28).
What the Gospel is not
The Gospel is not just a ticket to heaven that is there for the giving or the taking. You don’t begin a conversation about the Gospel by asking someone if they want to go to heaven. Jesus didn’t say, Proclaim the Gospel, and don’t forget to ask if they’d like to go to heaven when they die. This starts out the Gospel conversation by making it about the person rather than about God.
The Gospel is not just the story of how we are saved. As much as we like to make things all about us, it’s bigger than us. Sure, we rebelled and corrupted God’s creation in the first place, but beyond that, we were barely involved.
When Jesus commanded us to proclaim the Gospel (Mark 16:15), He said nothing about telling everyone how terrible our lives used to be until we “found God” and how we get to go to heaven now.
Sharing of the Gospel has been watered down into “get saved quick in 3 easy steps.” Bow your heads and say the sinner’s prayer with me.
What the Gospel is
The word Gospel means ‘good news.’ The good news is God’s account, given to us in God’s Word, of how God’s creation — mankind, the heavens, and the earth — were given the righteousness of God and reconciled back to God, by God, and for God’s glory despite the presence of Satan and sin in the world.
By God’s grace mankind can now be made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. This reconciliation is appropriated to the sinner through faith which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:21-22; 1 Peter 1:8-9).
[the Gospel] is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “the righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
If we believe God’s Gospel and we follow Jesus and obey His laws, we are saved by God. What are we saved from? God’s wrath and eternal separation from God. We refer to this as salvation. And this is from the Lord (Psalm 37:39).
If you still have questions about God’s plan and how you were always meant to be a part of it, please leave a comment below or email me directly.
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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.