What is the Gospel?
Gospel means “good news.” In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul defines the gospel message that is “of first importance” with five words: “Christ died for our sins.” Along with Christ’s death is his resurrection: “He was buried, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This, in a nutshell, is the gospel
It’s good news because of what Jesus’s death accomplishes—peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, freedom, justification, and on and on we could go.
But sadly, in order to know that the gospel is “good news,” we need to first know the bad news. This bad news can be summarized with one word: death. Death came into the world when men and women sinned against God. Sin is rebellion against God—it is a rejection that God is the rightful ruler over his creation. This rejection brought separation from God and the curse of sickness and death.
So the bad news is that our sin has separated us from a Holy God: spiritual death. And the bad effects of sin are as bad as the good effects of the gospel. Blindness. Sickness. War with God. Anger. Pride. Hatred.
2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this world [the devil] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
I heard John Piper once say, “Blindness doesn’t stop the light from shining. It stops a light from being seen.” The only way the darkness is banished and blind eyes can see is when the veil is lifted. We can’t flip on the lights for people on our own, but we can, as Paul did, speak the gospel, and God opens hearts and floods souls with light so they can see spiritually. Every person needs a savior. Every person needs to be made alive, healed, set free, have peace, get out of debt all with God.
The good news is that the bad news doesn’t have to have the last word in our lives—no one is too far beyond God’s grace because of what they’ve done, and no one is too good to not need God’s mercy.
But this news of the gospel only becomes good when someone places their trust in Jesus alone as the one who can pay for sins and bear the curse for us. The reason the cross is central in Christianity is because it is where sin and death were done away with. In this way, the gospel is the antidote to sin and death. Inoculations keep us from getting sick, but antidotes cure. We need an antidote to sin and death.
We believe this by faith: he gave his perfect life, so that our broken and sinful lives could be healed and forgiven—that we could have life instead of death.
This is the gospel. This is the good news.