If you were asked to give a summary statement of what the gospel is, what would you say? I bet, many of us will have a difficult time giving a definition to the Gospel. There is so much confusion out there today about what constitutes the essential elements of the New Testament Gospel. One must first learn and experience the Gospel before sharing it.
Paul introduces the idea of the Gospel in Romans 1:1-6 – “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
“Whose gospel is it?” When Paul uses the phrase “the gospel of God”, he is not talking about a message about God. But rather he is describing an announcement that belongs to God, is authored by God, and owned by God. That is very important because we do not want to play with that. We are playing with something that is not ours. You don’t want to mess with the gospel, you don’t want to tinker with it, you don’t want to improve on it, and you don’t want to change it. Paul, in Galatians, pronounces a curse on anyone who does it. “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).
There are a lot of Christians who present a false gospel in their evangelism. They don’t do this on purpose, but they do it nonetheless. Here are some examples of bad presentations of the gospel message:
And, the list can go on. Christians with good intentions often repeat these watered-down, insufficient presentations of the gospel. We do not want to offer a misrepresentation of the gospel to people. So, what is the true presentation of the Gospel?
Specifically, the gospel is defined by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-4, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The message concerning Christ is called the Gospel (Good News). It is an announcement from God. The Gospel in biblical terms is the Good News of the PERSON and the WORK of JESUS CHRIST. The Gospel is about WHO Jesus is and WHAT Jesus did. In a narrower sense, the Gospel is the saving work of Christ for sinners. [In broader sense] how do you present the Gospel to someone (in your evangelism)? The true presentation of the Gospel should include few basic element:
The Gospel begins with the premise that God is Holy and Just. At the beginning, God created earth and man perfectly. He loved him and had a perfect relationship with him. And God gave man a life to the fullest. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commands the perfect relationship that man had with God was broken. Sin is rebellion against Holy God. It is an offense to God’s holiness and it separates man from Holy God. Because God is holy and a righteous judge, He has to punish the sin. A judge who pardons law-breakers isn’t a righteous judge. Likewise, overlooking sin would make the holy God unjust. Death is God’s just consequence for sin. The punishment for the Sin is the eternal condemnation to hell. Ever since Adam’s sin, every human has been guilty of disobeying God’s righteous laws (summed up in Ten Commandments). Man continually made efforts to reach God seeking that relationship through various ways such as living a good life, using religion, sacrificing bulls and goats etc. But, man has failed in all his efforts. God’s Law demanded a perfect life and perfect sacrifice to forgive our sins. There is no one who is perfect, not a single one could be found sinless on earth! Man couldn’t do anything to fulfill the demand of God and to restore that broken relationship with God. Humans are helpless without hope by their own efforts. This is really a Bad News for all mankind.
But, there is a Good News! There is an escape from this eternal punishment and to receive the abundant life back. That is good news indeed! The word gospel means “good news,” it is the message of forgiveness for our sin through the reconciliation work of Jesus Christ. It is basically God’s rescue plan of salvation for those who will trust in His Divine Son in order to be reconciled to a just and holy God. God so loved mankind. He did not want any men to perish. He knows that no one can live up to God’s perfect standard, a sinless life. So, God decided to intervene, and sent His Only Son Jesus as a substitute to this earth, to live as a human. He lived a sinless, perfect and obedient life according to God’s perfect standards. So, he qualified to be the perfect substitute to satisfy the demand of God. On the cross, Jesus accepted the sins of man, and died willingly on behalf of us. He exchanged His perfect righteousness for our sins. Jesus was buried in the ground for three days, and God raised him up putting an end to suffering of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held by it. The death of Christ accomplishes reconciliation, or reconnecting us back to God by satisfying God’s demand for sin. Now, God promises to forgive our sin of rejecting Him, and to raise us from death by the same power, and to grant eternal life to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, His dying on the cross for our sins and His resurrection.
That is the Gospel of God!