What is the Gospel?

      What is the gospel would seem at first glance to be an unnecessary question in a southern culture where the word “gospel” is so commonly used. The term is not strange to the ears of those who have grown up in what is often referred to as the “Bible Belt.” In many ways, such familiarity is a blessing, and we should give thanks to God for such a rare cultural phenomenon. A word that, in most people groups of the world, would be seen as foreign and peculiar, is to us a very usual expression that hardly raises eyebrows.

     But in other ways, such familiarity can lend itself to a dangerous contentment that assumes too much about people’s understanding and doesn’t strive nearly hard enough to clarify and teach important truths. Perhaps one of the clearest examples of this in our time is the blurring of the lines between presenting one’s testimony and presenting the gospel. One is the story of what God has done in a particular person’s life, and the other is an announcement of God’s work of salvation through the Person and work of Jesus Christ and how that work is applied. Now, certainly a person’s testimony can be shared in such a way to include elements of the gospel, but merely sharing the ways that God has transformed someone’s life is not sharing the gospel.

     So what is the gospel? What is this news that we are to announce to those around us? With all that can be said about God, about Christ, and about salvation, what is the central message that we are to take to the ends of the earth? To answer, I think it’s best to break the gospel down into four parts: God, Mankind, Christ, and Response.[1]

  • God: God is our holy and righteous Creator and King, who deserves the full obedience and worship of all of creation. 
    • Verses—Gen. 1:1, 26-27; Exod. 34:6-7; Ps. 19; Rom. 1:20; 1 Cor. 8:6
  • Mankind: Mankind has rebelled against God. Rather than serving and worshiping God alone, they have turned away from God and devoted their love and trust to themselves and to creation. Because of this, mankind is separated from God and deserving of His just wrath and punishment for their rebellion.
    • Verses—Job 15:14, 25:4; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:9-12, 23, 6:23
  • Jesus: Jesus is the response of God to mankind’s rebellion. In pure love and grace, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and to then give His life on the cross as the perfect sacrifice in place of sinners. Three days later, Jesus was raised physically from the dead in order to triumph over sin, death, and the devil, and to offer His victory, forgiveness, and salvation to men and women. Jesus will return in power and majesty to gather His people and judge the world.
    • Verses—Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18, 25:31, 27:32-56; Luke 24:13-31; John 1:3, 3:16-17, 8:46, 14:3; Acts 1:3; Rom. 4:25, 5:8-9; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Pet. 2:22, 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2
  • Response: The victory, forgiveness, and salvation of Jesus are granted to any person who will confess their sinful rebellion and need of a Savior, and who will then place their full faith, trust, and allegiance, in life and death, in the Person and work of Jesus Christ as their Savior and King. Any person who refuses to do so will face the just and eternal punishment of God for their sins.
    • Verses—John 5:24, 10:27-29, 14:6; Rom. 10:9-13; Gal. 2:15-21; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5

     This is the gospel; this is the good news that we, as ambassadors of Christ, are to announce to those around us. Of course, one can communicate these truths in more personalized ways, but unless these four truths are present, the full gospel has not been shared. It is paramount that we as believers understand the message we’ve been commissioned to spread.

     And the better we do grasp it, the better we’ll use it, not only when we’re evangelizing, but also when we need to apply it to the various circumstances and issues of life. This, of course, is the purpose of this blog: to understand how the gracious message of the gospel relates to every single aspect of our lives. With that in mind, let’s dive into our first issue…The Gospel and Politics.


[1] For these categories, I am relying on Greg Gilbert’s wonderful book, What is the Gospel?