What Is the Gospel?
By Nicholas J. Mattei
What is the Gospel? "Gospel" means good news, and this good news is about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. It concerns all that Jesus is and all that He has done. But first, there is bad news for you and for me. “It is appointed for people to die once--and after this, judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27), and “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
What then is sin? “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
What is the law? The law is God’s moral law or what is commonly referred to as the 10 commandments. These are
“You shall have no other gods before Me”
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
“Honor your father and your mother.”
“You shall not murder.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“You shall not covet.” (Exodus 20:3-17)
All these commandments are summed up in two great commandments: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
As we have seen, to break these commandments is sin, and all people have sinned. All those who sin shall die, because the wages of sin is death. When we die, we will face God’s judgment. This is a sobering reality. This is serious. Though we may not like it, we need to hear this.
We humans, as creatures, have been created in God’s image. As the Scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), and “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). The first two humans, Adam and Eve, though they were created morally upright, broke God’s law and fell into sin. So all of mankind from thenceforth was plunged into sin as “the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). Not only that, but even in our state of sin we still know God intuitively. Yet we still refuse to acknowledge Him, worship Him and obey Him.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:18-25).
Because of this, all that we are to expect after death is a fearful judgment. This is referred to in Scriptures as "the lake of fire, which is the second death" (Rev. 20:14), "where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:42,50).
All of this is not good news. Dear reader, consider the state of your soul. In light of all this, are you guilty? If you are honest with yourself, you know that you are. So, what can be done? How can you be saved, forgiven, redeemed and reconciled back to God? The answer is what I said before, the Gospel of Jesus!
God has taken it upon Himself to save His creatures. He has eternally existed as one in being and three in persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the infinite, personal, triune God. In the person of the Son, God has entered into His own creation to save and restore it. “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,” (Galatians 4:4). 2000 years ago, God’s Son took on flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to save us from our sins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth . . . For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:1-4, 14, 17). While on this earth, one of the first recorded words Jesus publicly spoke were these: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The Gospel is this: as the sinless Son of God, Jesus came as our substitute and representative before the Father to live the life that we should have lived and to die in our place. As Jesus Himself said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45.). He also said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus was crucified and bore the wrath of God for us. God made Him to be a curse for us. As the Scriptures says, “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Elsewhere in Scripture it says, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Three days after His death, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. As the Apostle Paul says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once” (1 Corinthians 15: 3-6).
After His resurrection Jesus ascended back into heaven and commissioned His disciples by saying “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). At the end of the age, Jesus will come back to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1).
Dear reader, after 2000 years of Jesus’s disciples following this command, this message has come to you.
What should you do? The call of the Gospel is to repent and believe this good news--believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance means to change your mind and to turn from sin. See yourself in light of all that has been said and remorsefully turn to God. To believe is to put your faith and trust in all that Jesus is and all that He has done.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26).
No amount of good works can make you right with God because “And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isiah 64:6). And no amount of good works added onto faith will save you, only faith alone, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28).
So, my friend, again, the call of the Gospel is to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. Come to Christ and live, be reconciled to this God in whose “presence there is fullness of joy” and at His “right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11).
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