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What is the Gospel?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is succinctly described by the Apostle Paul in his first epistle to the church at Corinth. Paul declared, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Three key elements are necessary for an accurate expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: our sins, Christ's death, Christ's burial and resurrection.

The first element that is vital to a proper understanding of the Gospel is the issue that made the Gospel necessary, namely, sin. The Scriptures reveal that sin is the problem from which all other problems spring. We read that all men are sinners, void of righteousness, and require a righteousness that they do not have and can not earn (cf. Rom. 3:11-20). Sin is an internal problem that resides in the very heart and being of all humanity, and that problem must be, and can only be, addressed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The second element that is vital to a proper understanding of the Gospel is the death of Christ. From the fall in the Garden to the present day in wich we live, it is shown that the wages of sin is death (cf. Gen. 3:19; Rom. 6:23). God is righteous and His Law must be honored, but God is also love and desires to save His people from their sins (cf. Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; 1 John 4:7-8; Matt. 1:21). Where can these two seemingly contradictory truths be reconciled? The penal, substitutionary atonement that was accomplished in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul tells us in Romans, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:25-26). Christ fully honored the law of God, thus making Him the perfect sacrifice (Cf. Hebrews 4:15), and died for the sins of His people to satisfy the wrath of God.

The third element that is vital for a proper understanding of the Gospel is the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit revealed through the Gospel writers that the same body that perished on the cross, was removed from that cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb (cf. Matt. 27:55-57; Mark 15:39-47; Luke 23:46-56; John 19:32-42). The burial of Christ is vital because it testifies to the fact that the same body that perished on the cross and was buried, is the same body that triumphantly exited the tomb three days later. The bodily resurrection is of prime importance, because it confirms the identity of Christ, and the Father's acceptance of His sacrifice for our sins (cf. Luke 24:44-48; Heb. 7:24-28; 9:11-28). The Lord Jesus Christ is alive, and He will return one day! The day that Jesus ascended back to the Father's right hand, the disciples stood looking upward. As they stood looking toward heaven, two angels stood by them and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). He is risen! He is reigning! He shall return!

The three elements described above are vital truths that make up the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is these three truths that constitute the message that is to be believed and announced. The bad news is that man is hopelessly and helplessly lost in sin and destined for hell. The Good news is that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, offered Himself fully to satisfy the wrath of God, and was raised from the dead three days later. This is the Gospel that is to be preached throughout the world. The Savior's work is finished, He is alive at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and applies His salvation to His people through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

Pastor Jacob S. Smith


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