A Gospel, may be interpreted as being a written account, describing the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In a more general sense, the term “gospel” is seen and generally accepted as meaning and referring to, the “Good News” message of the New Testament. “The Gospels”, are primarily used to refer to the four Canonical books of the Bible, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which comprise the first four books of the New Testament.
The word “gospel,” appears to derive from the Old English “gōd-spell” meaning “good news” or “glad tidings” which are word-for-word translations of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον or “euangelion” (eu- “good”, -angelion “message”).
The gospel is the “good news” of our redemption through the propitiatory offering of Jesus Christ for one’s sins, as John 3:16 reads “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.” This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is the central Christian message.
Even before the four Gospels were written down, there is evidence that the word was in common usage in the Christian community as First Corinthians 15:1 records for us when Paul says “And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand.” Here, the Gospel used is the same εὐαγγέλιον or euangelion as mentioned above, as he declares and argues for the Gospel of Jesus.
Throughout his teachings, Paul used Gospel in its simplest form, so that all who heard and read, would understand it easily. Indeed, one of the characteristics of Paul’s teachings on the Gospel, on the Good News, is the simplicity of the message, as we read in First Corinthians 15:3-8 where he records:
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, 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; and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve.
Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep.
Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all He was seen by me also, as one born out of time.”
There are many Bible verses which exemplify the Gospel of Jesus Christ in absolute simplicity. This, however, does not mean that the Gospel is simplistic in any way, manner of form. Indeed, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a work of immeasurable glory, depth, breath and implication. The Gospel of Jesus is so simple, it is capable of instant understanding by any willing recipient, yet at the same time, its depths many still remain unplumbed after a life time of earnest study. Let us look at some examples:
Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed.”
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
John 3:16 “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.”
Acts 10:43 “All the Prophets give witness to Him, that through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins.”
Acts 13:38-39 “Therefore be it known to you, men, brothers, that through this One the forgiveness of sins is announced to you. And by Him all who believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.”
Romans 4:25 “Who was delivered because of our offenses and was raised for our justification.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
First Corinthians 15:3-6 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, 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; and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep.”
Second Corinthians 5:19 “Whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us.”
Second Corinthians 5:21 “For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Second Timothy 2:8 “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.”
Titus 2:14 “Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.”
Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. And to those who look for Him He shall appear the second time without sin to salvation.”
First Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.”
First Peter 3:18 “For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit.”
First John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.”
Let us look again at one of the above scripture verses, First Corinthians 15:3-6 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, 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; and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep.” Paul says that this IS the Gospel, writing in vv1-2:
” And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand; by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”
Not only is Paul telling us what the Gospel of Jesus is, he is also telling Christians of what they must do with the knowledge of it, saying in v3: “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received.” As Christians, we are duty bound to do the same; to freely pass on that which we have received.
At the very heart, at the very core of the Gospel message, as the scripture quoted above clearly demonstrates and voices out loud and clear, is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary and His glorious resurrection from the dead. The Gospel, the Good News, is all about a God who cared so much for us, that the acted two millennia ago, to save us, though we were not yet made and while we were sinners. The Gospel of Jesus is a perfect rebuttal of the bad news of the fallen state of humanity and our consequent separation from both God and ourselves, and from the declaration of God’s wrath, which is yet to come and which all must surely face.
Any form of teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which at its core, does not centre on Christ’s atoning death for us, is not faithful to scripture and should be discarded as false and lacking. Certainly there are many aspects to the incredible Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the focus, the core is the substitutionary atonement. In Colossians 2:15 “Having stripped rulers and authorities, He made a show of them publicly, triumphing over them in it” Paul celebrates the victory of the cross over the powers of evil for us and in Second Corinthians 5:14-15 he provided evidence of the love of God for us, in the form of a motivational revelation saying “For the love of Christ constrains us, judging this, that if one died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that the living ones may live no more to themselves, but to Him who died for them and having been raised.”
Paul lived the Gospel and preached the Gospel and taught the Gospel to his disciples for the future generations. As born-again Christian, nothing less is expected from and of us.
Amen and Amen.