The gospel is the good news that the only true God,1 the just2 and gracious3 Creator of the universe,4 has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women5 and has sent his Son,6 God in the flesh,7 to bear his wrath against sin through his substitutionary death on the cross8 and to show his power over sin and death through his resurrection from the grave9 so that everyone who turns from their sin10 and themselves11 and trusts in Jesus alone as Savior12 and Lord13 will be reconciled to God14 forever.15
- The gospel is good news about God. It presupposes everything the Bible teaches about the only true God, and it is therefore unintelligible apart from biblical testimony to the character and activity of God. In particular, the gospel is rooted in the holiness of God and his righteous hatred against sin, and the love of God and his undeserved grace and mercy toward sinners. Biblically faithful gospel presentations are God-centered, with his nature and his actions at the heart of the message.
- The problem the gospel addresses is humanity’s sinful rebellion against God and subsequent guilt and shame before God. Because God is holy and just, human rebellion rightly provokes his wrath and necessarily deserves eternal condemnation. While it is true that the gospel ministers to the consequences of sin in human life, biblically faithful gospel presentations identify the guilty rebellion of human sin as the root of our problem. Further, the gospel reveals the infinite severity of our problem, for an everlasting hell awaits every sinner who dies in this state of guilty rebellion against God.
- The gospel centers around Jesus Christ. It is the good news that in Jesus, God the Son took on full humanity and became one of us while remaining fully God. It is the good news that in Jesus, the kingly rule of God has physically broken into human history. It is the good news that Jesus lived a life of perfect, sinless obedience–the life we have not lived–and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to bear the wrath we deserve for our rebellion against God. Both in his life and in his death, Jesus traded places with us and served as our substitute. Further, the gospel is the good news that Jesus triumphed over sin and death in his glorious resurrection. It is the good news that he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father, and that even now he intercedes for his people. The gospel is the good news that Jesus will come again in glory, and that his kingdom will have no end. In order to be faithful to Scripture, then, gospel presentations are explicit about the identity of Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, and Son of God, and about his sinless life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection as the only hope of salvation for sinners.
- The gospel is a call to repentance and faith. It is not just news; it is also a royal summons for traitors against God to lay down their rebellion and return to him through faith in Jesus. The gospel clearly declares that there is no other way for sinners to be saved, and it categorically denies that sinners can earn their salvation by anything they do themselves. Consequently, in order to be faithful to Scripture, gospel presentations challenge hearers to repent and believe the good news of Jesus, confessing him as Lord.
- God grants amazing treasures to those who embrace the gospel. Their sins are forgiven, and they stand before God not only completely justified in his sight, but also clothed in the very righteousness of Christ. They have been reconciled to God. They have been adopted by God, and they are alive in Christ, having been born again by the Holy Spirit. They now possess the Holy Spirit as a down payment and foretaste of their inheritance in Christ. They are a part of the body of Christ, the church. They are kept by the power of God in salvation until they see him face to face. They will one day be free from sin as they live with God forever in infinite joy and glory. These treasures, and not earthly health or prosperity, are the true gifts of the gospel, and gospel presentations must be clear about this if they are to be faithful to Scripture.
1 Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 4:39; Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Samuel 7:22; Isaiah 44:6; John 17:3; 1 Timothy 1:17;1 Timothy 2:5.
2 Genesis 18:25; Proverbs 17:15.
3 Titus 2:11; Ephesians 2:8.
4 Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 43:15.
5 Romans 3:12; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-3.
6 Luke 1:31-35; John 1:14; 3:16.
7 John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:3.
8 Romans 3:21-26; 1 John 2:2.
9 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Revelation 1:17-18.
10 Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38.
11 Luke 9:23-24; Galatians 2:20.
12 Acts 2:36; John 3:16.
13 Romans 10:9-10; Philippians 2:9-11.
14 Romans 5:1, 9-11; Colossians 1:19-23.
15 Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-21:8.