“Gospel” is not a common English word, though it is used regularly by certain Christian groups. It does occasionally pop up in phrases and media (such as “Gospel truth” in Hercules, or “Gospel” music). Gospel simply means “good news,” but it is usually used for the good news.
The Gospel is the good news concerning Jesus the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Christ being another word for Messiah). In the Bible, we are given four perspectives on the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Three of these Gospel accounts were written by close friends who were with Jesus throughout his adult life, Matthew, Mark, and John. The fourth was written by a Greek man, Luke, who gathered testimony from those who were with Jesus and with God’s Holy Spirit guiding him, wrote an account of Jesus life for non-Jewish readers.
As good news, the Gospel speaks to a world of bad news—a world that desperately needs hope and life. When Jesus was born in the last decade BC (between 6 and 4 BC), the ancient world was shrouded in darkness. God had promised to bless all the nations of the earth through the children of Abraham, yet at this time, it seemed like all hope was lost. The religious leaders of Jesus day served their own purposes rather than God’s, and they could care less about reaching non-Jewish nations. The Roman government ruled ancient Palestine and occasionally committed barbaric crimes against the Jewish people. The Romans and Jews alike followed their own path, rejecting the God of the Bible. They followed the ways Satan, not God the creator. The entire world needed salvation; men and women needed to received forgiveness for their sins and power to live for God. The world needed the righteous kingdom God had promised to establish through Abraham. The world was in darkness; it needed light.
The good news of Jesus Christ is this very thing, the Light shines into the darkness and the darkness has not defeated it (John 1:5). The good news is that God sent the promised Messiah to save not only his people but all the nations of the earth. The Messiah would establish God’s kingdom and save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21; Mark 1:14-15). He would do so by fulfilling God’s law perfectly (Matt 3:15) and dying on a Roman Cross, satisfying God’s wrath against sin (Matt 16:21-23). Jesus didn’t have to die because he was sinful, as we have to die. No, he went willingly because to establish God’s kingdom on earth, he needed to save his people from their biggest problem, from sin. Sin was not merely something they did wrong, but a whole life devoted to what is not God; when someone lives their life for everything that is not God, they become enslaved to that anti-God lifestyle. This is sin, it is not only the things we do against God, which God says we must not do, but also the entire orientation of our lives in opposition to God. Sin is slavery and bondage. We need to be saved from sin, set from its chains. To do this, Jesus needed to save us from the consequences of sin and gives us the power to be free of sin, God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus died because we all deserve to die; but Jesus rose again because his death defeated sin and, therefore, death itself. Jesus established not only God’s kingdom but also a new creation, a world where death and sin would no longer rule—where suffering would be erased. For everyone who believes in Jesus and submits to his rule, who accepts that he is Lord and follows him, he promises life itself. Not only does the Gospel announce an end to death, but it also announces an end to sin in our lives and a future lived in joyous presence of God himself.
The Gospel is simple: We all have sinned and deserve God’s judgment (Rom 3:1-20). Jesus died in our place so we would be set free from judgment (Isa 53:1-12; Matt 26:26-29; Rom 1:16-17). Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, where he now reigns until he returns (Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-11; Heb 1:1-4). For all who believe in him, Jesus gives them freedom from judgment and eternal life, knowing God and enjoying him forever.
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