The gospel is the message that God will give us pardon from our sins and eternal life with Him in heaven, if we will turn away from our sins and turn to Him, accepting His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Lord.
The Essential Elements of the Gospel
1. We are all sinners. A technical definition of the word gospel is “good news.” Just as a jeweler displays a beautiful ring or necklace against a dark velvet background to accentuate its beauty, so God first tells us the bad news to show just how good the good news really is. That bad news is that we have all sinned—sometimes in ignorance, but often knowingly.
Seeing our complete weakness, and our inability to do anything to alleviate our wretched condition, God did the ultimate for us. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).
Because there was no other way to satisfy the righteous demands of God, because of our inability to improve ourselves (much less save ourselves), because we faced a future in hell as a result of our sin—God, in His great love, sent His own Son to come down from heaven and to die on the cross in our place.
2. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. We know that God is perfect. We know that man is imperfect and sinful. The only way God could resolve this serious sin issue was to send His Son, Jesus, to take our place and to pay the price for our sins.
Why Jesus? Because Jesus, who was both God and man, without sin or fault, was uniquely qualified to bridge the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God. “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV).
The gospel is not about what you or I have done to please God; we’ve done everything to displease Him. Rather, the gospel is about how God reconciled Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Quite simply, Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. As the apostle Paul said, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
3. The cornerstone of the gospel is Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus’ final words on the cross were “It is finished!” This can be translated several ways: It is made an end of. It is paid. It is performed. It is accomplished.
• What was made an end of? Our sins and the guilt that accompanied them.
• What was paid? The price of redemption.
• What was performed? The righteous requirements of the law.
• What was accomplished? The work that God had given Jesus to do.
• What was finished? The devil’s stronghold on humanity (see Colossians 2:14–15).
Paul puts the gospel in a nutshell: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (see 1 Corinthians 15:3–4).
The gospel is the message that we are all separated from God because of our sin. The result of this sin is an emptiness, an ever-present guilt, and a certain fear of death. Yet, because God loved us, in spite of our rebellion, He sent His own Son to die in our place and to bridge the gap between Him and us.
How can we accept the gospel? Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
We must come to Him. Accepting the gospel is not some long, drawn-out process. It is immediate and instantaneous. You don’t need to clean up your life before you come to Christ. You simply come with all of your problems, sins, and shortcomings and He will accept you as you are (see John 6:37).
We must take up His yoke. When Jesus spoke these words, people readily understood that animals (such as oxen) were often placed under yokes to work in the fields. In essence, Jesus is asking us to come under His direction for our lives. Many have their own plans for their lives, and they just ask the Lord to come along for the ride. But Jesus has no interest in this kind of arrangement. You either come on His terms or you don’t come at all. What are Jesus’ terms?
1. We must believe.
To believe means “to take hold of something.” We must admit that we are helpless sinners in desperate need of a Savior.
2. We must repent. To repent means “to let go of something.” We do this when we put our trust and faith in Jesus and turn the direction of our lives over to Him. That means turning away from our sinful lifestyles and being willing to change and become a different person.
3. We must learn of Him. As we walk and talk with Jesus Christ in our heart and lives, and as we begin to read His Word, we begin to see things the way Jesus does. We have new eyes because we have become a new creation.
If you would like to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, visit KnowGod.org.