What Is the Gospel? | Learning What It Really Means to Believe the Gospel

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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The gospel is the foundation for Christianity, and without it, there is no salvation. The gospel is made clear to us in Scripture. What is the gospel and how does the Bible define it? Learn what the gospel really is today.

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The gospel of Jesus is something that should be incredibly natural for Christians to explain. We should know what it is and how to describe it to others. But the older I've gotten and the more people I've met, the more I've realized that not all professing Christians really understand what the gospel is. Likewise, there are many Christians who have a "the gospel and ____" mentality.

The gospel and works.

The gospel and inclusiveness.

The gospel and social justice.

The gospel and hospitality.

The gospel and Elmo.

Okay, maybe not that last one. But do you know what I mean? The Bible says that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). The Bible definitely says that we should help the less-fortunate (1 John 3:17-18). And the Bible absolutely tells us to be hospitable (1 Peter 4:9). There are many good pursuits in the world that are beneficial and even godly for us to take part in, yet they are not the gospel. In other words, the gospel is still the gospel on it's own - it doesn't need any help.

The gospel should lead us to help the poor, encourage the down-trodden, love the outcast, and generally put others before ourselves. The gospel should lead us to living a life of good works from the out-pouring of our thanksgiving to God. To be Christlike means to conform more and more to the image of Jesus, which means we should see godly fruit coming as a result of the gospel.

But the definition of the gospel is in it's own category. The gospel isn't social justice, and the gospel isn't good works. The gospel isn't made the gospel because someone is hospitable on top of believing the gospel. The gospel isn't made better by a cup of coffee or a mug with a verse slapped on the side of it, and the gospel certainly isn't made better by our own striving. The gospel, in and of itself, is enough. The gospel transforms hearts, intentions, and lives. The gospel will shape us to be more like Christ - but first we must understand what the Bible says the gospel actually is.


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The Gospel Is About God's Holiness

God is Holy. If you grew up going to church, you've probably heard that phrase before. God is holy and perfect. But have you ever thought about what that really means?

The Bible says that God's ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30), and that He absolutely knows what He is doing (Job 38-41). God made the rules of what was right and Holy - you can do that when you are God. He calls us to holy living because 1.) He is holy and cannot condone evil, and 2.) because He loves us and wants us to thrive in the very best way - in righteous and holy conduct.

But a Holy God, one who cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), would never tempt anyone to wrong-doing (James 1:13), and always loves perfectly and faithfully (Psalm 86:15) cannot allow sin to go on. Holiness and sin cannot mix, they are like oil and water. 

The Gospel is About Our Sin

God cannot allow sin and evil. He cannot just ignore it and let it linger. God knows how destructive sin is, and in His holiness, He must punish what is evil.

Unfortunately, we are sinful people. We are born as sinful beings - this was part of the curse that came when Adam and Eve sinned at the beginning of creation (Genesis 3). When we are born, we have sin in our hearts and a proclivity towards sinful living (Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:12).

This is what Paul David Tripp has to say about our sinful nature and the salvation of Jesus Christ:
"Sin is a disastrous condition of the heart that causes us to willingly and repeatedly rebel against the authority of God and do what we were never intended to do."


Do you see the problem here? The holy God of the universe hates sin, can't associate with sin, and must punish sin in order to be a just God - One who doesn't let evil run rampant without consequences - and yet we are those sinful beings that must be punished. Without a system of mercy and grace in place, we are all born as doomed people.


The Gospel is About God's Grace Through Jesus

But God did not want to see His people being doomed by sin. It was our own mess, but He loved us and wanted to see us free from sin. He knew we needed a hero that could swoop in and save us. And He knew that He was the only one who could be the hero.

So God, in His grace to us, sent His son, Jesus, to take on the punishment of sin for us. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and separation from God, since God cannot associate with sin. Therefore, God sent Jesus to earth as a human so that He could experience what we've experienced, yet be the only human to never sin (making Him a clean, acceptable sacrifice for our sins).

He was killed by sinners, but after dying, God raised Him from the dead so that He literally defeated death and the punishment for sin. Through Him dying in our place - becoming our sin - and then rising from the dead and defeating death's hold, He allowed us to be free of our sins because our debt has already been paid.

When Jesus Christ defeated sin, He was saying "Your debt has already been paid. Now when God looks at you He will see my righteousness, because I have given my righteousness to you." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God gave us everything in Christ, and it was not of our own doing. However, we do still have a responsibility in all of this.


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The Gospel is About Our Redemption by Grace Through Faith

Salvation is a gift from God, not something that we somehow conjured up. It is entirely free and entirely of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). But we do have a part to play. We must have faith in Jesus. We are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross. We have to believe that He actually took our place, defeated death, endured our punishment, and that those of us who will trust in Him are given His righteousness as our own (Philippians 3:9).

Thankfully, God provides us with the faith we need - even that is a gift from Him - but we must still tend to, live by, and cultivate that faith daily. It's this strange dichotomy of God being the giver of our faith (Romans 12:3) and us still being responsible for responding to the gospel in faith (Romans 10:9-10).

The comforting part though, is that God has promised to finish the work He started in us. So if we have faith in Jesus for salvation, and if we are genuinely followers of Him, God will carry us through until the day we go to Heaven (Philippians 1:6)


The Gospel is About God Loving Us Despite Ourselves

This is the gospel in a nutshell: while we were still sinners, while we still hated God through our actions, wrong intentions, and tainted sinful hearts, God sent His only Son to die for us (Romans 5:8). He humbled Himself to human form, and yet proved His own deity by living a spotless, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and fulfilling every word of prophecy that was spoken about Him (Romans 15:8). He made a way for us to come boldly, with confidence, to the throne of grace, so that we can find mercy from Him (Hebrews 4:16).

One final thought from Paul David Tripp regarding the righteousness that God gives us:

"If you are God's child, you stand before him as righteous because the perfect righteousness of Jesus has been given over to your personal account. But there's a second aspect of this - you are holy because you have been bought with the blood of Jesus and you are not your own (see 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.) 
To say you are holy means that you have been set apart by God's grace for God's purpose. Your allegiance is no longer to the kingdom of your success and happiness, but to the progress of his kingdom of glory and grace. And where do you do this? You do this wherever you are, whomever you're with and in whatever you're doing."


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The gospel is for our good. God didn't have to give it, but He chose to in order to display His glory and to save our souls. We must simply believe these truths in a way that permeates and changes our lives - not by works, but by faith in God. Trust Him for His gift and feel the pleasing weight of all that it means. Ask Him to help you believe and not doubt. The gospel is for all who receive it. 

If you have any questions about the gospel, you can comment below or email me at contact@thepeculiartreasureblog.com 😊















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