Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed to no purpose.
DEFINITION: Gospel literally means “good news.” “Gospel” refers in Scripture mainly to the message that through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, God graciously acted to establish His kingdom and now welcomes into His family sinners who repent and receive Christ by faith.
In its original secular setting the gospel (Greek euangelion, good news) referred to a message about a military victory, the birth of a king, or some other momentous event. After the first century AD, “Gospel” came to refer to one of the books written about Jesus’ life. (Only four Gospels were considered inspired, although other writings were called Gospels.) But in the New Testament, “gospel” refers to the Christian good news, not to a book.
After Christ’s resurrection, the message proclaimed always included the good news about Jesus’ death for sinners and His resurrection as living Lord. The Book of Acts is filled with many such examples (5:42; 8:12; 11:20; 20:24). Study of Acts suggests that gospel presentations normally included the following elements:
- Jesus’ historical ministry included miracles and teaching about God’s kingdom.
- He suffered and was crucified by wicked people, dying on the cross for sinners.
- God raised Him from the dead, demonstrating that He is Messiah and God’s Son.
- He is the exalted Lord and Savior at God’s right hand.
- Sinners everywhere are invited to repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sins.
- Everyone who believes will receive God’s Spirit and become part of God’s family.
Paul was particularly concerned to preserve the true gospel and urged the Galatians to resist “a different gospel” (Gl 1:6). For this reason, Christians in the early centuries labored diligently to proclaim the right understanding of God and Christ in succinct forms, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, which have received universal acceptance from Christians. During the sixteenth century, the nature of gospel salvation was clarified by the famous “five pillars of the Reformation” (salvation as taught in Scripture alone, by Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone).
Those who embrace the gospel inevitably have their lives transformed so that they love and delight in God (2 Co 4:6). To believe the gospel marks the beginning of an eternity of knowing Christ (Php 3:7-10). Versions of the “gospel” that stress God’s gifts and blessings more than receiving and enjoying God Himself are distorted at best and heretical at worst.
REFLECTION: What is the difference between the gospel and a Gospel? Why is it important for gospel presentations to include both proclamation of truth and invitation to respond?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the good news is about You more than about me. I praise You that You are actively seeking to convert sinners into saints who will love and enjoy You forever. Help me remember that the gospel means receiving You more than getting Your blessings. Amen.
52 Words Every Christian Should Know.