What is the gospel?
The gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature sinful and separated from God our Creator with no hope of restoring that relationship. But God, by His power, provided the way for us to be restored to a right relationship with God through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” But to truly comprehend how good this news is, we must first understand how bad our situation is. As a result of the original sin of the first man and woman at the beginning of the human race (Genesis 3:6), every aspect of human nature in all people born since then has been corrupted by sin. Because of our sinful nature, we do not and cannot seek the one true God. We have no natural desire to come to God and, in fact, our mind is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7). God has declared that our sin dooms us to be forever separated from God in hell. It is in hell that we must pay the penalty for our sin against a holy and righteous God. This hopeless situation would be bad news indeed if there were no way to be saved.
But the gospel is the good news that God, in His mercy, has provided a way of salvation; He has provided a substitute for us—His Son, Jesus Christ—who came from heaven to earth to pay the penalty for our sin by dying in our place on the cross. Jesus rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted (Acts 2:24, Romans 4:25).
He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness (Acts 17:30, John 1:12). If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, God performs a miracle in giving us a new life, an eternal life which begins now and lasts forever with God (John 3:16). The Bible tells us to “hold firmly” to this true gospel, the only one which saves. The Bible also declares that the gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16-17) which means that salvation is not achieved by man’s efforts, but it is a freely given gift of God which we receive by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because of the gospel, through the power of God, those of us who trust in Christ to save us from our sin (Romans 10:9) are not just saved from hell. We are, in fact, given a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a changed heart, a new desire, and a new attitude expressed through a changed life—this life-change is produced in us by God’s Spirit now living in those who believe. Good works are never the means of salvation, but they are the proof of it (Ephesians 2:10). Those who are saved by the power of God have become children of God (John 1:12) and will begin to express the love of God as evidence of a changed life.