What Is the Gospel?
The gospel is good news!
If you're not much of a reader, first read the "Pocket Sized Gospel" and then move down to "What is a Christian?"
If you are a reader, read the the "Pocket Sized Gospel", the "Great Big Gospel" and then "What is a Christian?"
Pocket Sized Gospel
The gospel is the story that Jesus is king; the story of God sending Jesus and the Spirit to the world to reconcile sinners and creation to God, not because of their good works, but because of His great mercy and love seen most clearly in the cross, resurrection, ascension, and 2nd Coming. Anyone who believes this will live forever in the Kingdom of God, a world without pain, suffering, sickness, disease, sin, or death.
This is a gospel that fits in our pocket.
First, God is holy and the creator.
God's creation, mankind, rebelled against God, refusing to love and obey Him. Because of one man's sin, now all men and women are sinful.
God could have destroyed sinful humanity because of their rebellion.
But He didn't!
Instead, God chose one family, the family of a guy named Abraham, to bring about the God-man, Jesus, to the world. Jesus acts a new humanity, loving and obeying God by living perfectly holy to the Lord.
Jesus then was crucified on a cross for man's sin and laid dead in a grave for man's death.
But Jesus didn't stay dead! No, the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead, conquering sin, death, and the grave!
God's gift of His Son Jesus is just that, a gift. We didn't bend God's arm for the Father to send the Son and Spirit. Because God is love, He loved.
However, this news about Jesus; about His life, death, and resurrection, this news about the Kingdom He will bring, requires a response of repentance from the sin that nailed Jesus to a cross and trust in the new life Jesus secured in rising from the grave.
If you repent of your sin and trust in Christ, His life, death, and resurrection become your life, death, and resurrection. For more about this, skip down to "What Is A Christian?"
Do you believe this good news? If so, let us know!
A Christian is someone who responds to the gospel through repentance of sin and trust and allegiance to Jesus.
As a result of their repentance and faith a Christian is justified and receives the Holy Spirit who conforms them to Christ through a process called sanctification, and who will ultimately experience glorification.
Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
What does it mean to repent?
Repentance means to forsake everything that is sinful, including trusting in your own performance and behavior for salvation.
Biblical repentance is a change of mind, heart, and behavior.
2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation…
I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
“The New Testament word for repentance means changing one’s mind so that one’s views, values, goals, and ways are changed, and one’s whole life is lived differently. The change is radical, both inwardly and outwardly...Repentance means starting to live a new life.”
Faith is the means by which the saving benefits of the gospel are applied to an individual.
Faith means to put all of one’s hope for salvation and allegiance for living solely in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith.
“Putting our faith in Christ is not about trying harder; it means transferring our trust away from ourselves and resting in him. It means asking, ‘Father, accept me not because of what I have done or ever will do but because of what Jesus has done in my place.”
Thought it does involve knowledge, biblical faith is not merely agreeing with certain biblical truths, but is personal trust in the promise of the gospel. As a result true faith always leads to action.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works…
After repentance and faith, we are justified.
Justification is an act by which God declares a guilty sinner to be righteous on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ.
…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…
Included in the free gift of justification, Christian’s are also adopted! God is their Father and they are His children.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son… so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The adopted status of believer’s means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ’s now.
…and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Sanctification is the process by which God enables a justified sinner, now saint, through the Spirit’s power to look more like Christ.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
“He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free.
Differences between Justification & Sanctification
It’s important to understand the difference between justification and sanctification.
- Justification is our position before God.
You don’t practice justification. It happens once for all, upon conversion. You will never be more justified than you are the first moment you trust in the Person and finished work of Christ.
- Sanctification is our practice before God.
Sanctification is a process worked out each day. You will be more sanctified as you continue in grace motivated obedience.
Along with the “right now” moment of justification and the continual moments of sanctification, there exists another important aspect of salvation; assurance. You can know you belong to God, or say it another way, if Jesus saved you, trust He did a good job.
1 John 5:12-13
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
“Christ’s righteousness is credited to my account… If all this is true, I am as secure as Christ is.”
– Jared Wilson
When Jesus returns to set up His kingdom on the earth, He will raise from the dead bodily all who put their hope in Him, to live and reign with Christ forever in the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:50-56
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the above section, you read the "Pocket Sized Gospel."
That's a gospel that will do the job!
But those 4 ideas, God, Man, Christ, and Response, don't tell the big beautiful story that lies between the pages of our bibles.
We call that "The Great Big Gospel" and if you're a reader, here it is:
If you grew up around here, you have probably heard some type of Gospel.
Something about man making God mad, and Jesus giving you the golden ticket to heaven by dying on a cross.
There’s some truth to that, but we’ll begin with the The Great Big Gospel, the grand story the Bible tells.
Act 1: The Happy Land of The Trinity
The Gospel begins with God.
In the beginning, God…
The John Lennon song begins, “Imagine there’s no heaven…”
This is actually a good way to begin the Gospel. Imagine there is no Heaven or earth! Before anything was made, God was.
God lives in the Happy Land of the Trinity, with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God would have been God with no heaven or earth.
“When Heaven and Earth were yet unmade....When time was yet unknown....Thou, in thy bliss and majesty....Didst live, and love, alone.” - Fredrick Faber
God, in Himself, is perfectly happy and sufficient, whether He ever created or not.
He lived and loved, alone.
“Creation is not required, not mandatory, not exacted from God, neither by any necessity imposed from the outside nor by any deficit lurking within the life of God…God is free from that type of dependence." - Fred Sanders
The freedom of God is part of what makes the Gospel so great; he did not HAVE to create or even save creation after it fell. But He did because He is love as 1st John 4:8 tells us.
And in creation and salvation, He freely expresses the love in Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Great Big Gospel begins with God.
Act 2: Creation
Out of the love of God, He freely creates.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…
God creates EVERYTHING. And He calls it good. God then creates man, after His own image and likeness, to rule and care for the earth God had made.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion... 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion ….31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good
This is like a precious bed time story. But it doesn’t stay that way.
Act 3: Fall
In Act 3, Man fell.
…the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
The serpent deceives Adam and Eve, and they join his rebellion against God. This called the fall. God’s relationship with His blessed creation and with man was destroyed forever. Adam and Eve, ruled by their desires, sin and rebel against their Maker.
And when they did, the entire cosmos, every star, mountain, river, and creature, let loose a blood curdling scream. Something had been broken.
What God had made “good” had been ripped apart by sin and the rebellion of man; man who had been tricked by the deception of Satan.
Because of Sin, Death entered God’s garden.
And like a cancer, it began to consume it. God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the fruit, they would die. And they did. And their children did. And their grandchildren did. And we do today.
Death is the curse of sin. Not only did death enter God’s world, so did the guilt of God’s just punishment of sin.
…the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…
This not only began to destroy Adam, Eve, and all of humanity after, it began to destroy creation itself.
Romans 8 tells us that even the creation was subjected to sin futility and is now groaning in agony.
This should be it. This should be the end. Man is dying and creation is groaning.
So what does God do?
Does God wash his hands of these wicked creatures, burn the earth up in His wrath, and start over?
No. Instead of squashing Adam and Eve, or frying them with a lightning bolt, God forgives them and launches a glorious plan. God sets His heart, soul, mind, and strength; to destroy sin and death forever.
Act 4: Snake Crushing Seed
The story does not end with God giving Adam and Eve what they deserve, damning them and all of humanity. Instead, God steps in immediately with a promise to set things right!
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
There’s no waiting around from God here. His world needs redeemed and to make this happen, God promises to crush the head of the snake.
Genesis 3:15 is the “protoevanglion.” The first Good News.
God promises that through the seed of the woman would come one who would crush the serpent, sin, and death; and make a way for God’s world and God’s people to be with Him once again. So for the rest of the Old Testament, we follow the seed; the story of God’s promise to set the world to rights.
In this, God’s promise comes to Abraham.
2 …I will make of you a great nation…3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The Promise of God finds Abraham.
God did not wait until Jesus showed up to begin restoring humanity to Him. God moved in that moment to bring creation back to Him.
God’s plan of redemption is going to happen from the inside through a family! But this family is stubborn. Time and time again, God rescues and keeps this family, but time and time again they rebel and the Old Testament ends in darkness.
Act 5: Jesus | Savior | Messiah
The Great Big Gospel Story finally gets it’s hero in Jesus.
Act 6: God's Empowering Presence
But the story doesn’t end there.
After Jesus dies on the cross, taking God's wrath on sin and taking away sin and rises from the grave to defeat death for anyone who would believe, he tells the disciples He is sending the Holy Spirit to empower them, reminding them of
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth….
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
And the Spirit did come!
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Spirit of God falls on the church, empowering them to love God and minister to the world.
Abraham's seed has reached the gentiles, and this Jew/Gentile church, those who have believed in Jesus’ work for them and empowered by the Spirit given to them, now love God, preach the Gospel, and make disciples.
Act 7: Judgement and Restoration
But there’s a problem in this story.
If Jesus conquered sin and death, why is there so much of it still around? God’s reasoning for not wiping out sin completely yet is because He is merciful.
…the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed…
God has a fixed day of judgement to rid the earth of sin finally. And now, in this period of mercy, God is, through His church, calling all men everywhere to repent for:
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise… but is patient toward you not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
1 Timothy 2:3-4
….God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God is long suffering and patient. But He will not delay long. He will come and he will get the hell out of the earth.
And if you have not been washed by the blood of Jesus, if you have not believed in his life, death, and resurrection, that hell, that sin, resides in you, and He will come to judge it.
So what shall we do to be saved from the wrath of God on our sin?
Acts 3:19- 21
Repent, therefore, and turn back that your sins may be blotted out….
Jesus came to die for our sins, rise to defeat death, and destroy all the works of the devil.
This is the vision we get to as the story comes to a close:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…..2…the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven…, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Jesus will come, judge those who oppose him, banish them out of His city, and again, just like the story began, the dwelling place of God will be with man. He will be their God. They will be His people.
This is the Great Big Gospel.