The word "gospel" simply means the "good news" about Jesus Christ. The gospel isn’t just statements of fact, though it is absolutely true (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The gospel is fundamentally a story that proclaims a message. A redemption story that calls us to a response.
CREATION. FALL. REDEMPTION. NEW CREATION.
It starts well before Jesus was born a little more than 2,000 years ago. This story of redemption begins with God in eternity past, and His plans before He laid the foundations of the earth. In other words, the gospel isn’t only in view when we’re talking about the cross and the resurrection of Jesus…although that’s certainly at the heart of the story. In fact, the gospel is not even just limited to the books we call “Gospels” (the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The gospel is the beautiful, overarching story of the entire Bible and of human history. We’ll start where most stories do. In the beginning…
In the beginning, all things were created good. God created all things in beautiful harmony, including making human beings in His own image to reflect His glory and live with Him in a perfect Garden called Eden. We were always meant to live in intimate relationship with Him (Genesis 1, John 1), to love God and love others. As some theologians have put it, the Bible opens with God’s people living under God’s rule in God’s way in God’s holy loving presence. The story of creation gives us our identity as to what people are designed to be and do.
There is a problem—sin—that has separated us from God and brought disorder to God’s good creation. Sin, missing God’s mark of perfection and rebelling against the Lord, now tragically shapes all of our lives and all of reality. Genesis 3 tells us that the first people God created—Adam and Eve—rejected God as their King. Sin and its just penalty, death, entered into human experience. Each of us have followed in their footsteps and been cut off from fellowship with our Creator. While still bearing God's image, we no longer reflect His glory as we should, because we are marred by sin. All brokenness and evil in the world is directly or indirectly attributed to our severed relationship with God. Apart from God as our only source of spiritual life, our hearts are filled with darkness and evil comes out in our thoughts, and words, and actions. Because of sin, we don’t love God supremely or others sacrificially.
We can see the effects of sin in the brokenness in many of our families and the headlines of any newspaper. Spiritually, we’re dead men walking…If God’s story stopped there, then it would be unbearably tragic. We would all remain lost, destined to be separated from God forever when our physical bodies wear out and death takes us.
God is working out His plan to deal with sin and death and redeem His good creation through Jesus Christ. This is where the story gets radically gracious. In Genesis 12, God chose Abraham and his descendants, the people of Israel, to be part of His plan. God promised to bless all the peoples of the earth by bringing forth from Israel the Messiah: a Deliverer, a Prophet, a Priest, a King, a Sacrifice, a Savior. The New Testament tells us that this promised One is not merely a man. Jesus Christ is God the Son (John 1), whose incarnation as a baby born in Bethlehem was purposed to bring about God’s long-planned redemption through His perfect life and His death on a Roman cross. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
At the cross of Christ, the ugly truth of our sin was dealt with as God’s wrath was poured out on Him as our perfect substitute. But the beautiful truth of God’s grace was also revealed as Jesus gladly took the punishment for sin on our behalf and rose from the dead three days later to offer us new life. But we must confess our sin, turn away from our rebellious life, and trust Jesus alone for salvation! We receive this eternal, abundant life as a gift through faith in Him, and God the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to give us new hearts to love God and others by His grace. Through the Holy Spirit we are empowered to follow Jesus and live as His ambassadors in the world. God is redeeming a people for Himself from every tribe, language, people, and nation, renewing His image in all who believe as we are conformed to Christ.
And now the Lord Jesus has ascended to heaven and we—all who have repented from sin and trusted in Him for forgiveness and reconciliation to God—we wait. We wait for His glorious reappearance and Kingly reign!
God will renew and restore His good creation under the rule of King Jesus. The last book of the Bible tells us about God’s future restoration of His creation. About the consummation of His plan of redemption. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ will return as King to judge both the living and the dead…even all in the grave will be physically resurrected and stand before Him to give an account.
In Revelation 21-22, the story of the Bible that started in a perfect Garden, ends in a perfect Garden City. The consummation of God’s redemptive work among the nations is that once again there will be God’s people living under God’s rule in God’s way in God’s holy loving presence. Forever with Him in perfect joy. That’s what we who believe in Jesus have to look forward to: Restoration and glory in a new creation! Those who do not believe will face only judgment and God’s wrath for their rebellion against Him. It’s tragic…because they don’t have to. They just need to hear the good news about Jesus, repent from their sin, and turn to Him in faith for forgiveness and spiritual life!
Creation. Fall. Redemption. New Creation. The gospel is the message of all that God has graciously done to reconcile sinners to Himself, culminating in the perfect life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and future coming of Jesus Christ, and the application by the Holy Spirit of this powerful work of salvation as a free gift to all who believe. It's a salvation we could never be good enough to earn, but Christ purchased it for us by His blood shed for our sin. The gospel is good news because it is the only way that human beings, sinners who are alienated from God, can be restored to a life-giving relationship with Him…a relationship that we were created for in the beginning.
That’s the story of the gospel of Christ. What good news! We invite you to respond by trusting in Him alone for salvation today. Questions?