What is the Gospel?

The word gospel literally means “good news” and occurs 93 times in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word ‘euaggelion’, from which we get our English words evangelist, evangel, and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of Scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the good news concerning Christ and the way of salvation. 

In order to understand why the gospel is ‘good news’, we must start by understanding the nature of God. The Scriptures often repeat that God is holy, perfectly righteous, all powerful, all knowing, just, and there is no shadow, darkness or lie in Him. There is absolutely no falsehood, or evil in God.

When God created the first man he created him sinless. Man was innocent and enjoyed communion with God, but when man broke the only law God gave him which was not to eat of one tree in the garden, the consequences were that the first man and woman became separated from God and under the curse of death, and all mankind inherited this curse from the first man and woman.

From that time forward God guided man at a distance. In time God gave men the Law that showed them how they must live uprightly before God. The Old Testament Law was given to Israel during the time of Moses (see Deuteronomy in the Old Testament Scriptures).  

If man could keep God’s law perfectly then God could communion with him again, but because of the inherited sin nature in mankind, no one could follow the law perfectly. The consequence of not following the law of God perfectly is death, and since no one can keep the law of God perfectly, all must eventually die. The law given through Moses prescribed how man’s sin could be covered or forgiven by the sacrificial death of select animals in place of the sinner and for many centuries this is how men worshiped God, through sacrifice and ceremonies prescribed in the law of God.

Still, this was not the perfect plan. It was only a ‘shadow’ of what was to come. God prepared a perfect plan to save mankind from sin and death long before the earth was created, long before man was set in the garden, and that plan was not to save mankind by men keeping a law and striving to be perfectly righteous (which was impossible for mankind to do), but by giving men a new heart that enjoys God and rejects evil.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

How would God do this amazing thing? This is where the Gospel comes in. The Good News or ‘gospel of Jesus Christ’ is that God chose a Messiah who came to take away mankind’s sin and restore people to God. The Messiah’s coming was foretold by prophets many years in advance and when he came he showed mankind who God really is and how to receive this new heart from God. This Messiah came to heal people, cast out demons, and work miracles that would prove his Messiahship and that he was sent by God.

Jesus came into this world fulfilling all the ancient prophecies for this chosen Messiah from God. He taught that the Kingdom of God had come, he healed all who came to him, and he cast out demons and worked many mighty miracles. One day a religious leader came to Jesus with questions. Here is what happened:

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8)

Jesus here explains that it’s not through working at being perfect that we can enter the Kingdom of God, but by being “born again”. He goes on to say:

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21)

But, before men could be born again, Jesus had to fulfill all the requirement of the law in a final, once and for all sacrifice of himself as the final and complete appeasement for the sins of mankind. Jesus offered himself as the perfect Lamb, chosen by God, without sin, on the feast of Passover when by law all the sacrificial lambs had to be slaughtered.

His sacrificial death made it possible for him to offer new life to all who believe on him and trust in him as their Savior. He did this by overcoming death altogether as he was raised from the dead by God, which was witnessed by his disciples first and then by many others after his resurrection. He told his disciples to wait for the gift of God to be given to them on the feast of Pentecost, which is 50 days after Passover. Then he visibly rose to heaven as his disciples watched.

On Pentecost, the Gift of God came as the Holy Spirit of God upon the disciples who waited as Jesus told them to do. From there on they were empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to share the Good News of Jesus with everyone starting with the Jews and then the Gentiles in the entire world. The Good News they shared was confirmed as the message from God as they healed and cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ.

In a nut shell, this is the Good News that Jesus came to save us from our sins, give us a new birth so that our hearts would turn away from sin and be filled with love for God, God’s Word, and all people.

In Romans 1:16, we read, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

The gospel is the good news that God loved mankind and give His only Son to overcome sin and death and give eternal life to all those who repent of their sin and believe on him.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. (1 Peter 1:3-4)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:17-18)

 

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

In the Bible, God has revealed Himself as one God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. While each Person of this Holy Trinity is revealed as fully God, each acts as a distinct person while perfectly One in every aspect. The Bible explains God not as three gods but three persons in One being. This is a vital difference between the Islamic and Christian views of God.

Both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible proclaims that God is One.

Hear, O, Israel. Jehovah our God is one Jehovah (Jehovah = Yahweh in Hebrew). And you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:29-30)

Even though the Bible in both Old and New Testaments proclaim God as One being, in the first book of the Bible, God is describing Himself in the plural form:

And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. (Gen 1:26)

It is clear that God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-lasting, and above all and over all the things that He created, could not be completely understood and His nature most often misunderstood by the human beings He created. Humans cannot see God. God is above our understanding and beyond our description. Our understanding of Him is limited.

God began revealing Himself to mankind beginning with Adam and Eve, then through select men, and generations coming through these men that developed into the Hebrew nation. His dealings with the Hebrew nation as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible show a loving God who works to reveal Himself to those who want to know Him. Through the Hebrew prophets He reveals His plan to bring all mankind out of rebellion and back into fellowship with Himself through His chosen Messiah who would come at God's appointed time.

At the perfect time in history, God sent His Son, Jesus who came in the form of man, and as the fulfillment of hundreds of ancient prophecies. This is called the 'incarnation' (Luke 1:30-35; John 1:14; Colossians 2:9; 1 John 4:1-3). Jesus Christ (Jesus = 'Savior', Christ = 'Messiah') conquered the penalty and power of sin by dying on the cross (Romans 6:23). After his historical resurrection, Jesus returned to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to believers (Acts 1:8-11).

Among the final words Jesus was recorded as saying to his diciples He clearly identified the Trinity and commands his disciples to use the mighty authority given to him to baptize in the name of God who he describes in three persons:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus clearly identifies a trinity of the Godhead, but he also described God as One being. A mystery to us human beings, but if God were completely understandable to our finite minds how could God be beyond us in all the ways He is?

And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. All the Prophets give witness to Him, that through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:42-43)

Christ will return to judge and rule one day. Those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus will live with Him, but those who refuse to follow Him must be separated in hell from the holy God.

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:35-36)

Faith in Christ is very simple. Either you believe in Jesus who bears the wrath of God for your sin on the cross or you believe in your own ability to be good enough to stand before God at the judgment.

He who did no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth, who when He was reviled did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but gave Himself up to Him who judges righteously. He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray, but now you are turned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.(1 Peter 2:22-25)

God as revealed in the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is not the same trinity descibed in the Koran. The Koran in 5:116, makes Mary the mother of Jesus part of the trinity. But nothing in the Bible includes Mary the mother of Jesus in the Holy Godhead in any way. Mary is always and only referred to as the mother of Jesus.

Simply understood, the Bible teaches this about God: