What is the gospel?
The apostle Paul provides a very succinct representation of the gospel, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
What Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, along with what God has provided for mankind in the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters, and all of Scripture communicates that the only way a human being can be reconciled to his or her creator is to receive the gifts of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness of sin by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Jesus Christ is Lord.
He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6-8; Revelation 1:17-18). He was with the Father in and at Creation. All things—all things—were created by Him, and through Him, and for Him. Nothing has ever been made that was not made by Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20). He is the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36). He is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will judge both the living and the dead (Revelation 5:5). He is King of kings and Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).
Jesus Christ is sovereign over all things (Acts 4:24; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 6:10). He owns every person, just as He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and it matters not if the person is living in wanton rebellion against Jesus Christ or is living in loving submission to Him as one of His born-again, beloved children. Jesus owns it all.
There is but one living and true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4), an infinite, all-knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)—each equally deserving worship and obedience.
And this God, for there is only one God, is the God before whom every person will one-day stand to give an account for their lives. Because God alone is truly and perfectly good, He will judge each person according to the perfect moral standard He has written on every human heart—His law (Romans 2:15-16).
Sin is the violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4).
Sin is rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18)
Sin is any thought, word, or deed that does not proceed from faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 14:23b).
Everyone knows it is a sin to lie because they are created in the image of God, and God is not a liar. God is truth (Romans 3:4).
Everyone knows it is wrong to harbor bitterness, resentment, and hatred in their heart toward another person because they are created in the image of God and God is not a murderer. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).
Everyone knows it is wrong to fornicate (to engage sexually with a man or a woman outside the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman; they know it is wrong to look and think with lust; they know it is wrong to commit adultery; they know it is wrong to engage in homosexuality, lesbianism, or any other form of sexual depravity (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 21:8) because they are created in the image of God, and God is not a fornicator. God is not an adulterer. God is not effeminate. God is not immoral. God is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
Everyone knows it is wrong to take the name of the Lord their God in vain, to bring his name down low and use it as an adjectival term of excitement, anger, sorrow, or fear, because they are created in the image of God, and God is not a blasphemer. God is holy (Isaiah 6:1-5).
Everyone knows it is wrong to worship false gods, whether they be the false god Mary of Roman Catholicism, the false god Allah of Muhammadism, or the millions of false gods of Hinduism and Mormonism because they are created in the image of God, and God is not an idolater (1 John 3:2-3).
Everyone who stands before God to give an account will do so without excuse (Romans 1:18-23). No one will be able to claim innocence or ignorance of violating God’s law—whether in thought, word, or deed. Because God is good, because He is holy, because He is righteous and just, He must punish sin (Jeremiah 14:10; Hosea 9:9; Luke 13:1-5; John 8:24; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15). The punishment God has determined for sin, all sin, is an eternity in Hell (Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 21:8). It matters not whether a person believes this. What matters is that it is true. Truth is not determined by what one believes. God is truth, though every person is found to be a liar (Romans 3:4).
Truth is that which comports to reality, as perceived by God. Truth is what conforms to the mind of God. Truth is whatever God says. And any attempt to live a life apart from the reality of God is to live a life of chaos, absurdity, arrogant denial, and sin.
This same God—again, for there is only one God—who is angry with the wicked every day, whose wrath abides upon the ungodly, who will judge the world in righteousness, is the same God who is loving, merciful, gracious, and kind. And He showed His great love for mankind when He sent His Son to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, yet without sin (Philippians 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin just as the prophet Isaiah declared more than 700 years before Jesus’s literal, physical birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), lived the perfect, sinless life you cannot live. For some 33 years, Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience to the law of God–in thought, word, and deed–a life you and I could not hope to live for a mere 33 seconds. And then He voluntarily went to the cross (John 10:15, 17; 19:1-27).
Yes, it was the Jewish people who hatefully and viciously demanded Jesus’s execution. Yes, it was the Roman government that carried out the despicable act. But they were all merely instruments in the hands of another. For it pleased God the Father to crush God the Son under the full weight and fury of His wrath against sin (Isaiah 53:10-12). God the Father made God the Son, who knew no sin, to become sin on behalf of those who repent and believe the gospel so that through the sacrifice of His Son many would be made righteous in the eyes of Almighty God. In other words, on that great and terrible day God the Father looked upon God the Son as if He had lived the depraved life of a sinner and in exchange—a great exchange—God the Father looks upon those whom He has caused to be born again (1 Peter 1:3), to repent and believe the gospel, as if they had lived His Son’s perfect, precious, and priceless life (Colossians 2:8-15; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus shed His innocent blood on the cross. He died a literal, physical death on the cross. And He was buried in a tomb not His own. Three days later, Jesus forever defeated sin and death when He physically, bodily rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). And unlike every false god created in the imaginations of men–whether the false gods of Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oprah-ism, or Atheism (a religion like every other spiritual “ism”)—Jesus Christ is alive today and He will return at a time of the Father’s choosing.
What God commands of you all people everywhere is that that you repent (Luke 13:1-5; Acts 17:29-31). Change your mind. Stop believing lies and believe the truth you know—the truth for which you are responsible and will be held accountable. Turn from your sin and turn toward God, and by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
You must come to God on His terms. God does not negotiate with sinners. God will not be bribed by your religious practices or what you may perceive as “good works” acceptable to God. God will not weigh your “good” against your “bad,” for God does not see you or anyone else as good. God’s definition of, God’s standard for goodness is moral perfection, and only One has ever, only One will ever meet that standard. And that is Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. As for you, as is the case for the rest of mankind, you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
If you do not hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and see it for what it is (good news), it is because you love your sin more than you love God. It is because you love yourself more than you love God. It is because the love of God and the Truth of His Word is not in you.
However, if God causes you to be born again and extends to you the gifts of repentance and faith, which only He can give, then He will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. You will begin to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. You will stop presuming upon God’s forgiveness as if it is something you have earned or deserved. Instead, you will have the confident assurance He has forgiven you—not on the basis of any deeds you have done in righteousness, but based entirely upon God’s mercy, grace, and love, and for His glory (Titus 3:4-7).
Why would God allow His one and only Son to die a sinner’s death He did not deserve in order to take upon Himself the punishment sinners rightly deserve for their sins against God so that sinners could be forgiven and saved? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Please repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, while God has given you time.