The gospel of Jesus Christ is not complete without discussing our glorious Creator, the bad news of rebellion, the good news of God’s reconciliation with people, and how to respond.
The word gospel means “good news” in the original language of the Bible. When Christians talk about the gospel, they are presenting the good news of how Christ’s death and resurrection reconciles sinners to God. The aim of this article is to provide a full context of the gospel: how a holy God created the world, how the world fell into sin and brokenness, how God offers salvation to people, and how everyone who repents and believes the gospel can be saved.
The core of the gospel message can be summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4. Paul stated . . .
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.
So the gospel consists of truly believing certain historical facts about Jesus Christ: that he died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead. However, to understand the gospel fully, it’s best to understand why the good news is so “good.” And to do that, we need to go back to the beginning.
In the beginning, God created the universe and everything in it.
God made the glorious expanse of heaven: the sun, the moon, and galaxies. He made the earth with waters and land fit for flowering plants, towering trees, and food for every creature. When he finished making the heavens and earth, he populated the waters with fish and sea creatures. He filled the land with deer, dinosaurs, and what the Bible calls “creeping things”—that all produce after their “kind.”
After finishing everything else, the Creator crowned his creation by making man and woman in his own image (Genesis 1:27). From those original two people, named Adam and Eve, every other human being on the planet would eventually be born. Their offspring—the children, grandchildren, and so on—would later become the billions of people who populate the earth today.
When God completed his works on the sixth day of creation, he proclaimed the world was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There was absolutely no disease, death, suffering, or evil in this perfect creation . . . but that didn’t last long.
God placed Adam and Eve into a beautiful and lush garden to enjoy.
God provided everything in the garden, and no need was unmet. And being the Creator, he wanted his people to follow his instructions for their own good. After all, he made humans in his own image, and they were not designed to act against his nature. God required holy living from his people because of his character, so God gave Adam and Eve a simple command:
You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die. (Genesis 2:16–17).
God commanded one small thing in the midst of the most plentiful garden in a perfect and beautiful world. And the stated consequences for breaking the command were severe: death. Enter the devil. Assuming the form of a serpent, the devil tempted the woman, and she gave the man fruit from the forbidden tree to eat (Genesis 3:1–6). And they both ate . . . and became sinners. This event, now known as the fall, catapulted Adam, Eve, and the rest of creation into corruption and brokenness on a one-way road to destruction.
It was this rebellion of the first man, Adam, who was directly given God’s command, that brought death, suffering, and separation from God into this world. The results are all around us. All of Adam’s descendants are sinful from conception (Psalm 51:5) and have themselves entered into this rebellion.
Rebellion was catastrophic for humanity.
Adam and Eve sinned, and their rebellious nature and consequences of their sin passed onto their offspring—all of us. No longer would everyone be able to live in a perfect garden in direct fellowship with God. Instead, sin before the holiness of God caused every person to be condemned and separated from him.
The Bible declares “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Every one of us is condemned because we too have rebelled against God. If you’re wondering how you have sinned, here are just a few of God’s commands . . .
Every time you break one of God’s commands, you sin. And sin separates you from a holy God. Just as Adam and Eve lost fellowship with God and ultimately died because of their sin, we too will die. We will die physically because of our sin against God working on our bodies, but the eternal consequences of our sin on our souls are also severe. The Bible promises “punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” to those who do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8¬–9). Just as those who rebel against God are condemned to die, so also is everyone condemned to eternal death in hell because of sin. Without a savior, all of us would suffer, because everyone is a sinner.
And thankfully, that’s not the whole story.
The good news is that God has done something about this terrible situation.
Though the world rebelled against its Creator God, he loved the world so much that he refused to leave it as it was. In perhaps the most well-known passage in the Bible, we see hope for a sin-cursed humanity . . .
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).
God saw the problem. He felt compassion for people. He acted to save people, in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus was no ordinary man.
In summary, Jesus Christ the Creator, though totally sinless, suffered, on behalf of mankind, the penalty of mankind’s sin, which is death. He did this to satisfy the righteous demands of the holiness and justice of God. And this sacrificial action resulted in the salvation for all who might repent and believe the good news of the gospel.
The gospel message is simple: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice. He died on a cross for sins, but on the third day, he rose again, and conquered death. Jesus demonstrated the love of God in that while we were sinners, he died for us (Romans 5:8). This is the message of the gospel.
The response of the gospel is also simple: repent and believe the gospel.
Whoever truly believes this message and turns from their sin (repents) is able to be forgiven of their rebellion against God and be reconciled to him. Believers are no longer condemned to eternal death and hell. Instead, we can now live forever with God in heaven. This is the positive response to the gospel: repentance and belief (Acts 20:21).
More to the point, repentance is the new attitude a Christian has toward sin. To repent is to turn away from destructive and sinful behavior so you can live a holy life before God. Repentance is the result of God the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin so you can walk before the Lord in obedience—not perfect in this body, but becoming more like Christ as you grow in the faith.
Belief is also more than mental assent. True belief is trusting God to save you from your sins. It’s where you stop trusting in your own works to be righteous before God, since no number of good deeds will make you right with a holy God (Ephesians 2:8–9). Instead, believing the gospel that Jesus came to save sinners like us and calling out to him to be saved is what makes us right with God (Romans 10:9–10)
When a person believes the gospel, a new life begins.
The effects of repentance and belief are so radical, Jesus called it being “born again” (John 3:3). A believer in Jesus, also called a Christian, is no longer living the same life as before. They have turned from a sinful and condemned way of life of serving themselves to a holy and hopeful way of life in service to God. In Acts 26:18, the Apostle Paul described the effects of the gospel in something Jesus told him:
to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
The new Christian is no longer living under the curse and bondage of sin. Instead, God the Son has set them free to walk in obedience by the power of God the Holy Spirit and holiness before God the Father. The Christian doesn’t need to fear the just penalty of death and eternal hell (1 John 4:17–19). Instead, Jesus has paid the penalty for sins so people can walk with God on earth, trusting him to guide our steps through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 23:3), and be forever with him in eternity.
Our encouragement to you today: repent and believe the gospel. Turn from your sins and trust completely in the finished work of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. Believe in him for forgiveness. Do not trust in your own righteous works to make you right with God. Instead, believe in Jesus’ effective works and death on the cross for your sins.
The Scripture declares:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:18).
What a wonderful Savior—and what a wonderful salvation in Christ our Creator and Savior! If you want to know more of what the Bible says about God, believing the gospel, and eternal life, please call Answers in Genesis at (800)778-3390 or read more here.
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