The gospel is everything. It’s the lifeblood of the local church. It’s the heartbeat of the Christian life. It is our hope. It is our treasure. And it is the message that the risen Christ has commissioned us to proclaim throughout the entire world.
But if we’re being honest for a second, the gospel is a little bit confusing, isn’t it?
For most of us articulating the gospel is a lot like explaining to your friend how to put together her new IKEA furniture. Sometimes it’s just easier to watch a tutorial on YouTube.
But it doesn’t have to be confusing. It shouldn’t be confusing. In fact, it can’t be confusing. Too much is on the line for us to get this message wrong.
What is the gospel?
If you surveyed ten different Christians, you’d probably get ten different answers.
So, in this blog I want to clear things up.
I want to give you four steps to sharing the gospel message by unpacking the four fundamental truths that define the gospel message. If you can get a handle on these four things, then you will have a handle on the most important message you will ever know and share with another person.
God is Holy.
The gospel message begins with God. It begins with who He is and what He’s like. And God is holy.
To say that God is holy is to say that He is set apart. He is distinct. He is qualitatively different than anyone or anything we have ever known.
And that is important for us to recognize because it’s easy for us to try and make God into whatever we want Him to be. Sometimes we treat God’s attributes like assorted foods in a buffet line. We think we can pick and choose who we want God to be.
But we can’t do that.
God is who He is. In fact that’s what His name means. When God revealed Himself to Moses as Yahweh, He declared “I AM WHO I AM” (c.f. Exodus 3:14). God is who He is. He is who He has always been and who He always will be. So, we cannot make Him out to be anything other than that.
So who is God?
The simple answer is that God is the righteous Creator of the universe.
Like the gospel message, the Scriptures also begin with God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
God is the creator of everything. He made the stars, the moon, the sun, the mountains, the valleys, the oceans, the plants, the animals, the fish, the birds–everything! And He made humankind too. And He did all of this by the power of His word. God spoke all things into existence, and all things exist by His will and power (Revelation 4:11).
This has massive implications for you and me.
If we were created by God, then God has the authority and the right to tell us how to live.
Now that is something most people don’t want to hear because we live in a day and age that prizes autonomy and individual freedom. But the truth is God made you. You belong to Him. And He reserves the right to tell you how to live your life.
So, God is creator, but He isn’t just any kind of creator, He is the perfectly righteous creator. To say that God is righteous is to say that He does not sin, and that He cannot condone sin.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing (Habakkuk 1:13, NIV)
We have to understand who God is if we are going to understand the gospel message. And the best way to understand who God is is to ask Him to speak for Himself.
That’s what Moses did thousands of years ago when He met with God on Mount Sinai. And here’s what God had to say:
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:5-7, ESV).
So God–the unique, holy, righteous, creator God of the universe–speaks for Himself. He reveals Himself. He declares to us who He is. And He is many things:merciful, patient, faithful, loving and just.
Don’t miss that.
God is just. He says, “I will by no means clear the guilty.”
God is holy. He is the righteous creator of the universe. And as the creator of everything–including you and me–He reserves the right to act as both lawgiver and judge. He has the authority to tell us how to live and to hold us accountable to His standard.
This is who God is.
Man is Sinful.
The truth about who God is and what God is like can either be the best news in the world or the worst news ever. It all comes down to who you are and how you relate to Him.
Are you holy enough to fellowship with an eternally righteous God? Are you clean enough to approach the judgment seat of a perfectly just judge? Are you pure enough to sit in the presence of a God so glorious the Bible says He dwells in unapproachable light? Are you?
If you’re honest with yourself, you have to say no. And I do too.
The Bible is very clear about who we are.
None is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10, ESV).
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, ESV).
The truth is every single one of us has failed to honor God in thought, word and deed. And the Bible calls this failure to honor God sin. And sin is detestable to God because He is perfectly righteous.
We need to understand this if we’re going to understand the good news of the gospel.
God does not turn a blind eye to sin. He will not look the other way at your wrong doing. And it doesn’t matter how big or small your sin may appear to you. The issue isn’t how you choose to sin. It’s the One you choose to sin against.
For example, if I saw you out somewhere and decided to walk up to you and slap you in the face, you’d probably be mad. You might even try to smack me back. But after a little confrontation, we’d be done. But if I walked up to a police officer and slapped him in the face, I’d be on the ground, handcuffed, and on my way to the police station to be photographed and fingerprinted in an instant.
Why? What’s the difference?
The difference is not in the act itself but in who the act was committed against.
God is infinitely holy, and any sin committed against Him is worthy of infinite punishment.
So to think that God weighs out our good deeds and bad deeds on some cosmic scale to determine who is worthy and who is unworthy of His acceptance is to miss the whole thing. God is holy, and He will maintain the integrity of His holy name. So, He cannot and will not overlook your sin or mine.
And that is a big problem for both of us.
Christ is Savior.
But the gospel is good news. And the good news is that this holy, righteous, perfect, just, creator God has looked down on us from His throne room in heaven, and rather than turning His face in disgust, or dispensing His wrath in full measure, He has acted in mercy.
He has acted compassionately, with pity. He has acted as the great Savior in order to solve our great sin problem.
The Bible says,
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
The good news of the gospel is that
God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever would believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The truth of the gospel is that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, left His rightful place on heaven’s throne, entered into human history, and took on flesh and blood. Jesus Christ is the Son of God incarnate. This is remarkable!
The Creator became like His creation. The Author and Giver of life was born a helpless baby. The Almighty God was made weak and vulnerable just like you and me. And He came with one mission, one purpose, one aim, and that was to seek and save broken sinners like you and me.
The Bible says that Jesus lived a perfect life. Jesus perfectly obeyed God every single day of His life here on earth. Unlike you and me He never sinned. He never rebelled. He never fell short of the glory of God.
And this same Jesus–this perfect, sinless Son of God–willingly offered His perfect life on a Roman cross as a sacrifice for sin.
Don’t miss this.
God has solved our sin problem.
On the cross Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for the sins of the whole world. On the cross Jesus died the death we deserved to die. He bore the wrath we deserved to bear. He paid the penalty due our sins. And He did this so that through Him we could be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God.
Repent and Believe
It’s amazing when you think about it. What a demonstration of grace! What an act of love!
The Bible says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That’s what Jesus did for you. He gave up His life so that you could live.
So what are you going to do with that news? What should you do?
The Bible is very clear about this. It says the only way to respond to the good news of the gospel is to repent of your sins and to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Repentance and faith go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
To repent is to turn away from your sinful lifestyle. It to acknowledge and confess your helpless state.
To repent is to say to God, “I agree that I am a sinner. I have done wrong. And I reject my previous way of life.”
It is to change course. It’s to adopt a new trajectory in life. It’s to say, “I’m going the wrong way!” And then to do something about it.
But when you turn from your sins, you must turn towards Christ.
Jesus is the savior. Jesus is your hope. Jesus is your healer. He alone is the one who can forgive your sins and give you the gift of everlasting life. Only Jesus can do that. So you must turn from your sins to Jesus.
The Bible says,
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
The good news of the gospel is that the holy God of the universe has made a way to save helpless sinners like you and me. And He has done that through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if we repent and believe in Him as Lord and Savior, we will surely be saved.
This is the most important message the world has ever known. This is the most important message you could ever hear and believe. And this is the most important message you could ever share with another person. We can’t afford to get this wrong.
Know the gospel. Believe the gospel. Share the gospel.
If you would like an additional resource to help you better understand and articulate the gospel message, I’d encourage you to purchase this resource here.