What is the Gospel?
What is the gospel?
The simplest definition is that God saves sinners. Certainly, the apostle Paul gives a good definition in 1 Corinthians 15. “ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the core event of the gospel—not to mention the “for our sins” which Paul mentions. You’ve likely heard several gospel presentations. One that I prefer is God-Man-Christ-Response. And this is what we’ll use in the coming days as we learn to preach the gospel to ourselves.
Consider Isaiah 6.
God. Isaiah is met with a beautiful vision of God. He sees God “high and lifted up” and hears all the angels proclaiming “Holy, holy, holy”. Holiness is the attribute of God which completely overwhelmed Isaiah the prophet. He began with an encounter with the character of God but he realized this meant something for him as well.
Man. Then you see, in verse 5, what happens when Isaiah compares himself to God. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” We, like Isaiah, must be confronted with the truth of our humanity and our depravity. At times when we compare ourselves to God, we see our sinfulness. At other times we see our humanity. This confrontation with the holiness of God leaves Isaiah in desperate need of a rescuer.
Christ. God provides rescue. We see in verses 6-7 that the Lord provides atonement. That means covering; a removal of the guilt which would separate a sinful Isaiah from a holy God. Ultimately we know that this doesn’t come from “burning coal” but from Christ Jesus. He alone allow sinful humanity to stand in the presence of a holy God.
Response. God’s provision requires a response. For Isaiah he responds not only with repentance (cleanse me) but also with faith (here I am). The encounter with the holiness and forgiveness of God propels Isaiah into mission. Any real encounter with God will necessitate a response.
This is the gospel. You start with who God is—creator, father, husband, holy, righteous, etc. and then you compare humanity to God. God created us to enjoy Him and to extend His glory. But we made shipwreck of this. We were to image God. God is holy. He created humanity to be holy. “Be holy as I am holy”. But we know the sad story of humanity. We aren’t holy. We chose instead to worship and serve creation rather than the Creator. Because of this we need provision. Thankfully God sent his Son to not only die in our place to atone for our sins but also to live a perfect life in our place. As such God has resurrected Him from the dead. When we are united to Christ his record becomes our record. How are we united to Christ? Repentance and faith. We turn from our sin and we turn from trusting in our record and we turn towards (faith) Christ and trust in His record and not our own. The only fitting response to what God has done is to repent and believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
But what does the message have to do with my Monday? We know that being in a relationship with Jesus secures our future and forgives our past, but what does it do about today? This is what we want to look at in the coming days as we learn to preach the gospel to ourselves.