What Is the Gospel?
“I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course…that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (v. 24).- Acts 20:24
Since Jesus’ proclamation of the Gospel involved telling people that “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:14–15), His commissioning of the disciples to preach the same message in Matthew 10:1–15 gives us a chance to consider the Gospel and the church’s spread of it in missions and evangelism. For a better understanding of Scripture’s instruction on these topics, we will look at the biblical data using Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Evangelism and Missions.
Today we will seek to define the Gospel, which is what evangelism is all about. Our English term gospel comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good news.” In the secular Greek culture of the first century, one who delivered euangelion might be speaking of the birth of a royal heir, a victory in battle, or news about an electoral victory. The New Testament reclaims the common use of this word and invests it with divine revelation, making the Christian Gospel the most important news anyone will ever hear.
As we have said, Jesus in Mark 1:14–15 teaches that the Gospel’s core message concerns God’s kingdom, that place where His saving reign is most powerfully evident among His people. The Old Testament eagerly anticipates the inbreaking of this kingdom. When the Israelites were exiled from the Holy Land and our Creator left the temple on Mount Zion, the people of God wondered if the divine glory would ever return (Ps. 137). Yahweh spoke to His nation through Isaiah, promising them that one day He would cleanse His people of their sin, restore them to their rightful place as lords over the world, and make His salvation known to the ends of the earth (52:1–12).
Isaiah also promised that this kingdom would only come through the vicarious death of the son of David, who would bear the wrath of God against the sins of His people (52:13–53:12). Therefore, the Gospel message not only proclaims the nature of the kingdom, it also declares that trusting in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for sinners is the only way to enter God’s kingdom (John 14:6; Rom. 1:1–6). If the Gospel is about the kingdom, it is about Jesus, for without Him there is no escape from the Father’s just condemnation.
There have been many attempts in church history to change the meaning of the biblical Gospel. Some have tried to add works as a ground for justification. Others have eliminated the wrath of the Creator and our need to be holy in His sight, reducing the Gospel to its social implications alone. However, as the Gospel is from God Himself (Rom. 1:1), we are not free to change it. Meditate on Galatians 3 today that you might know and proclaim God’s Gospel.
Passages for Further Study
2 Timothy 2:8