What Is the Gospel?

The word “gospel” means “good news.” God is perfect, and demands that man live in perfect obedience to His will and His Law. God created man in His own image, capable of obeying Him perfectly. But man sinned in the Garden of Eden and is now incapable of following God’s Law. When man dies, he will suffer eternal punishment.

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ: through Christ’s perfect obedience to God’s Law, and through His death and resurrection, He saves His people from God’s everlasting punishment for their sin, and instead earns for them eternal salvation in heaven. His people receive this pardon for their sins and eternal salvation by grace, through faith in Him and His merciful work.

We can understand the Gospel more fully by understanding:

  1. Who God is,
  2. who man is, and
  3. what salvation is.

1. Who God Is

God is one in three, holy and perfect in all of His attributes.

  • “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
  • “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3 ESV).
  • See Belgic Confession articles 1 and 8.

God demands perfect obedience to His Law.

  • “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
  • “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45).
  • “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:6-7).
  • See Heidelberg Catechism question and answer 4 and Belgic Confession article 14.

2. Who Man Is

Man was created in God’s image but fell into sin. Sin is breaking God’s Law and not living according to what it commands.

  • Genesis chapters 1-3 record the creation of man in righteousness, holiness and knowledge and his fall into sin.
  • “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
  • See Heidelberg Catechism questions and answers 3-10; Belgic Confession articles 14, 15.

Because man is sinful, he will die in his sin and go to hell.

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).
  • “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
  • See Heidelberg Catechism questions and answers 3-10; Belgic Confession articles 14, 15.

3. What Salvation Is

The Bible explains salvation as being saved from God’s eternal wrath in hell. The center of this explanation is found in the Gospel. The word Gospel means “good news.” It is the good news that the Son of God became man, lived in perfect obedience to the Law of God, died on the cross in your place and was raised victoriously from the grave.

  • “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, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).
  • Within this Gospel the Bible explains that a person is justified by grace through faith in Christ alone. Justification is God washing away your sins through the blood of Christ and imputing the righteousness of Christ to you through faith in Christ. Imputation means that God simply declares you to be righteous in His sight as you have faith in Christ.
  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).
  • See Heidelberg Catechism questions and answers 12-21, 59-64; Belgic Confession articles 21-23.

Because we are justified by grace through faith, our works do not save us.

  • “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • See Heidelberg Catechism questions and answers 59-64.

If you were to die today do you believe you would enter heaven? Come hear the good news of Jesus Christ preached at our worship services.