What is the Gospel? Is it Good News or Bad News?
What is the Gospel? Is it good news or bad news? The gospel is good news about what God has done and will do for us. The Greek lexicon by Bauer, Gingrich, and Danker says "orig. a reward for good news, then simply good news ...in our lit. only in the specific sense God’s good news to men, the gospel." (317). The good news may be different in different contexts. It depends on what you are talking about, but it is good news.
- The New Testament has two main good news messages. Both of these messages center in Jesus Christ and depend on Him—who He is and what He does.
- The first good news message is about God’s future earthly kingdom that He promised to give to Israel (Isaiah 11; Ezekiel 36:22-26). Jesus is the King and Jesus will usher in the kingdom at the right time. Before he could do this He had to settle man’s sin problem by His death and resurrection. He and the New Testament authors mention this good news in Matthew 3:1-2 and 4:17, Mark 1:1, and 14-15, and Luke 4:43. The good news of Israel’s kingdom will be realized in experience only when Jesus returns to earth to set up the kingdom.
- The second good news message is that Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in Him because He died in our place for our sins. Paul wrote of this in Romans 1:9, 15-16, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 2 Corinthians 10:1, Galatians 4:13, Ephesians 1:13, Philippians 4:15, and 2 Timothy 1:8. This good news or gospel of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is for the entire world. This good news is realized in a person’s experience every time someone believes in God’s Son for salvation. Believers are messengers of this gospel.
- There are other words used with the word gospel and most of these add information to either the gospel of the kingdom or the gospel of salvation from sin. For example, gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1), gospel of the kingdom (Luke 16:16), gospel of grace (Acts 20:24), gospel of God (Romans 1:1), gospel of His Son (Rom 1.9), my gospel (Rom 2.16), gospel of God (Romans 15:19), gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:12), a different gospel (Galatians 1:6), gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8), and an eternal gospel (Revelation 14:6).
- The facts of the gospel are that Jesus Christ is God and man, that He died on a cross in punishment for the sins of the world, that He arose on the third day, that He offers forgiveness and eternal life freely to everyone who will believe Him. The gospel then is all the work of God; man has absolutely no part in working to make or gain or keep eternal life; Paul says it is "by grace [freely given by God] through faith [we believe the message]" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 3:16-18; John 11:25-27; John 20:31; Acts 16:31; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 John 5:11-13).
- Some people turn the gospel into bad news. Paul calls this bad news a "different gospel" in Galatians 1:6-7. This gospel is actually "no gospel." Those who give any different good news about eternal life actually "pervert the gospel of Christ." A different gospel changes grace and faith; it brings in false issues—issues which are not part of the good news. These false issues make it difficult for someone to understand the facts in order to believe the right message.
- People may add to the gospel discipleship, changing your life, making Jesus the Lord of your life, becoming less sinful—you cannot live a carnal life, Christian service, going to church, giving up certain activities, or obedience to God. They may say that unless your life shows morality and Christian growth and service you may not be a Christian. They change grace—grace means that God has done everything Himself and offers us salvation for free—ever so subtly by making us do something to help insure our salvation. They change faith, again very subtly, by making it include obedience to God instead of only believing in Christ; faith is a belief, a trust, an inner conviction, a reliance that something is true—faith must be directed toward the right message (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 1:4-8).
- The Bible gives us some practical insights that motivate us to proclaim the gospel: Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16), Paul was compelled to tell others the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16), we ought to be ready to give an answer to others about our hope (1 Peter 3:15), those who reject the gospel are blinded to God’s truth and lost (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), and the Holy Spirit convinces people about the truthfulness of the gospel (John 16:8-11).
- The stories about Nicodemus (John 3), the Samaritan woman (John 4), Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (John 11), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16) are wonderful examples of people believing the gospel for their eternal salvation.
- Finally, here are some clear good news verses that we can all learn.
- John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
- John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the son of God, even He who comes into the world."
- Acts 16:31 And they said, "believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household."
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Was I missing something when I only believed in Jesus Christ?
- If the gospel is good news, why do people want me to do something besides believe (Romans 1:16; 1 Timothy 1:15)?
- Did Jesus Christ do everything necessary to provide salvation for mankind, or must I do something (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:14,28; Hebrews 10:10-14)?
- Does grace mean that salvation is free to me, or that God requires me to do a little something to gain my salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)?
Lordship salvation brings problems
- It distorts the fact that salvation is a free gift received by faith.
- It confuses salvation with the Christian way of life.
- It takes away genuine assurance of salvation.
- It never says how much commitment is enough.
Lordship salvation is not correct in view of these truths
- The gospel is good news (Romans 1:16; Romans 6:23).
- Grace means salvation really is a free gift paid for by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 4:10; Titus 3:5).
- Faith is the inner conviction that what God said is true; to believe is to rely on, to trust; faith does not mean to do something (John 1:12; John 11:25-27; Romans 4:5; 1 Peter 1:9).
- Assurance is for every believer (1 John 5:13; Romans 8:15-16).
- Eternal security is a fact regardless of the kind of believer you or I may be (John 10:28-29; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; Romans 8:28-39).
- Christians will be carnal (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Galatians 5:13-17; 1 John 2:1-2).
- We do not have to bear fruit to prove our salvation, though every believer will bear some fruit (Luke 23.39-43; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Titus 3:14; 2 Peter 1:8-9).
- A disciple refers to one who is learning from another; there are different stages of discipleship and different kinds of disciples (Matthew 9:14; Matthew 28:19-20; John 8:31; John 19:38).
- Repentance is a change of thinking about Jesus Christ, not a commitment to a course of life (Acts 17:30; Hebrews 12:17; 2 Peter 3:9).
- Jesus is Lord—God—whether we treat Him as such or not (Mark 5:19; 2 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:9-11.
- We must say what we mean and mean what we say when we talk about the gospel.
- We need to always stress that Jesus Christ and He alone did a complete work when He paid for our sins.
- We must emphasize grace and faith.
- Remember, God wants every believer to know that he has eternal life.