What does it mean?
The word Gospel means the good news, but to understand the good news, we first have to understand the bad news:
- We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We sin anytime we break one of God’s commandments (Exodus 20), so that means we’re lawbreakers and criminals.
- God is a just judge (Psalm 7:11 and Psalm 9:8), so He’s not just going to let us off the hook without punishment. Only a corrupt judge would let the guilty go free without paying the penalty.
- God is perfect and holy (1 John 1:5), so He cannot have fellowship with sinners (Psalm 5:4).
- God is the highest authority of all (Philippians 2:9), and He exists eternally (Psalm 102:27 and Isaiah 57:15).
Therefore, we all deserve punishment, and that punishment must be eternal separation from God in a place called Hell, which is described as a place of outer darkness (Matthew 8:12) and also as a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
And now for the good news: God Himself came to Earth in the form of His son Jesus Christ (John 1:1 and John 1:14) to die for our sins and take the punishment that we deserve. Jesus was born of a virgin and lived a perfect, sinless life, fulfilling God’s holy commandments. Then, He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), and He died on a cross so that we could be forgiven. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death’s power over us (Romans 6:9). Finally, Jesus ascended into Heaven to make a way for us to live with God forever (John 14:2). In this way, God’s justice was satisfied because He was able to punish Jesus for our sins, and God was able to show us mercy because Jesus paid our fine.
How should we respond to the Gospel? We repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us (Acts 20:21). To repent means we experience a change of mind that leads to a change in our actions. When we repent, we see ourselves as God sees us: lawbreakers and sinners. And we also see how kind, merciful, and loving God is to forgive us instead of giving us the punishment that we truly deserve.
Paul teaches in Romans 6 that when we repent and put our trust in Jesus to save us, we die to sin and become born-again of the Holy Spirit–a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. God sends his Holy Spirit to dwell within us forever (Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13-14). We are no longer slaves to sin, but are now slaves to righteousness so we can’t help but change our behavior from ungodly to godly. Jesus tells us that we will “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8) because “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18)
If you’re still having doubts about the Gospel, take a look at some common Gospel Objections.