Question: “What is the gospel?”
Answer: The word gospel literally means “good news” and occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word euaggelion, from which we get our English words evangelist, evangel, and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of Scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the good news concerning Christ and the way of salvation.
The key to understanding the gospel is to know why it’s good news. To do that, we must start with the bad news. The Old Testament Law was given to Israel during the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 5:1). The Law can be thought of as a measuring stick, and sin is anything that falls short of “perfect” according to that standard. The righteous requirement of the Law is so stringent that no human being could possibly follow it perfectly, in letter or in spirit. Despite our “goodness” or “badness” relative to each other, we are all in the same spiritual boat—we have sinned, and the punishment for sin is death, i.e. separation from God, the source of life (Romans 3:23). In order for us to go to heaven, God’s dwelling place and the realm of life and light, sin must be somehow removed or paid for. The Law established the fact that cleansing from sin can only happen through the bloody sacrifice of an innocent life (Hebrews 9:22).
The gospel involves Jesus’ death on the cross as the sin offering to fulfill the Law’s righteous requirement (Romans 8:3–4; Hebrews 10:5–10). Under the Law, animal sacrifices were offered year after year as a reminder of sin and a symbol of the coming sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:3–4). When Christ offered Himself at Calvary, that symbol became a reality for all who would believe (Hebrews 10:11–18). The work of atonement is finished now, and that’s good news.
The gospel also involves Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The fact that Jesus conquered sin and death (sin’s penalty) is good news, indeed. The fact that He offers to share that victory with us is the greatest news of all (John 14:19).
The elements of the gospel are clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6, a key passage concerning the good news of God: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living.” Notice, first, that Paul “received” the gospel and then “passed it on”; this is a divine message, not a man-made invention. Second, the gospel is “of first importance.” Everywhere the apostles went, they preached the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Third, the message of the gospel is accompanied by proofs: Christ died for our sins (proved by His burial), and He rose again the third day (proved by the eyewitnesses). Fourth, all this was done “according to the Scriptures”; the theme of the whole Bible is the salvation of mankind through Christ. The Bible is the gospel.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is a bold message, and we are not ashamed of proclaiming it. It is a powerful message, because it is God’s good news. It is a saving message, the only thing that can truly reform the human heart. It is a universal message, for Jews and Gentiles both. And the gospel is received by faith; salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9).
The gospel is the good news that God loves the world enough to give His only Son to die for our sin (John 3:16). The gospel is good news because our salvation and eternal life and home in heaven are guaranteed through Christ (John 14:1–4). “He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).
The gospel is good news when we understand that we do not (and cannot) earn our salvation; the work of redemption and justification is complete, having been finished on the cross (John 19:30). Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). The gospel is the good news that we, who were once enemies of God, have been reconciled by the blood of Christ and adopted into the family of God (Romans 5:10; John 1:12). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). The gospel is the good news that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
To reject the gospel is to embrace the bad news. Condemnation before God is the result of a lack of faith in the Son of God, God’s only provision for salvation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17–18). God has given a doomed world good news: the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Recommended Resource: What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
My utmost desire and prayer is that these few words will help us read our Bibles effectively and enjoy it more as I have come to and our soul, mind, heart and strength be drenched in the presence of the lord even as we read.
Do take your time to read 🙂
Many of us, genuinely want to read our Bibles. We know the benefit of it; reading our Bibles have the ability to make us wise, teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness, so that we are thoroughly equipped for every good work. (See 2 Timothy 3:15-16)
The importance of an effective bible study, cannot be overemphasized but we do struggle to find our feet in this enormous book. This write up is one dear to my heart because the key to our growth as Christians lies in a quality Bible study. The keys to developing prayer, overcoming sin, fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit, faith, hope, love and all Christian virtues are all clearly outlined in our bibles.
There are awesome bible study resources online and even applications on our mobile phones. I have tried most of them, from trying to read the bible in one year to countless other good bible plans to no avail. Why? It felt forced and not natural, I was gaining information but missing out on the most important aspect; fellowship with the Holy Spirit, experiencing the love of God and the grace of our lord Jesus Christ.
In my growth as a Christian, I have come to love my personal bible study now because of a wonderful truth I discovered in John 10, The Good Shepherd and his sheep.
Jesus Christ is our shepherd, and we are his sheep. Recognizing this is very key in our Christian walk. It helps us understand that we cannot lead our souls, Jesus is our soul’s trusted Lord.
The one who enters by the gate is the Shepherd of the sheep. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10)
This scripture teaches us a lot about this shepherd-sheep relationship & the leadings of the Holy Spirit;
He calls out his own sheep by name, he leads them out, he goes on ahead of them and the role of the sheep is to follow.
Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near – We live and move in him, can’t get away from him. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
. (Acts 17:24-29, MSG paraphrase & NLT)
Picture this, in the morning you wake up your whole heart’s desire is to seek the Holy Spirit, you hear his voice and he leads you out; into his word, into his will, into his plans and into his heart. He gives you the direction you seek.
This year, I started a bible plan; The Bible in one year. It was not that smooth because all along the Holy Spirit wanted me to study the book of Colossians.It has been superb because I have been led me to various portions of scripture to help me better understand what Paul was telling the church in Colosse. In the end, I might end up reading the whole Bible.
The Holy Spirit is an amazing teacher, don’t miss out on the amazing time in God’s Word because you try to make sense of the bible according to your own terms and methods.
The leadings of the Holy Spirit coupled with all the good bible resources is a key in having an effective personal bible study.
God bless you and may the eyes of our understanding be enlightened;
I live but to meet my end someday
When?……. I do not know.
How?………I do not know.
Where?….. I do not know.
All I know is, I will quit this earth Someday.
When I quit the earth
I shall never take
Things of silver and gold I make.
All that I cherish and hoard away
After I leave, on earth must stay.
Though I have toiled for a painting rare
To hang on my wall, I must leave it there.
Though I call it mine and boast its worth,
I must give it up when I quit the earth.
All that I gather and all that I keep
I must leave behind when I fall asleep and forget to wake up again.
And I wonder often, just what I shall own
In that other life, when I pass alone.
What shall He find and what shall He see
In the soul that answers the call for me?
Shall the great Judge learn, when my task is through,
That my soul had gathered some riches, too?
Or shall at the last, it be mine to find,
That all I had worked for I’d left behind?
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth
AAT ~ To God, the glory be.
Man values position, God values people.
Yearly my church on campus, NUPS-G embarks on outreach programs to various communities in Ghana. I was privileged to be part of this year’s outreach to the Bekwai District, Amponya local to be specific. In our 10 day stay in Amponya I met this young man who decided to give his life to Christ and in our subsequent talks I asked him what he would like to be in future. He answered, “I am learning how to drive so I will be a taxi driver.”
Surprised by his answer, retreated to myself and pondered over this question, “God, why would someone like to be a taxi driver among all these great careers?”
A few months later, in a conversation with some friends also, we were discussing how people were born “well” whilst “others not so well.” No one chose their parents, some the kids of great business tycoons, others just the child of that shoemaker or that woman who sells water by the roadside. “Is it the child’s fault or is God not fair?”
These questions became a gateway to an awesome revelation and an opportunity to understand God and his ways and to know him better.
To the question about taxi drivers this is the answer He gave me, “Cecil, do you know taxi drivers have at some point driven all kinds of people? “ “From Pastors, Teachers, Engineers, Doctors, Ministers you name it. Engaging in conversations some they initiate some they have no choice but to just engage the passenger and make him or her feel at home. Conversations ranging from people, the nation and all you could think of. Listening to a whole number of telephone calls between families, friends, bosses, colleagues-sad moments, happy moments, stressed moments.”
“Imagine what such a man filled with my spirit can do in the lives of people? An avenue for influencing people with my love.”
God’s value system is not like ours, He lives the 99 behind for one, He values purpose [the reason behind what you do] than just what you do.
In each and every man and woman, is a specific unique genetic code or DNA that makes us who we are. Now let me use myself as an illustration; I am Cecil because I was born to a young woman Comfort and a gentleman Charles. No two people in this world can give birth to me apart from them because they have the right genetic make-up, right blood type to give birth to me.
Any woman and man can have sex and give birth when all the requirements and conditions are met. Rick Warren in his book the purpose driven life puts it beautifully;
“You are not an accident. Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth. In fact he expected it.”
The child born in that remote village right now is as dear to God’s heart as the child born in the flashy hospital in Sydney, Australia.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
In man’s quest for fulfillment apart from God, we have devised structures and a way of life and reduced the uniqueness, beauty, diversity of man to positions and status in society.
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.
And this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
[John 3:16, 17:3]
God gave his son to “whoever”, to me to you, to the prince to the pauper, to the religious to the unreligious, to the broken to the whole, to the healthy to the unhealthy, to the rich to the poor, to the white to the black, to his 8 billion children on earth. God values and cherishes people, if we also learn to cherish people above all other things most of the problems in this world will be solved.
I can see your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child you died to save
If you gave your life to love them so will I
[So Will I, Hillsong United]
God loves us uniquely, just the way we are. [See Romans 8:28-37]
My words are limited to fully express what’s in my heart. Read with an open heart and mind as these words convey and form a language in your heart.
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
From one man he made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from anyone of us.
For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” [Acts 17:24-28]
I was recently in a conversation with a friend and I was asked these questions, “Why did God create us? Why did God create the earth? Why are we on earth?” (Ponder over these questions yourself)
Thinking I knew it all I tried my best to answer but that experience boldly left this impression on me, for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then shall we see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. [1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV]
Days went by pondering over that question and the subsequent questions that followed. The Holy Spirit then revealed this, “Why do zebras have black and white stripes on their bodies?” “Was it necessary?”
The Lord hath made everything for himself; [Proverbs 16:4a]
Think about it, can we really question the creator? Are we who are bound by time and space in the capacity to question the eternal one who is the beginning and the end, are we? Can we use our own logic to explain the all-knowing one?
To answer why we were created or why the earth or why zebras have black and white stripes and all the other questions is to question the source and the very being and existence of the source. What do I mean? The answers cannot be found using the created (something that was formed out of nothing) but they are found in the creator. For example, looking at the works of the carpenter, we can get some ideas of the purpose of the invention but it will only take the carpenter to reveal the true inspiration behind his invention.
The problem is we try to explain the supernatural with the natural and it doesn’t work like that.
God is the source of everything. God holds the universe together. He is the CREATOR.
Max Lucado in his book No wonder they call him savior puts it beautifully;
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That’s what it says. “God created the heavens and the earth.” It doesn’t say, “God made the heavens and the earth.” Nor does it say that he “Xeroxed” the heavens and the earth. Or “built” or “developed” or “mass-produced.” No, the word is “created. “And that one word says a lot. Creating is something far different than constructing. The difference is pretty obvious. Constructing something engages only the hands while creating something engages the heart and the soul. Now, imagine God’s creativity. Of all we don’t know about the creation, there is one thing we do know—he did it with a smile. He must’ve had a blast. Painting the stripes on the zebra, hanging the stars in the sky, putting the gold in the sunset. What creativity! Stretching the neck of the giraffe, putting the flutter in the mockingbird’s wings, planting the giggle in the hyena. What a time he had. Like a whistling carpenter in his workshop, he loved every bit of it.”
To then understand “why the creation” is to know the creator. Our question then must be who is this God and how may I know him?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . [And] the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1, 14).
. Max Lucado again puts it beautifully;
“Nearing the climax of the story, God, motivated by love and directed by divinity, surprised everyone. He became a man. In an untouchable mystery, he disguised himself as a carpenter and lived in a dusty Judean village. Determined to prove his love for his creation, he walked incognito through his own world. His callused hands touched wounds and his compassionate words touched hearts. He became one of us.”
The Creator made his dwelling amongst us. The creator came near so we may not assume but rather know and understand him in person.
The one who knows what lies where space has run its course
Embraced a baby’s mind
And now I can know my God.
Loved embraced our fate, when the playwright took the stage.
[Arrival, Hillsong Worship]
This God is Jesus Christ and his greatest desire is to lead you as a shepherd leads his sheep would you let him?
“FROM THE BIBLE STUDY WING : ORIENTATION GUIDE ”
It is not about the amount of information you pour into them but what through the Holy Spirit you let members see; the truths for themselves through Scripture or quotes.
1.) Let the members know the scope of the study in order not to waste time on issues outside the scope of study.
2.) Avoid turning a bible study into comprehension exercises. Ask effective questions. Where members seem not to get a particular question very well, the study leader must reframe the question very well to be understandable without losing its purpose and meaning.
3.) Don’t be afraid of silence especially after a question requiring a careful thought.
4.) Never say that an answer or viewpoint is wrong. But tactfully ask, “In what verse did you find that?” or “how did you arrive at that?” or “what does somebody else think about this point?”
5.) Be observant and draw all members in. Encourage shy members to participate; reading a verse or asking direct and simple questions.
6.) Learn how to handle talkative members very well. Direct questions to others instead to avoid one from monopolizing the discussion.
7.) Encourage members to respond from the bible.
8.) Be sincere and honest when you have no idea about something. Tell the person you intend to find out later and give him the answer.