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What is the Gospel and Why Do We Need It?

January 14, 2013

The question that this post seeks to answer is of immense importance. It is a question (and answer) that we must constantly think about and consider. Why? Because it is both the foundation, and the driving force of our Christian lives. This post is not my own but rather was written by my Pastor, Linford Berry. Enjoy and feel free to leave your thoughts and comments…

Gospel means good news.  Good news is meant to be proclaimed.  It is a message that brings joy.  The angels announced this in Bethlehem.  “Fear not for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

For the news to be good it must be intelligible – that is it must be heard and understood.  Otherwise it cannot be good news.  This requires communication. The communication of the good news must be clear and specific.   No one will ever be saved by merely looking at a picture or by gazing at a sunset.  There must be explanation and understanding.  “So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.”

What then is the content of the good news or the word that we are to proclaim, preach and believe?  What do Biblical references say the good news is?  First of all we must recognize and proclaim that there is a living God who made the heaven and the earth and sea and everything that exists in them.  “We bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”  Furthermore, not only does a living God exist and not only has he created all things, but he is king and he rules over everything that exists. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God Reigns!”

Surely, if God does not reign as the King of the universe that he created, then how can there be any really good news? The coming of Jesus Christ is good news because Jesus has kingly authority.  The arrival of King Jesus is good news.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe. The King of the universe has come to be a Savior.  It is good news because he has the authority and power to accomplish the things that he claims about himself.  But this is no ordinary king. The amazing thing is, that not only did the King come, but the King died. 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.

It wouldn’t be good news if the King stayed dead and so Paul goes on to say that He was buried and raised on the third day – also in accordance with the scripture.  As a matter of fact, the resurrection is so important that without it, we would be of all men most miserable.  It definitely wouldn’t be good news.

And so the good news is that there is a God who created everything, A God who rules as King over everything.  This God came in the person of his Son Jesus Christ and died for our sins and was raised in the resurrection to be victor and King over sin and death.  But that isn’t all. There is more –much more.

The whole of the gospel is the gift of God.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.  If we had to pay for it, the news wouldn’t be so good.  Would it?  But it is the grace of God that provides both the message and the means of the gospel.

What about salvation?  I thought salvation was what the gospel is all about?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.  Indeed the promise of salvation is a part of the good news of the gospel but the actual experience of salvation does not define the gospel. Rather It is the result or fruit of the gospel.   There are many other blessings or promises of the gospel that make it good news.  Peace with God and with each other, the blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, eternal life with Christ, restoration of a corrupted world, and so much more.

With all of this we have not come close to exhausting all of the references and explanations in the scripture regarding what the gospel is.  The reason for this should become even more clear to us as we go a little further in stating that none of these things as good as they are, is the final good of the good news.

God himself is the good news.  If God himself is not seen and delighted in, then all of these good things are of no eternal value.  What makes all of these gifts of the gospel good news, is that they ultimately lead us to God himself.  Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

The whole point of the gospel is God himself.  All the good gifts of the gospel are there to make it possible for us to see God, fellowship with God, and enjoy God forever.  Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

God is the gospel.  God is the final and highest gift that makes the good news so good.  Until we see the gospel as the means by which we have access to knowing God himself, we will continue to use it wrongly.

We must see and value the gospel as the Apostle Paul did.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.  Or like the Psalmist  One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

Our problem is that we tend to want all the benefits of the gospel without the God of the gospel.  At the root we are selfish.  We want the gospel because of what it does for us.  We are glad to drive this bargain with God, and say, “Okay God.  If you will save me from hell and get me out of the pickle that I have created for myself then I will believe in you.  I might even do some good things for you just to show you how much I appreciate what you have done for me.”  Wow isn’t this a good thing?  Look at what God will do for me?  Herein lies our need of the gospel.

We need the gospel of God because we are not God.  Romans 12:2 says, Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. The only way we can know and do what is truly good and truly acceptable and truly perfect is if we know the will of God.  And the only way we can know the will of God is if our hearts are transformed by the renewal of our minds.  In other words, we aren’t thinking straight about life – our default setting is the way the world thinks.  This is the way that leads to destruction and death.  The only way we can think straight in a way that leads to life is if there is a transformation that takes place in our minds.  Our biggest problem is that we are powerless to do this work of transformation.

So how does this transformation take place?  By beholding the glory of God.  We become like our heroes.  We are changed into the image of that which we admire the most and the most often.  So do you want to be transformed? – Then look at Christ.  Study him   Delight in him.  It’s not hard for us to study that which we admire.  Just listen to the conversations around you throughout the week.  What are people talking about?  Who are they admiring?  Often in our culture it is, how is my favorite team doing?  Or what are the stats on my favorite player.

This transformation requires a change of mind.  Repentance is the Biblical term.  Change your mind about it.  This change involves the surrender of ourselves as god and surrender to God.  We must agree with God (confess) that we are not the ruler of the universe, that we are altogether sinful and rebellious and we must trust in and rely on him as the Lord of the universe and the Lord and master of our own lives.

We often wring our hands over the fact that there are many people who profess to be saved and yet do not seem to be living a holy life.  Perhaps we have been pointing them to the benefits of the gospel rather than the God of the gospel.  We want the salvation, and the peace, and the satisfaction but we don’t really want God.   We don’t long to see the glory of God.  We still want our own glory.

Perhaps we know and believe the facts of the gospel but we haven’t yet surrendered to the God of the Gospel.  It doesn’t take a supernatural work of God to believe the facts of the gospel.  Why even the devils believe and tremble.  It does take a supernatural work of God to long for and delight in the person of God for his glories sake.

We wonder why holiness is so elusive.  We know that, we must strive for holiness – without which no one will see the Lord.  But I fear that many of us don’t really want to see the Lord.  I think that is our problem all along.

Do we really long to see the Lord as the Psalmist wrote about?  As Paul wrote about?  Do we long for the day when we will see him in all his glory and not through a glass darkly, but face to face?  Is there anything that motivates us more than that desire?  When we read the word of God, what are we looking for?  Some formula for how to live a better life?  Or are we looking for the glory of God?  Are we longing to know more of the character and excellence of our great God?  Or are we just doing our religious duty so that we can chalk that off our to-do list for the day?

What about the things we listen to and watch or read?  Are we drawn to that which helps us to further see and delight in the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?  Or are we drawn to that which feeds our fleshly and carnal desires?

Who are we fooling really?  If our desire is not to see God and behold him and his glory in the person of Jesus Christ, then we will be powerless to change.  Transformation will never come by self effort or regulation.  It will never come by merely believing the facts of the gospel – as incredible as those facts are.  Transformation will only come when we behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ.

As we look at him we begin to see ourselves as we really are.  We begin to see our sin as the terrible rebellion that it really is. And we throw ourselves on the mercy and grace of the God who is the Gospel, the God who can and does empower us to live in victory over sin for the sake of his glory not our own.  This is really good news.  This is the gospel. “Behold your God!”

Recommended Articles:

God Is the Gospel

What Is the Christian Gospel?

Recommended Books:

(Links lead to free PDFs of the books…)

God is the Gospel by John Piper

God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper

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10 Comments
  1. Spot on! What a great rehearsal of the gospel…

  2. You wrote: “This God came in the person of his Son Jesus Christ and died for our sins and was raised in the resurrection to be victor and King over sin and death. ” but God can not die. He is an eternal Spirit, not having a beginning an not having an end.
    Jesus who knew he could not do anything without his Father, was a man of flesh and blood, a master teacher, who really died.

    • In Jesus are clearly seen two natures. While it is true that Jesus was FULLY human, yet through the miracle of a virgin birth and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was also FULLY God. Both Jesus and the Apostles claimed that he was God (http://carm.org/jesus-god).

      If Jesus was not fully God, then his death is nothing more than that of a martyr. If he was not fully man than he could not die in our place.
      BUT
      Because Jesus was fully man, he could take our place (Heb 2:14) and because he is fully God, His death is a perfect sacrifice that takes away our sins.

      As for the dilemma of “God cannot die”, I would point you to this sermon…

      http://t4g.org/media/2010/04/tis-mystery-all-the-immortal-dies-why-the-gospel-of-christs-suffering-is-more-glorious-because-god-does-not-suffer/

      • What God proof if He faked a death? God is always truthful to Himself, what would be the use of Him having waited such a long time before bringing the world salvation?
        the apostles never claimed Jesus was the God of gods. Today there are still many gods but non of them are the One and only Elohim Jehovah God.
        The Carm reading nowhere proofs that Jesus is God, who said that Jesus was his only begotten son (and God never lies.)

        And having been immersed, יהושע {Jeshua/Jesus} went up immediately from the water, and see, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of Elohim descending like a dove and coming upon Him, and see, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I did delight.”
        (Matthew 3:16-17 The Scriptures 1998+)

        • The bible says that “at the right time, God sent his Son” Gal 4:4. Why it was the right time, none of us can say but the reason why God waited so long can be clearly said in that it was not the right time.

          You pit one verse of scripture against another as if they would contradict one another. Jesus clearly evokes the name of God (John 8:24, 58) and you would reject that on the account of Matthew 3? Wouldn’t it be better to understand what is meant by God in Matthew 3 if you look at it in light of the other passages in which Jesus claims deity?

  3. You have reason to say that we should see the glory of God in Christ, but that does not make him God. We too should take on the armour of Christ and become like him, which would not make us to be Jesus and would not make us to become god.

    • I have to wonder if you accept Scripture as the inspired word of God but I will assume that it is so. The bible is very clear on this point, namely that to see Jesus is to see God (John 14:7).

      Heb 1:3 — “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

      Not only does Christ reflect the Glory of God but rather HE IS the glory of God. Not only that, Jesus is also the EXACT IMPRINT of God’s nature. By definition, that means that Jesus IS God. Not only that, Jesus also sits in the place of God’s self-sufficiency and all of life and the entire universe is dependent upon Christ. This again displays Christ as the God of the universe “By Definition”. This is one verse of MANY and in order to reject “Jesus as God”, you must reject scripture as a whole…

      http://carm.org/bible-verses-show-jesus-divine

  4. We do believe the Holy Scripture is the Word of God and infallible.

    As you say yourself Jesus is to see God and not himself. He is also to sit at the right hand of his Father to be a mediator between God and mean. Nobody can mediate between himself and somebody else.

    Being the radiance or being in the image of somebody does not make that person the same as the other one. We all are made in the image of God, but we are not God. We all have to become like Christ, but we shall never be Christ. We all have to put the armour of Christ becoming Christ, but shall never be Christ nor God.

    The text you quote does not say Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature (who is a spirit, neither does it says Jesus is the glory/

    ος ων απαυγασμα της δοξης και χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου φερων τε τα παντα τω ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου δι εαυτου καθαρισμον ποιησαμενος των αμαρτιων ημων εκαθισεν εν δεξια της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις

    who being the brightness of the esteem and the exact representation of His substance, and sustaining all by the word of His power, having made a cleansing of our sins through Himself, sat down at the right hand of the Greatness on high,
    (Hebrews 1:3 The Scriptures 1998+)

    being an exact representation does not mean that person is exactly the other person or company. (This is still said about people and their company exactly representing the school, firm, company.. but that does not make that person that school, company etc.)

  5. We do not recject Scripture as a whole but we listen to its Words as it is written and meant and not as doctrinal statements brought in by the time by people who wanted to have their position secured and agreed to certain teachings to be conform with heathen teachings.

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