There is talk about the actual definition of the gospel.
Briefly, the true gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature and by choice sinful, and is separated from God with no hope of fixing his situation or standing before God. But God, by his power, provided for our redemption in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” To truly appreciate how good this news is, we must first understand the bad news.
- As a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6), every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin.
- Because of our sinful nature, we do not and cannot seek God. We have no desire to come to God and, in fact, our mind is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7).
- God has declared that our sin dooms us to an eternity in hell, separated from God.
It is in hell that man pays the penalty of sin against a holy and righteous God. This would be bad enough news if there were no remedy.
But God, in His mercy, has provided the perfect remedy, a substitute for us—Jesus Christ—who came to pay the penalty for our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the essence of the gospel that Paul preached to the Corinthians.
- In 1 Corinthians 15, he explains the two elements of the gospel, the death and resurrection of Christ.
- Jesus died for us, the proof being that he was buried (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
- Jesus rose from the dead, the proof being the post-resurrection appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
- Anything added to this “first creed” of the church is not defined as the gospel:
- Not the plan of salvation
- Not liberation theology
- Not a social gospel
- Not justification, sanctification or glorification
- Not bearing fruit or good works or evangelism
- Not what one believes about the virgin birth or the end times
- Not humanitarian causes done in Jesus’ name
- Not even letting your light shine before men
- For us, our old nature died with Christ on the cross and was buried with Him. Then we were resurrected with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4-8).
- Paul tells us to “hold firmly” to this true gospel, the only one that saves.
- Believing in any other gospel is to believe in vain (Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 1:6).
- Paul declares that the true gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” He means that salvation is not achieved by human effort, but by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because of the gospel, those who believe in Christ (Romans 10:9) are not just saved from hell. We are given a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a changed heart and a new desire, will, and attitude that are demonstrated through good works. This is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us by His power (Galatians 5:22-23). Works do not bring salvation, but they are the proof of it (Ephesians 2:10). Those who are saved by the power of God will always show the evidence of salvation by a changed life.