Editor’s Note: For TGC Canada’s first regular article, we are happy to publish Paul Carter’s explanation of the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel is the only hope for the world, and I can think of no better way to launch TGC Canada’s website than by beginning with the Gospel. WG.
The word “Gospel” literally means “a good message” or “good news”. The Gospel is the good news of what God has done in Christ to secure our redemption. At its heart it is a story about Jesus, but to understand Jesus we have to understand what it means to be lost and we have to know who it is that is looking for us. That’s why it is very important that when we speak about the Gospel we begin at the very beginning.
The gospel begins with God. It is God’s message for God’s people living in God’s world. The Gospel begins where the Bible begins: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1 ESV)
The Gospel begins with the premise that there is a God, he is loving and he made everything; including you. Therefore your life only makes sense with reference to this God. Because he is the Creator he has the right to make the rules. Because he is Love those rules are good, wise and life giving.
Very early on in the Bible we discover that humans beings rebelled against the Creator God. Our first parents wanted to be like God, deciding right and wrong for themselves. They did not believe that God was good and they resented his authority over their lives. They rejected his Word and they did what God had told them not to do and they immediately regretted it.
All human beings now live out this essential pattern: “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:22–23 ESV).
The central dilemma of the Biblical narrative is this: God is holy and we are not. That is the problem that Jesus came to solve.
Perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible reads as follows: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)
Jesus is the grace of God! Jesus is what God gave so that his people might not perish but have everlasting life – the Gospel is about Jesus! Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves and he paid for what we have done in his body on the cross. His life brought us blessing. His death brought us peace. His resurrection gives us hope. And his intercession gives us strength. Thanks be to God for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Gratitude is another word for “thanks”. It means to receive what God has given in Christ for our salvation. It also describes the essential attitude of the Christian. The Christian is one who rejoices in what Christ has accomplished. A Christian is one who grows in what Christ has given. Gratitude therefore, is about receiving and responding. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom 12:1 ESV)
A Christian gives because God has given. A Christian loves because God has loved. A Christian forgives because in Jesus, God has forgiven them. The whole Christian life is about responding to what God has done in Christ. It is about being gathered back into the love and the goodness of God.
The gospel begins where it ends: with God’s people, in God’s world, delighting in God’s goodness. The Gospel is a story about rescue and restoration. It is about how God in Christ brings his people all the way home.
The Bible ends with these marvelous words: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more” (Revelation 22:1–5 ESV).
They will see his face, and night will be no more. Hallelujah! What a Savior – what a salvation! What a Gospel! Thanks be to God!