ANSWER: The gospel of God is the wonderful news of salvation, the best news that has ever been communicated to mankind. The word gospel means “good message” or “good news.” The apostle Paul refers to himself in Romans 1:1 as “separated to the gospel of God.” In Romans 15:15-16 he elaborates on this, saying that by God’s grace he is “a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” In saying this he indicates that the gospel of God includes far more than simply how a person can have his sins forgiven, go to heaven and avoid going to hell.
The gospel itself includes the news that because every person is lost and absolutely incapable of saving himself, God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to become a man in order to die for our sins on the cross at Calvary. It tells us that God has shown His full acceptance of His Son’s work by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His own right hand in glory. And God offers forgiveness of sins and full salvation to everyone, Jew or Gentile, who personally receives Christ as Savior. It lets us know that today all who do so are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are united together to form the Church, the body and bride of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 5:23-32). Believers of the past and future ages, too, receive forgiveness of sins and every blessing God has purposed for them through the finished work of the Lord Jesus.
The gospel of God includes how we now can live to please Him and how the Lord Jesus will come to take us to be with Him forever. It shows us that at a time soon to come the Lord Jesus will set up His kingdom, and how after that He will be glorified in judgment as He casts the devil and his angels and all who have sided with the devil into hell forever, while those who have been saved through His work on Calvary will be with Him in bliss forever.
This glorious message of the triumph of the Lord Jesus and all its results is called the gospel of God because it comes from God and the emphasis is on God. John 3:16 has been called “the gospel in a nutshell,” for it tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
When Scripture refers to the gospel of Christ, this is the very same good news. In using this expression, however, the emphasis is on Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Savior promised by God from the very day man became a sinner, who has done all that was required for our salvation. He is the One in focus whenever the gospel is referred to in this way. God delights to remind us that His Son, Jesus Christ, has glorified Him in every detail. God has made Him, whom men rejected and nailed to the cross, Lord of all! Apart from Him there is no salvation. It is His wonderful work that must be proclaimed far and wide.
Again and again the Bible simply speaks of “the gospel.” But it also uses a number of other expressions, depending on what it may be referring to specifically. Mark 1:1 refers to “the gospel of Jesus Christ” – the good news is about Him! Throughout the four Gospels and in other passages we read of “the gospel of the kingdom.” The Jews were looking for the promised Messiah to set up His kingdom in a literal way, making them the world’s top nation, and conquering the Romans and every other nation that oppressed them. God’s good news is that we can be in submission to God’s chosen King already today, before His 1000-year-long kingdom is literally set up on this earth that has been cleansed through judgment of all His foes (Rev. 19).
Paul refers several times to “my gospel” – the good news that had been given to him to proclaim. He also uses the term “our gospel.” This was specifically the “gospel of the uncircumcision” as distinct from “the gospel of the circumcised” (Gal. 2:7), for his commission from God was especially to bring the good news to the Gentiles, while the sphere of the other apostles’ work was especially to the Jews. Also, to Paul was entrusted the wonderful teaching about the Church, something that in times past had never been revealed to God’s people.
Other expressions about the gospel used in Scripture are descriptive and easily understood, and can be appreciated by every Christian today. Some of these are: “the glorious gospel of the blessed God,” “the glorious gospel of Christ,” “the gospel of the grace of God,” “the gospel of His Son,” “the gospel of your salvation,” and “the gospel of peace.” See if you can find them as you read through the New Testament!
In The Revelation we have one final expression, “the everlasting gospel,” which seems at first glance to be a bit different from all the other references we have looked at. It is addressed to all those who dwell on earth under judgment during the Tribulation and calls on them to “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Rev. 14:6-7). Even at this solemn time of well-merited judgment, God calls upon people to enter into a right relationship with Him. While not specifically mentioned in this verse we know from other portions that the work of the Lord Jesus is the only basis for salvation for mankind, no matter at what time in human history.
Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
|The Gospel In A Nutshell
John 3:16 has been called “the gospel in a nutshell,”
for it tells us that “God so loved the world
that He gave His only-begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.”
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org