What is the gospel? The apostle Paul helps us with the answer to this question in 1 Corinthians when he writes, “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… “(1 Cor. 15:1-2, ESV). Paul was reminding the Corinthian church of what the gospel is that they had heard through his preaching and so he defines that gospel for them in the following verses, “…for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:3-5, ESV). Essentially then based upon what we see here the core of the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And in thinking of the resurrection, Paul was not speaking of a mystical or “spiritual” resurrection, but a bodily resurrection for he appeared to Cephas, the twelve apostles, and many more after He rose from the grave (1 Cor. 15:5-9).
The death and resurrection of Christ is at the heart of the gospel then. But we could say more. It is vitally important that we understand who this Christ is who died and was raised. Scripture teaches us that Jesus Christ is God the Son come in the flesh (1 John 4:2,15). Christians worship the one true living God who exists in three persons eternally, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the Trinity. These three persons are the same in substance and equal in power and glory (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In the beginning this God created the Heavens and the earth and He created the first man Adam and his wife Eve in his own image (Genesis 1). Adam was made perfect and God gave Him a command, His law. He promised Adam life if he obeyed and threatened death if he disobeyed (Genesis 2:8-17).
Adam disobeyed and brought sin and death into the world by his sin (Romans 5:12-14). This is the world in which we live, a world cursed by sin and misery. All men are born sinners, fallen in Adam, and therefore every person is guilty and deserving of God’s righteous wrath. But God out of His free mercy promised a Savior to redeem His people from this curse (Gen. 3:15). Jesus is this Savior! He is the redeemer of God’s elect. In the fullness of time the second person of the Trinity took to Himself a human nature just like ours, yet without sin, so that He might become both God and man in one person forever (John 1:1-2; Philippians 2:5-11). This God-man is the One who died and was raised for the sins of His people. Though he was sinless He bore on His person the full weight of God’s wrath against sin as He was nailed to a cross and died as a substitute for sinners (Luke 23:32-33, 44-46; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 1:24).
This is who Jesus Christ is but how do we come to hear of this Christ? As we saw above the apostle Paul said that the gospel is something that he preached. The gospel means “good news”. It is a message proclaimed through faithful preaching. Men, women, and children come to embrace Christ as their Savior by believing in this proclaimed message of salvation. The gospel then is the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ so that whoever hears and believes in Him might be saved. It is again faithfully summarized in the gospel of John: “”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).
There is an almost endless amount of messages being communicated to man in the world today. Advanced technology has even afforded man with the ability to hear these messages, if they choose, at all times; in the car, walking down the street, at home, at restaurants, on the beach, you name it! But Scripture calls men and women to tune into the one message that can save their souls. The apostle Paul told the Corinthian church earlier in the same letter that he decided to proclaim and know nothing among them but Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor.2:1-2). This is the message we proclaim. This is the gospel. We invite you to come, hear and believe in this Christ that you may have life and have it abundantly.