The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gospel as “the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation.” For those of us who are Christians that’s like defining a human as a “bipedal primate mammal.” Both are correct definitions in their essentials, but they hardly describe the subject words in the fullness of their meaning. After all a human is so much more than just an animal who walks upright. And, the gospel is more than just a message.
Paul once wrote, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). How is that for a definition? If the word of God is a living entity, then the gospel is its heart muscle. All of God’s work throughout both the Old and New Testaments is centered around and given life in the promises that the Father made concerning His Son. The entire Bible is about God bringing man to the promised land, to forgiveness after failure, to redemption, to salvation, to the kingdom. The Son’s blood is the lifeblood of that redemptive work and man’s salvation. The gospel encompasses all that God has done for man since the fall; even before time began (Titus 1:1-3).
In the Old Testament the gospel work was prophetic and preparatory, culminating in the work of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Since Jesus’ resurrection the gospel work continues, not in prophesying the coming Messiah and His kingdom, but in proclaiming Jesus as the Christ and bringing the lost of the world into His kingdom (I Corinthians 15:1-4). Today the “good news” of the gospel and its promises are at hand (Acts 8:35; 13:32; I Peter 1:12, 25; Luke 19:9; Acts 4:12; 28:28), and it is the job of Christians everywhere to spread the word (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 1:16; Revelation 14:6).
The purpose of the gospel is to bring man face-to-face with his Savior. In the gospel according to John we find this exchange between Jesus and Martha, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27). The gospel prepares us to meet Him, to learn of His life and resurrection, of the redemption found in coming to Him, and then to become members of His kingdom (Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17; 13:43; Ephesians 6:15).
The gospel is revelatory. It reveals God’s plan of salvation for man. And while it is natural to focus on the positive aspect of that message it is important to understand that it also reveals the fate of those who reject God’s message (Mark 16:15-16; John 3:16-18). There is no message, no written word of greater import for humanity than the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:16-19).
For those who seek to share the word of God we are given due warning. We will be resisted by those who do not want to know or live in accord with the truth. Satan seeks to blind unbelievers to the truth (II Corinthians 4:3-4), even as he leads the ungodly to destruction (Jude 1:15; II Peter 3:7). Nonetheless, the power of the gospel is sufficient to reach those whose minds are open to the truth, even among the ungodly, if we will but reach them with the truth (Romans 10:13-15; I Thessalonians 1:4-6). We go forth with the word under the authority of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20), knowing that there are forces arrayed against us, but those cosmic powers (Ephesians 6:12) are inferior to the one under who’s banner we fight (Ephesians 6:13). As Paul wrote, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His Own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One who died—more than that, Who was raised—Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39).
No one who stands for Christ and His gospel can truly be defeated. Even in death the victory is his (I Corinthians 15:54-57; I John 5:4). It is in understanding this that we can comprehend the meaning of Jesus’ words when He said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). By human standards the burden of Jesus’ life was heavy indeed. And, it is no less so for those who suffer trials and tribulations as His followers. Yet from the perspective of eternal salvation the burdens of this life are but for a moment— and then heaven. This is the promise of the gospel, that the Savior Who died for us and rose from the dead has gone ahead to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3).
It took centuries for God to prepare the world for His Messiah, but the day finally came (Galatians 4:4-5). The Christ was born (Luke 2:8-14). There is no mystery as to why He came, John tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). The gospel is the account of God’s promises kept and made manifest in the man, Jesus of Nazareth. For all who turn to Him there awaits eternal salvation (John 3:14-15; 10:25-30). It is the divine knowledge needed to draw us to Him, as Peter explained: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (II Peter 1:3-4). Paul said it is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16).
It is has now been nearly two millennia since Jesus was crucified. And, as in the first century there are many who will scoff and say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3:4). I do not know when He will be back. Although sometimes I think it can’t be long. However, I trust the gospel promises and the rest of the Holy Scriptures. I know He will be back to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; I Peter 4:5). Until then I will share the gospel and abide in all the word of God and echo the words of Paul who wrote, “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” ( II Timothy 1:12).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.