For the other parts of this series, see the end of this post.
3. The Gospel – In The Bible
Whatever definition of the gospel that I could come up with, or whatever opinions of others that I could share, none would compare to the Bible. We can just offer commentary on the Bible. The best Bible commentary is the Bible itself. I belief that a great definition of the gospel is given in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 by the apostle Paul:
“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, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 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. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (Emphasis added).
I want to try to break this down a little bit. I have added bold and italics to some part of the text to for a purpose. First however, look at the phrase “of first importance…” This is to denote that Paul is stressing that it can’t wait. What he has delivered must be a priority. Next, look at the word “that” (in bold). There are four clauses in particular that I want to point out:
- “Christ died for our sins”
- “he was buried”
- “he was raised on the third day”
- “he appeared to…”
I believe that the word “that” is there to signify the fact that each one of these clauses do not work independently. The gospel is all four of these clauses together. Christ died for our sins, and was buried, and was raised, and appeared to Cephas (Simon Peter), to the twelve, to more than five hundred and to James and all the apostles and finally Paul. Yes, I am saying that even that fourth clause is essential to the gospel. The fact that he was buried verified His death, but further, the fact that he appeared verified His resurrection.
The second thing I want to point out from this passage is the phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures.” It’s amazing that Christ’s death for our sins is prophesied, foreshadowed, flash-backed, declared, demonstrated, taught, and unpacked throughout all of Scripture (what we refer to as the Old Testament). Paul is saying exactly this. Scripture was written to reveal this truth, to spell it out propositionally; Christ is Himself the Word, the true revelation which Scripture was pointing to (e.g. Isaiah 53).
There are obviously many more places where the gospel is found in the Bible, but I believe 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the best places for the pure explanation of what the gospel is, and that is all I am trying to do with this writing.
4. The Gospel – Where It Started
As I mentioned in the introduction, the gospel is the good news that God sent Jesus Christ into the world. So I am going to start the gospel with the birth of Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke 2:7-11:
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.””
As a quick side note, Luke 2:5 states that Mary was with child, so starting off in verse 7, the “she” is referring to Mary. Now, I want to point out one thing from that above passage. The angel is bringing good news: “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This was the good news – Jesus has come.
– Adam Smith