Gospel means "good news." Not simply any news, but news so good that it changes everything.
What is this good news? The gospel is God saves sinners. Our life is broken. We have broken relationships with creation, with our neighbors, with ourselves, and with God. Our life is broken, and we have broken it. We have broken it because we love ourselves more than anything else. We have broken it because we want our glory more than anything else. Because of our self-love and self-glory, we defy God’s rule and deny his love. We live for ourselves, rather than for God. This is called sin. In our sin, we don’t do what God requires us to do and we do what God requires us not to do—not only in deed and word, but in thought, in the deepest parts of who we are. We can and do sin against ourselves, our neighbors, and creation. But all sin is essentially sin against God. Because of man’s sin, we are all born in sin and are unable not to sin. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). As a result of our sin and because of God’s holiness, we are under God’s righteous wrath and curse. What was light is darkness. What was life is death.
But God, because of his love for us, has entered our broken life to do what we can’t do for ourselves—to restore our broken relationships and to save us from his wrath and curse. Light has entered our darkness. Life has entered our death.
To accomplish this, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man and lived a life of perfect love for God. He lived a perfectly righteous life, a life without sin. If anyone didn't deserve suffering or death, it was Jesus. But that is what happened. Not only did Jesus live righteously, he died sacrificially, receiving God's wrath and curse due us for our sin. Yet, for Jesus, death wasn't the last word. He was resurrected bodily, signifying his sovereign rule of all things and that even death itself has been broken. This is the gospel. The apostle Paul says,
“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, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:1–8).
Paul says that the gospel is historical, biblical, theological, and personal. It is historical—it happened. It is biblical—it happened according to Scripture. It is theological—it happened according to Scripture to accomplish salvation. It is personal—it happened according to Scripture to accomplish salvation for us. Or, the gospel is the full accomplishment of God’s salvation for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to God’s promises made long ago revealed in Scripture to be believed by us.
The gospel, then, is the message, not about who we are or what we have done, but about who Christ is and what Christ has done for us. It is not about our works for God, but about God’s grace to us. The gospel, therefore, distinguishes Christianity from all other philosophy and religion. Other philosophy and religion may look to god as teacher or helper, but continues to look at self as lord and savior. Christianity looks from self to God as Teacher and Helper, Lord and Savior. The gospel says that God loves us, accepts us, and approves us because of who Christ is and what Christ has done for us, not because of who we are or what we have done.
Why is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ good news? It is the gospel because Christ restores our relationship with God. Sinners who repent of their sin and believe in Christ alone for salvation are accepted as righteous by God, who forgives their sin and accounts Christ’s righteousness to them. It is the gospel because Christ restores our relationship with ourselves. Christ changes our thoughts, our affections, our wills that we may truly know ourselves as we are, sinners in need of God’s grace. It is the gospel because Christ restores our relationship with our neighbors. As Christ loved and served us, we are called to love one another regardless of our differences and serve our neighbors, whether they believe as us or not. It is the gospel because Christ restores our relationship with creation. He says, "'I am making all things new'" (Revelation 21:5).
The gospel that God saves sinners is news so good that it changes everything. It requires more than passing interest. It requires earnest seeking. This can be done by praying that God will reveal himself to you, by reading Scripture, by talking to a Christian, or by connecting with a church that believes the gospel. If you want, you can explore Christianity, visit our parish gatherings, or simply contact us with your questions.