If someone asked you to explain the gospel, how would you do it? Are there verses that you would quote? I once heard a pastor preaching to form four high students decreeing that they would be blessed on their KCSE exam if they spoke good marks into existence through faith. Then immediately after such comments, he said, “Now, who wants to be born again?” After the pastor finished preaching, I met with him, and he said, “It feels good to preach the gospel.” I thought to myself that he didn’t preach the gospel at all, but he gave a motivational talk at best and finished by saying, “Now, who wants to be born again.” Did he preach the gospel just because he spoke the words “born again?” What exactly is the gospel?
The Gospel Begins with God & Man
The gospel message first needs to start with God. God is the creator of everything that exists, including humans (Genesis 1:1, 27, John 1:1-3, Psalm 121:2). Therefore, man cannot say that he is autonomous, self-reliant, or self-accountable in this universe. Man is connected back to God because he is the creator. How does God want man to relate to him? The answer is through worship (Isaiah 43:7, Ephesians 1:3-6). Man worships by giving God glory and enjoying him (Psalm 145:1-3, Psalm 37:4, Philippians 4:4).
Sadly, man did not worship God; instead, man sinned (Genesis 3:6-7). Scripture tells us that Eve saw the forbidden fruit and believed the serpent’s lies that she could be like God (Genesis 3:5). Adam immediately followed in Eve’s footsteps and ate the forbidden fruit. That was the beginning of sin in man, which brought separation between man and God (Genesis 3:23-24, Isaiah 59:2).
The reason that God separated himself from sinful man is that he is holy (Leviticus 11:44). Scripture describes God as light, in whom “there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He never changes how he views sins (James 1:17); otherwise, he would not be holy. To be holy means that God is pure to the point that he is of “purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). Therefore, it is in God’s nature to hate sin (Zechariah 8:17, Psalm 5:4). As a result of his holiness, God will bring punishment on all sinners (John 3:36, Romans 1:18). This is terrible news for man because, other than Adam and Eve, all of humanity are born sinners and actively do wrong (Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:12, 1 John 1:8, Romans 3:10-18). Not one person can say that they have perfectly obeyed every command in the scriptures from the time they were born to the current day (Romans 3:9-10); therefore, they are under the wrath of God (John 3:36, Romans 1:18).
The Gospel is Good News Through Jesus
This is all terrible news up until this point. Nevertheless, the gospel is good news. The good news begins with the fact that God made a hope-filled promise in Genesis 3:15 in the middle of his pronouncement of curses resulting from man’s sin (Genesis 3:14-19). The good news is that through the seed of Eve, there would be a Saviour who would crush the head of the serpent that deceived Adam and Eve to sin (Genesis 3:15). This Saviour is Jesus, and he was the one who was and will continue to destroy the work of the devil (John 12:31, 1 John 3:8, Revelation 20:10).
How did Jesus become our Savior and rescue us from the devil? The answer is that Jesus was 100% God (Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, John 20:28) and 100% man (1 John 4:2-3). This is significant because man’s sins are against God (Psalm 51:4, Isaiah 59:2), and only God can forgive man (Mark 2:7, Isaiah 43:25). But, for God to forgive sinful man, he must pour his wrath on man for his holy wrath to be satisfied. Jesus, therefore, had to be 100% God and 100% man for man to be forgiven (Galatians 4:4-5, Hebrews 2:17).
Jesus took on the wrath of God for all who would put their faith in him (Romans 5:1-9, Colossians 1:19-21, 2 Corinthians 5:21). God, in his wrath against sinful man, was merciful and kind in that he gave us a Saviour, Jesus Christ (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:5-7). This Saviour, Jesus, willingly died, taking on the total penalty for the sin of all who would believe in him (John. 10:17-18, Galatians 2:20). Jesus taking on the full wrath of God for our sins enabled God to be entirely holy and yet forgiving to those of us who would put our faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26). In other words, God doesn’t just let man’s sin go unpunished; he punished Jesus in man’s place (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Gospel, The Great Transfer
Jesus’s shed blood on the cross satisfied the wrath of God for our sins for all of time (Isaiah 53:6-11). Therefore, Jesus does not need to continue to die for the sins of all who will believe because his sacrifice was perfect for all of time (Hebrews 9:26). Then, because Jesus was guiltless for the sins he paid for, God raised him from the grave to show us that he was truly satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, Hebrews 4:15, Romans 4:22-25).
Several times over, I have mentioned “believing” in Jesus. In scripture, this belief is also called “faith” and “trust”, and it is the belief that Jesus is God, he is the way to heaven, he died on the cross, and he rose from the dead (Romans 10:9-10, John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If you believe in Jesus, you can be saved from God’s wrath (Romans 10:9-10). Those who believe are then made righteous in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 1:17), made saints (1 Corinthians 1:2, 30), and declared justified in God’s sight (Romans 8:30). There are many other titles that Christians have which explain the great transfer from deserving of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-4) to receiving the righteousness of Jesus and being declared sons and daughters of God (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26). The proper response to receiving the gospel and embracing all that Jesus is for us is worship, which is what God desired man to do in the beginning (Philippians 2:9-11).
Upon Believing the Gospel, Repent
When preaching the gospel, Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Someone who believes that Jesus is God, he is the way to heaven, he died on the cross, and he rose from the dead (Romans 10:9-10, John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) will naturally repent of their sins. They will realize that they are sinners who deserve God’s wrath (John 3:36, Romans 1:18). They will naturally fear God and know that they must repent and believe in him and trust in his mercy to save them (Exodus 14:31, Psalm 115:11). Repentance is then the act whereby one turns from their sin, idolatry, and rebellion and turns to God in the belief that he can be saved through Jesus. Repentance is a natural response to believing in the gospel.
How do You Know You’ve Believed the Gospel?
As mentioned before, someone receives Jesus as their saviour whenever they believe in him. But what are signs that you genuinely have believed in Jesus and have received the gospel? The answer is that you have a transformed life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Scripture tells us that you will receive the Holy Spirit when you believe in Jesus as your saviour (Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). The Holy Spirit will regenerate and strengthen you to obey God’s commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Titus 3:5-6). Before being saved, we were an enemy of God and were not obedient from the heart, but we were sons of the devil. God’s mercy changed all of that to where we will now do good works for God (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Other things that Christians who have genuinely believed the gospel will do are these actions: they will have a genuine love for God (Psalm 42:1, Psalm 73:25, Luke 10:27, Romans 8:7), continually repent from sin (Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13, Romans 7:14, 1 John 1:8-10), and be humble (Psalm 51:17, James 4:6-9). In addition, Christians who have received the gospel and treasure that is Jesus are devoted to God’s glory (Psalm 105:3, Psalm 115:1, Isaiah 48:10, 1 Corinthians 10:31), continue in prayer (Luke 18:1, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6), have selfless love (1 John 2:9, 3:14, 4:7), and are separated from the world (1 Corinthians 2:12, James 4:4, 1 John 2:15-17, 5:5). Lastly, someone who has indeed received the gospel has spiritual growth (Luke 8:15, John 15:1-6, Ephesians 4:12-16) and a hunger for God’s word (1 Peter 2:1-3). So have you indeed received the gospel? You can know the answer to that question if there is evidence in your life. Do you believe that is good news?
The Gospel More than “Now, Who Wants to Be Born Again?”
After looking at all of this scripture on the gospel, we’ve seen that the gospel is a bit more than just saying, “Now, who wants to be born again” or “You should give your life to Christ.” It is good news. God is the creator, man is a sinner, Jesus is our saviour, and we respond by believing in Jesus. If you need more information on the gospel’s good news, watch our “receive Christ” video by clicking the red button in the upper right-hand corner. Let us know if you’ve responded by believing in Jesus.