The word ‘gospel’ actually means ‘good news’. But before the good news there was the bad news of Adam and Eve sinning by disobeying God (Genesis 3:1-24). Sin is defined s ‘any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude and nature‘. Since all members of the human race are represented by Adam and Eve, it follows that every human being has inherited their sinful nature. Additionally, like Adam and Eve we too sin ourselves (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:1-3).
Sin has to be punished
However, God is holy and righteous so He can have nothing to do with sin, and because He is just, sin has to be punished. Thus, because of sin, not only are we eternally separated from God, we are also faced with eternal punishment of an infinite length of time in hell, beginning with the sting of death (Romans 6:23a).
Sinners need to be rescued
Only someone who is sinless can rescue the whole human race that is drowning in the sea of sin. The good news is that there is someone who can do it and has done it. His name is Jesus Christ. The reason God sent Jesus to save us from our sin is because of His love for us (John 3:16). However, since God is a God of justice, the sin that separates us from Him has to be dealt with for us to be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to Him. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. So, Jesus who is both God (Colossians 2:9) and man (John 1:14) and who lived a sinless life (1 Peter 2:22) is the only one who could die in our place for our sins to be forgiven. This is because sin against an infinite God requires an infinite sacrifice. Therefore, either we, who are finite, pay the penalty for an infinite length of time in hell, or the infinite Christ pays for it once.
Forgiveness of sins and victory over death
While Jesus’ death on the cross ensures forgiveness of sins, His resurrection from the dead confirms His victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:54-55) and promises that His followers will also rise from the dead and will inherit the kingdom of God as His children (John 1:12).
A free gift
This salvation that Jesus has obtained for us is offered to us as a free gift (Romans 5:16, 6:23). We can either accept it or reject it. We cannot work for it and can only receive it by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The apostle Paul tells us , “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
The essential elements of the gospel
To summarize, the essential elements of the gospel are:
- all of humankind has sinned
- the death of Christ on the cross to pay for those sins
- the resurrection of Christ to provide life everlasting for those who follow Him
- the offer of the free gift of salvation to all
How to respond
How should we respond to this good news? The New Testament calls us to “repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This means that we must turn from our rebellion against God and submit to him (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10) and that we must also trust that Christ has provided the rescue we need from sin.
If this is true of you, you’ll find yourself in agreement with the following prayer, which is a wonderful way to respond to the good news of the gospel message:
“Lord Jesus. I come to you and confess that I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sins. I trust in what you have done on the cross. I believe that you have died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead for my sins. Please cleanse me of my sin and be the Lord of my life. Thank you for receiving me into your kingdom. I pray this in Your Name. Amen.”