6 min read



How do I answer the question, “What is the gospel?” Here are a couple ways.

In a 5 Minute Statement

We believe in God, the one who alone has life in himself and does not depend on anyone or anything. He is the one who designed and made the universe and everything in it, from the distant galaxies to the smallest molecules, to you and me. He is life, he is love, he is goodness, he is beauty, he is truth, purity itself and completely set apart from anything in creation.

And yet he is so overflowing with grace and so generous that he creates the world in which we live, designed and tuned for us. God created human being as the pinnacle of his creation. He made them good, perfectly designed to freely worship hum and find their deepest fulfillment in relationship with him. He made them to live in community with one another in peace and shared community of love with their creator. And he designated them to serve as kings and priests, ruling over his creation as his visible representatives.

However, instead of embracing their God-given role, our ancestors joined in rebellion against God and sought to establish their own way on their own terms. Instead of establishing their place, the result was broken worship - with humans workshipping created things rather than a creator; broken fellowship - between God and humanity and among humans themselves; and it result in distored rule, with abuse, power and corruption taking the place of wise rule. In response to this, God, who is goodness and purity itself, pronounced a judgment of death upon humanity and placed a curse on the creation itself. Since that time, every one of us has been born into this world estranged from God, estranged from one another, corrupted in our affections, and under judgment of death, both physical death of our bodies and spiritual death, our souls eternally cut off from the God who is the only source of life and joy.

But God, because of his great love for us, set in place a plan to rescue and to re-establish humanity in proper relationship to their Creator and to one another. This rescue began all the way back at the beginning, at the first rebellion, but the climax was when God himself became a human being as Jesus of Nazareth. He united himself with our life, took on our sufferings and temptations, and experienced our burdens first hand. Yet he did this without sin, that is, he lived a life in perfect communion with God and perfect love towards his fellow human beings. An yet, though he was faultless, by God’s plan and by the hands of evil men he was put to death as a criminal, condemned as a blasphemer under the law of God and as a rebel under the law of men. The Bible tells us that he suffered this death for us, willingly putting himself forward as a substitute in our place, taking upon himself the just punishment of rebellion against God while at the same time breaking the bonds of sin and death that enslaved us all.

God demonstrated this to be true when, after 3 days, he raised Jesus from the dead and sent out the royal announcement that this man is the one he has appointed to be King over a renewed creation, and that God has set a day when Jesus will return to judge the world with justice, eliminating rebellion and establishing God’s new creation.

What’s more, this king, on the basis of his sacrificial death, has extended an offer of clemency to all people, that they may be forgiven of their rebellion and graciously welcomed into his kingdom. He promised this to any who accept this offer, who renounce their allegiance to any other thing and place their trust and hope in King Jesus. Those that do will experience God’s renewing presence and will have restored worship, restored fellowship with God and humanity and the promise of a role in God’s renewed creation, service as kings and priest on his behalf. Those who are restored in Jesus will be delivered from the guilt, power, and eventually the very presence of sin, and will be set free from death itself through their own resurrection and experience the joy of life forever in communion with the one who is life and joy.

In 3 Minutes of Conversation

What is the gospel? Basically, it’s a royal announcement that the Creator God has acted in the world to put an end to evil, suffering, and death and to establish a kingdom of peace and justice on the earth. Now, you might object that it certainly doesn’t appear to have worked, so we should probably just end the conversation right there. But hear me out, one key detail is that God intends to populate this kingdom with human beings. If you rid the world of every person whose selfishness, misdirected passions, or other ills contributes in some way to evil, suffering, and death in the world, you will quickly end up with an empty world.

And if it has been that way since our ancestors, who did have a kingdom without evil, suffering, and death, chose to go their own way and joined in a rebellion against their gracious creator. Ever since, the world has hung under a cloud of judgment and each one of us comes into this world alienation from God and from each other, still seeking to make our own way. And hanging over every head is the awareness that death awaits us, whether 5 decades from now or 5 minutes from now. What may not be on every mind, but is still a stark reality nonetheless, is that a death of one alienated from God is a soul eternally cut off from the God who is the only source of life and joy.

So, this is the mess we’re in, and the first thing that God has done to clean it up is to address our estrangement from him. That is, after all, at the root of the other ills that plague us, God kicked off this rescue operation way back at the first rebellion, but its climax, and what we so cheerfully call the good news, was when God himself became a human being as Jesus of Nazareth. He shows us what it was to live a life in perfect fellowship with God and perfect love for human beings.

Here you have the one faultless person that’s ever lived, and what happens? He was condemned by men as a blasphemer under God’s law and as a rebel under human law and gruesomely executed. But this did not catch God by surprise. It was the plan all along. The Bible tells us that Jesus willingly put himself forward as a substitute in our place, taking the punishment that was due to each one of us for our continued rebellion against him. This was a supreme act of love by the very God we rejected.

So far death, but 3 days later, the living God raised Jesus from the dead, declaring to all that the chains of sin and death had been broken. This Jesus, is God’s anointed King to rule over a renewed world and a day has been set when he will judge the world with justice, eliminating rebellion, and establishing God’s new creation.

Now this is what makes the gospel good news for rebels like you and me - as a result of Jesus’ sacrificial death, an offer of forgieness has gone out to all people, and if you accept it and reject any other allegiance other than to King Jesus, he promises you a gracious welcome in this kingdom and God’s renewing presence to deliver you from the evil in your own heart. And you will be set free from death itself through your own resurrection and experience the joy of life forever in communion with the one who is life and joy.