“Christianese” is a real thing, am I right? As a Christian kid being raised in a Christian home going to a private Christian school with multiple church events each week, I knew the language. I heard the word “gospel” about a gazillion times growing up. But honestly, for most of my life I wouldn’t have been able to clearly define it. It was a word so common that I didn’t have to stop and think about it. “Gospel” was an overused word that I stuck into the same mental category as “grace”, “justification”, “glorification”, and other Christian lingo that I understood enough to spit back correct answers, but whose deep meanings were lost on me.
If someone had asked me “What is the gospel?” I probably wouldn’t have given a very clear and concise answer. I’d imagine lots of people who have spent time in and around Christian circles are in the same boat.
What Is The Gospel?
One thing I love about God’s truths is that though they’re deep, magnificent, crazy good, profound, and life-changing realities, they’re also able to be understood when we break them down. Think about it – even a child can understand God’s Word. His truths hold something for each one of us where we’re at, no matter our age or maturity. Whether you’re hearing the word “gospel” for the first time or reviewing it again after many years of familiarity, there is something here for you.
So what is the gospel? Simply stated, it just means “good news”, and it’s the good news about Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection.
What’s So Good About the Good News?
While the basic explanation of the gospel is pretty simple, when we dig deeper, it continually unfolds with more grace, more blessing, and more goodness. When Christ died and was raised again by the power of the Holy Spirit, he accomplished full salvation for all who believe. And the reality of this full salvation gets sweeter and sweeter the more we learn about what all it entails. When we ask “what is the gospel?”, we need to delve into what it means that Christ saved us from eternal separation from God. This is the worst possible scenario for human beings created to have fellowship with their Creator. In place of that agony, he gave us:
-Substitution: The just (Christ) took the punishment of the unjust (us)
-Reconciliation: We’re brought back into fellowship with God
-Redemption: Bought out of slavery to darkness and brought into God’s light
-Identification: Unified with Christ – dead to sin and resurrected again to righteousness!
-Sanctification: Set apart as holy, and free from sin’s power
-Peace with God: The Father holds nothing against us anymore
-Adoption: Placed into God’s family with all the rights of a legitimate child
-Glorification: God will transform our bodies and free us from this body of death that lives in a broken world.
And this is just scratching the surface of all the spiritual blessings Christ achieved for us. All of these gifts are really, really good. So good we can’t even comprehend them. So good we didn’t even know we needed them. So good we’ll spend all our lives as believers exploring their implications with our God. But the key to the beginning of grasping it all is understanding why Christ had to provide those things for us in the first place, and it’s because we are hopelessly needy.
Our Neediness is the Foundation of the Gospel
It might not be easy to look in the mirror and admit that we are poor, weak, broken, sinful, needy people, but dealing in reality is the first step to understanding the good news. What is the gospel but the answer to an insurmountable issue? If we still think we can fix, heal, or make our hearts and lives better, we’re not ready to understand it. Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Those who are spiritually poor, spiritually have nothing, are the perfect candidates for the good news.
It is when we become desperately aware of our need that we become hungry for what only God can provide – hope. Salvation. The gospel.
He holds out to us everything we need and which we could never get anywhere else but at the foot of the tree that Jesus died upon.
The Gospel Is God’s Provision
The gospel is bread to starving souls.
The gospel is healing to the mortally ill.
The gospel is the lifeline to the drowning.
The gospel is light in the darkness.
The gospel is the answer to every question.
The gospel is God’s heart to mankind.
As you can see, the gospel does initially have a simple explanation, but the more we discuss it, the greater this news becomes. Or rather, we just begin to understand more and more that it is greater than we first realized.
God’s provision for us in the gospel is complete, victorious, and the greatest expression of His love to us. Instead of turning his back on needy sinners, God sent His son to pay the price for their wrongs and lavished on them every blessing possible. Next time someone asks or you wonder “what is the gospel?”, start with the basics – Jesus died to save sinners.
But prepare to be amazed by the profound depths of where that simple truth will lead you.
Anna Wishart is a graduate of Ethnos360 Bible Institute, and continues to seek ways to be involved with missions through writing. She currently lives in Winchester, Virginia, and enjoys biking, art, friends, the mountain views, and serving at Fellowship Bible Church.