What Is the Gospel?

by Pastor Scott Rees on October 18th, 2017

Last night at our monthly Men’s Dinner I put a question to the group and kept pressing them to a very pointed focus. The question was: What is the Gospel?

It was fun to watch the discussion and listen to the comments and thoughts and attempts at the answer. Every man knew that the question begged for a straightforward and clear answer, yet we all kept adding statements and words, and sometimes a person would end their answer with a question that was something like, “I think that’s it; what do you think?”

After discussion I had them read a statement from Romans 4:5 that says, “However, to the person who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, their faith is credited as righteousness.” This is one of the many short statements that state the Gospel. Having these clear statements memorized is an important part of a vibrant, strong relationship with Christ. I’ll explain in a moment.

I asked a second question: “Who is the Gospel for?” Take a moment before reading on to work on that question yourself.

Our group discussion again had lots of fun and full of statements, words, and questions. They eventually saw that while at first we think the Gospel is for unsaved or “lost” people, it is always still for Christians.

So, the key to these questions is to stay focused on what the word “Gospel” means. It means “Good News.” The Gospel is NEWS, and it is good for us. News is information about something that happened that we did not participate in. We hear the news of other events. If it happened to us then we would be giving not hearing the news, and to us it is not “news” but it is an event.

The “news” is that God has done something good for us. We did not do it. We needed it done for us. God did it out of love, and what he did affects everything about life for us. What is it that God has done? Romans 4:5 says that “God justifies the wicked.” Who are the wicked? We are! But then we become the forgiven and the righteous by faith in what God did for us.

The Gospel is not news that we now get to be religious, or we get to read the bible, or we get to work harder at morality or the 10 Commandments. The news is that “God justifies (makes right with him by paying for our sin) the wicked.” You can say it another way: “God saves sinners.” The point is that God rescues us. We do not earn or pay for our forgiveness.

Then how is the Gospel for Christians? The Good News is always the good news, even, and especially after we have believed it the first time. We keep believing it. We keep trusting in God’s mercy to keep forgiving us and to keep leading us “into paths of righteousness.” (Ps. 23) We are always right with God because of what he did for us, never because we have become nicer, or more moral, or read the bible. We are right with him because He rescued us and because he keeps rescuing us.

The good news is that God justified us. Because he did that we continue to live as “righteous” people not “wicked” people. The Righteous continue to live with God under his loving care and blessing. See Psalm 1. This continual relationship is not something we made, or continue to make possible. It is a new life God made for us. He brought us to himself and he keeps us as his own. This is how the Good News continues. First it is good news that God saves us, and then it is good news that he keeps us.

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