What Is The Gospel? Is It Relevant in 2020?

What is the gospel?  This is one of the most important questions you will ever ask.  It has ramifications for the rest of your life, no matter what you do with the answer you are given…Yes, even in 2020.  It is also an easy yet difficult question to answer, so I will divide it into three parts. 

What is the gospel

The first part is the version of “what is the gospel” that I like the best and relate to the most.  It is a simple answer that is easy to understand even for a four-year-old.

The second part is filled with Bible verses that I believe answer this question.  Paul tells us specifically what the gospel is in the book of Romans and the book of 1 Corinthians.

The third part is a more in-depth view, helping to take you past the basic understanding and answering some specific questions that you might have on the Gospel.  No matter which version you like the most, I hope that you come away from this post understanding what the gospel is in a clearer light and it informs your decision to either follow Christ or follow something else.

A simple understanding of what the Gospel is

God’s fingerprints are all around us, from the stars in the sky, to the hills and the valleys covered in lilies and roses, to the great and terrible oceans that we encounter in our lives.  God is creative, and he made this earth (along with you and me) to reflect His nature, His beauty, and His love for us.

He also put these same things into words, and that collection of words is called the Bible.   What is the Bible?  A lot of people in the western world think that it is a book that no longer is applicable for those of us living in the 21st century.  To them it is a book of old stories and rules that were for those who were on this earth thousands of years ago.  Now, this Book does have a lot of stories, poems, and rules…And they were written thousands of years ago for people of that time, but they were also written for you and me and for our lives today.

You see, the Bible has a lot of stories, but all of the stories point to one specific story.  Here is a quote from the Jesus Storybook Bible (This is the Bible that we read with our kids every morning) that I love:

“[The Bible] is an adventure story about a young hero who comes from a far country to win back His lost treasure.  It’s a love story about a young prince who leaves His palace, His throne – everything – to rescue the one He loves.  It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about the story is – it’s true.  There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one big story.  The story about how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. 

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story.  And at the center of the story, there is a baby.  Every story in the Bible whispers His name.  He is like a missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you see a beautiful picture. 

And this is no ordinary baby.  This is the child upon whom everyone would depend.  This is the child who would one day…”

She leaves a cliff hanger there, but I will finish it for you: This is the child who would one day save the world…Not by sitting on an earthly throne like many thought.  No, He would save the world through His death and resurrection.  What did this accomplish?  I’ll let the Bible do the talking on this:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

Christ’s death and resurrection was God’s plan from the beginning of time to make us whole again, to make us righteous before Him.

On a side note, if you want to purchase this awesome Children’s Bible and read it with your kids, you can find it on amazon here: The Jesus Storybook Bible

What Does The Bible Say About The Gospel?

Below are just a few verses that talk about what Christ did for us, and why.  The whole Bible weaves the story of the Gospel together, but since you don’t have that much time right now, you can check out these specific ones first.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—  the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures  regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,  and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.  And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-6

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:10-12

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7

Some FAQ’s On The Bible

N.T. Wright answers some great questions about what the Gospel is in a YouTube video here.

I would suggest that you watch it, but I will summarize some of the Q&As below for you. It was made for Christians who want to know how to present the gospel, but the questions are great for Christians and seekers alike. (The first two questions are from me, the rest are based on N.T. Wright’s Q&As)

What does “The Gospel” actually mean?

It means “good news!”

And what is this good news?

The good news is the story of the relationship between God and His creation: humans.  He made us to be in His image, and we were made to be perfect.  Unfortunately, humans decided that they did not want to be “lorded over,” so they disobeyed (and continue to disobey.)  This disobedience brought separation between the creator and His creation.  God knew that this would happen before the foundation of the world, so He made a plan to reconnect the relationship between them.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to come to the earth as a baby, fully God and fully human.  Jesus grew up and was perfect in all He did, and He became the perfect sacrifice for all of humanity.  He gave up His life by dying on the cross and rising from the dead on the third day so that we could be imputed with righteousness, meaning that our disobedience is no longer held against us. We have the opportunity to be seen as pure and perfect before God because Christ has made a way for us to do so.  That is the good news!

Why do we need to ask the question “What is the Gospel?”

It seems like such a basic question, but there is a lot more that goes into it than meets the eye. The gospel looks and sounds different depending on the culture and experiences you have had in your life.  Christ comes to people in different ways, and He responds to each one according to what He knows we need.

For example, there was a man in the Bible who came to Jesus and asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus started answering with the answer that the young man wanted to hear… He said “follow my commandments.”  The young man smiled and said I have done this diligently from the time I was young.  Then, Jesus turned his world upside down by following it up with this: Good! Now go and sell everything you have, give to the poor, and to follow Me. This man struggled with the security of his wealth, and Jesus knew that he would not be able to understand what trusting in God for everything meant until he had given up this security in his life.

We each have to chew on this and listen to what Christ is telling us so that we can face the struggles that have kept us not only from understanding but truly experiencing the Gospel.

What is the gospel according to the gospels?

N.T. Wright says that he is not sure if the writers of the Gospels even meant for them to be called that.  Nonetheless, he says that they are called that today probably because these books in the Bible are the specific stories of Christ. Each of the four gospels tells the story of Jesus from beginning to end, but each with a different perspective. So, if we look at the entire Bible as a complete story, the “Gospels” would be the climax of the story.  It is the point in the book where the promise is finally fulfilled, and the world is forever changed from that point onward.

How would you describe the gospel in a few minutes?

I think that the answer to the second question in this section would be a great place to find the logical simple answer for this question. N.T. Wright does a great job of actually painting a picture instead and he describes it by asking this question: “imagine that Christianity is a house, what would be the door to the house?” In other words, what is the fundamental thing that is at the center of our religion?  It is always Christ.  Christ is the door that holds everything else in its place, He is the door that calls attention to our eyes when we look at the house. 

Do we need to talk about repentance when we present the Gospel?

Wright starts out answering this question by saying that a lot of people envision repentance as this sad religious experience, but when we look at the Bible and the instances that it was used there, we can see that when Jesus says “repent” what he really means is stop and turn around because you are going the wrong way!  He says that he is starting this new thing, and if you are going to be a part of the new thing then you are going to have to give up the thing you are doing right now.

Squints here again with another example: if you had a business that was doing ok, but then your friend came and told you to start a different business with him, but in order to do that you would have to drop what you are currently doing and fully invest in the new business. The “repentance” in this example would be giving up your current business.  You know it well, you have put a lot of time, energy, sweat and blood into this thing.  Now you are being asked to leave it and in a sense, start over again.  This is not easy, but very necessary if you want the new business to not only survive, but be much better than your current one.

In order to follow Jesus, you need to be all in, and that means leaving your securities and old ways behind you. But trust me, it is worth it!!

What is the importance of talking about Jesus’ life and His death when presenting the Gospel?

The reason for this question is because there have generally been two camps when it comes to sharing God’s love in our western society over the past 200 years.  On one side, there is the theology and the understanding that Christ’s death is the climax of the Bible.  It is the point at which God is showing us that Christ is king…and that news is to be proclaimed to all.  At the other end is the understanding that Christ is now alive and we are to be the love of Christ to those around us by helping those in need and coming together around the goodness of His kingdom.  Both are very true and both are equally important to understand if we are going to be disciples of Christ.

There is so much more that we could talk about to give you a better understanding of what the Gospel is, but the truth is that you can take it from here. My suggestion?  Try to read through the Bible from start to finish. There is no better way to truly understand what the Gospel is and what it means for your life.  If you are open to learning and listening, I promise that it will change your life forever. 

Having said this, if you do have any other questions, please contact us!  We love to help and answer any other questions that you might have about the Gospel or the Bible.

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