Here is how I would like us to tackle this question. Let’s begin by showing the importance and need for having an answer to this question. Then, we will look at some gospel substitutes followed by answering the question of what the gospel is.
The word Gospel is the english translation of the Koine Greek word “euangelion.” It means “announcement” and “good news.” Well that didn’t take long. See ya' next blog. Just kidding.
An obvious reason for the importance of the question is that Romans 1:16 tells us that the gospel is the “power of God for salvation.” When Jesus began his public ministry, we see in Mark 1:14-15 that He went into Galilee, “proclaiming the gospel of God,” and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Anyone who has been truly saved by God has believed in and responded to the gospel positively. There is no salvation apart from believing in the gospel. If you do not know what the gospel is, then you have not been saved. I don’t know how to be any clearer than that.
Another reason that this question is so important is tied to our purpose and mission. There is purpose in our salvation. We are to glorify God and make Him known to the world. We see this in the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel account.
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20
It doesn’t take long to see the disciples actively engaged in this mission. Acts 14:21 tells us they went to Derbe and “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.”
This commission was not only given to these early disciples but to every disciple since. That means us. We are called to go into our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and to the ends of the earth to make disciples... to see people come to a saving knowledge of Christ. How does that work? Glad you asked.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” - Romans 10:9-13
So salvation involves confession. It involves belief. Confession of and belief in what? Truth. How does someone hear this truth? Paul doesn't stop there…
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” - Romans 10:9-15
So let’s put this together. God is at work saving and adopting new members into His family. Salvation always involves hearing, understanding, believing, and trusting in the Gospel. God sends us out to share, teach, and preach this gospel. So how important is it for us to have a correct answer to the question "What is the gospel?"? I’ll make it as clear as I possibly can again. This mission cannot be accomplished apart from disciples having a true knowledge of the Gospel.
There is one more point worth mentioning. As we live this life on mission for God we are also longing for Christ to return. Scripture tells us that when He returns it will be as a conquering King that will restore and renew all things. We don’t know an exact date for His return, but Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:14 that “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
So let’s put the pieces together again. Christian, right now, you should be longing for His return. If you are reading this then that hasn’t happened yet. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s because the mission is not yet complete. The mission can not be accomplished apart from disciples having a true knowledge of the Gospel.
When you see the role of the the Gospel in salvation and in this great and glorious mission we have been called to be a part of then it should be obvious that the question of “What is the gospel?” is of utmost importance. I believe it is the most important question that anyone could ask. But when answering the question, we want our answer to be grounded in truth. A false answer to this question is of no good to anyone. In the next post we will look at some of the gospel substitutes.