What is the Gospel?
To some people ‘Gospel' is little more than a musical genre but for Christians it is everything.
The ‘Gospel' is the great news that God is not going to leave this dysfunctional world in the broken state it is in. Towards the end of the Bible account we read that He has promised to make ‘all things new' (Rev 21:5) and He is currently working that promise out in history. At an individual level, however, this is only ‘Good News' if we are included in God's new creation, so how are we included?
Firstly we must come to understand who God is. There is one God. He is the Creator of all and He is perfect, holy and loving. He created men and women in His image with inherent dignity, value, worth and purpose and as our Creator He has a legitimate claim on our lives.
Secondly we must also come to understand ourselves correctly. The sad truth is that our first parents, Adam and Eve, sought to shake off God's rightful authority and in every generation since, all of us have done the same. We have chosen to reject God in the world He has made, setting ourselves up as our own authority and deciding right and wrong according to our own standards. This is what the Bible calls sin and because of this we have cut ourselves off from God's favour and blessing.
Thirdly we must come to understand what God has done about this. A perfect holy God and sinful men and women are an incompatible pairing and so God would be perfectly just in allowing us all to fall forever under His judgment. But He doesn't just leave us to self-destruct. In fact in His amazing love and mercy He has come in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ - fully God and fully man - and lived the life we should have lived of perfect obedience, and He died the death we deserved because we haven't lived that life of perfect obedience to God. Just as sin is man substituting himself for God, on the cross Jesus Christ reverses that travesty and substitutes Himself for man. He willingly takes the sin of all who would put their trust in Him paying our debt to God and purchasing our salvation.
Jesus, however, did not remain in the tomb. God raised Him from the dead vindicating all the claims He made about the significance of His life and death and from heaven He now rules over all things.
Finally we must come to understand what we must do. Jesus' authority means that He now calls all men and women everywhere to turn from their sin (repentance) and to trust in Him as Saviour. God cares passionately for those He has created and in Jesus Christ He has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. If anyone, regardless of race, class, gender, upbringing, income, status or worldview recognises this and repents of sin and entrusts their lives to Jesus Christ and His rule, that which we deserve (condemnation) we do not get and that which He has purchased for us (eternal life and a share in His perfect new creation) will be given to us. This is what the Bible calls grace, God's undeserved favour to sinners.
This is the central message of the Christian faith. It is what we hold out to you as the only message of hope and it is what our ministry at Riverside is based upon.
To help you think more about the Gospel, the following link may be useful: