Recap: There are many definitions of “gospel” (see Defining the Gospel pt. 1) Paul defines the “gospel” as the good news of God’s kingdom by referring specifically to Christ’s death and resurrection. In this narrower sense, the good news of the gospel is salvation and eternal life through faith in Christ, and it is most commonly what Christians mean when referring to the “gospel” and sharing the good news of Jesus. But what exactly is the content of the gospel message of Jesus?The gospel message is incarnational (Defining the Gospel pt. 2)

  1. The gospel message is incarnational (Defining the Gospel pt. 2)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:3 / ESV)

Verse 3a: The gospel is about Christ

It should go without saying that the “good news” of the gospel is about Jesus Christ, but with the eternal stakes so high we must be sure that we believe in the “right” Jesus, not a false one. Throughout history there have been imposters or “antichrists.” The “right” Jesus is both fully God and fully man. He is not a junior member of the triune God, but one of the three persons of the godhead, and as such is fully God. If not, He would not be a perfect and sinless sacrifice at the Cross. He is not created by God as a creature higher than us, but lower that God.

We must also understand that Jesus is fully man from His conception by the Holy Spirit through Mary, and forevermore. This “incarnation” is a mystery, and it is irreversible. It’s part of the amazing picture of God’s love for us that He would do such a thing. But, without being fully man, Jesus could not die in our place.

He has to be fully God and fully man. He cannot simply be a good man, a good teacher, a prophet, or a religious leader. He has to be fully God and fully man. That’s the “right” Jesus. Anything less is an imposter.

Verse 3b: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
There was a swap at the Cross. We give to Jesus our sin; He gives to us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). And only in this way are we acceptable to God and our now at peace with Him. Jesus reverses the curse of death due to Adam’s Fall, and we now receive eternal life (Romans 5:1-2).

Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), someone had to die for our sin. Our own payment could never be enough, so the penalty for our sins is eternal separation from God in an eternal lake of hell’s fire (Matthew 13:41-42).

But the magnificence of Christ’s death is that His one act is capable of paying for everyone’s sins from the Fall of Adam till the last human who lives (Romans 5:18-19).

This death, according to the Scriptures, was never a “Plan B” trying to salvage a rejection of Israel’s King. It had been prophesied throughout Scripture, though certainly a mystery. Nonetheless, God’s gracious plan from the start was that Jesus would be a substitute to die for our sins, pay the penalty of death, so that we might have that debt cancelled.

Authored by Dr. David F. Ingrassia, Stewarding Pastor of Charlotte Awake