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?

Looking at Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we see that the core message of the gospel–which he delivered to them and in which they also believed:

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 / ESV)

Through his letter, we see that:

  1. The gospel message is incarnational (Defining the Gospel pt. 2)
  2. The gospel message is about Christ (Defining the Gospel pt. 3)
  3. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures 
    (Defining the Gospel pt. 3)
  4. Christ was raised from the dead on the third day (Defining the Gospel pt 4)

Finally, looking back at verse one, we see that the gospel requires a decision, and that decision can only be made by each individual. Will I, or will I not choose to trust in Jesus to receive forgiveness and eternal life?

This choice is one of surrender because we cannot set our own terms of peace with an eternal, all-powerful, holy and offended God. There is no component of human effort to our salvation, and that might be the very factor that bothers us the most. We simply cannot save ourselves. That’s humbling, humiliating, and runs counter to our nature whose fall was predicated on our belief that by eating a forbidden fruit that somehow we would be just like God!

Yet, for everyone who chooses to believe in Jesus, He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Sadly, all are welcome, but few choose to come.

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