What is the Gospel?

A few Sundays ago, we began a series that focuses on the individual words in our Church’s name, beginning with “Gospel”. The question we sought to answer was, “What is the Gospel?”, and though it is difficult to have one, concise definition, we turned to the Bible to help us get an answer.

Out of Isaiah 52:1-12, we focused on what the gospel is, and how God brings it about. The background to this passage sees Israel in exile for their disobedience to God, having spent 70 years as Babylon’s captives while their own nation lie in ruin. At the beginning of our passage the Lord says, “Awake, awake!” and then moves on to say that He is going to war on behalf of Israel to free them from their bondage. In v.3 He makes it clear that they did not earn this, and that they have no power to save themselves; rather, He will drink the cup of wrath and pay for their sins, bringing them back to freedom through His grace and might alone.

In v.7, then, we get the picture that the Lord is at war, and at its conclusion He sends someone back to the city to announce the result. There, a man is running over the hills to God’s people with the news that God has done it; He has freed them. Thus, v.7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’.” This “good news” is the heart of the gospel message: that your God reigns. There is no one in the universe that can unseat Him; He shares His throne with none, and we owe allegiance to Him alone.

When we flip to the New Testament, we see how God reigns. You see, in our passage in v.5 the Lord says that He is going to vindicate His own name, and save His beloved people. He could easily destroy the world and leave us to death, but instead He wants to save those He loves, and so the dilemma arises: how can a perfect God keep His name untarnished while saving people who disgrace that name? The answer is found in Jesus, who, as God, is born and becomes like us, lives a perfect life, dies on the cross in our place, is resurrected as a sign of victory over death, and now lives and prays for us. All our sins were laid on him, and so God was able to punish the rebellion that is an affront to Him, while offering Jesus as a sacrifice that made those who believe in Him appear perfect and clean.

And so when we look at those three words of the gospel, this becomes clear: God is the only one who reigns, above all things. However, because of Jesus and the cross, if we believe in Him, He is not a terrible, scary, awful ruler, but He is your God and my God. He becomes the right-here, personal Savior who gave it all up to bring us from the Spiritual exile of this world, and all those thoughts that we’re just not good enough, and won’t ever make it. The center-piece of all this good news is the cross, where God proved His love to be inexhaustible, and where Jesus guaranteed that love to be unending for all who believe, showing Himself to reign over evil, death, chaos, and all else, but making Himself ours.

If you do not believe, the call is clear: there is only one who reigns; will you bow the knee to Him alone?

If you do believe, the next step is clear: as Romans 10 tells us, it is now your feet that are upon the mountains, bringing the good news to those around you. Shout with joy that your God reigns, and let the world hear!

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  1. Kathleen Reply

    Great article! I never knew what Gospel meant, for many years but recently, (about 5 years ago) it began to feel real and personal.

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