Perhaps you’re investigating Christianity, or are a new believer, and you want a concise explanation of just what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. You might be surprised by the answer, as it is actually twofold.
That’s right, there is more to the gospel than many actually think. What follows is a brief explanation and overview of the fullness of the gospel message.
Creation and Fall
God created man in His own image to have a loving relationship with him. He put the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, in a beautiful garden known as Eden (Genesis 2:15). Everything they needed was at their fingertips, and they never experienced the weaknesses of the body as we do.
They had only one commandment, and that was not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17). A strange figure entered the garden with the plan in mind to deceive Adam and Eve. This figure is translated in most Bibles as “the serpent” (Genesis 3:1).
In fact, the Hebrew word used is “nachash” and literally means a “shining one.” What this tells us is that the figure was not a snake, but instead a spiritual being.
At any rate, he approached Eve and introduced doubt into her mind as to what God had said regarding the one tree, they were not to eat the fruit of. At the urging of this nachash, she ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:2-4).
She then, in turn, went to her husband Adam. She repeated the same things that nachash had said to her, and Adam made the conscious decision to disobey God and eat the fruit of the tree (Genesis 3:6).
Whereas Scripture tells us Eve was deceived, we have no such evidence that Adam was. His rebellion was willful. As a result of their rebellion against God, they were cast out of Eden, and sin and death entered the entirety of creation.
Man would have to toil hard for his sustenance, women would experience pain in childbirth, and they would both experience illness, old age, and death. Sadly, these things were not the only result of their rebellion.
In addition, Adam and Eve had created a gulf, so to speak, between man and God (Romans 5:12-19). Whereas God is perfect, pure, and holy, man had become rebellious, sinful, impure, and depraved. God cannot have fellowship with such beings.
Also, since this gulf existed between man and God when man died, he would descend to hell, being eternally separated from the all-holy God.
But thankfully that is not the end of the story. You see, God loves man so much that He had a plan of His own whereby He would reverse all the damage done.
God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world to teach man the proper way to live a human life (Matthew 21:23; Luke 19:47; 20:1; 21:37; John 7:14; John 7:28; Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35) in conformity to the will of God, to live a perfect human life in our stead (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22), and ultimately to offer His own life as a sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2; John 3:16).
Understand this: our sins deserve eternal punishment as they violate the holy standards of God for human life. Man must pay for his sins since anything less than holiness is an abomination in His sight. However, man is not infinite. He is finite.
Only an infinite sacrifice, that is the sacrifice of something or someone eternal, could pay the penalty of those sins and redeem man before God.
Furthermore, that Person would of necessity have to be human, since the sins are those of humans, and humanity is who needs to be redeemed.
As Jesus is indeed God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and also a man (true God and true Man, as the historic creeds say), He was the only Person who could achieve such a feat (Hebrews 2:17).
And so, in His deep and abiding love for us, God the Father gave God the Son to be our propitiation by which He would bridge that gap between God and us, and we could be declared innocent and holy by His merits alone (Romans 3:24-25).
In other words, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for our sins so that we could be saved from death and hell and live with God for eternity (1 John 4:10). This is the first part of the gospel. The second part of the gospel is that of the Kingdom of God.
Christ’s message was, at its core, a kingdom message. Salvation not only made a way for us to have fellowship with the holy God again but also granted us the right to be citizens of His kingdom (Matthew 4:12-17; 9:35; Luke 16:16; Mark 1:14-15).
Now, the kingdom has two realities; the kingdom as expressed in the lives of believers, and the coming future kingdom where Christ will reign in a new earth, in a very real kingdom, from a city known as the New Jerusalem as the Absolute Monarch of all (Luke 1:32; Revelation 21:1-27; 22:3).
We prepare ourselves for that kingdom through holy conduct. That is, by a change of allegiance from this present world and its corrupt, fallen values, ethics, and culture, to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with its unique values, ethics, and culture.
The church is intended to reflect these things in all it does, in all it teaches, and in all it holds valuable. It isn’t something we can accomplish in ourselves, or by our own power. But through the grace of God, we’re enabled to do so for His glory.
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J. Davila-Ashcraft is an Anglican priest, Theologian, and Apologist, and holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from God’s Bible College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a recognized authority on the topic of exorcism, and in that capacity has contributed to and/or appeared on programming for The National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and CNN. He is the host of Expedition Truth, a one-hour apologetics radio talk show.