"For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received - that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures..." - 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
When you think of the Gospel, what does it mean to you? When Jesus told His disciples (and that includes us today) to share the Gospel to all the world, what is the message we are to share? And if you are new to Christianity or haven't heard the Gospel Message, what is the message that is so important that I need to believe in its truth?
The word "gospel" comes from the Old English word "god" meaning "good" and "spel" meaning "news." So sharing the gospel is sharing good news! Over time the word "gospel" may have taken on new connotations or meanings with people, so let's examine the true message of the Gospel and why it is such good news for all who hear it.
Paul shares the Gospel Message in his first letter to the Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
"Now I want to make it clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received - that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also."
So the Gospel Message can be summarized in three important truths:
1) Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. As promised by God in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ was sent by the Father as the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins, which we could never atone for on our own. God loved us so much that He wanted to ensure that we could spend eternity with Him by sending Jesus, or Immanuel (God With Us), to earth to be the "spotless lamb," a perfect and eternal atonement for our sins.
2) He was buried. It is an essential element of the Gospel Message that Jesus came to earth in human form, and when He died, he was physically and naturally buried by being placed in a tomb.
3) He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. The resurrection is of course the key to completing the Gospel Message. Why? Because anyone can claim to be the Son of God and be killed for making that claim. He had to complete the promise of the scriptures and conquer death by being resurrected by God, to confirm that He was who He said He was. And it wasn't just his spirit that returned - Jesus' body was physically and miraculously resurrected from the dead, with an empty tomb to prove it! He also made sure to show those He appeared to His scarred hands, feet, and side where He was pierced at crucifixion, and He ate with them, to show them that He had been resurrected. Paul understood the importance of this final part of the gospel by sharing his proof of the message - that he and many others were eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection.
So why is this good news for those of us that hear and receive it today? Because our salvation is now secured, because Jesus is who He said He was - the Messiah, the Son of God, who completed the promises of scripture. And if we believe and accept this simple message, that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day, we are redeemed from our sins for all eternity and can be seated with Jesus in heavenly places!
Do you realize and understand how amazing this truth is? It should relieve you of a tremendous burden! You don't have to do anything to get into heaven (nor could you for that matter), because belief in Jesus and what He did for you is all that is needed to become righteous in the sight of God!
Over the years we have made it more complicated than it needs to be, and some of you that have been exposed to Christianity and been turned off from it may have received the wrong gospel message about who Jesus is, and what you have to do to secure eternal salvation through Him. Belief in the above three truths are all it takes! I hope this simple truth of the Gospel Message brings fresh light into the truth of Jesus and allows you to revisit or re-confirm your belief in Jesus Christ!
To learn more about accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, here is a link to more resources about what this means and how to do it, from Billy Graham Ministries: https://lp.billygraham.org/find-peace-with-god/
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16
- Adam Gellert