What Is the Gospel? by Jules Grisham
The gospel is the ďgood newsĒ that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. He is the risen and reigning King of all; he is the Redeemer of His people; and he is the Savior of all who set their faith in him.
1. Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the fulfillment of all the promises which God made to his people throughout the ages, the rightful King and righteous Judge through whom all the blessings and benefits of Godís kingdom are brought to bear and draw nigh. Jesus is ďGod with us,Ē and by Godís grace we are brought into fellowship with this glorious One, at whose name every knee will bow and whose Lordship every tongue will confess. And we who have been called by Godís sovereign mercy into communion with the Lord Jesus Christ are privileged to serve him even now as his royal ambassadors, proclaiming his rightful reign in the midst of this, his usurped dominion, and manifesting our conformity to his image and our submission to his reign through an exemplary obedience to the authority of his Word in our every thought, word, and deed.
2. Jesus Christ is Savior. Though on account of our persistent and pervasive sinfulness we had no right or reason to expect anything other than Godís outpouring of wrath upon us, yet in the mystery of his predestining will, he loved us before we ever knew or cared to love him in return. Indeed, he loved us before we even were, having chosen us in his beloved Son before the foundation of the world that we should one day be holy and blameless before him, in love.
Over the course of several centuries, God spoke his Word through his chosen instruments, the prophets, promising that he would effect the salvation of his people through the person of a King who would come, full of grace and truth, abounding in glory, but also humble, and compassionate Ė a Servant, who would come not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. And God established a binding bond with his people Ė an exclusive and inviolable covenant Ė stipulating that these recipients of his promises were to live in a vital reliance upon these promises (that is, they were to live by faith); and that this reliance was to be manifested in an active obedience to the principles of kingdom living which God had revealed to them (that is, they were to show forth the genuineness of their faith in a bold and persevering faithfulness).
And when the fullness of time came, Godís eternal Word, that was in the beginning with God, that was God, became flesh, and walked and taught and dined and drank and lived among us. In him, all Godís promises inhered and found their perfect fulfillment. This one who was God, who lacked nothing, clothed in heavenly splendor and glory, emptied himself of all but a perfect conformity to the will of the Father, and came to earth in a condition of deprivation and vulnerability, being placed under the law, and subject to all the same temptations and trials as we (though without sinning). In his life he, Jesus, showed us what perfect obedience to Godís will looks like. He embodied a sinless and perfectly righteous, perfectly holy humanity, and in his words and deeds he revealed to us the way of life as it is to be lived in the context of Godís kingdom. Finally, he gave his life for us, the one through whom the world was created being condemned and executed as a common criminal.
Christ died. But this terrible fact of history Ė the Christ of God crucified upon the cross Ė is in fact the pivotal moment in all of human history, the moment of the fullest revelation of Godís love and Godís justice, intersecting there at that one point and that one moment, at Calvary. The cross is the revelation of Godís justice, because to behold Christ crucified is to see what our sin deserved Ė the outpouring of Godís righteous wrath Ė which summons horror and remorse and repentance in our hearts. But the cross is at the same time the revelation of Godís love, because in beholding Christ upon the cross we see the wrath which we deserved being borne by another, the just for the unjust, inspiring in us overwhelming gratitude and thankfulness. In the cross we see all the immense juxtaposition between our dreadful falling short of Godís holy glory as sinners and rebels, and Godís staggering grace to us in the gift of Christ. And when we behold the cross and set our faith on him who died that we might live Ė who became sin for us in order that we might become in him the righteousness of God Ė all our accounts are set aright with God and we are restored and renewed and refreshed and raised up ďin Christ.Ē
Christ is risen. The glory and the joy of the gospel which we proclaim is that this Jesus who died so unjustly at the hands of sinful human power was vindicated by God, and was raised from the dead and lifted up into heavenly splendor and enthroned there at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus who died now lives, the risen and reigning Lord! And that new life, the resurrection life, of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the first fruits, is made ours even now as we are drawn into vital union with him, as by faith we lay hold of him and all his blessings and benefits, and as we set our hope on him alone. Thus our bold proclamation to a world which so desperately needs to hear it: whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish but have eternal life!
Christ will come again. We then, having been gathered into the assembly of Godís people, having been drawn into the living communion of the body of Christ, having become participants in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Our king reigns in heaven, and our life is in him, and his Spirit is in us, and we are being prepared, fashioned, trained, shaped for everlasting life in his presence. But the kingdom which is come already in Christ is not yet come in all its fullness. And so we wait for Christís return, at the consummation of all things, when the glory in us shall be revealed to a creation which now longs for the liberty of the children of God, when the kingdom of the world shall have become the kingdom of God and of his Christ.
Christ died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This is the gospel of Christ.
Finally, we acknowledge in light of this gospel that God has given us this picture of his future plans for us, and works assurance in us, in order that we should be emboldened in this great hope to live in a manner which accords with the faith we proclaim: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves; to be doers of Godís will and not just hearers of it, walking in the light, which is the way of truth and holiness, and affirming as we do that our God is Light and in him is no darkness at all; and in all, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.