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What is the Gospel?

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

In a nutshell the gospel is God’s answer to man’s predicament. It is the means by which God and man are reconciled into eternal relationship by Jesus Christ. The gospel then is full and free deliverance from sin on the basis of simple faith in Jesus Christ.

In this aspect the gospel has two phases: one, to the unsaved – Christ died for me (John 3:16; Acts 16:30–31) and secondly, to the saved – I died in Christ (Rom. 6:2–10). Many people have believed on the Son but few choose to die with Him in the ongoing experiential aspect of the Gospel. This choice leads to greater intimacy with the Heavenly Father, in pursuit of Holy living. In addition to living a Holy lifestyle, upon receiving the Gospel, a greater measure of power may be attained by the baptism of the Holy Ghost for ministerial purposes. To find out more about this click here.

The word ‘gospel’ is found more than 75 times in the New Testament in both verb and noun form. The English word gospel comes from the Anglo-Saxon godspell, meaning “Godstory” or “good story.” It translates the Greek word euangelion, “good news.” The noun term euangelion is used in reference to the reward offered to ancient messengers who brought news of victory in battle. By natural transference it came to mean the content of the message, i.e., not simply ‘news’ but ‘good news’ and in this case the news of victory. Therefore, the gospel in this context, is the message of Christ’s victory over the forces of darkness, and the subsequent light of our salvation provided by His death, burial and resurrection. By choosing Christ, we partake of the spoils of His prodigious victory over Satan and his cohorts.

The Gospel Defined

The crux of the gospel, is believing upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is something we choose to do. The most explicit definition of the gospel, is found in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians (1st Cor 15:1–5):

Now, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you have received, and in which you stand. Through it you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: how Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve.”

Christ heralded this message of good news in living bodily form and we get to share this good news with anyone and everyone. This good news of Christ’s victory over darkness, has as much potency today as it did two thousand years ago.

The Genesis of the Gospel

So where did the promise of the Gospel begin? It all started with Abram. Although remembered as the father of the Jewish nation, Abram was originally a Chaldean, living within the Mesopotamia basin, (equivalent to modern-day Iraq). Galatians 3:8 describes the ‘good news’ being preached to Abraham, with God’s promise that all nations might one day be blessed through him (Gen 18:18). Abraham was not entirely sure how this would come about. It wasn’t until 1800 years later that Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac was proven to be the foreshadowing of the resurrection of Christ. God laid down a marker in time, that if Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, then God would usher in His plan of redemption through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Abram willingly offers up his son, Isaac as God commanded

God honors man’s dominion in the earth and Abraham’s faith was the conduit by which this redemptive plan could take place. If Abraham was disobedient, God would need to find another willing vessel to partake in His redemptive covenant plan. So, God had to take Isaac from Abraham, and then give him back as no longer Abraham’s Isaac, but God’s. Thankfully Abraham cooperated and the rest is His-Story. The temple of God would later be erected on this sacrificial site (Mount Moriah) where Abraham offered up Isaac. Such is the significance of Abraham’s willingness to obey God, for without his obedience, God’s plan would have been stifled. Indeed, Isaac was a ‘type’ of Jesus Christ, for several reasons.

Isaac: 7 typologies of Christ

  1. Isaac was the first ‘child’ of Abraham in contrast to his ‘seed,’ Ishmael (Rom 9:7).
  2. Isaac marks the point of divergence between the natural and covenant lines (Gen 17:17-21).
  3. Just as Christ’s birth was predicted long ago, so Isaac’s birth was predicted (Gen 12:7).
  4. Just as Christ’s birth was supernaturally begotten, so was Isaac’s (Gen 18:12-14).
  5. Both Christ and Isaac were the ‘only’ son of the covenant (Gen 22:2) in contrast to Abraham’s other ‘sons of the flesh’ (Gal 4:29) and his sons by Keturah (Gen 25:1-4).
  6. Isaac was the sacrificial lamb, which Christ would become. Although a ram was provided as an alternative for Isaac, this alluded to the Lamb of God that would be the ultimate sacrifice for mankind (Gen 22; Isa 53:7).
  7. Isaac was a type of Abraham’s spiritual posterity, as contrasted with his posterity under the Law, the nation of Israel (Gal 4:21-31).
Isaac and Ishmael – Children of Spirit (Isaac) and Flesh (Ishmael)

The 7 Gospels in the Bible

Did you know there are, seven gospels mentioned the Bible? Abraham’s gospel has already been discussed but there are others which warrant mention. If the meaning of the gospel is essentially, ‘good news’ there were other gospels, given in other dispensations. Some of them were accepted and others, rejected. Our gospel is the ‘gospel of Grace,’ which Paul preached to both the Jew and Gentile. It is still in effect until the rapture of the church. It’s number six on the following list:

  1. Abraham’s Gospel (Gal 3:8) – referring to ‘being blessed by faith’ and that ‘all nations of the earth would be blessed through Abram.’ This was a typology of the Gospel to come.
  2. Israel’s Gospel of the Promised Land (Heb 3:15-18) – Israel were to look to the serpent on the cross and live; alluding to Jesus who would later become sin for us. This was of course a foreshadowing of Christ who would eventually defeat the serpent and sickness, which is a byproduct of the curse of the law.  
  3. The Gospel of Christ’s birth (Lk 1:27-33) – An angel preached good news to Mary of Christ’s birth, i.e., God with us, ‘Immanuel.’ Christ’s incarnation, death, burial and resurrection is the method by which the Gospel was proliferated. Without Christ’s birth there would be no gospel.
  4. The Gospel of Christ as Messiah (Jn 1:19-36) – The good news given to John the Baptist that Christ was the promised Messiah, i.e., the Lamb of God.  This heralded the ‘Kingdom of God’ which resides within us and the means by which man attains righteousness in God’s sight.
  5. The Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat 4:23, 9:35) – This is a kingdom of the future when God will reign for one thousand years, not to be confused with the kingdom of God which resides within you (Lk 17:20-21). This is good news certainly, but not the Gospel of salvation by which we are saved today. What the Jews failed to realize, is that Christ would have to die before setting up, His millennial reign. He came as a suffering servant before returning a second time, as conquering King. This misunderstanding led to disillusionment in the Jewish community and ultimately the rejection of Christ.
  6. Paul’s Gospel (1st Cor 15:1-4) – This is the Gospel of salvation for both Jew and Gentile that provides salvation by grace through faith alone. Three times Paul refers to this gospel as ‘my gospel’ and was received by revelation from Jesus Christ directly. Paul describes his gospel as a ‘mystery’ according to Romans 16:25 and Ephesians 6:19. Paul’s gospel was something hidden to be revealed in our time. Paul shared his gospel with other disciples and they preached it also (Gal 1:18-22). Paul’s gospel is valid until the rapture of the church.
  7. The Everlasting Gospel (Rev 14:6-7) – This gospel heralds imminent judgment for those in the tribulation period and is preached by an angel from heaven, after the rapture of the church. Under OT law, two or three witnesses were required (Dt 19:15) and in the tribulation period, three witnesses will be offered in the form of Moses (law), Elijah (prophets) and an angel preaching that Christ is Messiah.

Paul’s Gospel

Paul’s Gospel was ‘personal’ as Christ revealed it to Him directly, whilst traveling on the road to Damascus. Galatians 1:11–12 reads, “But I reveal to you, brothers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, neither was I taught it, except by a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Paul’s Gospel was preached throughout the book of Acts and not just by Paul but other disciples, also. It is this very same gospel message by which sinners are saved today. To accept the Gospel, click here.

Paul’s Gospel was promised to us in the Old Testament and unique for our dispensation. Paul makes this clear in Romans 1:1–4, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Saul of Tarsus has a radical encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Syria.

For hundreds of years man was subject to the law of God which he could not rightly fulfill, nor did attempting to keep it, make him acceptable to God. The law was the schoolmaster that led us to Christ because the standard it set was simply unattainable. God and man were hostile to one another until Christ came. Jesus took our reproach on the cross and acted as a mediator between two parties of dispute (God and man).

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and met all the requirements for God, justifying man once more, on the basis that man chooses to believe on His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn 3:18). The work of redemption and justification was completed on the cross and nothing more could be added. Any addition to the completed work of Christ is a corruption of the pure gospel, which Paul later refers to as ‘another gospel’ (2 Cor 11:4).

What are the 7 benefits of receiving the Gospel?

To all who believe and submit to its demands, there is a multitude of promises available to us:

  1. Forgiveness of sins – The sin of God’s people is imputed to God’s Son Jn 1:29 (See also Isa 53:4-6; Lk 24:46-47; Ac 5:30-32; 13:38; Tit 2:13-14; Heb 9:28; 1Pe 2:24).
  2. The righteousness of God’s Son is imputed to God’s people – Ro 1:16-17 (See also Ro 3:21-26; 9:30; Php 3:7-9).
  3. Peace with God – Ro 5:1-2 (See also Jn 14:27; Ro 8:1-4,31-35).
  4. New birth – 1Pe 1:23-25 (See also Jn 1:12-13; 3:5-8; Jas 1:18).
  5. Eternal life – Jn 3:14-16 (See also Jn 1:4; 6:68-69; 10:10; 20:31; 1Jn 1:1-2; 5:12).
  6. The gift of the Holy Spirit or Baptism of the Holy Ghost – Ac 2:38 (See also Joel 2:28-32; Jn 7:37-39; Ac 8:14-17; 19:1-7).
  7. Adoption into God’s family – Ro 8:12-17 (See also Jn 1:12-13; Gal 3:26; 4:4-6; Eph 1:5).

Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

Later on, Paul stated he was “not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes, to the Jew first, and later to the Gentile” (Rom 1:16). Some believers don’t share the gospel, for fear of ridicule. This is part and parcel of the Gospel, as the word of God is often received with affliction (1st Thess 1:6). Albeit the transformation evident in the recipient and the joy it brings, is motivation enough for preaching the truth, regardless of the consequences. We thank God for His all-inclusive Gospel where Jews and Gentiles have an opportunity to receive eternal life in this dispensation.

When Paul preached the Gospel two thousand years ago, there were signs following the word preached, and this should be the case today. Romans 15:19 says, “by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Signs should follow the ‘fully preached gospel,’ for it is the power of God in demonstration. Surely the greatest miracle of all is the transformation of the hearer from death into eternal life, but other miracles were commonplace.

Jesus went about preaching, teaching, and healing (Mat 9:35). Sadly, the church today has compartmentalized these but Christ never did. It was common for the disciples and second century church, to witness healing and deliverance when the Gospel was preached, and especially following baptism of the convert, which is a public declaration of submission to God. The Book of Acts is still being written today by believers who are willing to preach the full gospel ‘in His name.’

The Gospel is God’s promise

When Jesus visited the synagogue at the very outset of His earthly ministry, in His hometown of Nazareth, he read directly from the Book of Isaiah as confirmation that He was the embodiment of the ‘good news’ itself. But what exactly is the good news? Let’s find out by reading Luke 4:16–21:

16 “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. And He stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. When He had unrolled the scroll, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Jesus reads from the Book of Isaiah at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth

19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He rolled up the scroll, and He gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all those who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Friend, the good news is that despite eons of waiting, God finally manifested himself in the form of a man, and went about caring for the common people, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead and so on. The good news, is God cares for us and He went about doing good, particularly to the poor and needy. This was the goodness of God, manifest in the flesh, namely the appearance of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father,” (Jn 14:9), for the Heavenly Father and Jesus, are one and the same.

Not only that, Jesus commanded His disciples to spread the good news, cleanse the lepers, heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead (Mat 10:8). Sadly today, many preach the gospel, but are either unwilling or unable to demonstrate God’s power, when the message of eternal life is preached. Could it be that some people are turned off by such a weak gospel, which lacks a tangible demonstration of God’s power?

When we align ourselves with an expectation of power, then God’s power will manifest but if there is no expectation, we limit God. Surprisingly, Jesus warned that our unbelief can restrict manifestations of His power (Mk 6:5). Faith is essential for God’s power to manifest, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).

Jesus went about preaching, teaching and healing and we are commissioned to do the same

We should never separate the preaching of God’s word from the demonstration of His power, for they go hand in hand. There should be a positive expectation of people being healed and delivered wherever the Gospel is preached.

Those who cower in unbelief today, often protest the miraculous is ‘not for our dispensation,’ and miracles passed away with the last Apostle. This is a cop out. If pastors exist today then so do apostles, prophets, teachers, and evangelists for they are all a part of the same ministerial offices which remain in effect (Heb 4:11).

The Gospel: An opportunity for God to manifest His power

I’m reminded of the great evangelist of yesteryear, Dr. T. L. Osborn. Having returned from India following his inaugural missionary visit, he reflected upon his lack of converts, despite preaching the gospel. Needless to say, Rev. Osborn was most discouraged by his visit to India. Upon his return to the United States, he cried out to God and asked why the gospel had fallen on deaf ears, in the eastern hemisphere.

God answered swiftly, reminding T.L. that when the Gospel is preached in raw form, there should be ‘signs following the word preached’ and an invitation for the open demonstration of God’s power. Don’t forget in India alone, there are literally millions of false gods, including, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha, Shani, Laxmi, so on and so forth. To them, Jesus was just another god amongst a litany of gods. The Lord reminded T.L. that He desired to demonstrate His love for the people by healing them, in conformance with the original gospel mandate of Luke 4:16-21. By following this mandate, there would be no resistance to the salvation message, once it was shared.

Dr. T.L. Osborne- Evangelist to the Nations

Consequently, when T.L. returned to the cities and villages of India the following year, he invited all the sick and blind to come down to the front of the stage, declaring he would pray for all of them ‘in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.’ To the local’s astonishment, thousands of people were instantly healed! Not only that, numerous attendees were healed of blindness! They no longer needed convincing, that T.L’s God cared for them. That night, thousands ran to the altar when the first salvation call was given. This encounter changed Dr. Osborn’s ministry forever. God demonstrated His love through His servant T.L. Osborn. Marilyn Hickey later traveled to India, holding many crusades, following Dr Osborne’s example of praying for the oppressed ‘in the mighty name of Jesus.’ To find out more about the mighty name of Jesus, click here.

India: A nation of many ‘gods’ but hungry for the true God

Needless to say, India was never the same after these demonstrations of God’s power in tandem with the salvation call. From that time forward, God placed it on T.L.’s heart to invite the poor, sick and hurting to experience healing and mass deliverance at each crusade. Osborn was overwhelmed by what God did on his many visits to India. Very rarely in scripture was the gospel preached, without an accompanying healing or deliverance in the recipients. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).

If people see God heal, they often run to the altar for salvation but healing is not requisite for salvation, it is merely another branch of Gods power in demonstration and a witness of His goodness. Healing is merely one aspect of His atonement, along with deliverance, but salvation is the greatest aspect of all.

Paul’s Mysterious Gospel

Let us not forget that Paul described the Gospel as a ‘mystery,’ on two occasions. There are in fact, eight mysteries mentioned in the New Testament, with the gospel being one of them, click here to find out more.

A mystery is something hidden by God, to be revealed in His timing. Paul’s gospel message is found in every one of his epistles, except Titus and is the central theme of the New Testament. Paul describes the gospel as, ‘the Gospel of God’ (seven times), ‘the gospel of Christ’ (ten times), ‘my gospel’ (three times), or simply ‘the gospel.’ It is also coined as the ‘gospel of peace’ (Eph 6:15), the ‘glorious gospel,’ and the ‘gospel of the grace of God’ (Acts 20:24). Paul was passionate about the Gospel and relentlessly preached it.

Another Gospel

Paul also spoke of another gospel, one that would gain momentum in the centuries following his death. However, this would be a false gospel based on knowledge instead of faith. Any addition to the simple statement that salvation is by grace through faith is another gospel. Any sentiment that salvation is attainable outside of Christ, is another gospel. The ecumenical movement of world religions joining together under one banner is yet another example of a ‘false gospel’ or ‘another gospel.’ Christ made it clear there is only one way to heaven and that is through Him (Jn 14:6).

Paul’s warning of a counterfeit gospel is provided in Galatians 1:8–9: “Although if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than the one we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so I say now again: If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than the one you have received, let him be accursed.” Notice he warns of angels as potential messengers of this false gospel. It should be noted, that both religions of Islam and Mormonism were founded upon messages delivered by angels.

A so-called angel named, ‘Moroni,’ appeared to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism and the angel Gabriel supposedly appeared to Mohamed. These spurious angelic encounters have spawned over two billion followers combined. Evidently, Paul’s warning was not heeded.

Time to Choose

Bear in mind, that believing on Christ and receiving the good news brings eternal life, but rejection of the good news, leads to eternal damnation. To reject such a precious gift as Christ’s blood is pure foolishness but many often do, because the evil one has blinded their minds (2 Cor 4:4). No-one would rationally or soberly reject Christ, willfully choosing the torments of Hell, unless they were spiritually blinded to begin with, yet we know from scripture the majority of humanity sadly chooses this path of perdition (Mat 7:13).

The crux of the Gospel, revolves around the resurrection of Christ, not just the death of Christ. Many people believe Jesus died on the cross but not necessarily, that He rose from the dead.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Do you believe that Christ rose from the dead? Your eternal destiny hinges upon the response to this question. The time is short and your death is fast approaching. Do not delay your decision any longer.

If you need further convincing of the torments of Hell, click here.

For a closer examination of the abodes of Hell click here.

Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, click here to find out more…

Author – Carl G M Joseph

Bibliography:

R.A. Torrey, The New Topical Text Book: A Scriptural Text Book for the Use of Ministers, Teachers, and All Christian Workers (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2001).

Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).

Don K. Campbell, “Gospel,” ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, The Theological Wordbook, Swindoll Leadership Library (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, Inc., 2000), 142.

Merrill F. Unger, “Gospel,” ed. R.K. Harrison, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988).

Paul J. Achtemeier, Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper’s Bible Dictionary (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 354.

A. B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (Wingspread Publishers, 1992), 40–41.

Scroogie, Graham W. The Unfolding Drama of Redemption: The Bible as a Whole (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Bible Study Collection, vol. 126 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983), 6.

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