“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV
The word “gospel” is an English tweak of an old Anglo-Saxon term “godspel,” which loosely translated means “a God story.” Thus, when we “preach the gospel,” we are telling God’s story to the hearers. If what we are speaking is not God’s story, then we cannot rightfully maintain that we are speaking the gospel. Simply labeling our words as gospel does not make it so that they are.
From a New Testament perspective, what we translate as “gospel” is the Greek word euangellion. It is from this term that we derive the English word “evangel” or “evangelist.” Euangellion simply means “good news,” or “good message.” God’s story is a message of good news.
You may recall the angel (angellion) in Luke chapter two who came to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. He came with a good message – glad tidings of great joy. That is the emphasis of our first Attribute of God’s Story.
It is Good News
There is an indistinct line of demarcation between those who inspire hope with their gospel message and those who inspire fear with a somewhat different message. To assess the message of the gospel by listening to some of these latter preachers, one could quickly conclude that there is no good news. The message is that I am bad, dirty, valueless. Where is the good news? Where is the grace? Where is the love? I have exited some of these presentations having heard, “You’re going straight to hell, son, and I’m glad to hold the door for you!” It is a message of despair and fear.
I understand the necessity of conviction as it relates to my sinfulness before God, but it is not the task of a hellfire and brimstone preacher to bring about that conviction. Jesus said in John 16:8 that it is the Holy Spirit who will convict the world regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment.
The good news is that we have a redeemer, one who bought us out of the desperate state we were in. The good news is that there is love, love so deep and extensive that it made that redemptive purchase at the price of blood.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” – John 3:16, NRSV
That is very good news! That is the “glorious gospel.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
It is Declared
The gospel is something that must be spoken before those who need to hear it. This task of speaking is not relegated to some special class of believer – pastors, evangelists, and the like. It is my task, as it is yours. It is the responsibility of those to whom the gospel has been entrusted, those of us with that gospel treasure in earthen vessels. (2 Corinthians 4:7). The apostle Paul told the church in Rome:
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” – Romans 10:13-14
Likewise, Jesus charged us with this same task in Matthew 28 when delivering the self-perpetuating command.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:18b-20a
It is Received
The gospel is not merely heard. James tells us to be doers of what we hear. (James 1:22) It is not even merely believed. Even the demons believe, and they tremble! (James 2:19) The gospel is received. It is accepted and taken in. It is embraced and owned. It is active and effective in the life of the one who has received it.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13
It is Bedrock
Paul describes the gospel as that upon which we stand (1 Corinthians 15:1). It is a bedrock, a firm foundation.
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11, ESV
The foundation of the gospel has been laid, and it is there that we take our stand. The Psalmist says God is our rock and our salvation, and from that truth we will not be moved! (Psalm 62:6) God said, through Isaiah, that he was laying a foundation stone in Zion, a tested and precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. (Isaiah 28:16)
It is Saving
Given that the gospel is the bedrock, the foundation, if we hold fast to it, it is the gospel by which we are saved! (1 Corinthians 15:1) To the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul described it as “the gospel of our salvation.” (Ephesians 1:13)
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:17
Victoriously in Christ!