The Bible teaches that belief in the Gospel is the essence of what is needed to have eternal life. Yet what makes up the Gospel is so often misunderstood. Sadly some teach only part of the Gospel.
What is the Gospel?
The word “gospel” means the “good news” or the “glad tidings”. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record what Jesus did and taught. All four of these record that Jesus went throughout the land of Israel preaching the gospel (the good news) of his coming kingdom. For example:
Matthew 9:35 ‘And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.
Mark 1:14 ‘Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.’
Luke 8:1 ‘ … he (Jesus) went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God:‘
What did the apostles of Jesus teach?
After Jesus was resurrected he told his apostles to preach the Gospel, and those that believed it and were baptised would be saved.
Mark 16:15-16 Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.
But the gospel that apostles of Jesus taught had two components:
- The things of the Kingdom of God (which is what Jesus taught during his ministry)
- The salvation offered in Jesus Christ
These two components are seen in the following quotes from the Acts of the Apostles:
Acts 8:12 “When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised“
Acts 28:23 “(Paul) testified the kingdom of God … persuading them concerning Jesus“
Acts 28:30-31″(Paul) preaching the kingdom of God … which concern the Lord Jesus Christ“
Why are there now two components? Jesus had preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Why didn’t Jesus preach the second component – about the salvation offered in him? He couldn’t preach the second component because he had not yet been killed and resurrected, which are key elements of how salvation is offered through Jesus Christ. However after his death and resurrection the apostles could preach both components of the gospel.
Belief of the true Gospel is essential to salvation
In the apostle Paul’s epistles he teaches that belief of the full Gospel is required for salvation.
Galatians 1:6-9 ” I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Ephesians 4:4-6 “one lord, one faith, one baptism”
2 Thessalonians 2:12 “might be condemned who believe not the truth”
Colossians 1:22-23 “to present you holy and unblameable … if ye continue in the faith and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel”
See also Acts 20:29-31; Jude 5; Titus 3:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18
A common misunderstanding of the Gospel
If you were to ask many Christians what the Gospel is, you would likely be told that it is “the good news about Jesus“. Yet that is only half the gospel – it omits the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. Another common misunderstanding about the Gospel is that it was a teaching introduced in the New Testament. The Gospel was taught in the Old Testament too.
The Gospel in the Old Testament
The Gospel preached to Abraham
Abraham was a faithful man that lived around 2000BC. God gave him a series of special promises (in Genesis 12 to 22) about salvation through a coming “seed”. The apostle Paul writes that these promises were the Gospel:
Galatians 3:8 ‘The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.’
When Jesus returns, he will raise Abraham from the dead, and all God’s promises to Abraham will be fulfilled in every detail. These
promises were confirmed to Isaac and to Jacob, and they too will be raised from the dead at the return of Jesus, and will receive
places of honour in God’s kingdom. (Matthew 8:11)
The Gospel to David
The good news of God’s kingdom was told to king David (1000BC) through the prophet Nathan – read 2 Samuel 7:12-16.
‘I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for
my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. ‘
Although the Israelites later forsook God, He did not forget His promises. We find them over and over again in the Psalms of David,
and in the writings of the prophets.
When an angel came to Mary to announce that she would have be the mother of Jesus, the angel referred to the promises to David:
Luke 1:32-33 ‘He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.’
Summary of the Gospel
- The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’
- The good news of the coming kingdom of God was the main theme of the teaching of Jesus
- The Apostles taught the good news of the coming kingdom of God and the salvation through Jesus Christ
- The Gospel is not just a New Testament teaching it is also in the Old Testament promises to Abraham and David
- Belief of the Gospel and baptism into Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation